I’ve mentioned this a few times here on the Journal: I am a grandmother.  And in the photo above, you see our sweet Stella Ruth.  Her hands, clearly visible, are surrounded by my son Zach’s, my dad’s, my grandmother’s, and mine.  That’s right—five generations.  You may have seen pictures of five generations in newspapers and on blogs but when it happens to you, it does feel somewhat monumental.

Full confession:

This is my second five generation photo. The photo at the bottom is 20-year-old Natalie with four-month-old Zach, my father at 40, my grandmother at 60, and my great grandmother, who we called Granny Lou, at 80. (While I am definitely not promoting teenage pregnancy, it makes it easier to get to five generations into a photo when you each have a baby at 20!)

Perhaps you have experienced this: once you become a grandmother, people ask you questions like, “How does it feel to be a grandmother?” (As if it is some sort of illness.) Or, “Isn’t this just the best thing that has ever happened to you?”  I want to say, “Yes. Yes. Yes.” And it IS wonderful; I am proud of Zach and Ashley; I am so proud of six year old “Aunt Maggie;” I am SO, SO proud of our modern family. However, in the real world of being a real woman, it is a beautiful part of my life BUT… the best thing that ever happened to me? There have been so many beautiful moments in my life. How could I chose just one? Or perhaps it is the fact that I am only three years out of diapers at my own house, or (I berate myself) that I am just not the grandmotherly type?

No, I don’t have that “grandmother fever” that so many, many women speak about. I read this article in the New York Times a couple of years ago about the Baby Boomer reluctance to being called “grandma.”  Many choose to use their given names rather than the more traditional “grandmother,” because they don’t want to feel old (or like a granny). “We like our names and that it’s real. Grandpa, Grandma, Granny, Nanna, Gramps, etc., give off a vision of being old.”

The thing about it is that I don’t feel old. And I will be happy for little Stella to call me whatever she likes. However, I will have to draw the line at “Big Mama,” which is more a sensitivity about my spreading waistline than my actual age.

Maggie chose “NeNe” for my granny name, but Zach doesn’t like it as it sounds “mean-hearted.”  So, Maggie settled on “LuLu” for some undefined reason. As I wrote above, I had my own Granny Lou— whom I adored—so LuLu seems a fitting title in her honor. I shall wear it thankfully.

In spite of the fact that I am not that grandmother with granny fever, Stella Ruth does seem to take a shine to me. Maggie and I adore babysitting her and she has a growing supply of toys and baby accoutrements at our house. Maybe it is just that my life is SO FULL that becoming a grandmother is just another beautiful facet of my ever-unfolding life?  Real women are grandmothers and grandmothers are real women. And, sometimes, a real granny has a job and life in addition to their life as “granny.” It is a part of that modern family that we love so much.

In honor of Stella, and all the real women out there, who are also mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters, and in honor of the number five, (along with the joy of the first taste of a cold apple), a little Alabama Chanin baby bib.

This project works up quickly for all of us real grannies who have busy lives, but can also be sewn by little aunts who are only six.


Baby Bib pattern
Paper scissors
Scrap of medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric for top layer (about 12” x 18”)
Scrap of medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric for back layer (about 12” x 18”)

Very small scrap of medium-weight organic cotton jersey fabric for Cotton Jersey Pulls (about 12” x 2”)
Button Craft thread
Embroidery scissors
Hand-sewing needle

Basic sewing supplies: fabric scissors, pins, needles, tailor’s chalk, ruler, rotary cutter,
Alabama Stitch BookAlabama Studio Style, or Alabama Studio Sewing + Design: All three of these books contain the basic sewing and embroidery techniques necessary to complete the project.

Cut two of the Baby Bib pattern
Cut two 1″ Cotton Jersey Pulls

Lay your two cut Baby Bib pattern pieces out with right sides facing up and one on top of the other. Sandwich your two Cotton Jersey Pulls between the two layers as indicated on pattern piece. These two pulls will become the ties of your bib. Pin securely.

Using a double layer of Button Craft thread and a straight stitch, join all these layers together by sewing around the bib, 1/8″-1/4″ from the edge.

Once all layers are joined together, give your Cotton Jersey Pulls a little tug to make the edges roll and to finish off the bib ties.


P.S.: In a few short years, I had forgotten how messy babies are when they eat.  You might want to make three of these: one for each meal of the day.  And, if you like them, maybe make three more. Scraps of cotton jersey also make excellent wash cloths for little baby-perfect skin. Shown here in Pistachio, Indigo, and our special Faded Dots fabric.

Photo of Stella Ruth and Five Generations of Hands by Abraham Rowe Photography


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Click to read 6 comments
  1. Gabrielle Lundy


    I fully appreciate how you feel about not having Granny Fever as I feel the same way.At age 60 I divorced my husband who I had been with since age 17 and relocated to the Midwest to start my life all over again.

    My son and his wife have a 19 month old and another one due in April. I live a mile away from the kids but I am content in rebuilding my life first as a real woman artist first ,friend to many, Mother to two great kids, and Granny Gay Gay(i intend for the grandkids to drop the Granny) to nearly two little ones .

    Thank you for giving others a chance to share.

    Gabrielle Lundy

  2. Shan

    Did you know that your maternal grandmother didn’t like being called grandma because she thought it made her feel old? I called her that once and she told me that.

  3. Sharilyn

    This is beautiful! I am becoming a great- Aunti this spring- my own wee ones are only 4&5- my S.I.L is excited about being a Granny but feels she was just a very young mom not so very long ago- families are a wonderful thing- thank you for sharing!

  4. Sally

    Sitting in my own five-generations photo holding my son, I know how powerful those images are. I also love the one we have where I am the infant. But mostly, I love that having my parents (and all four of my grandparents) still alive and well means that my sons get to see active grandmas and active great-grandmas! (And active sporty grandpas and great-grandpas!) My grandma’s 80th birthday was this week and when we called to sing her Happy Birthday, the ruckus and party going on in the background painted a picture of a very Groovy Granny (what she wished to be called when she became a Gram at age 40). It makes me so happy that the modern family can show children that adding a generation only adds to the full-ness of one’s life without trumping anything else! May your grandbaby add to your creativity as you add beauty to the world!