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How This Grandma Became a GlamMa

Regina Malveaux, GlamMa

Photo Credit: Dusan Petkovic/Shutterstock

There are so many ways to refer to a grandmother — grandma, nana, nonna, nanny, mee-maw, minnie ma. But Regina Malveaux, director of the Washington State Women’s Commission, prefers to be called GlamMa. On National Gorgeous Grandma Day, July 23, we’re celebrating grandmothers everywhere, and Malveaux is showing us what it takes to be a GlamMa.

“I think that because I don’t live close, and the littles only see me a few times a year, they are accustomed to others making reference to ‘Grandma Regina,’ ”she explains to CircleAround. “My friends, however, are gracious enough to call me GlamMa, which is a nice salve for my ego.”

The term GlamMa was added to the Oxford English Dictionary in 2016, and is often used to describe “chic, sophisticated women who just happen to be grandparents.”

Malveaux considers herself to be a part of a new generation who don’t compromise lifestyle choices based on traditional ideas of what it means to be a grandparent.

But what is a traditional grandparent, anyway? For Malveaux, it’s her own grandmother, Hazel Mary. “Grandma Hazel was in her mid-seventies when I was the age that my grandchildren are today,” she says. “Sweet, elderly, and retired with lots of love, time, patience, and wisdom to shower on her grandchildren.”

“I, on the other hand, am a single executive in my early fifties, with a pretty intense schedule, and I live 1,200 miles away from my grandchildren. Building memories and staying connected with my grandchildren, Kennedy, Kellen, Karma and Hope, looks very different for me than grandmothering did when I was a child.”

This GlamMa uses FaceTime to stay connected with the grandkids, and she’s thankful for short flights from Washington to San Diego, which allow her to visit frequently.

“Our family structure looks very different from the one I grew up in which makes replicating family traditions somewhat challenging,” she explains. “What I have opted to do instead is try to create our own traditions as much as possible across the miles. One example is the annual Christmas card that I do, which typically includes a photo of me with all four of the grandkids, and an individual photo of each of them.”

“There was also the year that I flew in on Christmas Eve afternoon with gifts that I stopped and wrapped on a Starbucks patio, and then made surprise GlamMaClaus deliveries to their homes in a big red Jeep,” she adds.

She calls the time she spends with her family “high impact memories” based on the level of activity involved during these visits: trips to the beach, hanging out at fancy hotel pools, and navigating mini-reunions with all of the California cousins.

As a result, exploring the world with her grandkids has become an important part of Malveaux’s GlamMa'ing. Growing up in an era of screen time and social media, she does her best to introduce them to new places, concepts, and ideas.

“On a recent trip to my home in Olympia, my 7-year old granddaughter, Karma, was able to tour the Governor’s office, sit in his chair and hopefully imagine herself in that seat one day,” she tells CircleAround.

“My children, who are now in their early thirties, also had the great fortune of having a completely devoted grandmother, who not only loved them unconditionally but who bought the latest skateboard or another trendy toy, when I was a single mom in law school, and couldn’t afford to do so.”

Malveaux adds that her children were invited to spend spring break and a week or two in summer at their grandmother’s home so that she could study or just have a few days to breathe.

“Grandma always meant ‘the place you go to feel REALLY special,” Malveaux tells CircleAround. "I like to think that I have created relationships and memories with my grandchildren that leave them feeling like any time that they do get with Grandma Regina is sure to be filled with love and lots of adventure.”


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