It has been an interesting year. In the past eight months, my husband and I have grown from being the parents of three to the grandparents of two. Times have changed since we had our first child 34 years ago.
I recall, after the birth, getting on the landline phone to tell my family and friends about our new addition. Now, photos and texts are sent within moments of the birth – the newborn is a social media superstar from day one. Actually, if you count the 3-D sonograms, the babies are superstars even before birth.
Things are very different now. We were told, as new parents, to place our children on their tummy when they went to sleep. Now infants must lie on their back.
We used to bundle our kids up and place them in a plastic car seat that was barely strapped into the car. Now infants are placed in numerous straps and buckles without their coat; yes, even in the winter. The first time I saw this I was shocked. I was told that safety tests were not conducted with additional clothing so you cannot risk placing the child in the car with supplementary layers. This is fine for Griffin, born in August, but quite the Grandma challenge for Brady, born in January.
Speaking of car seats, in the ’80s we placed the car seat in the front seat; another no-no. Now the car seat must be facing backward in the back seat. It’s a miracle our kids survived. But then I think of my generation’s baby experience, when our mother held us tight in the car so that if there was an accident she would be able to protect us. Often it was one-handed, because she needed the other hand free to hold her cigarette.
I grew up on Long Island and the culture of “my people” was to hire a baby nurse when you brought your newborn home. So when I moved to Buffalo and was pregnant with our first child, Jessica, my mother insisted that I find a baby nurse. This was not an easy task in Buffalo in 1982.
When I called agencies, many wanted to know what medical condition I had to necessitate a nurse. Condition? I’m from Long Island and that’s what we do! I did finally find a baby nurse who stayed with us for two weeks. We were grateful because we knew nothing about babies. How did the hospital let us take this new human home? We had no skills.
Time has passed and now I am the Grandma, but I also wanted to be the baby nurse, or Granny Poppins. First, I stayed with my daughter and son-in-law and Brady. Recently, I stayed with my son, daughter-in-law and Griffin.
This has been an invaluable experience and I have learned so much. Grandparenting is the best job. Yes, others in the grandparents club told me that I would be forever in love, but you just don’t know until you experience it yourself. A bigger bonus was spending quality time with our kids to help them transition from a family of two to a family of three. This is an immeasurable gift and I thank them for allowing me this opportunity.
But there is also a transition for my husband and me. Grandma? I envision a little old lady in a black dress. Hmm – and I am married to a Grandpa!
As I write this, I am sitting in the hair salon getting blue and purple streaks in my hair because, although I am totally in love with being called Grandma, I am still young at heart. And it’s cheaper than buying a midlife convertible.
I guess we are all going through beautiful transitions. I am so proud of my grandsons’ parents; they are handling this new journey with humor, grace and love.