At the time of this writing, I have one grandchild, Micah, Born August 12, 2012. He is 7 months old and he’s adorable!!! In response to my saying that I almost feel ready to babysit, my son-in-law laughed, making the comment that I raised 3 kids, one being a special needs child, so what’s the cause of my hesitancy? At the time, all I said was, “You forget a lot over time,” but I decided to comment further, just in case there are other grandparents who may feel inadequate at times.
Some women are “naturals” with babies and all the contraptions that go with them. (My daughter is one of those.) I’m not. (I’m better with teenagers!) But I fell in love with little Micah immediately, and now that he’s full of smiles and giggles, he’s even more fun! They live an hour away (or more, depending on traffic), so I visit once every 2 weeks. Only recently has he accepted a bottle, and now he’s starting to eat foods. (Yippee! I can now feed him!) I was not willing to babysit until he would take a bottle because I didn’t want to risk getting stuck with a hungry kid that I couldn’t feed! (O ye of little faith!)
Something young parents don’t realize is that they are carrying, and caring for, their child on a regular basis. They are building strong muscles, great skills, and learning how to work all the baby contraptions–so well, that it’s second nature to them. (I confess that I didn’t fully understand my own mother’s apprehensions when my kids were preschoolers.)
Now, I’m in my 60’s, I get tired faster than I did in my 20’s & 30’s, and I need lots of patient instruction on how to work the modern strollers, car seats, etc. Micah also has braces & special shoes to learn to put on and off.
But I told my daughter I’m now ready for her to instruct me. I can already change diapers (some skills are never lost!)–now I’m ready to start learning to bathe and feed him, work his braces, & attempt to tackle all the “mechanical” aspects of babyhood.
Something I learned from my relationship with my mother is that good communication is essential! I’m afraid ours wasn’t the best. We often made incorrect assumptions about each other. For example, I assumed that if she didn’t volunteer to babysit, she wasn’t interested. She assumed that if I didn’t ask, I didn’t want her to.
So, with my children, I’m working hard at developing good, loving, honest communication. They’re free to ask, as long as I know their feelings won’t be hurt if I can’t, and I’m free to volunteer as long as they know my feelings won’t be hurt if they don’t need me at that time. It will also be important to have good communication skills when the grandchildren get older–to make sure my husband and I only spoil them within the realm of what’s acceptable to the children’s parents. Having raised kids myself, I don’t want to be guilty of un-doing all the hard work the parents have done. But I do want to know how I am allowed to “spoil” the kids a little. (After all, that’s part of what makes grand-parenting fun–doing things differently than the primary caregivers. I want to be a grandparent, not another parent!)
So, patience will be required from my children as I re-learn how to care for babies, & perseverance will be required on my part (and maybe a little body building!). But as it was with my children, so it will be with my grandkids: it will all pay off in rich blessings all around!