Many have sung the praises of being a grandma. It took me a bit, but I finally understand why.
I just got to spend three days taking care of my 4½-month-old granddaughter. Prior to that, I had only short, parent-overseen visits with her and, as well-meaning as parents are, it’s hard for them to shift the responsibility. I remember and understand that.
But once you are alone with this magical little person, get to watch her eat, make sure she is burped, search for signs of chapping as you change that diaper, hug her close, feel that soft skin, see her flash that precious smile at you and watch her sleep, things change.
I suppose it’s just bonding, but it is a one-of-a-kind bond. You begin to understand her subtle sounds and expressions, what her grunts and cooing mean. I don’t know about all grandmas, but I talk to her constantly and I’m quite sure she listens.
You discover what she likes and what she’s not real crazy about. You discover how she likes best to be held, that she loves to be in motion but can be a content creature just lying on her back kicking a hanging toy.
You relearn that her slipping into a howl can be swiftly derailed by a new location, position or a diaper change. You learn that she really prefers to be naked, thanks very much. It is a litany of small things that become calming and renewing.
I will admit, it had moments of boredom, since I am not accustomed to just doing mostly nothing with a speechless babe. But soon you learn how to fill those gaps with a world of music, games, walks and helping her practice sitting up.
Soon the day is seamless with repeated sleep and wake-up routines, feeding and pleasant awake time, knowing you have nowhere to go and nothing more important to do than adore this beautiful child.
I have the added luxury of having a happy grandbaby. She has her moments, as babies do, but her default mood is peaceful and curious.
It was the most relaxing time I have spent in years and I left feeling so full of love. It was joyful to just watch my son and daughter-in-law operating as a family, full of love and focus. Spending comfortable time with them as adults, in their normal routine, was a delight.
OK, truth. I was a little terrified at taking on the grandma thing. Would I have the energy? Would I have the skills?
But, yes, it is like riding a bike. I can’t race up hills like I used to, but I slipped into the groove without much fuss. And that groove is my happy place.
Yep, I’ll take that grandma job, with the bonuses built right in.
Jean Gillette is a freelance writer they call Gran. Contact her at [email protected].