Grandma Day Care

By Rose Ann Sinay

We’d all been preparing for months for my granddaughter’s arrival. We knew she would need open heart surgery shortly after birth. Amazingly, she was full term and strong. This was good news. The doctors decided to delay the operation to give her time to grow. But, after two months, a common cold changed everything. Emergency surgery had to be performed, delaying the original operation. Everything was on hold.

Since Mila’s exposure to everyday viruses had to be contained, day care wasn’t an option. That’s where “Grandma care” came in. There was no question that I would travel to New York to stay with my daughter and her family. I would babysit, enabling my daughter to get back to work while we waited for the new surgery date. It would be a piece of cake, I thought. I’m a mother, albeit older, but wiser now. I’ve raised two children of my own. I was happy to help out, and at the same time, have the opportunity to teach my daughter and her husband what I knew about babies and parenting. And of course, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on my granddaughter.

I arrived to lists – my daughter’s endless lists of dos and don’ts cross referenced to additional pages of instructions. Five piece baby bottles (five pieces—when did that happen?) that required assembly before each feeding, stood in rows. The green inserts fit only in the white bottles. The white rings do not fit the pink bottles, and the pink bottles have a totally different set of innards (what? why?). I’d never seen an insert before. Just cleaning all the tiny holes in the unit was going to be a part time job in itself.

Next to the army of bottles and Tupperware containers filled with inserts and tops was a log to record the time, medications and milliliters (what happened to ounces?) of milk consumed. Okay, so the bottles are marked with both measurements, but who can see those colorless plastic impressions without a magnifying glass? I pulled out a black marker and lined those pastel vessels much to my daughter’s dismay.

I thought back on my own mothering days. I was lucky to be able to nurse my babies. I didn’t have to remember to take the frozen milk out of the freezer to defrost. No need for cleaning bottles and all their little pieces with special brushes. There was no log to record how much my babies drank. Their pudgy rolls told me they were doing fine. I had just put my suitcases in the closet, and I was already in alien territory.

Mila was all smiles when I held her in my arms. Tiny bubbles formed on her lips as she cooed. That’s all it took to bring me back to my maternal core. Minutes later her face screwed up into an unhappy mask. Her cry was urgent. No amount of bouncing seemed to relieve her discomfort.

“Maybe she’s wet,” I said starting to remove her clothing to check.

“What are you doing?” my daughter asked. “Just check the indicator strip on the diaper.”

“Well doesn’t that beat all,” I said as she pointed to a yellow line on the Pampers that had turned blue. Even diapers had become high tech.

The first two weeks Mila slept most of the day and kept her parents up most of the night. “She has her days and night mixed up,” I said wisely. “We will just have to turn her around.”

Soon Mila was sleeping most of the night and spending lots of time with Grandma during the day. There was tummy time on the thick, white owl blanket and back time in her activity center surrounded by colorful, soft toys and a hanging mirror. When she wasn’t exercising, she preferred to be held and walked. My back and neck began to hurt. I understood why 60 year old women did not have babies.

And the swing – I’ve never seen such a Mecca of baby soothers – included choices of music, heart beat or ocean wave sounds, blinking lights, timer, fast and low speeds and all those speeds in between. A gentle swing and sleep vibration lulled Mila into her (too short) naps. I was suitably impressed by all the options. That was before I pushed the wrong buttons (oops) and woke my irritable, nap deprived granddaughter with “playtime” sounds and motions. I thought fondly of our old red baby swing with one speed and one direction – it could do nothing but move back and forth.

Then, there are the video cameras – I must take the monitor with me from one room to the next. Back in the day when I put my babies down to sleep, I checked on them periodically by opening the door to their room. I must confess there is something comforting about having an “inside eye.” I have become addicted to watching my granddaughter’s every movement.

“So how’s she doing?” my daughter called out from her office when she heard me scavenging the pantry for a snack. “Still sleeping?”

“Uh,” I stalled with my mouth full of cookie. I tiptoed back into the living room to grab the little spying device.

“Yes she is,” I sang with relief.

I sing constantly these days. I feel like I am living in a musical. I sing to Mila as I change her diaper, feed her or try to comfort her – silly, nonsensical songs that would make Simon and Garfunkel cringe. But she doesn’t care and neither do I.

I am totally outdated. My mommy expiration date has long passed. But the good news is, I’m Mila’s grandmother, and I get a pass for not knowing about all those new fangled gizmos. It’s okay that I forgot to put the insert in the bottle when she was crying, and I was frazzled. When my granddaughter smiles up at me with her big gummy grin, I know she will love me anyway.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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15 Responses to “Grandma Day Care”

  1. Colleen Wenthem says:

    Beautifully written. Sounds exhausting but how wonderfu that l you can spend this time with her. Sending positive energy your way.

  2. Joan Eaton says:

    Isn’t it amazing that our children survived their infancy. Why is it our children think we need to be retrained when it comes to being a grandparent!! Great story and very true! Best part of modern motherhood is the new swing!! Remember the first ones and how noisy they were to rewind!

  3. Kathy strunk says:

    I love how today’s babies come with manuals! Cherish these times, they grow up so fast!

  4. Diane says:

    What a wonderful piece……I know how you have cherished this time and here’s to a lifetime of memories and stories.

  5. Helen Faust says:

    Such a beautiful,well written story. Lots and lots of prayers

  6. Sandy Keck says:

    Another wonderful story! Looking forward to more as she grows and grows.

  7. Britt says:

    This humor I can understand Well written

  8. Anna Sobanski says:

    Loved reading this! I had a good laugh as I just spent the summer doing grandma daycare for our 6 month old grand daughter and shared a lot of those experiences as well. I had the hardest time adjusting to ‘back is best’ and those newfangled sleep sacks – whatever happened to sleeping bags? However, I wouldn’t have changed it for the world!

  9. Beautifully funny story! You are so creative.

  10. …I must admit, it’s only been a handful of years since my wife and I were feeding, changing and getting bottles ready for our baby, and I’ve already forgotten half of specifics about how we did it. Rose Ann nails it again, in another sweet, poignant, humorous and spot-on column. Very well crafted column :)

  11. Mary Ann Miller says:

    Can certainly relate, as I had the pleasure of your experience last year when Kaitlyn was born. Was so amusing to see it all so aptly and meticulously described. Leaves us to wonder how we ever managed to raise our own children without all of today’s modern conveniences?! But oh, for the experience and wonderful memories! And once again Rose Ann, you manage to capture and record every back and neck ache, each and every confusing and heartwarming moment of being a grandmother, and the precious memories we will have forever!

  12. Rose Ann says:

    Thank you for all your comments. We’ll all just kick back and enjoy our little bundles of joy in our old fashioned way! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  13. Kailey Konow says:

    Modern day baby care – thanks for being here and taking it all on. You did better than you think! Now Mila has these stories to remember the times with her Grandma :)

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