“What’s it like for you, coming over here?” my daughter asks when I stop by her house for a visit. “It must be like entering the gates of hell.”
She’s joking — sort of. For starters, she’s tethered to that medieval torture device known as a breast pump. If you last encountered one of these things in the ’80s, you may be surprised to learn that they’re as clunky and loud as ever. Perhaps when men can lactate we’ll see some improvements. But I digress. To add to the ambience on this bright fall Sunday, the dog is barking, the baby is crying, and the living room is crammed with enough motorized infant seats, rockers and bouncers to stock a day care center. So, yeah, at first glance Newborn Baby Land is a little bit scary.
But hellish? No way. I’m so excited to be here, I can barely contain myself. And that’s the main takeaway after five weeks in my new grandmother gig: how much I love it.
Fellow boomer grandmas may know what I mean. Many of us were so caught up in the supermom myth of the ’80s and ’90s that we found it difficult to simply relax and enjoy the moment — especially with babies, who can, let’s face it, be pretty terrifying. Now, two grown children and one career later, I’m surprised to find that I’m a different person this time around — unpressured, more self-confident, and with enough distance to be able to revel in the amazing experience of nurturing a newborn. I finally feel as if I’m doing it right.
As Benjamin Spock said in the introduction to his venerable handbook, Baby and Child Care, “You know more than you think you do.” It only took me 35 years to find that out.
Photo: Martin Ceaser
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