Once upon a time when I was in my late twenties I was the mom of a toddler and a newborn. I remember being on duty 24/7/365, similar to when I worked in nursing except I did not have every third weekend off like we did in the early sixties. I remember cloth diapers, sterilized bottles, and nine cent jars of baby food. I remember Ray Rayner, Bozo’s Circus, and Romper Room. I do not remember the exhaustion nearly as well.
Fast forward to this past week–over 40 years later. I played “Grandma” all by myself. Being a long distance Grandma for over 18 years, I have not had many opportunities to be an active Grandma, much less doing the job solo, with the parents gone for five long hours. During the day. With a toddler and a newborn. Plus two dogs.
At the end of the day, really only 8pm, I flopped into bed. Went flat. Took deep breaths to check whether I was still breathing. The younger generation had returned home before dinner and were then in charge of the youngest generation. I lay in bed and tallied up my accomplishments for the five hours I was in charge. Alone.
Changed disposable diapers x 5; fed unsterilized bottles x 2; fed Spaghettios, cottage cheese, peaches, and apple juice lunch x 1; read 10 3×3 inch books, aloud, twice; cheered on the making and the destroying of a 16-piece puzzle x 3; played “Grandma’s gonna get you” around the traffic pattern of the main level x 4; answered phone x 7; fed, let out, and put down two dogs for naps x 1; stared into space for one hour during carefully planned simultaneous naps; emptied the dishwasher and put things away where no one will ever find them x 1; swept the 264 toys on the family room floor to the perimeter (yes, I used a broom. Now why didn’t I think about doing this when I was the Mom? So much easier than bending over that many times.); vacuumed the family room floor; grabbed a fiber bar for my own lunch, along with left over cottage cheese and peaches; stored countless memories of baby smells and toddler giggles; hoisted myself up from the floor with newborn on left arm and toddler hugging right side x 5. You get the picture. It was a busy, active, fun-filled, exhausting five hours.
What did I learn about myself at this age? I’m good for talking, singing, laughing, giggling, and hugging. I’m not good for anything that requires my quadriceps, hamstrings, core, biceps, and triceps. I’m convinced that being a babysitting Grandma takes much more energy than my recent life of promoting Caring Lessons.
My conclusion: I salute Grandmas everywhere who babysit on a regular basis!