I recently traveled from Colorado to New Zealand. My stay was 6 weeks because my daughter asked me to experience grandma-hood that long. Tickets weren't booked for a few months after the request because I wanted to be absolutely sure that she wouldn't change her mind about the lengthy stay. She never wavered on the time, so I began to prepare myself for the experience of a lifetime. Yes, I was a new Grandma for a most exquisite granddaughter. My new "job" consisted of accumulated wisdom in caring for babies, and honoring a new family in their choices.
Grandma faith in myself along with other tasks such as: cooking, cleaning, babysitting, and laundry (endless laundry) certainly entered my daily routine. All of these care-taking tasks were gently simmered in my cauldron of considerations. Was the birth complicated? How then to best help the mom? What about the father's work time? How available was he? What was the economic situation? Did the other grandparents want to be included, and were they wanted to be? All these added up to knowing how to better be of service. Once I was armed with vital information, the grandma-hood became clearer.
Providing full-time childcare for a new grandchild is like a rite of passage into the joys of humanness. It takes adjusting, and great consideration of the new parents decisions to support them fully. One of the nice things is to be in a trusted position so your advice is asked for. For instance, when I first arrived there was great love for the wee one, yet also great wondering of doing things right with the baby. Babies cry, that is their way of speaking to whoever hears them. So, I informed the first time parents that I didn't mind the baby's cry, and that soon; they would know what the cry was for (hunger, dirty nappy, gas, or just the crash before falling asleep). Well, my son-in-law stated that he couldn't bear to hear her cry, and he walked and rocked her. I didn't feel like the bad guy, or squeamish at all, I just smiled and let him do as he saw fit. By the time a month of my stay had come around I noticed a change in his response to his daughter's cry. He waited to pick her up! I, being the available caretaker, offered to get her if he wanted me to. He smiled at me and told me that it wasn't the cry for going to pick her up, and that we should wait. I was tickled that he could "hear" what she was saying. She promptly fell off to sleep.
"Nobody can do for little children what grandparents do. Grandparents sort of sprinkle stardust over the lives of little children." (Alex Haley)
One could say that God made moms and dads for the pleasure of becoming grandparents. My new found Grandma faith helped me to be at ease with my new grandbaby. I instinctively knew that she loved motion. So I would hold her in my arms in front of me, and practice squats. This way I could get a good workout, and she would calm down if she was fussing. I also loved holding her close and practicing hip swings, or rolling my hips so she would enjoy the movement, and my core could get a bit of a stretch. Baby music geared for babies is just fine, but I preferred to move with her to hip music, and current popular artists that I could sing or hum along with. This way she could learn my voice; know that I was safe for her.
By following my instincts, in consideration of the new parents methods, it was a win-win situation. My daughter began to loosen up with her baby, and soon mimicked my care taking methods. I marveled at her wonderful know how of all the modern methods of baby care, and the ins and outs of the green baby technology (bottles, car seats, strollers, cribs, diapers, etc.). I honored her for her trust in a foreign midwifery system, and making the best choices for her family. Mostly, the deeper bonding between the 4 of us was the greatest gift of new grandma-hood.