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It used to be that a grandparent’s role was to coo at the baby and roll his or her eyes at mom’s newfangled parenting ideas. Not so much anymore.
More grandparents-to-be want to be helpful and up to date, and they’re willing to show up to class to prove it. Grandparent workshops and classes, such as the “Grandparenting 101” course at the Medical Center of Plano in Texas, are popping up across the country.
For the first two years that new father Greg Barbera stayed home to care for his son while his wife returned to her job, he didn’t refer to himself as a stay-at-home dad (SAHD). He wasn’t ashamed—Barbera knew that his was an important, challenging and rewarding opportunity. But the arrangement didn’t sit as well with a lot of people the Durham, N.C.-based journalist encountered, so it simply became easier for Barbera to say, “I’m staying home right now and freelancing while I look for another job.”
Your baby screams and clings to you, wild-eyed, as if your leaving means instant peril. And in his mind, it does. “A baby doesn’t have the conceptual ability to trust that we’ll always return, so he protects our disappearance as if it’s a life-threatening event,” explains child psychologist Laura Markham, Ph.D. “His DNA programs him as if he’s living in the Stone Age; he doesn’t know he’s perfectly safe at day care. To him, when you walk out the door, he could be eaten by tigers.”
We’re both working full-time. Leo is in preschool full-time. This week, I’d like to deliver a state of our family address. By which I mean, this week, I wanted to throttle my husband and call in sick.
“You have been away, our childcare fell apart, I had a weeklong-stomach bug, Leo developed the habit of trying to piss me off and you were anxious and distracted whenever you were around,” I’ll point out pleasantly.
That first baby is a big shock to the old lifestyle but it’s also kind of luxurious. There’s time for baby-rocking and eye-gazing. Life is filled with magic and surrounded by a rosy glow. But with two kids, that magic can turn into chaos pretty darn quickly. If you’re going to survive, you’d better whip yourself into shape. We’re talking about organization, sleep scheduling, and the lessons kids learn when they’re no longer an only child.
If you have a blog—or have ever considered mom blogging—you’ve probably pondered the experience of reading people’s comments. On your life. I relish the comments I get on this blog, because they make me feel like I’m part of a larger community, like I’m not just writing for my own benefit, and because I have, since I first embarked on this motherhood experience, embraced the idea that whatever we are as moms, we’re not alone.
Having researched almost 20 preschools, interviewed several seasoned nannies, and passed many mornings watching other people’s toddlers fingerpaint, I’m prepared to share my conclusive findings. Ready? Okay!
Here’s what you want at the beginning of a day: a kid who looks forward to his day. Here’s what you want at the end of the day: A kid who is able to enjoy dinner, bath and the little bit of time you have with him or her.
One of the hardest parenting issues we’ve faced is the question of childcare. It’s an issue that has felt so complicated and stressful for so long that we often have to make appointments to talk about it, we aren’t allowed to just casually bring it up over dinner.
Two very old friends found me on Facebook this week. Back when our now college-age daughters were in the sandbox, we hung out together. Our daughters went to the same co-op preschool, had after school play dates and celebrated each other's birthdays. The girls played dress up, had meltdowns and battled "those dumb boys" together. I unfortunely moved away and we slipped apart.
Be prepared—caring for a newborn while recovering from childbirth is not easy. Before you get overwhelmed, seek assistance from one or more of these mother’s helpers.
■ What she does Cares for newborn; instructs and supports mother; performs light household chores. Doulas of North America (DONA) offers training and certification.
■ How to find one Ask your friends, childbirth educator or doctor, or search by ZIP code at dona.org. Average cost: $30 per hour.
For many new moms, this past week has been focused on getting back to work. Maybe you're just coming back from maternity leave, or maybe you're getting back to work after a long summer break, or maybe the end of summer simply finds your thoughts shifting back to work.
Getting away from it all—sort of
We're staying in a house on the water in Tampa with Aaron's family for a long weekend. It's balmy and beautiful, there's an egret standing on the patio...and I remain sleep-obsessed (possibly because I'm not getting enough sleep?). In fact, as I write, I'm sitting alone in the largest room of the house outside the door of the room where Leo is sleeping while all the other people in the house tiptoe around the perimeter.
I sat on the porch last weekend with a good friend. We've been friends for 20 years and met in the sandbox of our neighborhood playground. I sat on one side and she sat on the other. Our one-year-olds played with cups and shovels while we held our newborns and tried to keep the sand out of their mouths. At one point, we looked up, noticed each other and recognized the excited, exhausted expressions on our faces as if we were looking in the mirror. It's a look that's unique to mothers of back-to-back babies—something like fatigue, amusement, confusion and triumph.