I now have two healthy baby grandsons for whom I am over the moon and more than grateful to my daughter and her husband for bringing them into the world. I’m very much in awe of parents who actually plan their children so close together. My own children are six years apart, a considerable but not unreasonable spacing that allowed each to experience life as an only child. It was also convenient for their parents. Large expenses, time-consuming projects and the typical activities of children growing up in Southern California occurred, for us, in manageable intervals. We were lulled into thinking raising children was easy because we raised them in small doses.
Then there are those who choose a different route. My daughter was twenty years older than I when her first child was born. She is now the mother of a 19 month old whose favorite phrase is, “No, no, no, no,” and a 3-week-old baby who demands food every hour. To make matters more difficult, nap schedules are not the same.
I suppose there are good arguments for planning children close together; clothing, furniture, all the trappings necessary for children born into the 21st century can be recycled, as well as the added benefit of siblings who are close enough in age to actually become childhood friends. But at the moment these reasons pale compared to the sleepless nights, perpetual disorder and mind-numbing expense and care of two children who require diapers, strollers, car seats and cribs, not to mention a vehicle that can actually carry these accouterments, all at the same time.
In all fairness, not everyone who wants more than one child can wait to have another. Age is a factor. Men and women who seek education and financial security, especially in areas where the cost of living is exceptionally high, postpone children until well into their 30’s and 40’s and with child care costs running between $15 and $20 an hour, decide to stay home, relying on family to help with day, and night, care. That’s where Grammy steps in.
That’s me. Grammy. It’s my new name. Now, while Baby number 2 is so new and awake most of the night, I work twelve-hour shifts three days a week, sometimes more. My job description varies but you can be sure it includes singing Wheels on the Bus, Old MacDonald Had a Farm and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star complete with hand motions, long, unbelievably slow walks along the Oso Creek Trail collecting pine cones and reading the same pop up books with animal protagonists who speak and behave like humans over and over again. My life has always been filled with children, only now they are related to me.
People ask if I’m still writing. I am, but VERY slowly because I can no longer think past 8 pm. My new project is called BIRTHRIGHT and it is, of course, and Irish story about a mother who is not at all pleased or made complete when she is contacted by the daughter she gave up at birth. Sometimes this happens and the complexities make for a great story. The first excerpt will be posted next week.