Back In the Saddle Again

Kathy & Reese, 1st meetingBy Kathy P. Behan

Seems like old times and yet, the circumstances are entirely new. I’m temporarily taking care (see that’s one of the differences) of a baby again and even though she certainly is my child, she’s kinda sorta not, cause she’s my granddaughter. Our bond is irrefutable but it’s more complicated than simply a parent-child connection. For starters, to coin a popular phrase, “I’m not the boss of her,” I follow the dictates of her parents. For another, I partner with Reese’s parents to coordinate her care. I’m not solely responsible for it.

Luckily, my sweet granddaughter, has bright, motivated and well-read parents. As a result, the instructions that I’m given are practical and sensible, so they’re easy to follow. My son and daughter-in-law are doing a fabulous job raising this little one but sometimes, backup is also needed. For instance, when Reese’s folks had to return to work, they decided they would try to find a way to keep her out of daycare for a while, until she was a bit older and flu season had passed. Both maternal and paternal families banded together to make this happen. Aunts, Grandmothers, Grandfathers, even a Great Aunt and a Great-Grandmother signed up to help.

I’m on the first shift in this collective baby-care arrangement. And yeah, it all comes back – the exhaustion, trying to decipher the baby’s needs and cries, attempting to perform multiple tasks one-handed while balancing the baby with the other, the challenge of getting anything done besides caring for the child. It’s tiring and a bit overwhelming.

But then there’s the good part, and truly, there’s much more of that. I have the privilege of taking care of this tiny, precious, cuddly, new little person whose smiles instantly melt my heart. Reese happily waves her arms and kicks her legs like an excited puppy wagging its whole body. Her coos and conversational coughs are simply adorable. And is there anything that comes close to the feeling of a baby snuggling against you.

I’m so grateful to have this special bonding time with my granddaughter. These days will forever be imprinted on my heart. I just hope, in some small way, Reese will be able to remember them too.

Kathy P. Behan, a mother of three, is a nationally published freelance writer specializing in family and health matters.

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