Sunday, November 24, 2019

Not the grandma

Back in the 1990s, there was a TV series called "Dinosaurs" about a family of... dinosaurs, of course. ;)  (Created by Jim Henson of the Muppets, I think.)  The baby of the family would never call his father "Daddy," simply referring to him as "Not the Mama." (I'm pretty sure I wrote a post once that used "not the mama" in either the title or body of the post, but I'll be darned if I can find it...!)

Well, I'm not the mama -- and I am not the grandma either.  The past few weeks have been a reminder of that in many ways.

I AM an auntie and now a great-auntie (and a very proud one at that!) -- which is pretty cool on its own merits. :)  But I know where I stand in the family pecking order, right?   Mom & Dad come first, then the grandparents. Then the aunts & uncles. And then the rest of us.

Dh & I are eager & willing to help, any way we can. (And, being retired, with a bit of extra money to spend these days, as well as time, we're ABLE to help in ways we couldn't 30 years ago, when our nephews were babies.) We LOVE any time we can spend with our nephews, and now our great-nephew. With few other obligations on our calendar, it would be very easy to be over there every day to spend time with the baby.

But we try to be careful not to intrude. (Too much.) Nobody has said anything to us about being a nuisance, mind you. (Quite the opposite:  BIL has made it clear that he expects us to show up, and often.)  It is, I will admit, self-imposed.

I remember showing up once at Cousin/Neighbour's house in our old community (a few blocks away from our house), shortly after their their first daughter arrived (more than 25 years ago now...!).  His wife's face sort of fell when she answered the door & saw us there. Clearly, she was exhausted by the demands of new parenthood, and not up to visitors, however good our intentions were. I tried not to take it personally, but the image has stuck in my memory all these years.

I recently read & reviewed the book "This Particular Happiness" by Jackie Shannon Hollis on this blog (here), and in my review, I highlighted a passage from the closing chapter that I'm still thinking about, weeks later:  
Leanne's girls turn to her for preparing advice. They'll turn to her for mothering advice. She's the one who's been through it.  
She buys baby gifts for her soon-to-be grandchildren and helps paint and set up the babies' rooms. I help some of the time. I buy gifts too. But I'm careful my gifts aren't too many, my offers to help aren't filled with my own needs... 
We first met the baby on Monday morning (as I wrote here on my blog) -- & I waited and waited to post something on social media (even though I was dying to, lol). (See my previous post on social media dilemmas!)  I was thinking, should I ask permission?  I was pretty sure the answer would be yes, but I really felt funny posting something before the parents & grandparents did.

The new mom & dad both posted about the baby's birth later on Monday -- and then Nephew's MIL (the baby's other grandmother). Then SIL finally posted something on Tuesday morning. Then SIL's niece/Nephew's cousin posted some photos from her hospital visit on Monday night -- & I thought "Screw waiting!"  lol And posted that photo of me holding him on Monday morning, and a couple of us putting up the Christmas lights outside BIL's  house on Sunday afternoon while we waited for the baby to be born.  (And then more last night & today.)

Tuesday night, we drove the new grandparents back to the hospital to see the baby again, and to bring a few things to the tired new parents. They mentioned needing some formula for when they got home -- the new mom is breastfeeding, but supplementing too. All the grandparents are still working (but we're not!) -- so BIL volunteered us to go get some, lol.  We had planned to go to the mall the next morning, but postponed the trip to the afternoon and made a morning trip to a nearby drugstore to pick up a case of formula. (Diapers were on sale, so we threw in a package of those too.)

Then we found out the kids were on their way home from the hospital! -- so we waited in the car outside the house until they arrived. We helped them unload the car and bring their stuff in (including the baby, lol -- and the formula & diapers we'd bought). The dog was in the basement & dh brought him upstairs to meet his new little brother. I grabbed my cellphone and started taking photos. It was the cutest thing to watch. We'd all been worried about his reaction -- but it was love at first sight, lol.  He greeted Older Nephew -- totally ignored poor Niece-in-Law (screw you, Mom!  lol) -- and then was all over the car seat with the baby sitting inside, or would have been, if we'd let him.  They had sent one of the baby's swaddling blankets home from the hospital with BIL & SIL on Monday night, to try to acquaint the dog with the baby's scent -- and I guess it worked!

I will admit, I was feeling guilty:  if anyone had the right to share this moment, it should be the grandparents, right?  But the grandparents couldn't be there -- so I am very glad we were able to help, and that I was there to take some photos of that moment.

We didn't stay too long. BIL told us to come over again later that night. We said no. Dh thought (& I agreed) that we should let the grandparents enjoy that first night with the baby themselves. (Also let the poor parents, & especially Niece-in-Law, get some rest...! -- WE were pretty exhausted ourselves, lol.)  We did visit on Thursday night, and again for a while last night.

*** *** ***

Of course, maybe I'm worrying about a whole lot of nothing, lol.

BIL played hooky from work briefly on Wednesday morning, dropping by the house to see his new grandson shortly after we left. He called dh & I as we were pulling into the parking lot at the mall to report that Nephew & Niece-in-Law were extremely grateful to us for the formula and other help.  Apparently Niece-in-Law said to him something along the lines of "Uncle Dh & Aunt Loribeth are the BEST!!  They're like little church mice (!), hanging around quietly in the background -- but they're always there when you need them."

Really, could we ask for a better compliment? That's exactly how we want it to be. We don't want to be pests, but we do want to be involved, and helpful.

Also: Thursday night, BIL reported to us that Niece-in-Law was musing about how most of her friends don't have kids yet (and are working during the day)... so maybe she & the baby could hang out with Uncle Dh & Aunt Loribeth and go to the mega-bookstore with them sometime?  Of course you can!!  lol  (Introduce Great-Nephew to books?  What else are great-aunties for, right?? lol)

Being closer to family -- and hoping to bond with the next generations -- was a big reason why we moved here 3+ years ago.  Moving & adjusting to a new community hasn't been a painless process -- but right now, I'm feeling like we made the right decision. :)  


  1. I love that you are so involved and are getting to bond with them. And I am so glad Niece-in-law is appreciative of it, too. I do understand what you mean, though, when you aren’t at the top of the pecking order (as you put it) and you don’t really know exactly where you fit it, or how much you should be doing/how involved you should be. There are numerous situations where I have been sort of in that spot. I’ve found, though, that most times people love it for someone to just jump in and take charge, and as long as you aren’t just bulldozing you’re way in it’s usually met with receptiveness and gratitude. And really, in this case especially, no one should get upset about the new baby having so many extra people that love him around at the ready to help!!

    That quote from the book is really powerful, and is making me think quite a lot.

  2. "... they're always there when you need them." Okay, that blurred my eyes and caused me to sniffle there for a moment. I'm so glad that you're going to be able to play such a special role for both your nephew and niece-in-law and your great-nephew too. What a gift - for all of you.

    (Also, the photos of the dog and baby were adorable!)

  3. Aw that's so lovely! The only saying goes "it takes a village" and I think most parents appreciate the support!

  4. They are so lucky that you moved closer to them. I have no doubt you ARE the best.

  5. Of course you're there when they need you! Not because you're hanging out with nothing to do, but because you're family and you care. They're very lucky to have you...

  6. This post is so full of love and it makes me happy that you and your husband get to be a major part of it all. <3

  7. So many layers of feelings here. I love what they said about you two-- what a lovely compliment! (I had a picture book about church mice growing up, and they are cute and helpful!) Such a hard balance. I feel that quote, too, about wanting to help
    and give but trying not to have it be fed too much from your own needs. So hard when you second guess yourself all the time! I love the pictures of you with the baby, and the special role you'll play in all their lives. Beautiful post.