And so it does. On the outskirts of Ft. Lauderdale in a very cramped one-bedroom apartment where by day I am a newly-anointed grandmother-in-residence helping my single daughter and by night, on weekends and in between those fogged out naps and rounds of poop patrol, I’m a writer.
Sounds a little daunting I suppose. Well, you’re right! It is. And even though for me this is new ground I’m about to cover, I’m aware to others it’s not new at all. According to the 2010 Census there were over 2.9 million (yes million) children just in the United States alone being raised by their grandparents and that number was a 60% increase over the 2005 Census. 60%! Can you imagine? That’s an incredible number. And given the current state of our economy, one where the middle class no longer truly exists, I don’t suppose the 2015 numbers will fare any better.
So before I get into anything else here, I’d like to say right off the bat to all those other Grammies, Nanas and Bubbies (Gramps and Pops too!) out there whose empty nests are no longer empty…I salute you! I salute you! I salute you!
Some of you might be asking yourselves: why the hell am I doing this? That I must be nuts! I didn’t think it through. Well, the truth is I might be absolutely insane for signing up for this gig, but I most certainly did think it through. Yes, I might’ve forgotten what those late-night feedings felt like the next morning or the smell of formula as it sticks to your shirt, your hair, and the oh-so distinctive odor coming from a diaper reminding you within seconds what it was all about and why you were never so happy as you were when your own children finally graduated college. I think this falls in line with why we have more than one child. You go through the painful process of birth and afterwards vow you’ll never do it again. Yet you do!
I also think that after raising two children of my own, on my own, not only are there no surprises coming down the pike, but I’m fearless like some sixty-something gladiator in apron and sneakers able to withstand what my daughter cannot. Not yet anyway.
Take for instance Meghan’s umbilical cord and how the heck are we going to clean it. The new rule of thumb is just let it alone. It’ll heal then fall off fine on its own. But this alongside getting the baby into a sleeping routine was a subject Carly and I had discussed ahead of time and agreed Q-tip and rubbing alcohol would be applied 3-4 times daily and religiously. Carly being a bit on the squeamish side, you can imagine those very tentative pokes with which she dabbled away. That and those God-awful faces she offered up when I suggested using a rectal thermometer when poor cupcake was running a slight fever.
I smile at my daughter. All the time actually because I know I was there once. And I believe with all my heart what a terrific mom she’s going to be. She, like the rest of us, just has to get past that feeling her baby will break, that and those bloody shins and dangling umbilical scab will eventually heal and learn how to tune out those demanding “pick-me-up-all-the-time-or-else” squeals and everything, I mean everything else after that is cake.
Well that’s what I keep telling her. Now I only hope she believes me. Because if not Lord help us all…this is going to be one helluva bumpy fucking ride.