Then my parents came.
Gramma and Grampa arrived Friday, August 14th in the afternoon donning face masks and bring boxes of baby things they saved from my childhood. My parents save everything, but to their credit, they are attempting to get through the boxes they’ve saved before their children and grandchildren have to do it posthumously. This trip was no different.
They came to see their first grandchild. They came to help us transition between new moms to working moms. They came to help us around the house, keep the bottles clean, and wash the ungodly amount of laundry a new baby seemed to leave in her wake. They also took the morning shift while Sara had to get to teaching and I could sleep in. They were an incredible help.
They also delayed reality.
For the first two weeks of Ellie’s life, when there was a blowout poop-of-might, they were there to provide an extra set of hands or two. When Ellie was fussing while I was trying to get my morning shift of sleep, Gramma would come in to whisk Ellie away downstairs, and I could get back to dreaming. When Ellie went from sleeping soundly to full lung-capacity screaming in under a second due to inconsolable hunger, Grampa would make the bottle while I got settled on the couch with a bib, a burp rag, and a lap mat. Everything could be carefully mise en place’d while the additional set of hands quickly made fast work.
Quietly, without asking or telling us, they picked up the soiled burp rags, receiving blankets, several onesies a day; took diapers upstairs to the genie; washed every bottle as soon as it was used; returned the pacie to an open, expectant Ellie mouth; re-swaddled every time she managed to wriggle her feet free (then complained she was cold); and even made sure we both had water in our water bottles and coffee in our mugs.
“That’s what grandparents do,” they would say, “that’s what we came here to do.”
My parents have always been putterers and doers. They are like energizer bunnies – always on the move. They have more energy than I do and they are twice my age. Just about the only thing that required a quick adjustment for them? I live in a two-story house, so they had to get used to stairs again. Otherwise, they were going at fully speed keeping track of baby and their daughter and daughter-in-law.
Words cannot express our gratitude and our appreciation for all the help they have provided us. However, we also run into the challenge that this is not how our family will always be. We do need to start setting our own routines eventually. Their cadence is not our cadence. Having extended family visit is always a blessing and a challenge. But having extended family visit with an infant is a gigantic blessing and a very different kind of challenge.
There is a sincere challenge of not creating our new family’s space when grandparents are around. They do prevent us from setting into our evening routine we would normally because we are spending the evening with the grandparents.
Normally, I am puttering around the downstairs cleaning up with a design podcast in my ears or putting away today’s load of laundry with a Spotify album playing. Then we settle into the den to play our latest video game we are conquering or turning on an opera from The Met. Instead, we are watching Jeopardy or a movie with my parents because we want to be good hosts. Where all we want to do is lie on our bed with Ellie and watch her kick her feet and see her eyes dart around trying to focus, we are having conversations with my parents like old times.
Where we want to discuss when to start her evening routine or should we wake her or not, Gramma and Grampa have an immediate opinion because they have expertise in this area. Sara and I don’t get to plan, conjecture, theorize, speculate about how we want to raise Ellie, or adjust Ellie, or coach Ellie because they have a follow-up statement.
So this Friday, Gramma and Grampa are scheduled to drive back home three states away. I will miss them very much. Mainly because I always do. This tough lady always tears up when her parents drive away from a visit. But this time it will be bittersweet tears because life will have to get back to a new normal, but we know for sure it will be our family’s new normal.