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Notes from a Nanny Granny

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On Becoming a Nanny Granny



When my YDD (younger dear daughter in the current "Internet-speak") first asked me if I would help her with her then-child-to-be when she arrived, I immediately said, "Yes." I knew that as a single mom, she was going to need some help, especially as her relationship with the (excited-but-scared) dad had become shaky. And that when she went back to work, she wouldn't be able to afford daycare, even if she wanted it (she didn't - she wanted baby watched by someone who loved her). DH (dear husband) understood this, too, fortunately.

So soon enough, our wonderful DGD (dear granddaughter) came into this world (I was fortunate enough to be invited to the birth) - and I becam a "nanny granny," one of a growing number of grandparent (and other relative) caregivers, who were frequently watching their DGC, due to the increase in 2-career/job marriages and single moms (and sometimes dads), in case you are that "future reader" that I talked about earlier and don't know. This involved a major change in my daily schedule and reordering of my priorities. Actually, a series of changes since I stayed with her almost fulltime, the first week or so, and then had to reorganize my time - and rearrange it again, some months later, when she returned to work. Did I ever expect to be so fully involved in the life of a DGC. Yes and No. "Yes" in a general sort of way b/c, having 2 DDs, I always knew, in the back of my mind, that, someday, one of them might be a single mom and might turn to me for childcare, while at work, etc. And b/c my own DM (dear mom) helped me out when my kids were little and my MGM (maternal grandmother) helped DM even more (though mostly with household chores).

But mostly "No" - b/c as independent as my DDs have always been, I really thought that I'd be playing less of a part in their kids' lives than DM did in theirs or MGM, in mine. In fact, I admit, I kind of looked forward to being that "fun" GM that saw the kids once-a-week or once-a-month, whatever we all worked out. And DH and I had even thought that, among other things, we'd do more traveling, once our 2 DDs were grown and both out of the house (more on that another time). I was fully prepared (and I think DH was, too) to babysit, say on a Saturday night, if asked, so the parents wanted to go out, etc. But I never dreamed that I would play the large role in my DGC's lives that I came to play.

Nor did I anticipate the changes in child/babycare! Newborns had to be put to sleep on their backs? And never on their tummies (due to new into about SIDS)? But, years ago, as a young mom, I was warned to do just the opposite! Everyone must wash and/or sanitize their hands b4 touching a new baby? But years ago, I was reassured by doctors and nurses alike, that infants had a "built-in immunity from Mommy" for the 1st 6 months! And imagine my shock when, even a little later down the road, I confidently reassured YDD that the polio vaccine was "just a drink" (no crying!) - only to find out that pediatricians had gone back to the shot! The live, oral vaccine, apparently, had caused polio-like symptoms in some children (if I recall correctly what YDD said her pedi explalned to her). But, years ago, we were assured it was safe! OMG! One of those children could have been mine! (Granted, "Future Reader," even greater changes may have occurred by the time you were born. But in the early 21st Century, those changes seemed huge to me!)

Many a conversation ended with YDD and me each looking at the other as if they had 2 heads (this was b4 I discovered this website)! Until I realized that a lot had changed and that I would have to trust YDD's word and learn from and along with her!

YDD and I also discovered, fairly quickly, that we had different visions of what my role as a GP caregiver was supposed to be. In my mind, for example, there were definite beginnings and endings, with me arriving as she was about to leave for work and going home, as soon as she returned. Her view was more flexible, with my coming a little b4 she went to work so she had time to get ready w/o interruption and staying a little longer if she wanted to, say, stop by the store and pick up a few items, sans kids. DH also had his expectations. We did a lot of negotiating - and renegotiating b4 we were all, more or less, satisfied. Even so, from time to time, I found myself having to reaffirm the boundaries - or readjust them if something wasn't working - with either YDD or DH. (This is why in Grandparents Caring for Grandkids and other forums on this site, I often advise prospective caregivers to discuss "expectations" with the parents b4hand.)

So... My world changed, in many ways, when I became a nanny granny. New concerns rose to importance and I had to let some plans and projects slide. And my relationship with YDD shifted, now that she was the mom and I was her "helper." It wasn't always easy to acclimate myself or "get my balance," so to speak.

But in the center of that world - and what made it all worthwhile - was, first DGD and, later, DGS. Looking back, I wouldn't change a thing!


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