Please indulge me as I celebrate some women in my family who are helping to raise the next generation. Our daughters, the three sisters. Two mommies and an auntie.
I’m not sure how they learned to act so naturally skilled around babies and small children. Only one was a regular baby sitter. I think it might come from waiting until they were older to get into the baby business. After they figured out their priorities, with family climbing to the top.
I watch our daughters with the kids and wonder where the impatience went. Even the daughter whose famous childhood declaration was, “I hate patience.” Once she gave birth she became near Buddha-like in her calm attention. Far more laid back than I was in my new mother anxious, overwhelmed years.
Sure, like all mothers they get exhausted by the many demands on their time and energy, but I don’t see them sitting on the curb with a glass of red wondering how they might slip into Mexico before someone called CPS. Of course their kids are still little, not teenagers.
I will not play into the current mommy wars, but our daughters are working mothers. They work at home and they work at work. And they are married to men who do the same.
I don’t think they ever considered not continuing to work when they had children. One’s a teacher. One’s a writer. Their work defines them but so does being a mother. The teacher-daughter returned to her second grade class within months of having her daughter. She did the same after her son was born. The author-daughter delivered both a manuscript and a baby boy in the same month.
It’s amazing that the same people who used to argue the nutritious merits of top ramen and mac and cheese learned to make their own baby food. They would never mix their child’s medicine in orange soda to get them to swallow it…like I did.
Pros at multi-tasking, they make the different parts of their lives work, including play dates for the kids, date nights with the husbands and time at the gym for themselves. In many ways, I envy them. Compared to working mothers of my generation, theirs has more societal support. They can find before and after school care. They don’t have to make up a phony excuse for their boss to stay home with a feverish child. They have mommy blogs with advice on breast pumping at the office and setting up employer-sponsored child care.
Then comes the rest of the village, in our case lead by super auntie, the third sister, willing to stop in the middle of writing a legal brief to drive across town to save all when the stomach flu hits. But she’s more than backup. She’s a major player in her niece’s and nephews’ lives. She will make sure they all know how to swim, kick box and use the library. The piano’s at her house when they’re ready for music lessons.
It is pretty sweet to watch your kids with their kids. Dancing with a newborn. Explaining the concept of fairness to a five year old. Teaching a two year old how to share a lap with a puppy.
It makes it easy on us grandparents. We’re the side show. We just need to learn baby sign language, memorize a few Mary Poppins’ tunes and promise to abide by the parental rules on glitter paints and cookie rationing. Then we get to sit back, look at our brood and cluck.