Mommy and Daddy Take a Break

When you were little, we had our regular babysitters who watched you when Dad and I went out on a big date. When we lived in New York, your sitter was our neighbor Ann Marie, who Kelly referred to as “Ann Me,” and her younger sister, “what’s her name.” Grandma came up frequently, because it was her goal not to be a stranger despite the distance. I loved that she did it, but have to laugh knowing that she had to travel a mere 65 miles, while Mark’s parents travel 700 miles to visit their grandson quite often. But it was still a big deal and I loved her for doing it.

After we moved to the center of the universe, I did rely on them more often, but we also had a supply of regular sitters. I made sure we had great snacks and paid them well so they rarely said no. Going out was an extravagance for us then, but it was nice to have someone fun and reliable to watch you.

It was extremely rare that we ever went on vacation without all of you. In fact, I recall only one time, which was in March 1989 when we went to the Bahamas. Grandma and Grandpa moved in for a few days and let us have that time alone. I recently found the two pages of instructions I left them to survive those few days. You’re going to love it. You would think they were the parents of only one rather than a brood of five.

I learned that Jamie loved a breakfast of oatmeal with raisins, Kix, Lucky Charms (so unhealthy, I know) or waffles. Kelly was not so picky. She’d eat “whatever.”

Those were the “soup and a cheese sandwich” days. The soup was Progresso vegetable soup. I shared my vey secret sandwich recipe with Grandma: toast the bread, and melt the cheese in the microwave. Never did I cook this on the stovetop in a frying pan. No siree! Nothing but the best for my girls.

Jamie still napped, settling down at 1:00. She was very needy, requiring her music box, a sip of water, and cuddling. (all this for a nap!)

At bedtime Kelly slept with three nightlights, but Jamie was braver, needing nothing but the nightlight on her Big Bird lamp if she awoke during the night for some cuddling and a sip of water.

Looking back, I bet Grandma and Grandpa ignore my rules. They probably served an Entenmann’s coffee cake for breakfast, egg salad for lunch, and some of Grandma’s famous brownies as an afternoon snack. No peanut butter apples served by that grandma. She loved making sweet treats for her babies, and I bet you will always remember Grandma’s icing-topped brownies, specially made with the help of her friends, Betty or Dunkin.

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I Appreciate You

Okay, I admit it. I am a grandma, and I am loving the role. I was warned this would happen, but I didn’t completely believe it. This is not saying I was not excited for Kelly and Mark to become parents. Not at all! I still remember the longing I had to be a mom and the thrill each time I looked into each tiny set of eyes for the first time.

It’s just that the memories of my two grandmas were of old gray-haired women with sagging skin. I loved both of them, but neither was ever young to me. But I have the birthdays so I know their ages.  My Carey grandma was only sixty when I was born and my Russian grandma—Baba—was sixty-eight. Did they both seem so old because when you are very little, anyone older than twenty-five is ancient? Will all my grandchildren remember Dad and I as dinosaurs, or will they have any recollections of us as young and energetic (sort of) and fun to be with?

What makes it so enjoyable is the renewal of the profound love that I had (still have) when you were all so young, innocent, and totally dependent on us for everything. It was the excitement and joy that you all had for the smallest discovery because everything was new, that I am now seeing again. “Look, Grandma, a butterfly”, or “Look, Grandma, the clouds are moving!” You did that to me many years ago.

What I love, love, love is when our little guy sees me and says, “I’m so happy to see you, Grandma,” and then tightly wraps those tiny arms around my neck.

Today, when I put some lettuce in his hand, and he fearlessly held it up so a giraffe could grab it from his little hand with its slimy, two foot long tongue (I couldn’t even do it), he giggled with delight and said, “Again.” There was  a sparkle of wonder in his eyes that you all had when you were his age.

I thought back to last week when Dad and I took him to the park, and as we were returning home he said to us, “I had a nice day. It was fun.” He appreciated our little outing and somehow knew to tell us. It made us feel so good, particularly knowing that a two-year-old child does not lie yet.

This makes me wonder if my grandmother knew how much I appreciated her. Did I ever tell her? When she asked me to stay with her because she was lonely, and I got my own room at her house (a big deal since I was sharing my own bedroom at our house next door with my two sisters), did I ever tell her how much I loved staying there. Every morning before I left for school, she cooked me breakfast—scrambled eggs, toast, and tea. The eggs were runny, but I loved them and no one ever made me eggs like that. Did she know how I felt?

I know all of you gave Grandma those tight hugs and drippy kisses while you were little, and I am certain she knew how much you all loved her.  But there is not an expiration of date on the feeling of happiness when someone tells us we are appreciated. Sometimes, we don’t say those words of thanks to those we love. We may say we love them, but expressing the gratitude is important, too.

So go to the store and pick up a card, and then sit down and write her a note inside with a memory and words of thanks for being the amazing grandma that she is to you.  And then she will have that card to read and make her feel happy again and again.