Grandparenting During a Pandemic: Mornings with Sylvia
The world has been a bit of a harsh place in the last year. Although I have mostly stayed home due to COVID-19, I’ve allowed the world in through television and social media. At times, it’s been like a train wreck, almost impossible to avert my eyes. It’s unhealthy to obsess about things out of your control, so I’m working on letting go. The pandemic has also changed grandparenting for many of us, but I still have my mornings with Sylvia. My time with my four-month-old granddaughter is the balm to my troubled soul.
When Sylvia’s big brother was a baby, I was fortunate to be able to take care of him three days a week while his parents worked. I provided part-time child care for the first fifteen months of his life, and that time together bonded us tightly. Since then, my son-in-law has become a stay-at-home parent, so my grandmother’s child care services are no longer necessary. I have to be honest and say that in some ways, it’s a relief. I’m three years older, and while that doesn’t sound significant, the pandemic seems to have aged me at warp speed. Thanks to my vice of stress baking, I’m twenty pounds heavier, and I feel ten years older since March of 2020. I’m not sure I could take care of Sylvia in the same enthusiastic way I took care of Callister three years ago.
The compromise is a morning one day a week where Sylvia comes to hang out with me. It’s only three hours, but it’s a chance for us to get to know each other one on one, no big brother making loud dinosaur noises, no mom or dad in the wings, no over-protective dogs trying to take care of “their” baby. Just me and Sylvia, and it is lovely. It seems strange to say, but we are just now getting to know one another. Fortunately, she is a happy, easy-to-please baby and seems to have forgiven my relative absence in her life.
Sylvia humors me by letting me put her in the “bunnies” outfit her mom wore 34 years ago.
COVID-19 precautions have been a significant factor in my presence, or lack of, in Sylvia’s life. While her mom was on maternity leave for eight weeks, we formed a small quarantine bubble and visited outside, masked and socially distanced. I saw Sylvia and even held her frequently, but I was always fully masked. When my daughter went back to work, we had to re-evaluate our routine. Our quaranteam decided that my husband and I would see the grandchildren but not be in enclosed spaces with the adults for an extended time. Yes, we know it’s a risk, but we also know we aren’t willing to not see our grandchildren at all. Fortunately, our daughter and son-in-law agreed.
COVID-19 has changed the way I grandparent. The first two years of Callister’s life, he and I were on the go all the time, exploring all the fun activities Tulsa has to offer. We were regulars at Schusterman-Benson story times and the Gathering Place. We had season passes to the Oklahoma Aquarium and the Tulsa Zoo. I loved sharing new experiences with my grandson and seeing the world anew through his eyes. Sylvia was born smack in the middle of a pandemic, so our time has been spent at home.
Sylvia is a child of the pandemic, but at barely four months, she doesn’t know the significance of her birth timing. For her, staying home is the norm. When she’s with me, we talk, sing, read books, and play dress up. The playing dress-up part is solely for my fun, and I’m lucky she goes along with being my living doll. During the morning, she often takes a short nap in my arms. I hold her, looking at her in awe – the blondish chick fuzz just now sprouting on her head, the dimples on each finger, the way she trustingly relaxes in my arms, snuggling in close. Sylvia is most likely my last grandbaby, and I want to soak up every minute of her sweet babyhood.
There is something so magical about holding a sleeping grandbaby!
There will be a day in the not-too-distant future when we feel it’s safe to start venturing out again. I’m eagerly anticipating taking her on adventures, but I treasure my mornings with Sylvia for now. Sylvia and I are becoming friends and establishing trust. Three hours is a short time, but my mornings with Sylvia give me peace of mind, a reset of joy that lasts all week. Is there any better medicine for the soul than holding your precious grandbaby in your arms?
“A grandchild fills a space in your heart that you never knew was empty.” – Unknown