You will realize you are now just the backup

4 mins read


There is a commercial airing on television now depicting a young couple tenderly bathing their newborn child in the kitchen sink. You can see their concern for the baby’s safety, holding its head carefully, and slowly pushing water and soap on the baby’s tummy. So cute!

Then it pans to the next scene where you see the mother walking into the bathroom holding up a naked baby and the showering spouse handing out a toddler as the two parents exchange their children. So much for tender bathing.

The commercial resonates with most parents because they will all tell you their version of the same story.

I reminded my friend Elaine of this commercial when she returned to Beaufort after greeting her first grandchild. She had called me soon after she got back in town.

But before she could tell me anything about the baby, besides, “It’s a boy and he is healthy,” she told me that she had learned how dumb she had become over the past 20 years. I laughed because I knew exactly what she was talking about.

The phrase “Mom, we don’t do it that way anymore!” came to mind after my daughter had my first grandchild.

Elaine said it started when she saw the baby in his crib. She had purchased a beautiful expensive crib for her first grandchild and was amazed it was so barren. No cute Teddy Bear crib bumpers, no stuffed animals or dolls, not even a cute blanket.

Nothing was in the crib, except her grandson dressed in a warm sleeper and placed on his back.

“What happened to all the toys and what if he chokes lying on his back?” she asked.

“Mom, this is how it is done nowadays.”

Many of our friends have relayed stories of their own experiences upon becoming grandparents and have learned to keep their opinions about raising kids to themselves.

After we stopped laughing about how amazing it was that our children survived their own childhoods, Elaine asked “When will this all end?”

So, I told her, it ends when you get that first panicked phone call. “Mom, his temperature is 99.1 degrees. What should I do?” There is something very comforting for a new parent to hear the reassuring voice of her/his mother.

And just like in the commercial, after the second grandchild, they relax. Instead of everything getting sterilized, you will watch as a dropped pacifier is promptly plucked up, placed in the mother’s mouth and then shoved into the baby’s mouth. That is also when instead of the panic calls, you get the calls to just babysit.

Ultimately, you too will relax and realize that the best parents for your grandchildren are their own parents, and you are now just the backup.

Lee Scott, a writer and recent retiree, shares her everyday observations about life after career. A former commercial banker responsible for helping her clients to reach their business objectives, Scott now translates those analytical skills to her writings. She lives on St. Helena Island and enjoys boating, traveling and reading.

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