I thought I lacked the “good grand-parenting gene,” since the connection just wasn’t happening for me naturally .
When my daughter announced that she was pregnant, I felt a mix of emotions—elation that a new life would be brought into this world, and trepidation because my daughter was young and single. I knew she would make an excellent mother, but at 22, she still had so many things to accomplish before settling down to care for another little human being. Plus, I was a mother first (three lived outside the house and one, a teen, still lived with me). Between caring for him and working two part-time jobs, I would have little time to visit my granddaughter.
Once my granddaughter was born, I hoped that I’d feel an instant connection with the newest member of our family the first time I held her. But as I fumbled with the squirming, crying baby in my arms, I had a terrifying thought: I hadn’t changed a diaper or burped a newborn in 20 years. What if I’d forgotten the basic rudiments of infant care? Those days were long gone, and my toddler-rearing skills were rusty at best. How could I be a competent babysitter to my granddaughter if I’d lost the maternal instincts I’d had as a younger mother?
I sought the advice of friends who had already been initiated into the ranks of grandparent-hood, but none of them seem to share my concerns.
I also worried that my daughter might have the same difficulty adjusting to the drastic changes brought on by new motherhood that I once experienced. When my first child was born, I was fortunate enough to have my mother living nearby. She came to my house every day that first week to help cook, clean, and tackle the mountain of laundry rapidly multiplying in the basket. Despite her help, there were still moments when I felt overwhelmed by the responsibility of caring for a newborn, and on several occasions, locked myself in the bathroom to hide tears of frustration. My daughter lived three hours away from home.
Who would help my daughter adapt to raising a newborn after I left? She was a single mom who worked a full-time job in a large city. There were no family members living nearby, and none of her friends had any experience caring for children. She was completely on her own, and I worried how she’d handle the stress and exhaustion of raising an infant by herself.
I thought I lacked the “good grand-parenting gene,” since the connection just wasn’t happening for me naturally.