The Granny Dance
A pot of spaghetti sauce full of meatballs and Italian sausage is simmering gently on the stove, bread dough is rising and a family-sized pan of peanut butter brownies is baking in the oven. Bodies are draped all over the house. My son, Keith, and his tiny new daughter, Lily, are soundly asleep on the couch in front of the television. My daughter-in-law, Danielle, is sleeping on a couch in the family room. My mother-in-law is snoozing gently in her favorite lounge chair, and the dogs’ bodies are twitching, yipping and growling softly in their sleep on the floor. My husband is sitting on the lanai watching the rain. It is one of those rare and special days that will be memorable just for the sheer simplicity and joy of it.
My son and his family are here for the week. Lily has grown quite a bit in her first six weeks and still has the wildest head of hair imaginable. It sticks straight up, and I adore it. Her eyes are large and bright and her nose has taken a little upturn and fits perfectly between two round rosy cheeks. She reminds me of one of those troll dolls that have been popular over the years. Wishnick is now my nickname for her, after the adorable little toys. There isn’t one of us that isn’t madly in love with her. I’ve gotten to be “Granny” for days now, hugging, holding, walking, rocking, feeding, talking to and reading to my wee granddaughter. It is a thrill. The new parents seem to have gotten past their nervousness and are at ease in their new role. However, they are both exhausted. The mandate for this week is one of rest and relaxation.
I am fascinated with the plethora of equipment, clothing and paraphernalia they have brought with them to accommodate the needs of one 10 lb. body that takes up no more room than a five-pound bag of sugar. That stuff does not include the camcorder and camera, either. An entire kitchen counter top is full of bottles, formula, nipples, caps and a sterilizer made especially for the microwave. (Oh, what I wouldn’t have given for that sort of thing when my four were in their infancy.) A stroller, a portable crib, a play mat with mobile that plays music—the tune of which is roaming endlessly around in my brain—along with a seat that vibrates just enough to soothe a fractious baby, special pillows, a seeming ton of petite outfits in every shade of pink imaginable, impossibly small pink flowered nightgowns, hats to match everything, monitors, thermometers, brushes for hair and bottles, diapers, wipes, unguents, lotions, powders, bath soaps, and a foam tub liner to make it easy to bathe a little one—whew! All sorts of amazing gadgets and cool stuff that utterly appeals, amazes and makes me wonder how my generation and that of my mother-in-law ever managed without them.
I know the new parents read every book they could lay their hands on during the pregnancy and this Granny and Pop Pop provided an abundance of books to start our granddaughter’s reading experience. What surprised me the most was the books that Danielle had brought along—books on motherhood and parenting. She claims she is not a reader save for books by Jimmy Buffet. However, for this new lifelong project named Lily she is reading voraciously. The most delightful book she brought is The Girlfriends’ Guide to Surviving the First Year of Motherhood by Vicki Iovine. While dinner was cooking and everyone was peacefully snoozing, I took the opportunity to read it. It offers all kinds of advice in a warm and witty kind of way, and deals with everything from that brain-damaged feeling all new parents have in their sleep-deprived state, sex (or not), weight loss (or not), diapers, leaving the house, having company, wanting to feel and be perfect, what happened to the old body, being unable to discuss anything except your baby for more than thirty seconds, dealing with other competitive new mothers and the myriad of ways a new mother might feel. I have been intrigued listening to Danielle recount to her husband some interesting tidbit of gleaned information over breakfast or lunch or Lily’s down time. It has been a special pleasure listening to his sincere response and watching as he surreptitiously reads pieces of the book himself.
The Girlfriends’ Guide talks mostly about how a new mother can and should take care of herself. The world has expected, in previous generations, that a woman should just give it up, pack it in and forget about how she feels for about 20 years in a broodmare fashion. I’ve found this book to be a refreshing change of thought. A wonderful thing it is too, because there are hundreds of books available on how to take care of the baby. Like most parents, I’ve never had a child that did what the books told me they would do, except for poop and puke. Everything else they did on their own schedule. I remember feeling like a zombie for years while striving to be the “perfect mother.” Gawd, I wish I had this book after I had my first child or even my fourth. That big red letter “S” I wore trying to be superwoman might have come off in my 20s instead of my late 40s.
While it has been a wonderful week doing the Granny dance, walking the floor, feeding, bathing and changing, I’m exhausted. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world, though. I’ve enjoyed this peek into the life of this new family and especially enjoyed being a part of it. The tiny one still makes her grandfather’s heart beat faster and go weak in the knees, and gives my mother-in-law, Phyllis, lovely memories as she wiles away her afternoons. It’s been a summer to remember for sure.
At age 10, Anne realized she was never going to get to be Miss America since reading a book was not an acceptable talent. So she went on to get a job and raise a family. Along the way, she fixed meals, picked up toys, helped with homework, and collected a drawer full of rejection slips for her “great American novel.” It was not all bad, however, since she ended up wallpapering a closet with them. She currently designs and creates greeting cards for her tiny company, The Frog Prints, LLC, and also works full-time as a Training Specialist. Anne is currently tethered to reality by a loving spouse, two dogs, one cat and the occasional hurricane that blows through Florida, although falling headlong and happily into a book is still her favorite “talent.” She can be reached at