The glamorous commercial property manager had recently given birth to a baby who couldn’t digest its food properly. I don’t recall if it was colicky or something worse. Neither of their families lived nearby so it was just she, her husband, and the wailing baby. Commercial real estate is a demanding job, dressing to the nines, negotiating contracts and keeping everyone-from the tenants, to the landlord to the secretaries-all paddling in the same direction. She showed up every day looking as if her life was in complete control.
In our private conversations however, she was at wits end and exhausted. As the magnet for others’ pain, (see Single Parents Dilemma) I wracked my brain for a way to help this young mom and her husband. The only thing I came up with was offering to drive out to the suburbs and pick up her laundry. Of course, she appropriately declined the offer. Each of us moved on from that company and I don’t know how it turned out. I presume that they got through it.
Within the last couple of weeks, NPR broadcast a segment in which a nurse translated by phone for nurses and doctors who treat non-English speaking people. A young mother and her husband wrapped their hot, fevered infant in blankets. Translated, they said that all of pictures of Baby Jesus showed him swaddled in cloth. They were doing the best they knew how, but it wasn’t the best for the baby at that time.
This brings to mind the need for a Legion of Grandparents. Knowing how to care for an infant or a child seems like it should be natural. Although it is for animals, it definitely does not work that way for humans. Human parents learn how to parent from others who know have trod that well worn path. Luckily, there are millions of people who love babies and children and are expert at caring for them. This valuable resource, grandparent-type people, exists in every community. A Legion of Grandparents could be a resource for new parents and for those whose families are not nearby or not readily available for support. This need is real enough that Western Union purchased billboard advertising with a photo of a young mom holding a crying infant captioned: Send Grandma. If this is done right, the Legion of Grandparents can hold down the fort until the real genuine article arrives.
It’s not just the crises that we need grandmas and grandpas for. It is also for trips to the playground, skinned knees, learning to tie knots, to fish, to knit, to garden, to read to children and much more. Grandparents fill countless roles. If your parents are not here, there are lots of good ones that can stand in very well.
Contact Terry Edlin to mobilize your neighborhood with community gatherings to identify who has what you need to get, who needs what you have to give, to get people socializing to create supportive, resourceful communities and to identify the people who can fill the important role of standby grandparent. For everyone’s safety and well being, it is important that we gather and socialize regularly and form alliances gradually.
Thanks to Ned Horton for the use of the photo Reading with Grandmother in Wheelchair. I welcome comments on anything on this website, including all blog posts.