The working mother’s nightmare is child-care. At 62, I still suffer from post-traumatic episodes of flashbacks about the difficulty of finding and keeping good caregivers for my children. I’ve blocked remembering just how many nannies/babysitters I hired. I felt like I’d been electrocuted each time one of them left abruptly. A few were actually reliable and didn’t quit without notice; a few had decent cars that did not pollute the car pool line at school; one or two weren’t arguing with boyfriends or estranged husbands. Then there were the others…like Debbie, whose brother-in-law was the head of the Hell’s Angels motorcycle gang. (Hers was the shortest employment tenure) The security of knowing your children are safe and well cared for and the ability to get to your office on time each morning is… well, let’s just say it… priceless!
Featured on CBS Sunday Morning this week was a story entitled, “Boomer Grandparents Play Mom and Dad Part-Time”. Leslie Stahl reported that the cost of childcare often exceeds the cost of college, and boomer parents are stepping in to help. Former President of Wheaton College, Tish Emerson, is now a “granny nanny” (Leslie Stahl’s term, not mine) for twin grandchildren who say she is critical to their lives, taking them to skating practice, feeding them, and offering her apartment for homework time. As a busy college president she says she missed many of these experiences with her own children. Emerson confessed she needs her grandchildren as much as they need her. “It’s a chance to see things develop with your grandchildren you were unable to do with your own kids, working full time. It’s kind of a second life, a second chance. When you are a working parent, time is your enemy. When you are a grandparent, time is different and you are able to be more relaxed.”
Stahl writes in her new book, Becoming Grandma: The Joys and Science Of the new Grandparenting, “The definition of being a grandmother is pure joy, unconditional love. Loving them for who they are not what we want them to be. Not loving them for what jobs they are going to have, just the mere joy of being in the same space with them.”
I’m of two minds after watching this segment. First, I could not agree more that being in the presence of my grandchildren is pure unadulterated joy. I’m also struck by the devotion of Baby Boomers to their children. In prior posts I’ve dubbed us the “Tweener” Generation, sandwiched between parenting adult children and caring for aging parents. Now we are taking care of our grandchildren. I’m a bit in awe of the fact Baby Boomers have been and are caregivers to three generations, sometimes simultaneously.
I suspect, though, caring for this latest generation will be the most fun.