You’re going to be a grandmother! You could have received the news in one of many ways. Maybe an adoption finally came through. Perhaps your son emailed an ultrasound image (good luck finding the fetus). Your child might tell you the old fashioned way: “Mom, I’m pregnant.” Or, your daughter could marry someone who has children. However it happens, your life is about to change.
I was elated at my daughters’ pregnancy announcements. A new person would be in my life. Growing up as an only child, with no dad, grandparents, or first cousins, I longed for a larger family. I’d thought I could make up for my early lean family by having a slew of my own kids. But for various reasons, my husband and I stopped at two children. Now, with each new grandchild, my tribe expands.
Seeing my daughters become mothers filled me with joy and pride, mixed with the hope that all would go well. I’d loved caring for children, and was happy to see my girls choose to have their own children.
Mothers build nests, from finding a mate to picking the perfect paint color for baby’s new room (as if the baby will actually sleep in that room rather than beside mom and dad’s bed, or in someone’s walking arms, or in a sling). Two days before I delivered my first daughter, my kitchen cupboards begged me to empty, clean, and tidy them and all their contents. I’m not the cupboard-cleaning type—I believe that closets, drawers, and cupboards close in order to hide the disasters within. My cabinet cleaning was misplaced nesting, as if the baby were going to sleep there.
I was surprised when I began to grandma-nest. I don’t know if this behavior has been observed in other species. I just know that I loved helping my daughters prepare for their little ones. Once the mom developed her baby wish list, I made liberal use of my Amazon 1-click (such a powerful feeling), and the brown delivery boxes piled up. All three grandchildren have arrived in the world replete with onesies, diapers, toys, and everything else they could possibly need. I even made baby bottom wipes from old flannel sheets (sewing the equivalent of toilet paper is a labor of love).
What I failed to plan for was the one thing women usually think of first for any event: what to wear. This is not a trivial matter. One hour with a newborn can ruin a business suit. Those favorite jeans, the ones that don’t make you look fat, will probably be too stiff for getting up and down from the floor several times in a fifteen minute period. Grandmas need grandma clothes. Some requirements:
Washable: In the space of a few babysitting hours, you’ll be peed on, spit up on, and maybe pooped on. And that’s on one of the good days. One grandson has drenched me in vomit several times. It’s good to have a full change of clothes with you, either in your car or in the baby’s house.
Comfortable: By this I don’t mean the kind of psychological comfort you feel when an outfit drapes just the right way to hide your flaws. I mean clothes that bend with you as you stoop and pick up babies, kids, and toys. I mean pants that allow you to kneel on food-covered floors, grass, dirt, and sand, and shirts that don’t bind as you desperately hold onto your two-year-old grandson’s tricycle as it’s about to careen down a hill.
Forgiving of stains: If you love your summer pastels, you might need to rethink your fashion choice. Or, you could embrace the artistic look of white pants smeared with jam handprints, marker stains, and the aforementioned poop.
Temperature adjustable: If you’re postmenopausal, you may experience the occasional hot flash. Or, if you’re like me, you have three temperature settings: hot, boiling hot, and freezing. Holding hot babies can set up and prolong a hot flash. I’ve found that layering with sweat-wicking clothes helps.
So, my Grandma outfit is pretty much the same as my work-out ensemble:
Sleeveless athletic shirt (sweat dries quickly)
Quarter-zip light athletic long-sleeve shirt (a small hot flash can be averted just with opening the zipper, and babies love to practice pulling the zipper up and down)
Hooded fleece cardigan jacket (great for wet, cold days)
Black yoga pants with pockets for tissues, snacks, little toys, baby socks, and your smart phone to text Mom and Dad things like: Is it really okay if your four year old granddaughter has five teaspoons of honey?
Walking shoes, preferably waterproof (toddlers aim toward puddles like magnetic attraction—nice to keep your own feet dry even if you can’t protect theirs)
Finally, grandma nesting includes setting up your own home for visiting grandkids, with things like childproofing, plastic dishes free of nasty chemicals, booster seats, and port-a-cribs. On one visit, my granddaughter pointed out the most critical thing for a grandma nest: “Grandma, you need more toys here.” Back to Amazon 1-click.