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New Grandma? Here’s How to Play the Grandmother Game

By Lee Gaitan March 26, 2017 Family

The instant our eyes met, I was done for. One single glance and my knees turned to liquid, my heart to putty. In that moment, I suddenly knew that truth that nothing really happens until it happens to you.

And make no mistake, love at first sight happened to me that day.

Although a computer screen and 1,100 miles separated us at that moment, that 8-pound, 10-ounce bundle of perfection, my precious baby granddaughter, had me at “Waaaaaa.” She now owns me body, mind and soul, and although I am new to the grandmother game, I have already made a few discoveries.

Being a New Grandma – It’s Not Exactly a Hallmark Card

Because my daughter had some complications that left her virtually immobile for the first few weeks, I was a hands-on grandmother from the get-go. Caring for my first grandchild was like being transported 35 years back in time to my own days as a new mother.

And just like then, I routinely found myself well into the afternoon still dressed in a nightgown, one with spit-up milk dried on the front, along with black knee socks – my legs were cold – and hair styled by Hags R Us. No Hallmark card image, for sure, but I wouldn’t have traded one exhausting second for a vacation in the South of France.

Daytime TV Can Be Surprisingly Addictive and Oddly Motivating

Infants do an awful lot of sleeping, and as a hands-on, deliriously-in-love grandmother, it was my duty to allow the baby to sleep in my arms only. All day, every day. (My daughter was too incapacitated to scold me for getting the baby in this bad habit.)

That meant I was pretty much confined to the couch in the family room with daytime TV as my only adult companion. I found myself sucked into some of the more questionable daytime fare, namely “Hoarders” and “My 600-pound Life.” These shows were like the proverbial train wreck to me, at once fascinating and horrifying, but utterly addictive.

As someone who has struggled with depression, I sympathize with those suffering from an emotional disorder, but after several episodes, even I lost my patience with the hard-core cases. I scared the baby when I began variously shouting at the TV, “Why are you saving old bread wrappers, for crying out loud?” and “Put those donuts down right now!” Not the most compassionate approach, but I must say I found myself newly motivated to sharpen my house-cleaning skills and to stick to my diet.

To a New Grandma, There is Nothing So Intoxicating as New Baby Smell

There likely isn’t a mother alive who doesn’t know this, but I had forgotten exactly how delicious and mood-altering new baby smell is. One whiff of my granddaughter’s head or the back of her neck and I get woozy. (For the record, I don’t recommend smelling the other end quite so vigorously.)

If I inhale deeply, puppies, ribbons and rainbows are all I can see. Pain and problems cease to exist. And this “drug” is not only free, it is available without prescription, though I certainly don’t advise operating heavy machinery – or so much as a stapler – while under its influence. You can keep your controlled substances; I’ll take new baby smell every time.

The Higher the High, the Harder the Crash

Boy, am I feeling the pain of this now that I’m back home in Atlanta and that sweet baby is in her crib in Boston. I physically ache for her. I am jonesing so bad for a baby fix, I tried to force my 74-pound Labrador into an XXL onesie and make him sleep in a basinet. The scratch marks on my arms are just about healed now. Then I briefly considered holding a sign outside of Babies R Us that said “Will rock babies for Diet Coke,” but my husband overheard me telling my sister about my plan and hid my car keys.

For now I am a grandmother with an empty lap, counting down the days until my next visit. In the meantime, I take comfort in knowing that as much as I adore my granddaughter, at least I haven’t turned into one of those overbearing, over-sharing grandmothers who think everyone is just dying to see picture after picture of their little darling. Those kinds of women can be so obnoxious.

Oh, I have to go; my daughter just texted me two new photos and I need to post them to Facebook before people go to bed. I don’t want my angel to be overlooked in a crowded morning newsfeed. I wonder if Facebook has a grandmother-posting limit. Well, no worries, it’s not like I’m obsessed or anything!

Are you a new grandma who is learning the grandmother game? What is the most challenging thing for you in this new role? Are you just a little bit “obsessed” with your grandchild? Share your stories in the comments!

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The Author

Lee Gaitan has worn many hats in her 25 years as a professional communicator, from public relations writer and talk show host to educator and stand-up comedienne. She is the author of two books, the proud mother of one and stepmother of two and now lives in suburban Atlanta with her husband and dog.

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