He cried that first day for five solid hours, from the moment his Mommy left the house until he tired himself out fifteen minutes before she returned. I never told her because she was having a difficult time separating herself from him. I didn’t want to upset her more.
He didn’t exactly cry – he screeched and wailed. The neighbors probably thought I was torturing the little three-month-old, but I spoke to him in a soft reassuring voice and held him the whole time. He missed his Mommy so much and felt abandoned; I was not going to reinforce that by laying him down in his crib and letting him cry it out.
I told him then that he needed to trust me. I would feed him. I would change his diaper. I would love him so much that one day he would love me back. We would have our own private language and jokes, we would become best friends, we would miss each other on weekends.
The rest of the week went a little better. He cried only half the time, but then we came to a weekend and the following Monday we were back to square one. He and Mommy had been together and here I was again – the mean, old Grandma. I came thisclose to quitting, but if I did, Mommy either had to postpone her dream of college or Baby J had to go to a daycare.
I was exhausted. My arms hurt. My back hurt. My nerves were frayed. I constantly needed a nap. This grandbaby was different from the others I helped raise, so placing him in a daycare would have been disastrous.
I made my son and daughter-in-law a promise – to give them free babysitting at their home for one whole year and I try to keep my promises.
Trust develops in baby steps. He tested me and I persisted. He continued to wail, and I continued to hold him and love him. He was fed. His diaper was changed. I loved him when he wasn’t very lovable.
The crying finally abated and one morning he met me at the front door with a smile, anxious for our day of fun to begin.
Today he is a happy child. He is cute and funny and well-grounded. He is curious but trusts only his family – Mommy, Daddy, brothers, and Grandma. He is independent but also understands the word “no.”
Our year is coming to an end. Mommy is already planning next year and so am I. He likes to learn and needs to be around other kids his age. The life I placed on hold is waiting for me and I need to get back to it.
Babies grow exponentially in their first year, so I have seen him go from a helpless little one to a confident toddler. We have been in each other’s business for the past nine months, so we became best friends. We have our own private language and jokes. We have shared thousands of hugs and kisses, laughs and games, secrets and special moments.
His memory of our year together will fade with time, but both our lives changed for the better because of it.