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Big Mama’s House

November 20, 2008

My mother — that’s Big Mama, to you — lives next door, where she’s suddenly and kindly undertaken a new life (really, after five children of her own, I guess it’s more of a re-life) as our childcare center. Now her living room, like mine, is cluttered with baby toys, and she’s perpetually changing, washing and drying diapers. Soon we’ll be partners in last-minute babyproofing and Christmas shopping.

Every day we share anxieties, thrills and other latest developments from the Jack files. When D drops him off in the morning, like he did today, he arrives with a handful of messages from me (“Tell her that he loved the sippy cup yesterday. And that he clapped his hands. And…”). When I drop him off, I have to watch the clock to limit my chatter, and I always leave with a borrowed cup of coffee. At the end of the day, she brings him to the door as I open it, and we trade notes and neuroses.

Lucky for all of us, my mother seems to love her new more-than-full-time job; lucky for her, Jack loves it, too. At Big Mama’s house, there are hummingbirds, a light that he can control with the tug of a string, more floor to scoot across, plenty of bottles, and her constant attention. For me, there’s a ceaseless supply of practical suggestions, good ideas and patient answers (even if it’s “I don’t know,” it makes me feel better about my not knowing).

Last Saturday, while D was out of town, Jack and I went to visit my father, who lives just a few miles away. His house has plenty of toys, but not much crawl space, so Jack sat in our laps or on the kitchen table in front of us for most of the day. After hours of this, my father asked, “Do you think your mother plays and pays attention to him like this all the time?” When I responded in the affirmative, he looked a little surprised  but mostly impressed, and I remembered for the billionth time how lucky we are.

At a shower D’s family threw a week before Jack was born, my sister-in-law circulated a blank book among the guests, inviting them to offer their best wishes or advice. My mother wrote, “Don’t listen to anything your mother says.”

It’s impossible to know whether to chalk this up to her good humor, personal experience or desire for me to stop asking questions. But it’s one suggestion that I probably won’t listen to.

Edited to add: My mother didn’t take this on purely as a favor, but according to a recent Times article, evidently the grandma-nanny is a growing trend.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. November 21, 2008 5:20 pm

    You’re extremely lucky. But you already know that. 🙂

  2. December 2, 2008 4:40 pm

    Your mother and I have been friends — tho distant — since junior high school. She was the koolest person in our high school. Too kool to emulate. She was then and is now Sara as you know her. Her sameness is a gift to all who know her.

    She gave me your site over the weekend. We had a years-delayed but just as warm as if we saw each other yesterday visit. Know that she is very proud of you.

    You are just as clever and creative as I came away believing.

    bb

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