The Offer…

I warned Ariana over and over. Carefully explaining the last month of pregnancy might feel 6 months long, but the second that baby girl made her appearance, life would start moving at warp speed. Still great grandma’s have a tendency to exaggerate, and Ari thought her maternity leave would last a lot longer. Ha-ha I thought, wish it would, but my whole encounter with the early years of motherhood in general went much too fast. Those years flew.

Jovi Marie, 2 months…

Ari and Josh visited the Daycare where I work, filled out paperwork and signed up Jovi. They were hoping to use daycare only 3 days a week. Josh was campaigning his bosses at U of M to work from home one day a week or change his work week to four-10 hour days in order to stay with Jovi on Monday’s. Our daughter Shannon, Jovi’s grandma (that’s still pretty weird for me to say or believe) thought she could care for Jovi most Fridays, therefore needing daycare on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Only to discover a very long waiting list in each of our rooms. It’s kind of a vicious cycle. We can only have 12 babies in our room. (Only-ha!) I believe that’s determined by our square footage. We can keep babies in our room longer than a year, but until they’re at least one year old, each baby must have their own crib to nap in. When they move to the Wonderful Ones, they sleep on tiny cots about 2 inches off the ground. And instead of our low to the ground high chairs, they eat family style, at little tables with tiny chairs. So stinking cute. And it mattered not one whit, this great grandma had absolutely no pull or got preferential treatment.

You wanna fight me???

So this vicious cycle. My boss Tracy explained it really isn’t going to get much better until the regular school year is over in our building. And I don’t know all the technical terms for the classrooms, but here’s the gist of it. When the kindergarten readiness class is moving to regular kindergarten, the 4 year olds move to readiness, the 3’s move to preschool, the 2’s to whatever that’s called, (pre-preschool?) and the Wonderful Ones move to Toddlers. Which gives openings for our babies to move to the Ones. By the end of summer there will be about 10 of our babies who will have turned 1 and should be moving. Not to worry, the waiting list to get in our room is long and every week or so some pregnant mom-to-be walks through. There seems to be no shortage of newborns clamoring to get in. Duh, we’re the best.

I love P!nk…

So the weeks of Ari-Jovi bonding non-stop were clipping right along with no real solution becoming crystal clear. Finally a call, there was an opening in the infant room. Wait for it. One. Measly. Day. A. Week. Only available day is Wednesday, so Josh and Ari grabbed it. At least they got their (Jovi’s adorable little) foot in the door. But what to do about Tuesday-Thursday? Not giving it a second thought, John under the tutelage of the great Mighty Mouse, ‘here-I-am-to-save-the-day’ pipes up and casually blurts, “I’ll take care of Jovi those 2 days a week until there’s an opening for her!” Oh, just blow me away Hubs.

It’s not that John wasn’t a great father when our kids were small. He was. He did stuff with them I had no interest in. Like carving pumpkins, dyeing Easter eggs, sledding, ice skating, fishing. Crap I was horrible at, even in my lame attempts to become a more well rounded mother at times. Never worked. But it’s been many years since Hubs really, really took care of a baby. He did spend a lot of time with Ari when she was young, but that too was 25 years ago. Still there was no hesitation and never once did he lament in the weeks leading up to Jovi-great-grandpa days, “why in heaven’s name did I ever offer to do this? What was I thinking?” Nope, never crossed his mind.

Might be a little spoiled…

In the last 20 years childcare has changed a lot. Since I started working in the infant room over a year ago, I’ve taken several classes and gone to 2 hours of instruction every month, keeping up to date with all the state licensing rules. Safe sleep, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, mandatory reporting of any signs of abuse or neglect. Protecting and advocating for those who cannot yet protect themselves. Feeding, burping, no blankets or toys in their cribs, no sleeping anywhere but in their crib, no swaddling. The list goes on and on. All of which I rattled off at different times leading up to his first Jovi-Day. One of the toughest to wrap our heads around has been babies sleeping on their backs. Goes against everything doctors taught us 45 yeas ago when we were having babies. Would if they spit up, won’t they choke if they’re on their backs? Though I did not make him take the online class, I vividly remember and relayed the stats. In the last 20 plus years since doctors have been advocating young babies sleeping only on their backs, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome has dropped from 15 babies per thousand to 8 per thousand. Think about that for a minute. Still losing babies but the rate has dropped almost in half. Hubs the engineer, understands statistics. Ok, he was on board. Ari wrote down approximate feeding times and naps, and just as suddenly, she was heading back to work and dropping off 9 week old Jovi with her great grandpa. Normally I get Tuesday’s off which would leave John only Thursday’s for her care until I get home at 1, but work hasn’t been normal. I gave up Tuesday’s off for a few weeks, then offered to work until 3 everyday. (What was I thinking? What a difference 2 hours makes! Getting home at 3:20 instead of 1:20. Too late to start the crockpot unless we want to eat at 8 or later. Not. This is why great grandma’s don’t work full time. Yikes Louise, I was bushed).

I’ve been told there were some very serious discussions between Jovi and GG during their first couple days. # 1 on his to-do or not-do-list was waiting to poop until grandma got home. (Jovi, not GG, I think) Which the little stinker completely agreed with until the last day of week 3. Only to discover it wasn’t nearly as bad as he thought. Yet I’ve heard every detail-thrice. Dude, I get that privilege several times everyday at work. You’re preaching to the choir. And it’s not a big deal.

John always carved pumpkins with the kids, 1984…

Jovi and GG seem to have a rhythm for their days together. Watching the birdies at the feeder by the sliding glass doors. Ogling my brightly colored round glass ornaments hanging in the living room bay window. Sitting for a few minutes together in grandma’s chair in the living room so she can talk to the lamp. Yup, the lamp. It sparkles and glistens when the sun’s shining. I explained to Jovi one day after I got home. Now she realizes of course it’s sparkly, it’s Waterford.

I gotta have a boppy pillow wherever I go…

Everything has gone fairly smooth. I put a beach towel on the spare bed for a changing table. We have some incredibly useful equipment at work that we lack here at home. Time to go shopping. Bought a boppy pillow (amazing). Very helpful when otherwise Jovi would be flat on the floor. Hubs just got a new Lazy Boy recliner. Seems they spend most of their day together. In it. He holds her. She sleeps. He doesn’t eat, pee or move. Oy vey. I’ve tried to reason with both of them, sternly, this isn’t the best idea in the world. Much as she is idolized, she cannot be held 8 hours a day. Can’t happen at daycare, 12 babies, 5 caregivers. Do the math. Sometimes babies fuss for a couple minutes. There seems to be some kind of secret look (code) that passes between them, but then he nods and says, “yeah, you’re right, I’ll lay her down.” So we went shopping again. Bought a bouncy seat. Jovi’s off the ground and this is the way they watch TV together. (No screen time EVER at Daycare). They’ve tried all kinds of programs, each finding their favorites. Disney jr, Sesame Street, but for some reason The Curse of Oak Island, Gold Rush (yes, they both prefer and root for Parker in his quest for 4,000 ounces of gold this year) and lastly, ghastly, that Lame Tuna Fishing fiasco. We will fix this little flaw at a later date.

Sometimes I just need my binky. Baths are hard…

A week ago, Shannon calls to see if we are home. She has something for us. Two gifts actually. One is an extra base of Jovi’s car seat. That way when she’s at Daycare and I’m done working, I can plop her in my car and bring her to our house for a couple hours until Ari gets here. Couple of problems I’ve encountered with that scenario. How on earth do young mothers carry the baby, that heavy ass car seat, the diaper bag, plus my stuff? I guess ‘young’ is the biggest part I lack. I can’t believe how heavy the car seat is with Jovi in it. Honestly I’d have to stop 2 or 3 times, making my way through the parking lot. I’ve never parked close wherever I’ve worked. So I first brought out the diaper bag, lunch bag, left over bottles, everything but the seat and kid. Moved my car as close to the back door as possible. This is not a popular time of day so I shouldn’t get in trouble. Kids are still in school, moms are still working. By this time, my coworker, Sabrina has Jovi snugged up in her car seat. She just had her first grandson and actually takes him places. By herself. Of course she’s 38. Another great gal, Ninfa gets out of work the same time as I do, scoops up the carrier with Jovi like it weighs a couple of pounds. Out the door, into my nearby car, and snaps it into the base. Voila! Jovi did manage to remind great grandma it was past her lunch time and her ‘binky’ was in my coat pocket. About a dozen times for the 4 mile trip. Sorry Jovi, I’m learning. And I’m slow. And old.

The second gift Shannon lugged in was a Pack N Play. Awesome combination play pen, portable crib. On 2 levels. While Jovi is little, we can use ‘the top floor’ of the play pen. Like the highest level of a crib. Easier to pick her up without bending down to the floor. As she gets bigger, we will use the lower setting. The Pack N Play however is the approximate size of our living room. A slight exaggeration. I guess there is still room to walk around. Sideways. With my gut sucked in. Shannon realized this too. She handed her father a business card. An architect’s blueprints for us. A ‘Jovi room’ will be added soon. Kidding, but the house has gotten cozy with all her paraphernalia setting around. Makes me smile. Wouldn’t change a thing. Except maybe slow down time for a bit.

Got my last surprise for the week. I had just gotten home from work and was rocking Jovi while she carried on a rousing conversation with the Waterford lamp. Grandpa finally had his chance to use the bathroom, eat some lunch, and go out for the mail. A package for me. I hadn’t ordered anything. Inside was a beautiful, handmade, soft, flannel baby blanket. Crocheted pink edging. From my friend, Janice Stellingwerf who grew up in Rock Valley with me. She does not know Ariana, never met her and probably won’t. Has never laid eyes on adorable little Jovi either. But took the time out of her busy schedule to handcraft an heirloom for me, Ari and Jovi. I was stunned. Didn’t unwrap the blanket cause I wanted Ari to have that honor. When Ariana walked in, I handed the blanket to her. Explained who Janice is. Ari started to cry. What in the world makes people do such extraordinary things? For people they don’t even know? There are really no words. Thanks so much Jan. From great grandma, mommy and gorgeous little blanket lover, Jovi…

I loves my new blankie and Michigan State…

2 thoughts on “The Offer…

  1. Ohhhhh….I have goosebumps all the way down my legs…THANK YOU, JANICE!!!! I almost started crying too, such a lovely thing to do. This \”baby stuff\” is just all such a precious, emotional part of life that when somebody does something so generous and beautiful from the heart, ….well, it just pulls the daylights outta one's heart strings!!! Bravo, Janice! I don't know you either..but I love you all the same…for the inspiration – a heart-song…'s the love and kindness in life that counts the most, and these dear babies bring it out in all of us full force! And little Jovi,….ohhhhhhh so delightful…I could just scoop her up; she's just yummy!


  2. Amazing how easily young mothers breeze along with their babies in the carrier. I always had to use two hands to carry my CT grandsons who, thankfully are now 4, 6 and 7.Good work, John.


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