My family has, baruch Hashem, been thoroughly enjoying the newest member of our family immensely. My baby grandson (along with his wonderful parents) has spent many shabbosim at our home. He has come for visits, parties, Melaveh Malkas, and many delightful occasions. We, too, have visited him on his own turf. Last week my son called and asked if we would mind watching him one day this week. Such a funny question! Was he joking? Let me think a minute. Is there anything else I would rather do these days than watch my delicious grandson? Hmmm. I’m trying but, no, I can’t think of anything. Of course, we’ll watch him
So, this morning I eagerly drove over to their apartment. My daughter-in-law placed my grandson and all of his accoutrements in the back of my car, gave me a quick tutorial on proper usage of his car seat and stroller, and showed me the contents of her diaper bag. Then I dropped her off where she needed to go, reassured her that all will be fine, and said goodbye. From that point, he was all mine.
It’s been twenty years since my last baby was born and I was just a tad concerned that I would be a little rusty on the job. But I didn’t really need to worry. It was kind of like riding a bike: Once you learn, you never really forget. However, it may possibly be a bit harder. It just so happened that only last night my back went out from carrying way too big a load of laundry. So, with my back out of whack along with my regular pains here or there, schlepping the baby out of the car, and carrying all of his stuff, was not quite as easy as it had been back in the day. The back of the car is as messy as it has ever been. Only the mess has changed a bit and empty pretzel bags and candy wrappers have been replaced by empty coffee cups and parking garage receipts. When I brought the baby into our house it felt like I was bringing my baby home. The feeding, the burping, the playing, the stimulating, the cooing, the calming, the shhhhing…all came right back in a minute. Not only had I not forgotten, it was as though I had never even stopped. I was continuing exactly where I left off. Things had changed, yet they were the same.
The weather was absolutely gorgeous, like a perfect spring day. So, my husband and I decided to take the baby out for a walk. As we strolled around the neighborhood, I wondered if people with whom we were not acquainted thought we were actually the parents of this beautiful baby. I did not share this thought process with my husband because I knew exactly what his reaction would be. He would be guffawing so loudly that it would have caused an embarrassing scene, and he would probably still be laughing until this very moment. But I beg to differ. I don’t feel all that different than I did when I was pushing my own kids in a stroller all those years ago. The strollers have been upgraded and are much more user-friendly and easier to push. But I remain the same, at least on the inside. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no reason for anyone to suspect that I am anyone but the mother of this baby.
My daughter eventually came home and immediately took over the baby. I went upstairs for a few minutes but soon heard the baby crying. My husband and daughter tried to calm him down but to no avail. By the time I came down, there were full tears streaming down his face, poor little thing. I immediately picked him up, waved my magic wand, and in an instant, his crying came to an abrupt end. Nope, I hadn’t lost my touch. As the baby tried to catch his breath from his bout of hysteria, my daughter asked how I was able to calm him down so quickly. I explained that over all my years of motherhood I had learned a thing or two, and gave her a short lesson about babies and positioning.
When I think back to the days when my kids were little, I recall the constant hustle and bustle that permeated our lives. I loved that period of time, yet it was incredibly hectic. Like most mothers of young children, I would wake up in high gear and continue running all day, barely managing to stay awake until my head would collapse on my pillow at night. I was on autopilot with little time to think about much else other than getting done what needed to get done. But things have changed while they have also stayed the same. Despite the passage of time from when I was in the thick of caring for my little children, and despite the physical changes that often accompany that passage of time, I am still the same person with the same mentality. While at times it can be more challenging, I haven’t forgotten how to do all the things I did back then. I can engage in those same activities without all the commotion back in those days. I can also focus on the journey while heading toward the destination. Like riding a bike.
Suzie (nee Schapiro) Steinberg grew up in Kew Gardens Hills. She works as a social worker and lives with her husband and children in Ramat Beit Shemesh.