Why "Running with Bunions"?

Saturday, July 29, 2017

Childbirth is the Easy Part

Raising children is a joy-filled love fest rife with terror.

Unless, of course, you're the grandma.

Grandma doesn't count poos per day, measure urine output, fret over developmental milestones like rolling over, walking, talking. It's not Grandma's job to compare school districts, assure Little Darling eats her peas, goes to bed on time, learns to read, gets the recommended daily dose of vitamin C.

Nope. Grandma work is hugs and kisses, breakfast cake, toes in sensory rich blue sand all over the back yard never-mind-who's-gonna-clean-that-up, naked bodies in fall leaves when "there might be bugs in there!"

Failings don't register on Grandma's radar, which is set to the fun in the next encounter: hop to the zoo? Firehouse tour? Bake a cake? Dynamic, energetic, protective, endless. Grandma work is spelled l-o-v-e.

The only rival to Grandma love is Grandpa love: fishing trips, garden worms, armchair sports, hammer and nails, when-I-was-your-age-I-walked-uphill-to-school-in-the-snow-barefoot. (Both ways.)

But what if you're the parent?

You've brought a living, breathing genetic double into the world. If you drop him, he might die. If you don't feed her, she might die. If you don't change his diapers, he might get an infection and die. If you leave her in the cold, she might get sick and die. If you set him down and walk away, he will certainly die.

Relax. Even the most ignorant parent can (usually) keep Baby alive in those early stress-filled just-had-a-baby days. Producing a child is rainbows and sunflowers compared to what comes next.

Parents are responsible to teach Sweet Angel everything: to sit up, walk, talk, use the potty, count to ten, read, write, socialize, succeed in school and business, use a pencil, pen, computer, iPhone, text, take selfies and write deep, meaningful expositions in 140 words or less.

What if he never learns to use the potty - what will the other college kids say? Or he hates meatloaf and that's the only meal you can cook? How will he learn healthy eating habits, to use silverware, celebrate the family table, waterski?

What if there are special needs? Autism, divorce, a partner who won't communicate?

Unfortunately, the ability to give birth doesn't come with a humanity pin. Parents exist who would ignore Baby's health, education and social needs. Refuse to do the hard stuff, like take Baby to the doctor, immunize, socialize, potty train. Who expect school to do the work of parenting, the next-lover-on-deck to manage communication, who put more energy into the dog than the children.

Sometimes it happens that Baby is blessed with just one able parent. Who surrounds himself with a village of grandmas, grandpas, sisters, cousins, friends. To share the rollercoaster highs and lows that is the work of parenting.

Because giving birth is the easy part. With or without complications, with or without love-to-the-end-of-time backup, child raising is hard.

But when all the peas are eaten and your child is grown? Maybe, if you're very, very lucky - you'll get to be the grandma.

So. Much. Joy.

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