When I went back to work in September I knew it wouldn’t be easy leaving Lily Rose everyday. I knew I would worry about my babe while at work. I knew after work would be rushed and stressful and we would both have a bit of a difficult time adjusting. But we’d found a good dayhome for our little girl, somewhere she seemed happy and cared for and I gelled with Andrea, the woman who ran it. After a rushed and stressful daycare search, we thought we’d really lucked out! Andrea even said Lily Rose was the best eater and sleeper there (#proudmommoment).
Then under three weeks into her full time stint, things went sideways. Andrea told us she was ill, and at first she didn’t communicate well and left us wondering for how long would we need to get alternate care (luckily my Dad was staying with us at the time and quickly rose to the challenge of temporarily watching Lily). Then she told us what we had been fearing: she wasn’t going to be able to continue running her dayhome, due to medical issues. I felt terrible for her, I really did. But I don’t feel guilty that I also felt sorry for us, because we had to start the time-consuming and stressful daycare search all over again, undergo another trial and adjustment period. All this so soon after doing it for the first time, and we were under a serious time crunch!!
While I looked for a new dayhome for our babe, got a few names and numbers from friends, met with people and debated our options, my dad cared for Lily. Days turned into weeks, but he told us not to rush the process. While it wasn’t going to be a long term solution and we still needed to secure a new daycare spot, Dad was game to take care of his granddaughter for at least however long it took for us to find the right fit.
And so it was that I began to see him in a whole new light. He was always kind, generous, thoughtful. But with Lily Rose, he was even gentler. He was so sweet, and yet he could also be silly…and my dad isn’t really known for being silly;) But he was firm when he needed to be too…as firm as you can be with a one year old;) I knew my parents would make good grandparents. Even if they were never the ones to rush me to have a baby, I knew they would spoil the lucky kid rotten and be all about him or her. But I had no clue how well my dad would grand-parent. How well he would care for LR and how attached she would get to him.
For the next month, he read her stories, played with her toys and watched Sesame Street. He took her for walks and they played in the backyard. He held our clingy girl when she was cranky, sick or teething, missing Mommy and Daddy…and that was A.LOT. A perpetual night owl, my dad woke early regardless of how much sleep he’d gotten, so he could take her in the morning and we could get ready for work. At 65 and with a bum knee that hadn’t healed properly following replacement surgery, he trudged up and down stairs to put her down for two naps a day, often returning several times to put her soother back in (I offered to set up her playpen in the living room, but he said no, keep her where she’s comfortable). Never a big one for cooking, Dad made meals, cut fruit in tiny pieces and sparked a deep love of bagels and honey in his granddaughter. He cleaned up her messes much quicker and with far more care than we ever did, inspiring an early love of cleaning in Lily. He did little things that made our lives easier, things that I missed as soon as he was gone. He unzipped and laid out her sleepsack with such care to make laying her down the next time a little bit quicker. These things made me appreciate his attention to detail like never before. They were things that showed his OCD wasn’t always a struggle, it was a strength. And when I came home and was rushing to get us all fed, he recounted exactly what she’d eaten, and how much; what time she’d fallen asleep and when she’d woke; and, even the number of poops she’d had. At the time, I felt overwhelmed with all the information. Now, after sometimes struggling to get enough of this all-important information from a daycare provider, I realize how much I miss knowing exactly how my girl is doing during the day without me.
I think we were all a little surprised at how well he did taking care of Lily Rose. My mom says he didn’t do all this for my brother and I growing up; the cooking and cleaning and the majority of the child rearing was my mom’s domain. It was a different time, yes, but my dad was different then too. He was busy working, playing hockey, then dealing with his own issues. He was a fun Dad for sure, he played with us and took us to activities and on trips. He was there for the big events. When my parents separated in high school and even when he moved to Saskatoon, he was there for us. But growing up, in the day to day, it was my mom who did what needed to be done to make sure we were fed, cleaned and clothed, rested, happy and healthy.
But with Lily Rose, he was excited to be involved in every way. Some days weren’t easy I’m sure, but he never complained. At night when Jon and I came home from work, he still tried to help cook and clean and care for Lily. I wanted him to relax and enjoy his time off but he still wanted to help with her nightly routine. He said good morning and good night each and everyday. He kissed her and gave her a hug. There is no holding back of affection or attention. There is not one part of him that is not completely devoted and in love with his granddaughter.
I am so thankful my dad stepped up and took care of Lily Rose when we needed him. LR won’t remember Granddaddy Daycare Days, but we can all tell her and he’ll show her the pics chronicling the fun they had really getting to know each other. I am forever thankful for my father, for what he has taught me, for the person he is and the man he has become. And I feel so lucky that Lily Rose gets this sweet, smart, and sometimes silly guy, as her Gramps. Whatever issues we had growing up, whatever things my dad did or didn’t do for us as babies, kids or teens, he was, and still is a great dad. And as Gramps, I think he has truly found his groove.
And for me, his daughter, there are almost no words to describe how much this means to me. Just like having Lily Rose has mended any existing scars in my heart, filled up any missing pieces of my soul, and awakened a love I never knew existed; watching my parents bond with this sweet and spirited little soul makes me feel…whole. It completes the circle ❤ It makes me feel overwhelmed with appreciation for the love my parents gave me, for the parent they helped make me. It makes me happy that I can also give back to them now, with the gift of their granddaughter: joy and laughs and a whole new love to embrace with eager hearts and open arms.