When Staying at Grannie and Granddaddy’s is No Longer Fun
As a military family, we are incredibly fortunate to be stationed only a few hours from our parents; it’s very rare. We have always taken full advantage of the closeness, with us driving down at least once or twice a month, or my parents coming up on long weekends. They adore their granddaughter, and, believe me, the feeling is mutual.
So, when Jackson was first admitted into the NICU at a children’s hospital a mere 20 minutes from my parent’s house, it seemed like the ideal situation (well, as ideal as that situation can be). My mom, a school teacher, had recently been released for summer break, and she would be able to care for my daughter and keep things as normal as possible while we tended to our son. My parents weren’t strangers to her; they were her second-favorite couple in the world (second only to her mommy and daddy!).
And, for a while, she couldn't have cared less where her father and I were. If we were there, great; if not, whatever! She had her Grannie to play in the pool with during the day, and her Granddaddy to play horses and princesses with at night, plus all the chocolate milk she could ask for. Life was as good as it gets, for a toddler.
But, as the saying goes, there really can be too much of a good thing. Disney World would even lose its appeal if you lived there 24/7.
And, so, as the weeks kept passing, and there was no end to Jackson’s hospital stay in sight, the novelty of living with Grannie and Granddaddy started to lose its appeal.
She began acting out, which required more time outs. She would have massive tantrums that turned in to all-out meltdowns, unable to calm down for hours. When my husband and I weren't at the hospital, she would cling to us, terrified to let us out of her sight.
It was heartbreaking. I yearned for her, and for the life she deserved to be living.
Our parents tried to alleviate some of the stress by sitting with Jackson at the hospital while we took her on outings to keep things fun and light. We went to the zoo, to a thousand different parks, and even saw a production of Dora Live. We were doing the best we could under the circumstances, but she needed the one thing we couldn’t give her at the moment: she needed her own home, and her normal routine back.
We wanted that, too, very much.
I was very afraid we had emotionally traumatized her beyond repair. I was afraid that we wouldn't be able to find our happy, innocent, loving and sweet daughter at the end of this long, seemingly unending nightmare.
Thankfully, thankfully—I was wrong.
The minute we walked back into our own home, with her new (as new as a 3-month-old, who had only spent 12 days at home his entire life, can be) baby brother in tow, it’s like the last 90 days never happened. She ran to her room and began playing with her toys; the toys she had probably been missing. Her attitude changed completely, and I saw her smile more that first weekend back, than I had for the last month.
And, if I was worried she would resent her new sibling for the disruption to her life, I shouldn't have been. She couldn't be more in love with her brother. When he cries, she leans over, moves her fingers over his arm, and says, “Tickle, tickle!”
She’s completely fascinated by him, and I’m completely fascinated by both of them. She bounces back to her old life, like nothing happened, and three weeks after open heart surgery, he’s trying to roll over and onto his stomach (which he is not allowed to do for two more weeks!).
Kids truly are resilient, especially mine. I am one proud (and completely emotional) mama.