Hollie Grimaldi Flores: Baby boom
Everywhere I look, I see protruding bellies – a side effect of long-term isolation – many of them even on expectant women! COVID conceived, epidemically gestating, pandemic pregnancies are flourishing. A baby boom is upon us. In my immediate periphery: A good friend of my eldest became the parent of a little girl just a week ago. The same day I attended a baby shower for one of my daughter’s besties, who is due at the end of August, and our own household is on baby watch, as the youngest boy and his partner are trying to enjoy these last anxious days before the arrival of our grandson, due in a week.
These are uncertain times and I feel for the parents of today. As a woman who did not plan to have children, I can’t help but wonder how unnerving it will be to be raise a child in today’s world. Over three decades have passed since I argued it would be unfair to bring life into a world fraught with the issues of the day. But once I realized I would become a mother, I set out to do it better than anyone had ever done it before. I read everything I could find on the subject. I ate well. I exercised. I surrendered my body as I dreamt of the possibility that my child might be the one to cure cancer, influence social injustices, or some other equally important cause. And just as I was certain my mother (who raised seven of her own) could not know the first thing about raising my baby (“That’s not how it’s done now, Mom.”), I am certain I am in the dark about how it is done today.
Babies on their bellies or on their back? Mobiles over the crib or not? Crib or family bed? It all seems to change by the decade! Even 30 years ago vaccination misinformation abounded. Today’s parents may need to take a break from “What to Expect When You’re Expecting” and read a few Science Journals to make an informed choice.
Once the sleepless nights take over, sound judgement becomes more difficult to find. I think I went more than 18 months before I slept a solid eight hours in a row. By then, an hour to shower, eat a meal sitting down and close my eyes for more than a few minutes was my dream date. Childrearing is exhausting.
Parents face the uncertainties that come with raising children who are not likely to resemble the model written about in all those books they read while preparing for the arrival. Each comes in with its own personality and style. The debate of nature versus nurture continues for a reason!
I raised my children as video games were just making their way to the home entertainment market. I balked at the Sega 64 purchase for my two-year-old until I realized that was merely a ruse so the 30 something could play Madden Football! But today, electronic devices are babysitters posing as educators and it begins incredibly early.
Just look around. Many babies now practically come out of the womb with an electronic device attached – iPad or iPod or a tablet or mom’s phone. Now, just as important as latching on for those first drops of mother’s milk, is the ability to control their digits so they select their own lullaby music while still in the cradle. Of course, I am exaggerating, a bit. But I have seen toddlers, barely able to make it across the room on two feet, practically writing code as they work their way through the bubble wrap their parents keep them in, (less they come close to a germ), so they can find treasures on their mini screens.
My friend recently reported her two-year-old grandson came for a visit and quickly took to his baby screen device to watch a video. Her internet, not as fast as the speed of light, left the little guy a bit exasperated as she heard him yell, “Come on, man!” to the screen while he waited 10 seconds for the program to load.
Granted the world is changing rapidly. I spent some time with friends who have a two-year-old and we talked briefly about the state of the humanity and the condition of the planet. The Dad simply said, “I feel sorry for him.”
Is it too late? There is little doubt planet Earth will still be spinning long after my time on it has passed, but will humans still be part of the ecosystem? I hope the tide will turn for this new generation of beings.
Today’s parents are increasingly challenged with advances in technology that mean establishing a balance between letting their offspring play with electronics lest they fall behind in pre-K academics and making certain they have enough real-world experiences to be able to function in it. Social interactions versus the safety of isolation. I can see it is unnerving to send kids out to play on their own, but it seems to me that increasingly, kids don’t have much interest in outside play. Their imaginations supplanted by ready-made entertainment at the touch of a button.
Kids these days! Wow! I do sound like my former mother-in-law! Best to leave it to these new parents. We (my generation) obviously didn’t have a clue as to how it should be done.
As I look forward to all the fun that is advertised as grandparenting, my job is clear. Be certain the internet is functioning at the house. Be a safe place. Be adventure. Be accepting. Be patient. Be fun. Be love. Be open. Chances are this child is just the beginning. The baby business is booming.
Hollie Grimaldi Flores is a Nevada County resident and freelance writer for hire, as well as a podcaster at HollieGrams. You can hear her episodes at https://www.buzzsprout.com/1332253. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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