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On the job 24/7

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My husband and I did it. Many of us did. We jumped into the deep end and never looked back, just keep swimming, lap after lap, from low tide to high.

Now we find ourselves not in the water but poolside, beachside. Watching. And this time around it’s different. Because it isn’t us swimming upstream. This time we serve as witnesses to the action. Sometimes, this new role feels even more intense than living it out personally.

Of course, it isn’t. But we are reliving the past and wondering just how the heck we did it. We aren’t super heroes or superhuman, but somehow we eked it out.

Now our daughter and her husband are doing the same. Doing what so many of us have been doing since the beginning of time. Adam and Eve had their Cain and Abel. Lucy and Desi had Desi and Lucie. Lois and Peter have baby Stewie. Carol and Mike Brady had a whole bunch.

Parenthood. The future wouldn’t exist without it.

But it is hard, sometimes. Oh, lots of times it is hard. And I’m reliving it just a bit through my daughter and son-in-law.

First a caveat: she and her husband are infinitely glad for the privilege to be parents. They wouldn’t give it up for the world. Neither would I. This grandparenting gig is pretty sweet. Our gorgeous granddaughter is beyond sweet.

Still, it is a 24/7 job and I don’t think anything can ever prepare you for that. Is it worth the 24/7 commitment? Undoubtedly and unequivocally, without hesitation, one hundred percent, yes, yes and yes.

But babies come with just a small amount of baggage, and I mean that in the literal sense. When the young family comes to visit us, they require a travel trailer to haul all the gear needed to clothe, diaper, occupy, nurture, feed and otherwise keep a baby alive and happy for the afternoon. I was kidding about the travel trailer part, but you get my gist.

Numerous inventions have been invented since I was in the baby business. I’ve recently learned about the importance of things like boppies and white noise machines; sensory balls and books; weighted sleepers, smart socks and a product aptly named the SnotSucker. I kid you snot.

One thing that hasn’t changed much: diapers. Babies still fill theirs with the most appealing of substances. They are messy little beings, and I’m not just talking about lunchtime.

When my daughter and her hubby aren’t tracking baby’s poop progress on a handy baby cell phone app they are doing what compelled my actions and consumed my every waking moment for at least 21 of the last 27 years: pursuing the elusive state of sleep.

Oh, the treasured eight consecutive hours of a good night’s sleep that you don’t value until it is no more. Beautiful baby granddaughter is teething (we suspect) and getting up a few times in the middle of the night. Despite the teething medication, she’s probably in pain. She’d rather be sleeping peacefully. We all understand that. She doesn’t want to cry out in the middle of the night.

But she is tiny and helpless. And when she wakes up in pain the only resource she has is her lungs. The only language she has is crying. The only comfort she has is her parents. Well, that and the weighted sleeper and white noise machine. And the boppy, let’s not forget the boppy.

Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.

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