As a card-carrying member of the baby boomer generation (I am an AARP member) I was a babe in my mother’s arms in the early 1950s when babies ruled the world – at least in the United States. My parents moved to a new house in a new suburb on Long Island in 1952. Every house sheltered a twenty- or thirty-something couple, most married following the war. Dads went to work, the majority commuting into ‘the city’ – New York City, of course. Dad carpooled for a couple of years, but as the Long Island Expressway morphed into one long, meandering traffic jam, he switched to the train.
Moms remained at home with a growing brood of babies. It was a different lifestyle from many of today’s modern 21st century Moms. They were not constantly chauffeuring kids to activities, play groups and parties. It was several years before many owned second cars. Mom either threw the kids in the car (literally – this was before seat belts and car seats) and drove Dad to the train station, or survived without a car.
Although a lot has changed, a lot remains the same. Babies are born in the 21st century the same way they were in the 20th century and for thousands of centuries before that. Well, most of them are. I do not want to get into a discussion of alternate means of pregnancy, such as intrauterine insemination, in vitro fertilization, donor eggs, embryo adoption, surrogacy…I am not even sure what all of them are.
Anyway, getting back to the subject at hand, I am spending a week in Denver with my grandchildren. They live in a fairly new, constantly growing community. Every time I come out there are more houses, playgrounds, pools, schools, etc. Construction slowed during the Great Recession, but the pace has quickly increased.
I am in the middle of a 21st century baby boom. There are young children, babies, and dogs in every house in the neighborhood. Everywhere I go Dads and Moms haul kids in SUVs and push double strollers with one or two additional kids walking alongside. It is baby boomer déjà vu – babies rule the world once again.
My daughter-in-law is in charge of the kids’ school Book Fair this week. I am here to watch the two-year-old and drive the kids to school, pick them up, then drive to various after school activities.
Each morning I get up early and shower and dress quickly, before the kids descend.
I make sure the two older ones are dressed and have all school gear ready.
Breakfast is the next order of business. One or two want pancakes – mini ones from the box in the freezer. The third wants cold cereal.
Or maybe one wants mini pancakes, one a bagel, the other a bagel but now there are none left. She’ll settle for an English muffin – but only if she can spread the butter herself.
One morning one wants mini pancakes (there is a theme here – the two-year-old has a one-track mind, at least for breakfast), the other two feast on banana bread. There is always fruit along with the main course. Mom helps, but is off to school early.
We collect the dishes, put everything away, and then collect ourselves. Put on boots (snow on the ground here in the beginning of the week!) or shoes, and argue about the need for socks and coats. I manage to get all three in the car, in car seats and booster seats, belted.
One morning I drive them to school and we all pile out, only to discover the eight-year-old left his backpack at home, which he needs because his homework is in it. After making sure the kindergartener gets to her class, the two-year-old and I drive home, grab the backpack, hop back in the car, drive back to school, find the third grade room, drop off the bag, and the two-year-old and I are left to enjoy the day together. I am already exhausted!
Various activities located throughout Denver take up most afternoons. Or we just go home to an enjoyable time of sibling fighting, rivalry, general mayhem, disorder, and pleadings to do what is prohibited according to The Laws of Mom and Dad but which the kids figure Grandma will let them do.
Such is life for a new baby boom generation and their Grandma. But here’s a pleasant thought – all these kids will grow up, go to work, and pump money into the Social Security and Medicare systems, assuming the programs are still around. So Mom and Dad can breathe easy. They are not just raising kids. They are planning for their own retirement.