Becoming a Grandparent
During COVID-19

By: Mindy Leiner, grandparent of three – Ellie & Wesley Gill and Logan Leiner 

My journey to grandparenting started when my first two grandchildren were born just eight days apart in 2017. I could not wait to become a grandparent, so I made the decision to retire from teaching preschool to be available to help my daughter and daughter-in-law with their newborns. I quickly became known to Ellie as “Nana” and “Nina” to Logan, and truly enjoyed my new titles. 

Then 2019 came along and brought us some great news. A NEW BABY IS ON THE WAY!!! So I do what any Nana would do, and start shopping for everything baby. I had also started planning a baby sprinkle for my daughter. I was having so much fun creating a special day to celebrate the newest addition to our family. 

March 15, 2020 was the day of my daughters baby sprinkle. We were planning to celebrate with friends and family and everything was set and ready to go. Unfortunately, March 13th came first, and we made the tough decision to cancel the party. My world stopped. My daughter’s baby sprinkle was cancelled. COVID-19 became the uninvited guest. 

Life as I knew it had changed. Since I was “on-call” for when the baby was born, I was asked not to go out to public places, to stay home, and be socially distanced from others. I was the grandparent who was going to take care of big sister Ellie while Mom and Dad went to the hospital. It was hard for me to rely on other people all the time, but at the end of the day the benefits of quarantining were definitely going to be worth it. This was the sacrifice I had to make to be able to see my Ellie and meet my newborn grandchild. 

On April 13, 2020 my life changed. My new grandson, Wesley, was born and I was the only grandparent that was able to go into the house, cuddle, snuggle and help with the new baby. Oh what a feeling! 

So for me, this Covid thing has benefits. With a few sacrifices, I have been able to see how Wesley grows and changes every day. I get to experience a day in the life of Wesley: the cries, the smiles, the diaper changes, and watching his two bottom teeth finally pop up! 

Staying in, or just around the house is now so “normal,” unfortunately. Going to the mall with Ellie in the stoller, and then having lunch is now a thing of the past. It was always such a treat to take Ellie out to a restaurant with her family and watch her order from the menu. Going out to eat is a thing of the past. Poor Wesley has never seen the inside of his big sister’s favorite restaurant, Chick-Fil-A. 

Sadly, Wesley has not been to my house yet, nor has he had a chance to sleep in the crib that my older grandchildren often used for naps and sleepovers. He has not had a chance to play with all the toys I had for Ellie and Logan at my house. So now instead, I will occasionally pack up all the age appropriate toys from my house and now we play with them at his house, and he’s found some favorites! Ellie always loved to come over to visit, play and sleepover. Now that just does not even seem like it will ever happen. I was the extra hand when my daughter took Ellie to the pediatrician. Now only one parent can go into the office, so there is no extra hand to hold the diaper bag. 

Wesley will celebrate his first birthday but not with all the friends and family his big sister Ellie did. I do not even think he will be able to invite his friends for his second birthday party, due to the fact he has not any play dates yet. 

I am hoping when the world gets back to normal, whenever that might be, children can be children again. They can run and play, be creative and just be themselves. The world needs to embrace their smiling faces and hear their marvelous laughter. 

Covid has changed the way we do everything. I just hope the world will be a better place for my grandchildren, and all the children of the world when this disappears. 

Grandparents play a unique role in the lives of their grandchildren. For grandparents looking to connect,  The Saba-Ba: Grandparents on the Go! Connector program provides adult Jewish education to the grandparents, informal educational experiences to families, and a three-generation network that enriches our entire community. Families learn through experiences, programs, and relationships with the Saba-Ba Connectors about what they want to incorporate into their own family’s Jewish life. 

This program is held through the Macks Center for Jewish Education, an agency of The Associated: Jewish Federation of Baltimore. It is funded with a generous gift from the Jacob & Hilda Blaustein Fund 

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