I am blind as a bat – not literally, but figuratively. There’s been a revolution taking place all around me and I never noticed. Not once, in all these years.
You have no doubt ventured out to the mall or to the drugstore sometime during an average weekday and have seen children - little children, too young to be in school. Have you ever looked up to see the face of the adult with them? The odds are pretty good that the face staring back at you won’t be a young twenty-something. Don’t be surprised if that face belongs to a woman in her fifties, sixties, or even older. It’s probably their nana!
My beautiful daughter-in-law, Iman, just went to work, after spending most of the first year of her son’s life at home with him. That year was, no doubt, wonderful for both Iman and Sami. Now, it’s Nana’s turn, at least until full-time child care can be found. I am joining an army of grandmas who are stepping up to fill the void that our society has made. Despite lip service to the contrary, our culture does not value child care. Be honest – we don’t. Companies don’t provide it (“it’s not a money-maker”), existing child care facilities can only handle so many children at a time, and waiting lists stretch into months…or even years.
It is an honor take care of Sami, as I’m sure it is for most of the women my age who are now staying with grandchildren. I am more than happy to do it so our son and daughter-in-law can concentrate on their work, but it makes me wonder – what happens to the couples who don’t have a nana close by? Child care anxiety is real. I serve on a board with a gentleman who told me he and his wife had put their names on a child care waiting list…before they had conceived.
America, we have a problem. And we need to start taking it seriously. Ironically, while I was contemplating the topic for this blog entry, I saw a woman walking ahead of me into Target. She looked to be about seventy . . . and she was pushing a baby stroller with an infant inside. I thought, “nana.” I am blind no more.