My parents just left after a wonderful two week visit with us in Chicago. We did so much in two weeks: twice to the movies (who knew my Mom would be more scared of Brave than her granddaughter) , a day trip to New Buffalo, Michigan, dinners out at nice restaurants and experiencing "East Land" at Lookinglass Theatre (it IS a theatrical experience). When I look back at those 14 days, what really stands out is a trip I took to Starbucks to get a quick cup of coffee.
My daughter and I went to pick up my parents at the apartment they rent while in town. (Yes, that maybe the reason for a successful 2 week visit) Amelia wanted to have breakfast and get ready at Abu & Lolo's. A novelty for my four and half year old since none of her grandparents live close by. As my little girl had her Cheerios with Abu, I left to get a cup of coffee.
"But Ana, we have coffee here" my parents said.
"Yes, but I want to go get coffee" I replied.
As I left the building all by myself I couldn't help but smile. My little girl was alone with her grandparents at their "home" in Chicago. I rarely, well never, have that luxury, to have my parents or close family member take care of Amelia. From the moment Ame was 2 and half months old and I had to go back to work, our daughter has stayed with a payed care giver. I'm fortunate that our baby sitter Mima has become a part of our family, literally taking care of all 3 of us. If I couldn't afford a nanny, Amelia would be going to day care which also has its pros.
My dear friend Yolanda, who moved back to Barcelona so that her kids would grow up close to her own parents told me having a nanny was a luxury. I beg to differ, I think she is the one with the luxury of having family members helping her with the care of the children. The money I spend on my daughter's care and education is an investment in my most valuable treasure, that is not the issue. What I consider priceless is being surrounded by relatives physically close enough, willing to be there for your family, maybe not daily, but at least of once in a while.
When I came back from my coffee stop, Amelia was fed, dressed and in the process of getting her hair brushed AND she was joyful. I can tell that she was just as happy as I was to be with her grandparents. I know that having your parents or any relative take care of your children has a downside as well, but the next time Grandama, Abuela, Nana or Granny drop everything to take care of the kids for free, so you can tend to something that came up, be thankful and get her a nice gift for her birthday. Ay Mama!