There's a lot of excitement in our small family. We have a new baby--that is, Uber Son and his wife have brought forth their third. Babies are something we know something about. And we also know--experience cannot be denied--how hard it can be to juggle taking care of a newborn while also meeting the needs of two young children, a spouse, a home and mealtimes. We know how helpful it is to have another pair of hands--especially hands that can drive a car and take a child to piano lessons, get another to soccer practice, race to the supermarket for supplies, cook meals that can be frozen for use on another day--and bring the nursing mother a glass of water while that new baby is taking nourishment (oh the thirst when you're nursing).
Paterfamilias and I just spent several days as extra pairs of hands. This is, of course, a basic service that comes with being parents of grown children. But when we leave--we live a seven-hour drive to the south--both Paterfamilias and I key in on the same thing: How will they manage? I am distraught that I can't offer to spend another week or two to help. (It's something called a job.) What, after all, am I here for if not to help when help is needed. I look at my schedule and try to figure out when I can come back.
Paterfamilias has another solution. He sends them a check, earmarked for paying for babysitters. Get them often, he writes in his note.
It's practical. It's helpful. And it's also appreciated. And it's what we parents of grown children can do when we can't do the job ourselves.