Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain, members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Joyce says: Daniel and I have two daughters. They both got married about five years ago and we like both husbands and thought they suited our daughters well. They had been putting off having any children so they could solidify their careers … all good stuff. Daniel and I have never pestered our kids about giving us grandchildren, but inside I secretly longed to be a “Nana.”

This past year both couples determined the time was right and we now have two gorgeous grandbabies.

My problem is that I had so looked forward to this time and had been so excited about their arrival, I volunteered to babysit. This requires me going to one daughter’s home two days a week and the other daughter’s home one weekday and one weekend day to accommodate their work schedules. I am in my late 60s and did not realize the energy and time this promise I made would have on my stamina and my time.

Daniel warned me that I “was biting off more than I could chew” when I set up this babysitting schedule, but all I could think of at the time was my desire to be involved with these babies and helping our daughters.

Now I am wondering if I can keep up this schedule, as I have very little time to do my own work and I am constantly stressed over integrating schedules.

Daniel is retired and has looked forward to us traveling and spending more time together. I really do not want to disappoint our girls by begging off my promise to help.

“Lord, do not cast me aside in my old age; as my strength fails, do not forsake me” (Psalm 71: 9).

He says:

Daniel says: I know how much Joyce looked forward to becoming a grandmom.  She was so excited when the babies arrived I thought she would never stop talking about them!

Joyce has a good heart and has always tried to be helpful to people. I could see the babies as another “project” for Joyce.

I warned Joyce that she should really consider all the time she was promising to care for these cuties. I can keep myself busy at home, but I really am disappointed that we now have only a few days together to do things we enjoy.

When Joyce began to see this baby care was becoming overwhelming, I told her to just cut back on the time she babysits. Bringing the babies here is not an option. They need to be where all their baby stuff is.

I am sure our daughters would understand that this is too much of a commitment if Joyce would only tell them how exhausted she is and how disappointed I am.

What should they do? 

Clearly Joyce jumped into this babysitting role when on an emotional high over becoming “Nana.” In her excitement, she most likely did not see the full consequences of such a commitment of time, effort and energy … even with Daniel’s warnings.

Joyce and Daniel need to sit down with each daughter and their spouse and have an honest and forthright discussion about a reduction of Joyce’s time spent caring for their children.

Perhaps these couples had other plans in mind, but never expressed them due to their mom’s enthusiasm to provide.

Maybe their daughters might welcome not having “Nana” around their house so frequently. Surely, they must have thought of a back-up sitter in the event Mom got sick.

Perhaps the young couples now have sufficient funds to pay for someone to babysit. Daycare usually is not a successful first choice for an infant. Most couples see having a reliable sitter come to their house as the best option.

Maybe “Nana” can help her daughters by researching suitable agencies who can provide in-home care for infants.

“Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and the glory of children is their parentage” (Proverbs 17:6).