I had my first baby during the peak of the pandemic. Masked and emotional, I’m lucky my mom was by my side to witness the moment I became a mom to a healthy, beautiful baby girl. But before I knew it, we were hugging goodbye, unsure when we’d be together again.
Now my baby is crawling, babbling, eating, laughing and grandma hasn’t been back.
For eight months, grandma has been 1,200 miles away, unable to visit due to health issues and a persistent pandemic.
For eight months, my husband and I have cared for our baby in isolation, at home.
For eight months I’ve laughed and cried through blow-outs, sleepless nights, tantrums and teething.
For eight months, grandma has lost countless hugs, kisses and cuddles.
But she hasn’t completely missed milestones and memories.
She’s been here every day on facetime.
During mealtime and tummy time, grandma shows up on demand inside the five-inch screen of my iPhone. Her virtual presence is a soft cushion on the hard and lonely experience of navigating first-time motherhood during a pandemic.
Technology is a powerful way for children to stay connected to their grandparents. The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages screen time for children under 18 months, with an exception for video chatting with family. Still, I wonder if these virtual relationships will have an impact on our children.
My baby is already conditioned to squeal and smile with delight as she hears the low beeps of a facetime call before seeing grandma’s face pop up on the screen. That joy is heartwarming, and bittersweet.
While my little girl loves her virtual grandma, I know she’ll love real-life grandma a lot more.