As I was holding my new great granddaughter and watching her milk drunk little face fight off sleep, I was struck by a sudden, overwhelming, love for her. It felt, in many ways, just like the love I felt for my new born sons many years ago. I guess those innate nurturing emotions never fade.
I was a young mother. By the time I was twenty-one, our two boys were born. It wasn’t easy to be so young, poor, and parents. But we were, so we just worked harder, made do with less, and loved our kids. We learned to accept the fact that one of us would be out driving around in the middle of the night to sooth a grumpy, over tired baby. We learned to live with sticky mystery goo on hands and faces. We could wrangle a two year old into the bath while talking on the phone and feeding a new born. We were fast diaper changers, quick to feed a baby, and very good at carrying on a conversation with each kid and each other at the same time. Our house was loud, active, and somewhat crazy.
I never got the laundry completely done, not even when they were teenagers. I was always facing a sink filled with dishes, and a house that was beyond messy. But, my boys and I had fun, and it was much more interesting to be with them than it was to clean house. We survived bumps, bruises, bike wrecks, fist fights, stitches, and broken bones. Not to mention childhood illnesses and germ filled school days. It didn’t matter to me that things went unfinished or undone when a Scouting project or school project took up our evenings. Dishes would still be there the next day. We managed the teenage years. Not as well as we could have, but we managed.
Then, suddenly, my boys were grown. And, before I was ready, our first grandchild was on the way. She was born between Christmas and New Years, and we were thrilled to have a girl to spoil. We never really thought we would raise her, but when we lost her father, we did. So instead of cars and building forts in the woods, we had a little girl who knew she was a princess. She spent six months of her third year determined to turn used computer parts into a time machine. And she refused to go to sleep unless her Papa told her about another Princess Crystal adventure. I honestly think that those stories were as real to her as her own life. We did all the things we did with our boys, only differently. She was, and is, high maintenance in many ways. And our greatest delight was to see her riding on her horse in a show. She is a natural. But, suddenly she was a grown woman, with a baby of her own on the way.
Our second son gave us two delightful grandchildren. A boy and a girl. Both are smart, funny, opinionated, and a joy to us. It is different from our first grandchild, it is more like being a real Nana and Papa rather than a parent. Our son is a single father, and he does a super job raising his children. The divorce was not amicable, but at least he gets to see his kids every day. When I see him telling them the exact same things I told him when he was in trouble as a kid, I smile inside knowing I did something right.
Now I have a great granddaughter. She is only three weeks old, and, like most babies, she has taken over our home and our hearts. I have raised, or helped to raise, two generations of children. And at the age of 58, I get to be involved with a third generation. And as I talk to my granddaughter, I hear the words I told her about raising her come straight from her heart as she talks about raising her daughter.
I am a mother, grandmother, and a great grandmother. My life has been raising kids, encouraging my husband, and constantly improving me. I do not regret one moment of being a parent to two rowdy boys and one little princess. It has been the greatest accomplishment of my life, better than my degrees, and all the world travel we experienced. Raising kids to be faithful, hard working, patriotic, and dedicated men and women is the best thing I have ever done, or will ever do.
If you take the jump to parenthood, you will see that all the work, lack of sleep, school projects, and laughing at the dinner table is well worth it. Because that crying baby in aisle two of the grocery store that annoys you now, is going to grow up one day, and he will take on his world from the lessons his parents taught him.
Three generations of children fill my heart. I am blessed and thankful for the opportunity to love them.