My story, my heart
I became a grandmother at the ripe old age of 36. I currently have 4 grandchildren and will soon add 2 more to the brood for a total of 6. I'm now 47...that doesn't exactly qualify me for the “mother goose” demographic and I haven't YET conformed to the preconceived appearance of a grandmother.
Yes, it’s flattering when I hear the “you don’t look old enough to be a grandma” comments, much like it is when people assume that I am my daughter’s sister or my son’s girlfriend. My kids loathe hearing those assumptions, but I bask in them. I don’t mean to glamorize the reality of how I became such a young “granny” via 2 generations of teen pregnancy, but I choose to glean the good from what most would deem an unfortunate situation. The circumstances weren’t ideal, but I WAS and still AM able to be blessed by it.
I had my first child, my son, at the age of 16. I had my 2nd child, my daughter, at the age of 19. I’m sure it could've easily been assumed that this was just the beginning of a pattern that would result in me being a baby factory, siphoning the welfare system and relying on the generosity and compassion of others to raise my children...but it wasn’t. I stopped at 2 children and was never enrolled in any government assistance programs. I don't mention that to prove superiority or degrade anyone who has utilized public assistance, I mention it to combat the negative stigma assigned to young single mothers. I don't care to talk politics nor advocate for ending the abuse of a system that was created to aid rather than enable, there are plenty of forums for that sort of heated discussion and banter but what I WILL talk about is the heart of a mother, at ANY age.
A very young “Blondie” with 2 of her very own hooligans
My daughter seemed to follow in my footsteps. She too had her first child at a young age, 17, and her 2nd at 21. I admit I was heartbroken to see her make the same choices because I knew how difficult this was going to be for her and thought I had done all I could to prevent her from experiencing parenthood prematurely. I endured many unkind remarks from people implying that her pregnancy was some sort of punishment for me…that because I had put MY mother through this when I was 16, I was now being punished by having my own daughter do the same- Karma and all that. “Paybacks are a bitch”, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree”, etc., I’ve heard them all. These statements were often spoken to be humorous but instead were hurtful because they essentially imply that my children and grandchildren’s purpose in life is to be a consequence and reminder of poor choices, when actually they are quite the opposite…proof that all things work for good and that blessings abound despite circumstances. I could go on and on and list the good that has resulted from all of this, but that’s not really my purpose in sharing my story either.
My daughter, her husband and 3 of my Grand-hooligans
My son did things completely different. At the age of 28 he welcomed his first child into the world. During his wife’s pregnancy he expressed his elation at being able to feel his unborn son move for the first time. I can attest, as I’m sure many can, to the awesomeness and excitement of experiencing this. Seeing him marvel and delight in this at the age of 28 reminded me of how I did the same when I felt HIM move within in me at the age of 16. The joy and anticipation he felt as a mature adult was the same joy and anticipation I experienced as an immature teenager. At 28 he was in a position to be more prepared for raising a child, emotionally, mentally, physically and financially…at 16 I was NOT…and yet we both, at very different stages and circumstances in our lives, were experiencing the SAME love. By outside standards he was an adult approaching a blessed milestone in his life, a reward, a timely event...while I was a teen mom approaching a great trial, test of my fortitude, and an untimely and premature event…yet again, we were both experiencing the SAME love. I was excited and proud beyond words to see my son, once my baby when I was still yet a baby myself, anticipate and delight in the impending birth of his own son.
My son, daughter-in-law and their 1st son
So my purpose for sharing my story is simply to express the capacity of a mother’s heart, actually a PARENT’S heart, at ANY age. I struggled for years as my children grew up, feeling like I didn’t count as a mother. I felt that my young age caused other “real” mothers to think I lacked credibility, like they didn’t view me as one of their peers because they thought I couldn’t’ possibly appreciate my children like they appreciated theirs and that my children were to be viewed as a burden or a mistake rather than a blessing. Much of that misguided assumption was self imposed, but not ALL of it.
My heart beat and bled for my children as much as any age-appropriate mom’s did, and although I may have been too young to provide the same circumstances, I was never too young to experience and provide the same love…not as a teenager and not now as a young grandmother.
My amazing daughter and I may have done things out of the prescribed order but we’ve been blessed beyond measure and have the capacity to love and experience the same joy as someone who hasn’t…a parent’s heart knows no bounds nor timeline.
May I never behave in a way that causes another parent to feel inferior, that they lack credibility or that their children are any less significant because their circumstances are different than my own.