Many little girls dream of the day when they become mothers. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t.
Oh, when I was young, I played with dolls and pretended to be a mommy to them. I had tea parties with my dollies and did all the usual little girl play acting. But when I thought of my future, which I must admit wasn’t that often, I didn’t envision myself becoming a mother. No, I imagined my future self as either a famous actress or a well-known best-selling author.
And I have become neither. But the best accomplishment I’ve ever achieved and one that I will never, ever regret is becoming a mother. Growing up, my own mother instilled in me that I needed to go to college and become ‘something.’ Mom never worked outside of our home and she was a wonderful mother taking care of us three girls, cooking and baking the most delicious food, and turning our home into a lovely sanctuary.
An only child, Mom also lovingly cared for her own parents in our home until they passed away. She was generous, devoted to her family, and homemaking really did seem to make her happy particularly when she used her artistic talent in sewing, crocheting, and making beautiful hand-made quilts.
Somewhere along my path to becoming an adult, whether it was a nudge from my own mom or just a sign of the times – the late 60’s and early 70’s – I embraced the idea that I did not want to become ‘just a wife and mother’ like my own mom. I used to proclaim that I aimed for one goal – to be a career woman. I wasn’t interested in getting married, and for anyone who listened, I added that my vow certainly did not include having children.
What I did not account for in my made-up scenario of life is that I would meet and fall head over heels in love with a young man during my junior year of college and I would gladly become his wife three years later.
Still I entertained thoughts of not having children. Looking back now, I really cannot pinpoint why I had made that decision in early adulthood. But four years after I married my husband, it happened. I discovered that I wasn’t really suffering from an intestinal bug that made me nauseous and prompted early morning trips to the bathroom, I was pregnant – with child.
I was shocked and unprepared and the timing certainly wasn’t ideal. My military husband was slated for an overseas year-long unaccompanied (meaning no wives along) assignment and would be leaving soon. Up to this point, our lives seemed great since we both enjoyed our careers; we were saving my earnings; we had a great social circle of friends; and we did pretty much what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it.
All of that came screeching to a halt when an Army doctor gave me the good news. Since the baby was due when my husband would be out of the country, I panicked. How could I bring a baby into the world alone, far away from not only my husband but my family and their support as well?
We solved the dilemma by preparing for my husband’s PCS (permanent change of station) by moving out of our on-post housing, putting most of our belongings in storage, and moving me to temporarily stay with my folks while my husband was stationed on the other side of the world. My parents eagerly welcomed me home and they were amazing as they helped me adjust to the idea of motherhood.
A week after Christmas, my own mother held me as I sobbed inconsolably in an airport restroom after kissing my husband goodbye for the next year of our lives. As she hugged me and stroked my head, my wise mother whispered, “You need to stop crying now. It’s time to think about the baby.”
And she was right. As foreign and surreal as it seemed because I wasn’t even showing yet, there was a new little life growing and developing inside my own. I felt the baby’s first fluttering move on Christmas Eve while sitting in church but it all still seemed so unreal.
It was indeed time to think about my baby.
It was time to really grow up. Time to put aside my wants, my desires, my thoughts about myself and my sadness over being separated from my husband, and think of someone else. Someone who would be solely dependent on me. My child.
Thirty plus years have come and gone since that day. When I brought that first new little life into this world, I never imagined the intense love I would feel for that child. My child. The day my firstborn was placed in my arms, I launched on a new career path – motherhood. My husband and I together decided that the best thing for our family was for me to be a stay-at-home mom.
I kissed my former career goodbye and I’ve never regretted that decision. My outlook on motherhood completely changed when I became a mother myself. With each child born – and there were two more gifts of life – my joy and blessings increased and so did my deep love for my children.
A couple of years ago, each one of my grown children married (all in the same year!) and now I am Mama to six adults instead of just three. My love for my ‘children’ just keeps blossoming and growing and extending way beyond what I ever envisioned.
And now I am an empty nest mama. Somehow time flew past in a whirlwind and our house, which once was so full of noise, toys, and childhood mayhem is neat, orderly, and quiet. And yes, I must admit, it’s also lonely from time to time.
Change. That’s what life always brings. And now it’s time for a new change.
This girl…this girl with her wide-eyed dreams…this girl who never thought she was capable of being a mother…this girl who cherished motherhood more than a career…this girl who watched each of her fledglings soar out of her nest…this girl who is sometimes astonished at the middle-aged lady who looks back at her from the mirror…this girl…is changing again.
This girl…is going to be a grandmother!
“A house needs a grandma in it.” ~Louisa May Alcott