On my way to a doctor’s appointment this morning, I grabbed Starbucks and then delivered a frappuccino to my daughter. As soon as my hands were empty, I picked up my grandson and smothered him with snuggles. We smiled at each other and laughed. I talked gibberish to him and I am pretty sure he thought I was hilarious.
A year ago, I couldn’t even imagine moments like this and that they would warm my heart. Even though I have four children of my own, I struggled to imagine a life that included a grandchild. Because, you know, I was only thirty-seven years old. My daughter was barely seventeen. And this wasn’t the life I had planned.
I had rehearsed the moment a hundred times in my head. I would not yell or cry or lose my composure. I knew from my own personal experience with that very daughter that she would only need to be hugged, hear she was loved and be reminded that everything will be ok. So when the confession—Mom, I’m pregnant—escaped from my seventeen year old daughters’ lips? I stuck to the script.
Perhaps I never truly expected to use that script and so it ended there. Now off-script with my daughter out the door to school, I lost it. I crumpled to my knees and sobbed my eyes out. When I was finally spent and opened my eyes my four-year-old son was kneeling beside me, nose-to-nose with my face on the floor—”What’s wrong, Mama?”
Suddenly, nothing would ever be the same. Familiarity was a distant stranger. Our surroundings were already unfamiliar due to living in a temporary location after experiencing a fire in our home and now my family was changed forever. Overwhelming waves of shock would fill the next few days. By that I mean actual physical waves of shock that came over me. I would be driving along, attempting to process what the future might hold and an honest-to-God wave of pain would shoot through my chest and take my breath away. I had never experienced that sensation before but it began to be a constant companion.
And the questions. Oh, the questions. The doubts. The second thoughts. The shame. Every single word and action ever rendered concerning my daughter was reviewed in my mind to determine how I could have redirected her path so that she didn’t end up where she did. And, of course, the big one—I thought I had managed to be a pretty decent teenage mom but maybe I had been wrong? I mean—come on—of all the wrong choices my children might make, as my daughter, wasn’t teenage pregnancy THE ONE choice they should know how to make wisely? As my daughters, shouldn’t I have figured out how to raise them in such a way that we would never end up here in a million years? How could this be happening again?
I spent hours mourning the family we used to be. We would never again just be the six of us. I mourned the hopes and dreams that I had for my daughter, not because I wanted her to follow a certain path but because I lived with the countless sacrifices I made when I became pregnant with her. Don’t get me wrong—they were all worth it—but I had hoped to spare my daughter the hard consequences of those choices.
I won’t lie. Things became worse before they eventually came together. There were a few months when, through no choice of my own, we had no contact with our daughter. It was the most gut-wrenching situation I have ever been through. In the middle of it all, my mother wondered aloud why my faith hadn’t wavered. I was surprised to realize I hadn’t even considered being shaken. My faith in God and trust in Him having all things woven together for good, somehow, in some way, was the only solid and constant rock to land on when I was knocked to the ground time and again.
My grandson, Rowan, is now 10 months old and only recently have I been able to rock him to sleep in my arms and feel my heart at peace with the whole situation. Wounds have begun to heal and hearts have begun to mend. For a long while there was a wall up between him and I. I didn’t intend for it to exist; I was practically unaware of it until I felt it come tumbling down the day we decided to “say everything that needed to be said.” And now? It’s amazing to sweep him up in arms and feel free to love him with reckless abandon. It’s not the life I expected. It’s not the life I ever would have dreamed. But I think I could get used to being called grandma.