An Awkward Journey into Midlife

img_4015Upstairs, my son and his nearly one-year old daughter are playing with my five-year old daughter.

Confusing?

I get it.

Last Sunday was Mother’s Day and my first Mother’s Day as a Grandma.

I’m forty-two.

I’d be a liar if I told you I was a joyful Grandma…

Wait, let me back up.

I’d be a liar if I told you that at the age of thirty-six, I was a joyful mom-to-be.

I wasn’t.

At that age, was ready to hop on a Harley with my man and ride off into the sunset. Okay, maybe not exactly that, but it was a vision I held to fiercely. My sons were in high school then and I was ready to see them into adulthood and push them from the nest lovingly like I’ve seen Robins do to their babies in my own backyard. I’d been mothering since I was nineteen and I was ready to live my own life. I was ready to simply be a woman again.

Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely love being a mother. My sons and I have always had a close relationship and I love them more than words can say, but when you become a parent at the age of nineteen, you put much of your life aside, while you raise children. You lose a lot of the “freedom” that other young adults enjoy.

That said, while raising them, I did still get my degrees and I had my own life. It was just different. The responsibility of mothering was always the priority. I made a hell of a lot of mistakes, but my sons were the center of my world and I don’t regret a single second of that.

As they approached adulthood themselves, I began looking forward the an empty nest and the things I would be able to do.

When I found out I was pregnant, I cried – not the happy tears of “yay, we’re pregnant,” but devastated tears. I feel a little awkward telling you, the reader – a perfect stranger – this, but it’s the truth. I was more sad, scared, devastated, and disappointed than happy. In all honesty, for the first few days, “happy” didn’t even factor in.

My elated husband immediately suggested we go to his mother’s to announce the good news. I agreed, more out of shock than anything else, because I had no desire to celebrate or tell anyone else about it, but I found myself standing in her kitchen, with my husband announcing with an enormous smile, “We’re pregnant!”

She cried – yes, the happy “Oh my goodness, I’m going to be a Granny again and to my baby boys’ baby” tears.

You know, the happy tears I was incapable of at that time.

I spent the first half of my pregnancy in a state of either shock or sadness. While I ate really well, stopped drinking, and took my prenatal vitamins, it took me a good five months to really come to terms with the fact that I was going to give birth to a real live baby again – and my sons are almost grown. I was simultaneously losing my sons and beginning motherhood all over again. The empty nest didn’t feel right after all. “I’m not ready!” I’d cry.

I think all mothers go through that…they look forward to the freedom, only to realize they actually aren’t ready for it yet. I felt like I just needed a few more years or even just one more year to wrap my head around the fact that my boys were not my baby boys anymore.

It all goes so fast (it’s not just a cliche) and while I wanted to focus on the fact that my sons were, indeed, easy to fly from the nest without my help, I couldn’t really focus because I had a little baby in my belly kicking me on a daily basis.

My life was turned upside down and I wasn’t sure how I felt about it.

Of course, the good feelings eventually settled into my heart and I found myself shopping the baby department with a smile, I poured over mommy blogs and imagined what my baby would look like. I even sang to her every day and read Brown Bear, Brown Bear to her every night.

My sons were doing well and I felt a little better about starting Motherhood over again and managed to let go of the feelings that by having another baby, I was somehow leaving my sons out…or that they were leaving me. I’m still not one-hundred percent what I was feeling then, to be honest. Maybe some feelings cannot be put into words, but only felt by the heart.

When my darling, vivacious, beautiful, creative, and downright awesome little girl was born, I fell in love with her instantly and so did my sons and everyone in the family. She was a little gift to all of us. It was a rocky start with the lack of sleep and cracked and bleeding nipples (she has two lip ties) and just getting readjusted to motherhood – You know what I mean! Motherhood is a JOB. I don’t care what anyone says. Sure, it’s wonderful, but it’s downright exhausting as well. Anyone who says otherwise has a housekeeper, and a nanny.

Just sayin.’

Anyway, it was a rocky start, but we did settle into it after a few months. She ended up nursing for twenty-three months, when she weaned herself while we were vacationing on Tybee Island in Georgia. She’s also a great little traveler and that’s been an absolutely blessing, because my husband and I were looking forward to traveling. At first we thought it might be difficult with a baby, but we made it a priority for our lives and it’s worked out really well for all of us.

There are no umbrella rules for family life. You can make it what you want and it’ll be beautiful.

When my daughter was almost five, my twenty-one year old son told me that he was going to be a dad – as per custom in this day and age, he told me via text. Yes, a text. I’m not sure if he was afraid to say it to my face, or if he was still in a state of shock and couldn’t speak the words, but whatever the reason, I found out that I might be a Grandma via text. Thank you, 21st century virtual-connection.

Wow.

It’s hard not to think of yourself in a time like this. Of course I knew I’d support my son. He’s my son. I love him with all my heart like I love all my children. I’m a little embarrassed to say that after an initial inquiry into his feelings and sending congratulations, I began to think of myself.

*cringe of embarrassment for the truth of that*

My thoughts went a little like this:

I literally just got used to being mom to a little one and now I have to wear the Grandma hat?

Wait, Grandma?

Isn’t that a little old?

I mean, I do have some grey hairs showing, but I’m not ready for this!

The guy at the skin care place in the mall said I just had baby crow’s feet around my eyes. Baby ones! He said I didn’t need the eye cream laced with snake venom like older people with deep set wrinkles!

I’m not Grandma material!

I don’t even know what it looks like to be a Grandma.

How do I do this?

Grandma?

What about Grammy?

Or Grandmommy?

Or…

God help me.

I’d love to tell you that I quickly came to my senses and excitedly went out shopping for cute outfits for my grand baby, but that would be a lie. I don’t lie. The idea of being a Grandma terrified me. I had just gotten the hang of being a mom again! Being a Grandma never even entered my mind, even though my mother became a Grandma at about the same age as me. I imagined my sons would go out into the world and act a little crazy for a while. I expected to preach to them about not partying too much and expected them to date for a while, get apartments with their roommate friends.

You know, things like that.

I just didn’t expect to be a grandma so soon.

Like being a new mom, I eventually embraced being a Grandma (the title I have ultimately and gladly accepted). My grand daughter looks and acts so much like my son when he was a baby. She’s beautiful and quiet and has the most precious smile. I enjoy spending Saturdays with her while my son works and I love how observant she is. Her name, Serenity, certain fits her tender demeanor and she, like my daughter, has been a wonderful surprise gift to our family.

I love my children, even with the big age gap, and my grand daughter is pure sunshine. Sure there are challenges and sometimes I still have trouble juggling all the hats I wear, but my life is beautiful and if I had it to do all over again, I’d not change a single thing.

Life is full of surprises and if we hold on too tight to our expectations, we may miss out on something even better. I think it’s great to have ideas for the future, but to hold on loosely to them, so that we can remain open to all that the Universe has in store for us.

It’s always better.

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