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My daughters, myself

November 7, 2013

P1040510I sat at a baby shower for my oldest daughter and husband on Sunday pondering my own days of being large with child, and the recipient of the largess of people who were not my relatives or even long term friends. At both baby showers held for my husband and I, the guests were people who were in my life at that stage: work and church colleagues mostly, since I lived 600+ miles from most of my family and friends from high school or earlier.  In our mobile society, this is the norm.

At our daughter’s shower/potluck by her church in northern Virginia (Northern Virginia Mennonite), there was even a couple who had just arrived the night before from Congo.

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I had to wonder what they thought of the baby shower customs and rituals (thankfully, there were no shower games played–no little diapers with fake poo (mushed brown candy bars) in them passed for everyone to sniff and guess the type of candy bar, as I’ve played at least one shower).

P1030849I thought about how the tables were turning, my daughters becoming mothers. This kind of development is maybe the opposite of the reversal explored in Nancy Friday’s 1970s’ classic book, My Mother, Myself, but just as interesting.

Regarding Nancy Friday’s timeless observations, my sisters and I notice, sometimes with laughter, sometimes with fright, how we are becoming our mother and even our grandmother, especially on mother’s side, who was with us well into adulthood.

P1040537Grandma Stauffer with 2 month old Michelle, now 9 months pregnant with her first.

(My other grandma died when we were adolescents.) I’m even becoming my sisters: little mannerisms, my looks, people say.

P1040532Yours truly, expecting our first born. About 8 months along.

In case the 70s and Friday’s generational “aha” passed you by, see here for a thumbnail description of her book. But my takeaway from that summary is this:

“The greatest gift a good mother can give remains unquestioning love planted deep in the first year of life, so deep and unassailable that the tiny child grown to womanhood is never held back by the fear of losing that love.” —Nancy Friday

I would modify that to say “grown to adulthood” to apply it to boys, too.

Watching my daughters become mothers (one baby is due in 2 weeks, the other is already almost six weeks old) is a gift, (earlier post on Grandma x 2 here) one I wasn’t sure I would be privileged to experience. I am deeply grateful. Those of us who were older mothers or whose pregnancies did not come easily, or ever at all, and found motherhood another way (adoption, foster, or even in vitro) are maybe less likely to take our offspring becoming parents for granted than, for instance, my one aunt who was famous for quipping “all my husband had to do was hang his pajamas on the bed post.” Thank you, Aunt Arlene. (Or was she talking about cousin Arleta??)

gift

All three of my daughters at an earlier double baby shower; in the middle, youngest sister Doreen gets stuck passing out gifts.

I have loved hearing my daughters (mostly by email, Facebook post, or text) discussing varicose veins, having to pee a lot, ultrasound visits, what they’re finding to wear (love the maternity “belly band” which allows you to leave the zipper open on any pants or slacks and still hold them up. Wow, what a great innovation!), comparing weight gains, size of baby, various screenings like for diabetes, products for the nursery, wanting to avoid SUV-type strollers, the emotion of touring the hospital birthing center and realizing and hoping “Oh my, the next time I’m here, I will bring home a real baby! Our baby!”

Their enthusiasm for becoming mothers, even while struggling to sleep with a 15-pound or so basketball attached to their fronts, is gratifying, perhaps a reflection that somehow I and we as parents were able to plant that “unquestioning love deep in the first year of life.”

It is an amazing journey, whether as mother, father, grandmother, grandfather or beyond, and no matter how you follow it. The circle of life.

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Top: Dog Ike gets introduced to baby brother Sam, 2013.  Bottom: Dog Wendy gets introduced to little sister Michelle, with Aunt Barbara and Uncle Richard, 1981.

Some grandparents talk about payback, meaning that they enjoy grandkids returning the mischief and mayhem they endured as parents. But the payback of watching your kids prepare to become parents and give back the love and care you taught them through long sleepless nights, fussy, tedious days, and sacrificing your own comfort and priorities for theirs, is a far richer benefit.

Like grandmas everywhere, I ponder these harmonies and treasure them in my heart.

***

How have you enjoyed seeing your kids become parents? What stands out? If they’re still kids, what are you hoping to get in payback?

Then and Now Photo Gallery

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Sam gets his first kitchen sink bath with Grandma Melodie’s assistance. 2013. Michelle gets her first kitchen sink bath with Grandma Miller’s assistance, 1981. (Like all babies everywhere, there are more photos of baby #1’s first everythings than baby #2 or 3. Yeah.)

P1040392P1040539

Baby Sam at three weeks with father Jon, 2013. Baby Tanya at two weeks, (Sam’s mother,) 1983. Do they look alike?

P1040538  P1040535

Top: Michelle meets baby sister Tanya, 1983.  Bottom: Michelle waves hello to all the people out there in the far over Internet land, courtesy of Grandpa and Grandma Miller, 1981.

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From → Faith, Family Life

4 Comments
  1. Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

    Love to read your blog and looking at it from yet another generation as we are now into the birthing procedures of our great grandchildren!
    Our 5th great grandson was born 5 weeks ago.
    We have a nearly 7 year old, a 2 year old, a one year and a 7 months old as well.
    Two of them live nearby so we get to see them often which is a joy for us and there is to be a baby shower this weekend for the newest arrival. Life is taking on new meaning again for us.

  2. Since we didn’t have our first child til age 30 and now first grandchild at 61, I’m thinking I will be very lucky indeed to live to see any great grandchildren, but that’s ok! You are doubly blessed for sure. Your great grandson is about the age of my first grandson. So we can imagine their stages. Enjoy!

    • Caro - Claire Wiles permalink

      I guess we had an early start as we were married at 18 and by the time we were 27 we had a family if 5 children. We became 1st time grandparents at age 49.

      We now have 13 grandchildren ages 27 down to 15 and the five greats as I said earlier.

      My husband just had one brother, eleven years younger than him.

      He didn’t marry until he was 30 and they had their first child when he was 37.

      Their dad was living with us at that time and one of my brother in law’s children was born a month before our 2nd granddaughter’s birth.
      That meant he had grandchildren and great grandchildren the same age!

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