This Sunday will be the fortieth anniversary of when I first became a mother. I was excited and terrified all at the same time. The idea of being responsible for the safekeeping of a little body was thrilling and daunting. What if I did something terribly wrong and that little person was damaged in some way? I said a lot of prayers. I felt so protective every time I felt that little earthquake move .
Yes, our baby boy was born one hot July day on my mother’s birthday. She was so excited to become a grandmother that she had forgotten it was her special day. I told her, “Mom, this is the biggest present I could ever give you. Please don’t expect one every year!”
Our eldest and my mother celebrated their birthdays together every year until she passed away at 92, five years ago. She so loved being a grandmother and then eventually a great-grandmother, because one day our eldest son and his wife made me a grandmother too. What a joy that has been! Now we have three grandchildren, two from my eldest and one from his younger brother. Like every other grandparent, we think our grandchildren are the smartest and the most handsome in the whole world.
And then one day, I stopped and thought – Oh my, being a grandmother means I should be wise. Little grandchildren need to have wise grandparents. My hair is threaded through with grey now, my ears need hearing aids, and I often forget where my glasses (purse, address book, or keys) are so I guess that means I am older. But wiser?
If I am so wise now, why do I feel sometimes like the child who was always the new girl at school? Why do I feel surprised when I see this older lady looking back at me in the mirror? When my dear husband pays me a compliment I feel like I’m the 22 year old he married, but as I told my grandchildren, I know I creak and squeak now when I get out of my chair.
Our oldest once asked his dad (though he will no doubt deny it now) how old he was before he knew everything. Wow! Now that was a compliment. Of course, my husband modestly protested that he was still waiting for that day to arrive. Wisdom might be knowing that you still have much to learn.
It is said wisdom comes from experience. Perhaps that is true. I know that if I have a pill (and I do) that is too large to swallow, apple sauce will send it down gently without me gagging. I know the signs of seasonal change because I’ve seen a lot of seasons and besides, my arthritis never lies. I know that the smell of a newborn, freshly washed, is the sweetest smell on earth and, conversely, a heavy diaper is not so pleasant. I know that sometimes a child will have a temper tantrum and then fall asleep in your arms. I know how hard it is to get grocery shopping done when a child is tired and balky and I sympathize with the mother. I know enough to answer some questions and leave other answers for moms and dads. I know how hard it is to be a preteen, trying to leave childhood behind and be recognized as a full-sized person. I know that seventeen is even harder when you are so anxious to be getting on with LIFE and you are stuck in a awkward gawky body that never seems to do what you want it to do. Does this make me wise? Gee, I hope so. It is all I have to give. So far. I’m still learning.
Forty years ago, a tiny baby boy set me on a journey of adventure I never could have imagined. All his siblings look up to him, not always in agreement, but with respect as the oldest in our family. He is a responsible adult with his own children, a sweet wife, and a home. He is thoughtful, honorable and caring. We are very proud of him, as all parents should be of their children, and we cherish fond memories of his childhood years. Someday he will be the patriarch of the family clan. And you know what? One day our grandson will ask his father the same question. “Dad, how old were you when you knew everything?” What do you think his answer will be?
Happy Birthday, Son and God bless you.
Love always, Mom.