Grandma by 40: In the Beginning...
My Most Beautiful Girls
I'm definitely not saying that I really know what I'm doing. If that were true, I wouldn't be writing a Hub titled Grandma by 40, of that I'm sure. I do know that for the most part we all do our best, and when we can't we do what we can. Some of us fall short, others excel. This is not my attempt at an advice column, this is simply my experience put to words.......probably because I can't compose music that has a good beat and you can dance to.
To give a lot of background, to me, would be more self serving than helpful. If I had been inspired to write this as a How-To in parenting then explaining why I am the "type" of parent that I am and the struggles that I faced, to go into the history of my life, would make sense......I above all know that I would need to defend myself and some of my actions....don't we all? However, this is not a How-To so to do any such thing would only serve to possibly elicit sympathy in my way of thinking, which is not my goal. This is an experience that I am early into, that is current, that I really have no experience in. I'm just writing it down in hopes that someone might just find a glimmer of light to the different path they may be seeking. That just maybe I can help someone who feels the failure that I have so many times, also see the success and possibilities that I do.
This not-so-unique position that my family has found itself in really has absolutely nothing to do with upbringing, education, social or financial background. It happens. That's something our North American society in this day and age has proven. Much like a disease or the lottery, it's indiscriminate. The only real thing that there is control over is how you react.
And initially my truest, most real reaction to finding out my newly turning 17 year old daughter was pregnant was a quite astonished, anguished and resounding, "Say WHAT?"
A Perfectly Normal Reaction by Completely Abnormal Me.
I will say this much about my background. I have intimate experience with teen pregnancy and parenthood. I myself did not go through it, but my older sister did have my niece at the age of 14 and my niece had a daughter by the age of 17. I grew up from the age of 11 with it in my home, so I do have a minutia of insight into it. At least as much that can be gleaned in retrospect from the memories of Tween, that is.
I always drilled two things into my daughters head, for as long as she can remember. Graduate and don't get pregnant. We are quite open with eachother, we discussed birth control on more than a cursory "The Talk" level, and more than once. I had taken her to get Birth Control, like all responsible parents, when I found out that much to my disagreement she was sexually active. My mantra's on the subject were "The pill is for pregnancy, condoms are for diseases. You need both or you aren't protected" and "Don't do anything you don't know everything about." My daughter, though a typical problem teen in some relatively mild ways, was considered to be one of the "kids" in the family that was too smart to get caught in a situation like this by most that know her. Therefore, complete shock was the overall reaction and emotion initially felt when this news came out. Especially for her.
I'd say that's pretty normal, and all the other normal array of feelings that are felt in this situation were displayed by all involved. Fear of a lost future, grief over the difficulties that now will be faced by my child to keep a glimpse of that future in place, anger at how someone so educated on the issue could be so careless, at a loss at how it could happen to her. And let us not forget the oldies: disgust, confusion, shame and guilt over whatever it was that I did or didn't do as a parent to teach my child enough or give my child enough for this not to happen. In the end, who's fault was it? It was mine. I still believe that is a harsh and simple truth. The fault is mine. I am the adult, I am the one who raised her. Just like it would inevitably be my fault, once the dots were connected, if she was a teen that abused others, stole or had no respect, this is my fault, somewhere.
This is where I think I differed from many though. Absolutely from others that were involved in our situation. Regardless of it all, no matter what choices her and the Dad were going to have to make in their opinions, no matter the why and where, I never got mad at them. I never yelled at either of them, sat them down and lectured them or voiced my opinion to anything unsolicited. Regardless of the absolute plethora of conflicting emotions that I had only an hour before while holding the stick in my hand with the two purple lines (because we did the test together), the churning in my stomach and the way my whole body shook, there was this underlying sense of conviction from the moment the pregnancy was confirmed.
All I ever could really say, and truly believed unfalteringly, is that she needed to be completely educated on every choice before making one, that this decision was hers alone to make because it would be her alone that would have to live with it forever and under no circumstances, at any point or for any reason, would a baby in my house ever be a negative thing. No matter what has come up, the adversity we've faced and the changes we've all had to make in our home, I can safely say that Beaner has always been viewed as a blessing and worth it all.
A Continuing Saga More Thrilling Than Star Wars!
At current as I write this, my beautiful Granddaughter (who we affectionately call Beaner) is just over 5 months old. There is much to be said about what has happened from the point of discovering my daughters pregnancy to now (we're really only days away from the first anniversary of this story's beginning now that I think about it) and I do plan to continue with where I'm leaving off. But for now, all that really needs to be said is this:
Be strong. Love them. Anger truly makes it worse. Change what you must to lead by example. Help but don't take over. Listen before you guide. Guide, don't instruct. Hug them when you express disappointment. Stand by their side, hold them up, say nothing when they've made their choice with resolve.
And don't ever, ever doubt that new life will bring more joy and genuine love than anything else remotely close to negative into your life. Whatever failure I may have felt when my daughter became pregnant is being completely overwritten by the success I feel in seeing the kind of mother my daughter is to her child. That's the light on my path, my friends. Believe it.
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