44: Unexpected Blessing

44: Unexpected Blessing

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Best Mom Ever!

Unexpected Blessing

Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.

~John Lennon

My sobbing daughter stopped my world. “Mom, I’m pregnant.” She had just finished her first semester of community college and she was only eighteen. Only a month before, I had let her move into an apartment near campus with two other students. It seemed so practical, relieving her of a long daily commute, and giving her more time and energy for studying and her part-time job. I knew that she was still dating her high school sweetheart. But, naïve as it sounds, I didn’t see this coming.

There was no question she would keep the baby. While the dad would stay involved to some degree, she would be a single mom. And thus began the first day of the rest of our lives.

I told her that I would do everything I could to help her be a good mom. She could move back home, but she had to stay in school and keep working “until her contractions started.” She could take one quarter off from school after the baby was born, and then go back full-time until she completed her degree. Then she would get a job and support herself and her child. She agreed.

Over the months, as her baby bump became a baby beach ball, reality began to sink in. She saw her peers moving in a direction that was no longer open to her. The plans and dreams she had just months before were no longer feasible. The overseas internship was gone, as was the promise of a job in San Francisco after graduation. She knew she needed to stay close to family for practical and emotional support, at least for some years to come.

Her social status changed. She was no longer the popular, carefree, spontaneous center of her social circle. She faced the judgment of friends and even some family members. It hurt. Friends drifted away. Even friends that stayed could not understand the changes in her life and the joy she wanted to share. There was sadness mixed with her excitement.

But she moved forward. The formerly self-absorbed, live-for-the-moment teenager began to think of someone besides herself. On top of work and school, she took birth and parenting classes. She ate healthy food. A crib appeared by her bed. The friends who stuck by her gave her a baby shower. Instead of modeling the newest fashion, she now held up baby clothes and marveled at the thought that her baby would be wearing them.

She and I grew closer. The mom who didn’t know anything became the mom who knew everything. Of course I didn’t, but she was scared and I became her safety net. We sat on the couch while she ate strawberries and pineapple (her daily craving), and talked about life and love and how everything was going to be okay.

And then it happened. We almost didn’t make it to the hospital in time. Her uneven contractions led us to believe she wasn’t in serious labor yet. She didn’t want to go and then be sent home. Finally, I made an executive decision and loaded her in the car and off to the hospital we went. They settled her in a room. The nurse checked while Mia cried and asked if they were going to send her home. “Nope,” the nurse said briskly, “you are going to have a baby!”

And so she did. Somehow my little 5’2” baby girl pushed out a big, slippery, healthy baby boy. I cried as they placed him on her stomach. He looked just like her. And in a miraculous transformation she became a mom.

As planned, she took a quarter off from college and spent, as any mom knows, exhausting days and sleepless nights falling in love. When it was time to go back to school, she arranged childcare and set off with two backpacks, one with her books and the other with her breast pump. She called between classes to check on the little one, and required many photos texted to her throughout the day until she could get back home to him.

It wasn’t easy. There were lots of tears and a few setbacks. But oh how she loved that child. I watched her come home so tired and then light up when she saw him, finding renewed energy to play and feed and rock him to sleep. She never rushed her time with him, even though she had homework to do after he went to sleep.

Everything she did now, she told me, was for him. She still had plans and dreams, but they were different plans and dreams — the plans and dreams of a mother, full of love and responsibility.

Two years later, she graduated. I held her son while she walked across the stage to get her diploma. Two days later she had a full-time job. As promised, she had finished her education and gotten a job.

I was so proud of her. And a bit in awe. She was a much better mother than I was at the beginning. I was older and more prepared, but still grew gradually into motherhood. Luckily, my children survived all my mistakes and ignorance. Where did she get that sense of command and confidence about raising her son? His paternal great-grandmother and I laughed with affection and admiration at how she made sure that we followed her instructions when he was in our care. New mothers much older than her sought her advice.

Her son is five now. Last year she married a wonderful man. He said that he fell in love with her when he watched her with her son. He fell in love with both of them. And they both fell in love with him.

What I initially saw as a tragic event in our lives has become our greatest blessing. My daughter is fulfilled and happy. So happy! As is her son, who, when asked who has the best mom ever, enthusiastically replies, “I do!”

~Galen Pearl

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