And Then There Was Hailey

And Then There Was Hailey

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

And Then There Was Hailey

The future destiny of the child is always the work of the mother.

Napoleon Bonaparte

It was a hot summer afternoon just before my daughter Julia’s senior year in college when she called long distance.

“Mom, I’m . . . I’m . . . pregnant.”

Dumbstruck, I could barely breathe, let alone talk.

My mind raced. She’d only been dating her latest boyfriend for six months. How could this happen? How would she ever finish college? I took a deep breath and listened to what Julia had to say through her tears.

Her words tumbled out as if she were a defense attorney addressing a jury. “His mom thinks we should get married, but I’m just not ready for that. I really don’t know him well enough. I know we made a mistake and I’m very, very sorry, but. . .”

Oh no, here it comes, I thought.

“Mom, this is my baby. I am this child’s mother. I know it won’t be easy, but I know I can do it.”

I sucked in a big gulp of air and whispered a prayer of thanks.

But then I started to worry. How would Julia be able to finish college? How could she attend classes, work her two part-time jobs and take care of a baby?

Julia loved college. She loved living in a big house off campus with five other girls. And most of all, she loved the parties and the social life. How could she possibly continue that lifestyle while she was pregnant?

The answer came two months later, just before school started, when Julia and her boyfriend moved into a tiny apartment off campus. He explained, “I know this isn’t the ideal situation, but I have a responsibility to Julia and to the baby. I’m going to be here to help her through this pregnancy. I’ll work while she finishes school.”

The following March I received a phone call that woke me from a deep sleep.

“Hi, Grandma!” The words rattled through my brain like fireworks as I shot out of the bed. “Baby Hailey and Julia are doing fine.”

Julia dropped out of college for two semesters to stay home and take care of Hailey full-time while her boyfriend worked at a lumberyard. During those carefree summer days Julia experienced the joy of motherhood.

Her phone calls and letters to me sang tales about Hailey’s every little accomplishment, from rolling over to smiling, about their long walks with a borrowed stroller, and about rummage sales where Julia found “tons of great baby clothes and most of them are only a quarter or fifty cents!”

That summer Julia developed a sense of calmness and organization that I’d never seen in my partying college coed. She had been transformed into a mom who was spending every one of her summer days simply cherishing her new baby daughter. Not once did I hear her mention that she missed the college parties or the shenanigans with her old friends.

One day in September, after Julia started back to school to finish her senior year, she phoned. “Mom, there’s a conference for people all over the United States who are experts in my major. My professors really want me to go. The hotel where it’s at is just a few miles from your house.”

Before she could even ask, I shouted into the phone, “Yes! I’d love to watch Hailey!” It would be my first full day alone with my only grandchild. I could feel a giddy sense of joy bubbling up inside.

As I watched my daughter prepare to leave her daughter the morning of the conference, I listened as she put the well-being and safety of her child ahead of anything else in her life. I nodded enthusiastically at Julia’s long list of things to do and how to do them for Hailey.

That day was nonstop joy for me as I played with, strolled, talked to, laughed with, fed, took pictures of and rocked my baby granddaughter. I found myself just watching her sleep, as I had done so many times when my own children were tiny.

A few weeks later Julia called me again in the middle of the day, bursting with news. “Mom, I had a long talk with the head of the department today at school. She said she can’t get over how different I am this semester. She said I’m so organized and my attitude is so positive and that the entire department is amazed at how much I’ve accomplished and how well I’m doing in my classes.”

My mind and heart swelled with pride and awe at the way my daughter’s life was unfolding right before my eyes.

When I look back to that summer day when my unmarried daughter told me she was pregnant, I knew our worlds were about to change drastically. But little did I know that Julia’s unselfish courage to give birth to her unplanned child, at a time in her life when motherhood was definitely not on her list of things to do, would be a new beginning for our family.

I learned that one of the joys of being a grandmother comes from watching your daughter grow into a mother.

Patricia Lorenz

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