Motherhood 202

Motherhood 202

From Chicken Soup for the Grandma's Soul

Motherhood 202

What do we live for, if not to make life less difficult to each other?

George Eliot

At the age of eighteen, I became the mother of not one baby boy, but two. Being an inexperienced mom frightened me. I had never even held a brand-new baby before. The day I left the hospital the nurse placed a baby in each arm. Equipped with two care packages filled with formula and baby wipes, off I went to face an adventure of a lifetime. At that time, I didn’t realize the sacrifices I would make and how much of my time these two beautiful babies would require.

Instead of going home, my husband and I stayed with my parents for a couple of weeks. The more help we can get, the easier it will be, I thought. Both of my parents worked during the day, so at night they were forced to get some much-needed rest. Sitting up most of the night with the boys as they took turns vying for my attention, then washing diapers while preparing formula during the day, was very exhausting, to say the least.

My wonderful grandmother, Mamma, came to help out. She walked inside, and love immediately poured from her heart as she gazed into the bassinets in which my tiny babies slept. I was so glad to see her. I threw my arms around her neck and held her close. I’ll never forget how soft her hair was and how good she smelled that day. It reminded me of the times that she squeezed me tightly when, as a child, I needed a hug.

She smiled and said, “Babies raising babies, Lord. Now just what do you think about that?” By the expression on her face, I knew she still loved me, as much as ever. Suddenly I understood the sacrifice that she made when her girls were small and, later, while helping my parents to raise me. I also realized that I would always be a baby to her, regardless of my age.

During the next two weeks, Mamma and I spent a great deal of time together. While she rocked one baby, I changed the other. When I sterilized bottles, she folded mounds of diapers. I never imagined that two little babies could create so much laundry or drink so much formula. While I appreciated the efforts that Mamma put forward to physically help me get through the first two weeks of my babies’ lives, I appreciated more the loving support. Just when I needed it most she said, “You’re doing a good job, darling.” She blessed me with instructions, giving me a crash course in Motherhood 202.

“Love them while you have them, darling,” she said after we got both boys to sleep one morning. “Life is so short. Before you turn around good, they’ll be gone.” Of course, with them being less than two weeks old, the thought of them leaving home was the last thing on my mind—I was just concerned about making it through the next few days! But I listened and clung to every word she said.

“Always be positive,” was a favorite hint that she repeated many times during our roundtable discussions. “If you ever say ‘no,’ don’t back down” and “Remember to say what you mean and mean what you say,” were favorite lines of hers. “Sometimes it’s better to say, ‘Let me think about it’ before answering. Never base your decisions on guilt, pride or obligation. Let love be your guide.”

Mamma was never afraid to say what she was thinking. “Be willing to admit, even to kids, that you are capable of making mistakes, darling. Tell them you’re sorry when you make a bad decision. They may be little, but remember that they have feelings too,” she said as she kissed one of the baby’s tiny cheeks.

“Never put them on the back burner of your life,” she said. “God has given you two blessings. Pray for them daily, thanking him. Let them know you are praying for them too,” she followed. “That is very important.”

The two weeks passed quickly, and suddenly I turned around one day and the boys were walking, talking, and too soon they started school. A few years later, Mamma left this world behind. Through my tears, I watched as my little boys sang her favorite hymn before a chapel full of her friends and family. In my mind, I saw the love in her eyes as she gazed into their bassinets just a few years earlier. I knew in my heart that their sweet voices would make her feel very honored.

Over the years, as little storms crept into our lives, I never forgot Mamma’s instructions. Many times I had to admit I’d made a mistake, and I told my kids I was sorry. When they became teens, I made some tough decisions. Like Mamma challenged me to do, I tried to base every decision not on guilt, pride or obligation, but on love. I am positive they have always understood how important they are to me. I realized life was short and they’d be gone in no time, so I spent quality time with them every single day.

When the boys grew into young men, I was elated as they walked across the university auditorium and accepted their hard-earned diplomas. I thought of Mamma and how proud she would have been of them both. When the dean called their names, in my heart I heard Mamma say, “Babies raising babies, Lord. Now what do you think of that?”

Somewhere, beyond the cheering, I also heard her say, “Good job, darling. I give you an A+ in Motherhood 202.”

“Thank you, Mamma. You taught me everything that I know.”

Nancy Gibbs

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