At the moment I have four pregnant daughters plus a daughter-in-law who is now expecting her first child. When one has 39 children it’s a matter of simple math to easily determine there’ll be a passel of grandchildren.
I have the emotional and physical energy left in me to parent another sibling group, but I don’t have the desire to do so anymore, as I am now looking at the decidedly positive aspects of being involved with all of my grandchildren. Raising my children has sometimes resembled a war zone, 20 years in Iraq, and I’m still not anywhere near finished.
I’d do it all again though just to help guarantee that the next generation would be raised properly. If, at times, I despaired when my children made terrible choices, or seemed to not rise much above their original life circumstances, I have been been rewarded eventually by this fine bunch of beautiful grandchildren, there’ll be 17 of them by the end of this year.
All of them are well cared for, beautifully provided for and they are all priorities in the lives of their parents.
One of my daughters will be induced this Wednesday; she’s been suffering from preclampsia, a very high pregnancy blood pressure that has required her to lie on her left side for weeks now. Frustrated with her own inactivity, since she has an almost two year old very active toddler, this upcoming birth will be a relief and a joy.
Another daughter, pregnant with her fifth child, could be calling me at any time of the day or night to have me meet her at the hospital. She lives a mile away and my older daughters will go baby-sit the other four children, get them to school, while I get the fun and rewarding position of witnessing the birth of another grandbaby.
I’ve woken up each recent morning; my first thought is of these two women, surprised I haven’t gotten a call in the night. I’m trying to stay ahead of our own grocery shopping, cooking, laundry and garden planting, knowing I’ll be gone during the birthing process. Making arrangements for child care in my family is so complicated that it’s reserved only for times like these.
So I’ve learned, decades later, after the teenage rebellion, the issues of the traumatized child, or the more severe emotional problems that accompany the adoption of older children from the system, many years later there is sweet peace and a huge sense of accomplishment on my part. I barely remember the stress, the hatefulness or the rejection from my children.
I only now see wonderful parents who dearly want to raise their children correctly, who want to shelter and protect them even from the knowledge of what their parents once suffered through.
There may be little on this earth that is more satisfying than the knowledge of a generational dysfunction being changed and replaced by love, stability and great parenting. It has so been worth the heart-wrenching, difficult struggle.