I feel such joy when I watch my daughter mother her two daughters. She brings every ounce of her being to that role, as she has from the moment she conceived her first daughter eight years ago. She lives and breathes motherhood and is doing it in her own unique style.
I remember the first clue I got that she would do things very differently from the way I did. After her first trimester, she called to tell me that she was considering having a home birth. I could barely contain my reactions. In fact, I didn’t. The first image that came to mind was something from Little House on the Prairie with a kettle of water boiling on the fire.
After I recovered from the shock, I asked her: “What if there’s an emergency?”
She assured me that she and my son-in-law would plan for that. Fortunately, she decided to have her baby at the hospital, but with a midwife and doula. She had to explain that new term to me also. She read a book called HypnoBirthing during her pregnancy and chose that method for its quiet, relaxed, natural birth. I learned new vocabulary words, such as surges and pressure, to replace the familiar “negative” terms I’d used to describe labor and pain.
She wrote a birth plan and sent me a copy along with an invitation to be there with her in the birthing room. I was ecstatic and thrilled to be invited. Although I’d given birth to both my children without medication, I couldn’t see either of them emerge into the world.
I remember standing at the foot of my daughter’s hospital bed, holding my breath as she gave one more push. Then this wet little head emerged. The midwife lifted it up and I saw that the baby’s eyes were wide open! I looked into those eyes and my granddaughter looked right back. It was the most miraculous moment of my life. I felt an incredible bond forming between us. I leaped into the air in total ecstasy. For the next few days I felt as if my feet would never touch the ground again.
Then I faced the next challenge: learning to understand and respect the very different ways my daughter chose to parent. I’d never heard of attachment parenting or co-sleeping but once I became familiar with them, I began to see their benefits. Breast feeding on demand and wearing the baby in a Moby Wrap seemed exhausting to me, but I kept my lips zipped and got on board with her program.
My little granddaughter thrived with the nurturing she received. My daughter used cloth diapers that she washed at home, made her own baby food, and continued to breast feed with great devotion. She even became a La Leche League consultant. I marveled at her commitment and strength for following her own path.
She taught my granddaughter sign language even though my aunt once told her that can delay a child’s speech development. (I researched that controversy and wrote a post explaining the benefits.) My daughter did not send my granddaughter to pre-school. Instead, she took her to library programs, mommy groups, and art classes.
Just before my granddaughter celebrated her fourth birthday, she witnessed the birth of her little sister—at home, in a tub of water, surrounded by two midwives, my son-in-law, my husband and me all cheering. By now I’d become so accustomed to her style that it all seemed completely familiar.
In the years that have followed I’ve come to appreciate and respect my daughter’s unique style of mothering. Last spring, as my granddaughter’s second year at Waldorf School came to a close, I hardly batted an eye when my daughter told me she was going to start homeschooling her. Once again, mama knew best. In less than two months my granddaughter transitioned from not reading to devouring Little Women and other books by Louisa May Alcott.
I’m proud to say that all of my daughter’s efforts have paid off. I adore my two precious granddaughters and love spending time with them. They’re outgoing sociable girls who are kind to each other and their friends. They love books, singing, art projects, riding their bikes, swimming, and hiking. They help with chores around the house, take responsibility for their new puppy, help their daddy with composting and planting vegetables, and write such beautiful thank you notes I’ve saved them all. They’re a joy to take to restaurants because they’re well behaved and enjoy trying new food.
We grandmas often indulge in bragging about our grandchildren. But how often do we brag about their parents? On this Mother’s Day I encourage you to call the mothers of your grandchildren and tell them some of the wonderful qualities you admire and respect about them.
Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers—you deserve it!