A few years ago as I sat across from my eighty-something-year-old grandmother holding my new baby girl in my arms, I looked up to see her studying me intently with a sad look on her face.
“Grandma, are you okay?” I asked.
“Yes,” she said looking as if she’d been caught in a daydream, “I miss my babies.”
At the time, I was struggling with being a new mother. And when I say struggling, I mean I was really wondering what God was thinking giving me something like this to take care of when clearly I wasn’t ready or capable. I’d spent the previous four-and-a-half hours riding with my daughter in her car seat screaming non-stop as we made our way across North Carolina. I was coming home to feel like my mom’s baby for a while, rather than the pink screaming bundle’s harried mother.
The comment left me profoundly sad. Not that she seemed particularly saddened by the fact that her five children were now completely grown, with children and in some cases grandchildren of their own. But, as I looked down at the precious gift in my arms, the one that I’d longed for, the one that I was starting to begrudge, I realized what I had before me. And I was stunned.
As parents, it’s often difficult to see the blessing as we become overwhelmed with the responsibility. Let’s face it, parenthood is never what you expect it to be. It’s exhausting. It’s overwhelming. It’s all-consuming. But it is a gift. And, as only someone who’s experienced it can attest: there is simply nothing more wonderful.
Sure, with three children now, I have my bad days. My sticky fingers in my hair days. My chocolate-mouth-wiped on my first new blouse in three months days. My I’m-going-to-literally-keel-over-and-die from the bickering days. But I also have my wonderful days. My blessed by God days. My these-are-the-best-years-of-my-life days.
Luckily, one of the latter tends to make up for many of the former. And, I have a sneaking suspicion that as I grow older . . . maybe even become a grandmother myself . . . I too will miss my babies.