Friday, January 1, 2016

How Being a Mom Changed My Life

Like many moms-to-be, I read the books and took the classes. I was raised in a big family and also did some babysitting as a teen, so I thought I'd know exactly what to do when I became a mom.

March 15 will always be a special date in the timeline of my life; the day I became a mom. Life before motherhood was all about me, a night owl who liked to sleep late.

Then came Jenny, an early riser who woke up hungry for milk and mommy's embrace. From my oldest child, I learned selflessness. As a tiny infant, it was really difficult to keep Jenny awake to eat enough to fill her. She would doze off, then wake up crying again when I tried to put her back in bed.

Every time I look at my firstborn child, I remember sleepless nights followed by early mornings, the warmth of her skin against mine, the sound of her quiet breathing as she fell asleep in my arms, and the helplessness I felt when she cried and I couldn't calm her.

One of my fears when I was pregnant with my second child was that I wouldn't have enough love for both of my children. Jenny was a happy toddler who chatted constantly. We read books and played and she filled my time and my heart.

On March 21, three years and a few days after Jenny's birth, my second daughter Lauren was born. Lauren was an easy baby who woke up happy and rarely cried.

From my second child, I learned the math that every mom of more than one child knows -- that love divided quickly multiplies.

After Lauren was born, I often needed more than two hands. But I never needed more than one heart. My mom always said that she loved us all the same.

As a mom, the reality I learned from parenting two little ones is that you love each of your children as they need to be loved. Watching my girls interact filled me with love and joy.

I was tired all the time when I was pregnant with my third child. I worked midnight shift and slept in bits and pieces. During the daytime, I often volunteered at Lauren's preschool and Jenny's school.

On October 15, my son Jack was born. Jenny had turned 5 years old and Lauren had turned 2 years old in March. Life was busy -- how would I ever fit the needs of a new baby into our lives?

The girls doted on their baby brother. They wanted to do everything with him, even when he was way too tiny to actually play with them.

Full-time work and motherhood don't mesh well. There was always more to do than time to do it all. What I learned from my son is that the most important things in life aren't things. Kids grow up too quickly and parents need to make time to have fun.

I discovered a mom truth that my Mom learned years before me. A messy house is trumped by a warm spring day, beckoning us outdoors to play. Dishes in the sink aren't as important as playing My Little Ponies or Matchbox cars.

Babies grow into toddlers and teens as the years fly by at warp speed. Your little ones busy with ballet, soccer and preschool soon become middle school and high school kids busy with friends and activities. Blink your eyes and your kids have grown into adults.

When Kenny and I married, he was a package deal. Stephanie and Brian didn't grow inside of me, but they grew in my heart. Blended family life has its ups and downs, but life goes on and life is good.

When I look at my grown children, a part of me yearns for the busy days of their childhood. I wouldn't trade the memories for all the money in the world. My life was wrapped up in my kids and I'm so much richer for the gift of motherhood.

There are no words to describe what it's like to see your daughter holding her newborn baby. Being a first-time grandma is a little bit like reliving your parenting years. You aren't the boss this time around, but you already know how quickly the years go by and how precious each memory will be.

When you're a grandma, life is never boring. Seeing your precious grandchild enjoy new places and experiences is priceless.

Everything old really is new again when you're a grandma. A ho-hum day is brightened by a little voice whispering, "Grandma, you're the best" in your ear.

Like the birth of a second child, your heart expands when your second grandchild is born. You relive your baby's childhood through new eyes as you watch her parent her own baby.

The first grandchild may worry that a new grandchild means less love from grandma. What they don't know is that a grandma's heart -- like a mom's heart -- expands with love for each child.

Cousin love is a lot like sibling love. Sometimes they get along with each other and their love is easy to see, but other times they tease and squabble with each other.

And then there were three. A new baby granddaughter warms a grandma's heart. Sons and daughters each bring different gifts to the world and so do grandsons and granddaughters.

Life constantly marches forward. Time stands still for no man -- or grandma. Several years have passed since this Easter memory was made, but it still brings a smile to my face and warms my heart. For me, being a mom and grandma means that a part of my heart will always live outside my body.

Blogging Grandma Sandy, signing off for now.  

Portions of this blog post were originally published on Yahoo! Voices May 1, 2013

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