The moment that I told my parents I was pregnant with their first grandchild got a strange reaction of excitement and “are you sure you’re ready?” As parents, it’s our #1 concern to make sure that our children lead better lives than we ever did. Watching a child struggle through something is incredibly hard, and it can be even harder to stay out of it while still being supportive. This mom found an incredible balance, and it made me tear up just a little!
I answered the phone at my office. It was my oldest daughter, Heidi. “Mom, can you meet me at Barbara’s this afternoon?”
Barbara was a counselor my girls and I had seen periodically over the years, often to deal with our individual issues over the conflicts between their father and me—we had divorced years earlier. So when Heidi requested a visit to Barbara’s office, I didn’t think anything of it.
When I arrived, Heidi was already seated on the couch. Barbara sat in her chair opposite Heidi, and I parked myself in a chair next to the couch. Barbara delved right in and asked Heidi, “Why are we here today?”
I looked over at Heidi. Her face reddened, she choked up and a single tear glided down her cheek. “I have something to tell you, mom, and I’m too afraid to do it alone.”
In that instant, I knew. I was about to hear the one thing many parents fear when raising a teenage daughter. I slid next to her on the couch, and asked, “Are you pregnant?”
Heidi was born on New Year Eve, the only baby girl in the nursery. She was a born performer and loved to sing, dance and act—anything that involved entertaining. A personable, beautiful girl, she had many friends growing up, excelled in her classes and had big dreams of becoming an actress.
As she approached her seventeenth year, Heidi started skipping school, abandoned the friends she had and began to hang around a crowd of kids I didn’t approve of. My bright and charming little girl became distant, depressed and unmotivated. I became distraught over this sudden change, and found it increasingly difficult to deal with.
As a single mother, it was hard enough raising three beautiful daughters, but this new phase of Heidi’s life proved more than challenging. When a new boy showed up in her life, I sensed trouble. And when I sat in the counselor’s office that afternoon, I knew I had milliseconds to say and do the right thing to get my daughter back.
Heidi burst into tears, nodding yes when I asked her if she was pregnant. Putting , arm around her, I looked her square in the eyes and pronounced, “I’ll do whatever you need me to do … that’s what I’m here for.”
Since Heidi was only nineteen years old, we mutually agreed it might be best to put the baby up for adoption, so he could be raised by two loving parents. It was a tough decision, but it seemed right at the time.
A thousand miles away, a lovely couple wanted to adopt Heidi, unborn baby boy. In Heidi’s seventh month, she moved to be near the adoptive family. My heart was torn apart over losing ,my first grandchild and my daughter being so far away.
Weeks later, after a doctor’s appointment, Heidi called to say she could go into labor at any time and wanted me with her. I hopped on a plane, and the next day met the adoptive family. They seemed very nice, and their little girl was darling. Yet something seemed amiss. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but an easiness washed over me after meeting them.
The next morning, the phone rang. Heidi answered it suddenly, all the color drained from her face. She hung up and flung herself on the bed, uncontrollable sobs drenching the long strands of hair that covered her face.
In the final hour, the adoptive family had backed out. Perhaps they sensed my breaking heart, and felt I might interfere with their rights as parents. Perhaps they were overwhelmed with taking on another child. We will never know the reason.
Brushing the hair away from her face, I asked Heidi what she wanted to do. Through long, drawn-out tears, Heidi said, “Mom, I never really wanted to give up my baby. I love him. But I can’t afford to keep him.”
Sometimes, life has an amazing way of restoring divine order. Suddenly, all the times I toiled to keep a roof over my little family’s head, make sure the bills were paid and still provide things like camp, dance lessons and birthday parties … all the struggle of raising my girls alone seemed inconsequential to what really mattered: love. Simple as that. And I knew right then and there that this new turn of events was meant to be.
Putting my hand on my hips, I firmly stated, “Heidi I raised you and your two sisters on practically nothing. We made it, and you will too. Get your butt of that bed! We’re going out to buy some baby clothes!”
Heidi has proven to be a wonderful mother. She went back to school and is now pursuing acting career. Tyler, the absolute light of my life, is adored by his aunts and loved by our many friends. He has brought more blessings to us than we ever could have imagined. He is bright, fun and funny—a born performer, just like his mother.
He is oh so wise, too. One day, when he was about four, I was having a particularly tough afternoon. Tyler walked into my office, glanced up at me and said, “What’s wrong, Grandma?”
I replied, “Grandma is a little sad today, honey. I wish I were happier.”
Just like the day I slid next to his mother in the counselor’s office, trying to find the right words to say, Tyler put his arms around me, looked me square in the eyes and pronounced, “Well, that’s what I’m here for.”
Seeing wisdom being passed down through the generations has to be an incredible thing to witness! I can only imagine the surge of pride this grandmother must have felt when her clever grandson told her something that she had said to her own daughter years and years ago. This is really what we can hope for in life, that our legacy lives on. Even if no one remembers the name of the wise mother who said these words to a struggling daughter, hundreds of years down the line, a mother might say it to her own struggling daughter, bringing comfort and assurance in the hardest of times.
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