My first granddaughter, Arelani, at this writing, is six months old today. I just got a happy text from my daughter to remind me.
My daughter’s was a “crisis teen pregnancy,” and it happened at what seemed like the worst time. After a series of recent tragic deaths in my family, the last thing we needed was another seemingly insurmountable crisis.
My other daughter, Maire, saw it differently. “A lot of girls who get pregnant don’t have anything,” Maire, said. “Roise is smart, and she has everything. She can do this. This is beautiful!” Unlike anyone else, she cried with joy when she found out. She completely believed in her sister, and she was excited thinking about the baby, and about the special relationship she would have with this child in the future. It was touching that Maire reminded us of what was real and important: faith in Roise as a person, and that life is about love and relationships. Everything else is very much secondary.
For me, Roise’s early motherhood seemed like the end of so many things I had wanted for her; like choices in life, being able to support herself, and getting an education. But as I watched her deal with this crisis pregnancy, in the midst of all the grief and upheaval she was experiencing in her life, I remembered what I had REALLY wanted for my children as people. I wanted them to be full of love, to be compassionate, to live their faith and values, no matter what they ended up doing.
Against adversities I won’t even mention here, that is what Roise did, and her boyfriend too. I could not help but deeply respect them.
The day Arelani was born, I was mostly exhausted, glad my daughter was OK, exhilarated by the miracle of birth, but very much ready to go home. Then someone put Arelani into my arms. She squinted a little and stared at me. In that moment, suddenly quieted inside, I felt soul connected. The moment seemed eternal as we gazed innocently and inquisitively at one another.
“I’m Granny,” I told Lani. “And you’re magic.”
God is so much wiser than we are.
My husband, Blaze, and I chose a Bible verse for each of our daughters. Roise has carried on this idea, though Lani ended up getting more of a passage than just one verse. It is perfect.
“In the tender compassion of our God, the dawn from on high shall break upon us, to shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”
How true it is. In the tender compassion of our God, dawn has broken on us who have been dwelling in darkness and the shadow of death for so long. Through this new life, He is guiding our feet into the way of peace.
In the midst of death and alienation, the coming of this unplanned child has brought life and understanding in so many ways. What do we humans know about anything?
Roise’s dad died in a car crash when she was only 3 months old. Growing up, she would often ask me if he had ever actually been here. She wondered how he could have really loved her when he only knew her three months and only as a little baby.
When Arelani reached three months, Roise told me she finally understood how much her dad really did know and love her, because of the love and knowledge of her child she herself had at only three months. She could finally see just how loved she had been.
Since the death of her step dad and grandmother in the same year, Roise had been, understandably, emotionally shut down, depressed, and often angry. Since she has become a mother, she seems to have come back to herself; which is to say, she is one of the most loving and sensitive, alive, brave, and compassionate people I have ever known.
She has also, pleasantly, come to appreciate me as a mother, which is nice.
Motherhood continues to be transformative for both of us.
There is understanding between my son-in-law and me. We love and respect one another, and our relationship has healed. I admire his dedication and steadfastness. He is a good and devoted father. He helps with everything, to a degree I would never expect of one so young. I can now see how much he really loves my daughter.
The birth of Arelani has done wonders to re-connect my daughters with each other across the long distance between Texas and Oregon, where my eldest lives. Now that Maire is pregnant, too, there is a lot of shared happiness, dreaming of the future, and willingness to help one another between the two girls.
We will make a family trip to Oregon for the birth, and we are all excited.
Arelani smiles when she sees me now. I understand the enchantment my mother had with my children, and how goofy in love one feels as a grandparent. There is nothing quite like it!
When Lani is asleep on my chest in the baby sling I used for my own babies, or when I am reading to her, or we are just staring at each other with wonder, I feel a deep sense of life and possibility.
She has been unspeakably healing for me.
She is a joy.
Watching her personality unfold, rejoicing with every new development, kissing her and praying over her, I feel how much she has brought the Holy Spirit into our lives, and helped us know God and one another better. When Roise brings Lani to mass with me, I am reminded how very much I have to thank God for and to offer Him at the altar.
A teen pregnancy is a serious challenge. It is not just a pregnancy, however. This pregnancy, like all pregnancies, was really a person; a wonderful person that I love.
I knew Roise would be a good mother. But she has exceeded my expectations. I’m blown away by her dedication to her values as a mom, and her selfless devotion to her baby.
Strangely, I have not felt the need to give her advice unless she asks me for it.
These last few years, I thought she hadn’t listened to what I tried to teach her all her life. I was so wrong. I have seen her stand up to hospital staff in the defense of the breast feeding relationship when they were pressuring her and telling her wrong information. When they wanted her to accept intrusive and unnecessary measures for her child without giving her adequate explanation, she stood up to them on her child’s behalf, with wisdom and fortitude beyond her years. It was impressive.
She has been the mother she wanted to be, a wonderful mother. She has trusted herself and been full of love and strength. What more could I possibly ask?
She is a strong, faith filled and beautiful mother.
My son-in-law supports her impressively and has shown remarkable strength and dedication as well.
Having your daughter get pregnant earlier than you hoped is not the end of the world, apparently.
This journey has taught me to understand more deeply that my daughter is not about me. She is about God.
The Lord knew what He was doing when He brought this little child into the world. Through her he has shown his mercy in our lives, and brought out the best in all of us.
Thank you, God.