Photo Credit: Stephanie Regalado
The text came in from my almost 16-year-old daughter late that night.
“Can we talk?” she asked.
“Brushing my teeth,” I replied. “Be down soon.”
My children and I were accustomed to spilling ourselves all over one another without hesitation, trusting the mess would never be too much to clean up afterward. And although a flash of worry hit my gut as I wondered what she needed to discuss so late, I trusted I could handle whatever was going to come.
“What’s up?” I asked as I relaxed out onto her bed, exhausted by the day. Our eyes locked and tears began to stream from hers. “What’s up, girlie?” I asked, softer this time. I read her gaze, but I didn’t want to guess and she couldn’t speak. I knew I needed to brave up for the both of us.
“Are you pregnant?” I asked.
“I think so,” she said.
As I asked how she felt about the prospect of having a baby, my thoughts began flitting about the cage of my mind. We agreed: There was no way she could have a baby. She was a baby. And it actually wasn’t a baby right now, it was a small cluster of cells, hardly significant, I mused. She was on an amazing life trajectory and a baby would be a derailment of monumental proportions — at least according to everything I’ve ever heard about teen pregnancy.
There she was: my baby’s baby, a tiny thumb tucked into her tiny mouth. I choked on the emotions that rose in my throat, and tears seared their way out of my eyes. All of the significance in the universe was right there in front of us.
I moved closer to her, wrapped my arms around her as she puddled onto my chest, her body shaking with sobs. “I’m right beside you, Bella. Every step of the way,” I said, barely audible. “I love you and we can get through this.”
The ultrasound wand glided over my daughter’s belly until the flicker of a human form entered the screen. There she was: my baby’s baby, a tiny thumb tucked into her tiny mouth. I choked on the emotions that rose in my throat, and tears seared their way out of my eyes. All of the significance in the universe was right there in front of us.
I was brought to my knees more times over the following several months than ever before. I watched my girl pull her head from the toilet to face every school day. She competed in dance competitions, contemplated her future, spent time with close girlfriends, cuddled up with her boyfriend as they sifted through baby books and considered baby names while the rest of the world was none the wiser.
I watched her belly swell and the world around her react unfavorably to her noticeable bump on her noticeably youthful frame. I intently listened when she asked questions or shared what she read about babyhood and motherhood. I held her close when she shared stories of rude looks and demeaning comments from adults. When a nasty spell of teen drama was directed her way, I swiftly stepped in with a mother’s fury, snuffing it out in short order … and my girl was grateful, for the first time, because she now understood from deep within a mother’s protective nature.
Over that summer, we met with family and friends. We met with school counselors and dance team coaches. We chose an online school program and college classes.
A week before school began, I watched as she stood in front of 42 dance team members to share her news. I listened as her coaches expressed what an important member of the team she was and how everyone was to love and support her as she would surely do for any one of them. There was no hesitation in those girls as they leapt from their seats and engulfed my girl in a group hug.
“It’s a girl,” she said and the whole team squealed over the prospects of the newest — and tiniest — dancer.
And as the Love Nugget was placed on her mother’s chest, I saw through the blur of my freshly minted grandmother tears — big, round, warm, and weighty — the tears of a mother stream from my daughter’s eyes.
On October 22, 2015, I watched my young daughter bring new life into the world in what I have no doubt — none — was the most courageous, splendid, awe-inspiring act in all of humankind’s existence. And as the Love Nugget was placed on her mother’s chest, I saw through the blur of my freshly minted grandmother tears — big, round, warm, and weighty — the tears of a mother stream from my daughter’s eyes.
Nearly six years and a precious baby sister later, I’m still overwhelmed by the honor of assisting my girl in staying on her amazing life trajectory, empowering her to be the best mother and young woman she can be in spite of the ups and downs of young love, young babies, and a different life path than her peers. I’ve felt — and still feel — haggard and stretched thin at times, but am instantly transformed into the most grateful, beautiful, tender, loving human with the mere touch of pudgy little hands cupping my cheeks, pulling my gaze toward theirs.
I don’t pass up a chance to invest time with my mighty girls — my littlest best friends — to sing and dance, to read Baby Feminists 487 times, to blast the Frozen soundtrack in the car with the windows and sunroof open for all to hear, to nuzzle my nose into their sweaty toes and then kiss them all one-by-one, to buy them adorable matching dresses they can run and swirl and be free in, to encourage them to be wolves and howl at the sky, to capture grasshoppers in the backyard for marveling and to hold writhing earthworms on bare hands to build grit, and to have my lap be the throne that turns them into temporary queens as they play princesses.
The mighty girls have joined me in boardroom meetings, sitting next to me at the head of the table in their own seats. They know to make eye contact and intently listen to each speaker, take scribbly notes, and laugh with the crowd. They’ve met incredible leaders across the nation via my Zoom calls, and they know they belong and are worthy and important in all environments.
And as I listen to the words I infuse into their minds about their courage, their kindness, about their brilliant ideas, adventurous spirits, and incredible vocabularies, the little girl in me who didn’t receive the luxury of such investments hears them, too.
While I may have been born and raised in a field of weeds, I make sure these little girls are raised in a greenhouse. And as I listen to the words I infuse into their minds about their courage, their kindness, about their brilliant ideas, adventurous spirits, and incredible vocabularies, the little girl in me who didn’t receive the luxury of such investments hears them, too.
The way my grand girls look at me slows me down enough to feel the rhythm of my own heart. Through every “Do I have to leave, Glamma?” or every request to “hold me, read to me, dance with me,” the real and raw and pure definition of love and life rises up in my heart and soul in ways that remind me no matter how rigid the world sometimes feels, there are equal parts purity and preciousness that we have the honor to contribute to, and perpetuate out into the universe, for now and for all the generations to come.
Every mother can reflect back over the course of her children’s lives and tally her list of errors and shortcomings without strain — I mean, that second shotgun marriage-divorce fiasco was really uncalled for, and I won’t let myself off the hook for the damage that one caused. But, there are no errors to be had as a grandmother, glamma, gigi, oma, mimi, et al. Grandbabies are the celestial creatures who pull the magic right out of us.
Now to figure out how to live forever so they will always experience my love, and so I won’t ever stop feeling theirs.