Is there any better feeling than holding a new baby in your arms when he or she is just minutes old? It is especially true when that baby is your child or your grandchild. Months of anticipation and worry finally are ended with the arrival of a precious child. You are overcome with love and the urge to protect that new life with every bone in your body. When they come to bathe him or her you do not want to give them up. How can you possibly let that sweet squishy bundle go?
Our sixth grandchild arrived on Saturday during a full moon. I was privileged to be there through the long labor and ultimately successful delivery. I have been at other births. As the wife of a pilot we always had backup plans in case daddy was flying. When I was 38 weeks pregnant with my daughter, I was the coach for another pilot wife who went into labor while her husband was on an overnight in Harrisburg. You can imagine the comments I got as hospital workers came into the room with one very pregnant woman in bed laboring and one at the side of the bed pushing on her back. Later on I would be with my sister, also a pilot’s wife, for three of her deliveries. I am not new to the process as a coach.
But watching your daughter labor is a painful experience. Just like when she was a little girl and had a fever I just wanted to make everything better. We know in the big picture that the pain of labor is purposeful, and the result will be a miraculous little person we get to love, teach, and watch grow up. But in the midst of it, I just want to make it stop.
As I write these words it reminds me that is exactly how I felt as each of my children headed off to their version of basic training. I knew it would be really hard. I agonized over the first weeks with no contact wondering how they were bearing up under the challenges. I wondered if they could hack it and if I had taught them what they needed to know. There were moments when I wished I could just go and grab them and bring them home. But I held myself back during those moments of temporary insanity and reminded myself that this was purposeful pain. They were being molded and pushed into becoming their best selves. I had wanted to help them soar since the first moment I knew they were on the way. When they were placed in my arms I knew I would do anything to help them find their callings and purpose on this planet. They found it in military service, and I found myself letting go over and over again.
For the rest of this week, I will be surrounded by grandchildren, including a brand new little bundle of joy. We will play, and snuggle. I will do the middle of the night changings just like my mother did for me with each new baby. Then I will have to let go and go back to my life apart from them. And that is the story of being a mother and grandmother. We pour into our babies as much love and care as we can muster. Then when it is time we help them launch, taking pieces of our heart with them. When the destination is to places in harm’s way, it seems our whole heart is living outside our body. It is what we do when we love so fiercely.
At this moment I cannot imagine the future for this new little guy. No matter what I will be supporting him every step of the way, even if it means having to let go. The pride of watching him and my other grandchildren grow helps to fill my heart and glue it together. I know his mom and dad, and his uncles are out there protecting him, his siblings, and all of us in a scary world. It is how I can keep going.
Welcome to the world little guy! I can’t wait to get to know you better.