A few weeks ago my father in law, Howard Talley, celebrated his 76th birthday. He was the first born child of his parents, Fraudie and Lillian Talley and grew up to be an older brother to seven siblings. That is when I realized his mother, Grandma Talley, has been a mother for 76 years! I am a new mother with a mere 21 months of experience so it is difficult for me to imagine what it would be like to be a mother for 76 years!
Although family roles have changed and her children are grown, Grandma Talley never stops thinking and caring about her children. From the time the Talley children were helpless infants to inquisitive toddlers, Grandma Talley provided for them. She instructed them in elementary school and encouraged them throughout high school. And they all grew up to become independent thinkers and problem solvers with huge aspirations. Their mother told them they could achieve anything through hard work and grit and then one by one they left the Talley farm in rural Kentucky, kissed their mother goodbye and began successful new chapters in their lives.
I imagine having your child leave home is bittersweet. As a mother you celebrate the fact that you raised an independent adult but at the same time you mourn that little person who relied on you for everything. Although the Talley children are spread throughout seven different states they all eagerly come back to the farm to visit their beloved mother and to reminisce about their happy childhoods, passing on the family history to the next generation.
Although I have many years with my little girl before she leaves her childhood home to start her adult life (she won’t even start kindergarten for another four years), I have already experienced an array of emotions as a mother. I felt pure joy when I held my newborn daughter in my arms for the very first time and a few days later I experienced frustration and pain when I desperately tried to breast feed her and found I couldn’t produce enough milk. I was scared when her pediatrician detected a heart murmur at two months of age and felt helpless when at nine months she had the flu and spent two days laying listless in my arms. I was beaming with pride when she said her first words (hi and ball) and am proud at 21 months of her blossoming vocabulary which is far beyond the normal 20-50 words expected for her age. I laugh when she instantly stops what she is doing and dances to Mickey Mouse’s hot dog song and giggled when she recently requested my assistance in putting a diaper on her beloved stuffed cat. And I feel love and joy every time my daughter presses her dear little face to my cheek and gives me an affectionate kiss. I have felt tired after experiencing sleepless nights with a teething baby, been frustrated with toddler tantrums and shed a few tears when I packed up her baby bottles, onesies and rattles to make room for sippy cups and puzzles. But through the wide range of emotions I have experienced the greatest joy imaginable.
Motherhood is a true blessing whether you are a veteran mother of 76 years like Grandma Talley, or a novice mother of 21 months like myself. Although I won’t come anywhere close to reaching 76 years of motherhood, I will cherish every year of motherhood God blesses me with. Once you become a mother you are a mother for the rest of your life.