I’ll never forget it. My dad stood leaning against the doorway of my childhood bedroom the day after our first married-Christmas and gave me and my husband the news. My grandmother was sick, and it might be a big deal. Right then, my life flashed before my eyes.
My grandparents are hugely important to me — they lived across the street from my family while I was growing up, and many of my most special childhood memories involve them. They came to every dance recital, every band concert, every silly school event. They drove us places, babysat us when my parents took a rare vacation, and reminded us — always — how important we were to them. And they were hugely supportive of my parents. I think I can speak for the 16 of us (aunts, uncles, and cousins included) when I say they are truly the backbone of our family. They are model grandparents — the grandparents you read about and wish were your own.
This might sound silly to you. Grandparents get sick — I get it. Worse things could happen, right? But for me, this news was life altering. On the flight home to where we were living at the time, I turned to my husband and told him I wanted to have a baby.
I was only 22 years old.
The thought that something could be seriously wrong with my grandma changed my entire life’s plan. I realized how integral her role was in my life, and I knew I wanted my children to have that relationship with their grandparents, too. We hadn’t planned to have babies until we had been married for at least five years, maybe longer. We had barely started our lives and hadn’t even dipped our toes into military life yet, but I knew we had to start. My grandparents had children young, my parents had children young. It all worked out for them. I felt in my heart that there would never be a perfect time to have a baby, so why would I wait?
My relationship with my grandparents is the reason I had children young.
Today, my boys are 4.5 and almost 2 years old. They have an incredible relationship with both sets of their grandparents, who are always eager to lend a hand and are super involved in their lives. It’s what my dreams are made of — two extra homes for my kids where they know they are loved and supported. Four extra “parents” who I know will always show up for my children, just like my grandparents did for me.
Perhaps even better, my children also have their GG (great-grandma) and Da (great-grandpa). Both are healthy today, and I couldn’t be more grateful. My grandfather greets the boys with a special matchbox car in his pocket for them every time he sees them. They look forward to their “Da cars” and their time with him and their GG. My heart swells just thinking about these special memories they’ll have of their great-grandparents when they are grown.
I could list a million reasons why my grandparents should be celebrated on Grandparents Day. I hope my children feel the same love and adoration for their own grandparents 25 years from now.
Choosing to have children young has made my life gloriously complicated, and it’s been so, so worth it.
I know how lucky I am, and I know my kids one day will, too.