This past mother’s day as I was reflecting on growing up with my mom and how it must have been difficult and challenging to raise us four kids, I started to realize that my family will soon have three generations of women who did the same. My grandmother had three of her own and also raised her step son. My sister, Christina, has three girls now and is expecting her fourth child! So I wanted to talk to them to find out how similar or different their experiences were and what I could learn from them. What resulted were some interesting responses from all of them and some pretty hilarious moments with my grandmother (I wish I could include everything she said, but it would be a book!). Read on for their stories and insight, then comment below and let us know what you remember about the special moms in your life.
Did you always know you wanted to be a mom?
Grandma: Oh yeah! They used to ask me what I wanted to be when I grew up, and I always told them I wanted to be a housewife. I didn’t know anything else I guess. I helped raise a lot of my sisters and brothers from the time I was ten years old. When I was in school, it was nine of us in school at one time before I graduated. So I had to be the cook and take care of them.
Mom: No, I can’t say that’s true. I hadn’t really thought about it until your dad and I was already married and at some point in time, we decided that we did want to start a family. But it’s not something that I just always knew that I wanted to be though.
Christina: I think it was something that I assumed would come along with getting older.
Did you set out to have four kids or did you just allow life to take its course?
Grandma: I got pregnant with my last child and after that, I decided that was it.
Mom: No we did not set out to have four kids. Two were planned and two were not.
Christina: Well, my husband and I said we were going to have seven kids. But we really don’t want to have seven kids. I think because the both of us come from larger families also with four children, it was fathomable that we can do it too.
How did you feel when you had your first and last child?
Grandma: It was alright. We were just having a baby. We didn’t make a big deal about it. With my last child, I didn’t really know if that was going to be my last one or not. My husband always wanted a son with me, even though he had a son already from his first wife. So if you gotta have ten babies, you’re going to get a son. I sure didn’t want to have ten babies like my momma had.
Mom: I was happy, very excited and nervous because it was something that was all new and I just wanted to make sure I did a good job taking care and doing the right thing to make sure you were safe and happy. I did know that the fourth would be the last and I was very happy that we got a son. That same day he was born I got my tubes tied. We were ready to call it done.
Christina: Like somebody left me in charge of this person and I didn’t have a rule book or manual. But everything came along pretty quickly. The first one was a surprise. The second one was right after that one. My last one was planned out and so I felt really excited because I had a little more time. I felt like I had the hang of it a little bit. As for this next one, I’m excited for my third to have a partner in life and I think it will be crazy to have four kids. *Laughing* But they say once you get 2-3, now you’re kind of on autopilot. They all just get in where they fit in.
Do you remember any advice from your mother or grandmother about raising kids and motherhood?
Mom: No, I really don’t. I wasn’t in the same city as my mom or grandmothers.
Christina: I don’t think I do. I think that since D (my son and her nephew) was my test baby and I did a lot of reading so I kind of felt like I knew how I wanted to do things. Also, if anyone was giving advice, I feel like I gave Mom grandparenting advice. When she came to visit when D was born, she was very timid and I told her you just have to get in there. You have to use your grandmother vetoing power. If you want to hold the baby, then hold the baby. If you want to give the baby a bath, give him a bath. Just jump in there.
Did you/Do you have a lot of help and support from family and friends?
Grandma: I always took care of my own kids. I didn’t need any help. Everywhere I went I would take them with me.
Mom: We were really involved with our church and we had friends from there that we spent a lot of time with. They were very helpful.
Christina: Yes, I have my pregnancy pact text group, and friends and family, near and far. This time around, I don’t know though. I have four kids now; you can’t ask anybody to do anything.
Which child was most helpful to you and which one was your most challenging or rebellious?
Grandma: Probably your momma was the most helpful (she was the oldest before her stepbrother came to live with them). I didn’t have to tell her what to do. I’d say the most challenging was my second child. She was a little wild at one time because she wanted to be with the boys. She also decided she didn’t want to go to college and her daddy was a little disappointed.
Mom: You, mainly because you were the oldest and you helped us make sure everybody was doing what they were supposed to be doing. Most challenging was my third and fourth child at different times. One felt like we were treating her like she was five years old and the other felt like we weren’t fair to him.
Christina: My oldest is the most helpful. She does everything that I ask of her. My second is the most challenging.
What roles did you and your husband prominently play in raising your children?
Grandma: My husband was a good father. He was the disciplinarian and they listened to him.
Mom: I would say I was more of the caregiver and he was the disciplinarian. Maybe I overstepped in that area when he needed to get some things through. I would step in and not let him be as harsh as he may have been.
Christina: I’m the one that’s always here. He’s really busy, so he gets to be the fun parent.
What was your greatest prideful moment in raising your kids?
Grandma: To see them all turn out to be decent, good Samaritans. All four of them turned out to be good kids, not strung out on drugs and other stuff. I was proud of that because they had a strong constitution where they could stay away from that kind of stuff.
Mom: Academics, concerts, sporting events, etc. We tried to be there as much as we possibly could and we were proud of all the accomplishments.
Christina: I like when I go to their school and to see them do different things and move to the next grade level. It always makes me cry on the first day of school and last day because they’re growing up.
What was your most challenging?
Grandma: I didn’t have any challenging moments. They did what I told them to.
Mom: Childcare. Always trying to find somebody that was available to keep you all because we both worked. It was also really challenging when your brother was born and your dad was in school. It was two years of him being two hours away which made me almost a single parent except when he came home on the weekends. I guess I did ok, but that was a challenging time to be by myself and to be responsible for the four of you while working.
Christina: The part where you don’t really know what the heck you’re doing. You don’t really know what you should be doing more and what you should be doing less of.
What advice would you give mother’s today?
Grandma: Listen to your parents and do what they tell you to do. Then raise your kids the way you want them to be.
Mom: Always be a part of everything that your child is doing; all of their school activities, friends, etc. I don’t want to redo those years, but if I could, I wish I could remember more instead of always being on the fly and day to day. Maybe taking more pictures and journaling would have helped.
Christina: You can never prepare enough, so you just have to go for it and it will come to you. You have to be the voice for your child. They are little and can’t speak for themselves.
Don’t forget to comment below and tell us what you remember about the special moms in your life.