At Christmastime my mom arrived at our house bearing many gifts, but the one I loved the most was a small bag filled with a few letters. One was from my Grandma B, (my mom is the oldest of nine) addressed to her and written on December 21. My grandmother made raising nine children look easy. I remember her as a kind, but no-nonsense sort of grandmother-I am sure she was the same as a mother. I soaked up every word.
The paragraph I love the best is this one:
The only thing I can tell you is that it is very difficult to raise a large family. It is so demanding, you are split so many ways. I used to be very cross at Christmas, I still am, some days you just had no more to give. The mother takes the full blow of everything that happens. I know you must get very weary because there is always so much to do. Someday you will receive lovely little specials like I do and it will all be worth it. I am so proud of all of you and the years were not wasted. If I can leave you nothing, I just want you all to know your Dad and I loved everyone of you from the first to the last.
Now I know I have just six, compared to her nine, but I tears came to my eyes when I read the first two sentences. It is so true. It is difficult to raise a large family and it demands so much of my time and energy and I do feel split so many ways. When I feel this one here needs extra attention, then this one here is not getting it. It goes back and forth and round and round, and I try hard to be everything to everyone. There is so much joy of course and I wouldn't want my life to look one bit different, but when it comes down to it, it's a whole bunch of work-mentally, emotionally and physically and it never ever lets up.
I hold my Grandma B in such high esteem. I know she didn't whine about the work, or complain about her "lack of 'me' time". She didn't consider a work-out and a manicure essential and I can't really see her and my Grandpa making "date nights" a priority. (And they had a beautiful marriage-more than 60 years.) I think she made do with much less and ended up with much more-more in the sense of what really matters. And boy is that refreshing to know. It's just nice to let go of so much of the pressure from the barrage of "must-do's" we mothers receive. My grandma was a good friend, and a good neighbor, and a good wife and involved in her church and community, but she was home mostly. Home, working hard, raising and loving children, making lots of sandwiches, and doing lots of laundry.
I miss her and will treasure this sweet letter forever.