When my youngest daughter was three years old her great grandmother died. I traveled to Michigan for the funeral and it was the first time I’d ever been away from Abbey overnight.
I was gone four nights and when I returned Abbey couldn’t quit asking about the great grandmother she’d never known. A cousin had thoughtfully put together wonderful scrapbooks of photographs of my grandmother, Grace, and passed them out to family at the funeral. Every night before bed, Abbey poured over the photos.
Her repeated question was “mommy where did your grandma go?”
It was her first experience with death and I explained to Abigail that her great-grandmother had gone to be with the angels in heaven.
This went on for several nights until, about four nights after my return Abbey asked plaintively, “mommy is your grandma asleep?”
“Abbey,” I replied, “I told you, your great grandma is an angel in heaven now.”
“I know mommy,” Abbey said patiently, as if I were a bit slow, “but do angels sleep?”
I looked at her in some surprise. “Well, that’s a good question Abbey – I don’t know if angels sleep!”
With that she sat up – in her recently acquired “big girl bed” - with her hands on her hips and replied “well just how did you get to be a mommy anyway?! You don’t know anything!”
I still laugh when I remember that night.
We don’t take any classes or get any kind of special training to be a mother, although God only knows we could use some.
I started writing grant proposals without any training whatsoever. Just a background in writing and a dedication to my organization’s mission. Our budget didn’t allow for much by way of training either.
Fortunately I’d spent six years working for a foundation and reviewed a lot of proposals. I’d also always been a great one for self-learning – and a frequent visitor to the “How to Do It” bookstore in Philadelphia.
And I’m still learning.
By the way, the next day when I took Abbey to preschool, the principal, Sister Maryanne was in front of the school and I posed Abbey’s question to her.
She didn’t know the answer either.