When her unmarried youngest daughter announced her pregnancy, Paula Allnutt took the news hard. But after recovering from the initial shock, she determined that there was only one thing to do: accept the baby with as much love as she had accepted her own three daughters. This turned out to be much easier than she could have ever expected when Shira Catherine was born. The two were almost inseparable from that day on.
I’ve been with her since the day she was born, helping her mother care for her. Other than breastfeeding her, I’ve done everything for her that I did for my own children. I feel like she is one of my children.
I enjoy every minute of being with her. I enjoy feeding, bathing, playing, and talking to her. She has a sense of humor and a big imagination, and she hates to think that she has hurt anyone’s feelings.
The most important thing as a grandmother that I want to instill in her is how much God loves her. After that I want her know that her Grammy and Papa love her unconditionally, and she can never change that no matter what she does. And that as much as we love her, God loves her more. . . . Her value is in Christ and what He did for her.
Paula’s dreams and goals have always had to do with her kids.
I’ve loved being a wife [since I was 18] and mother since I was 19, and enjoyed having my children around me. I dreaded the day that they would all be gone. For 30 years I’ve enjoyed the role of being a mom. That’s what my identity has been for so long that it’s hard for me to change gears and transition into the next “season of life.”
Two of Paula’s daughters live in different states, and just over a month ago, her youngest daughter (Shira’s mother) got married and moved out. Though most women would be enjoying post-child retirement, that next “season of life” is on hold for Paula since she babysits Shira four days a week and often on the weekend while her daughter works. Though she’d love to find more time for gardening and spending time with her husband, Paula is rarely alone—and she’s fine with that.
Am I tired at the end of the day after caring for a toddler all day? YES! Do I dream about a quiet evening with my husband when I can kick back and relax? YES! But when I actually get one of those rare evenings, I feel so sad and worried about Shira that I can’t fully savor the quietness that I’ve longed for. When I don’t have Shira, I tend to fill my day with as many things as I can so that I won’t have as much to do when I do have Shira.
On this round-two of child rearing, her techniques have changed a bit from when she raised her three daughters.
Being a new mother you tend to worry about everything, from germ exposure, to too much TV, to keeping them on a rigid schedule for eating and sleeping, and trying to make sure they eat the healthiest of foods, and making every moment a teachable moment, and the list could go on. I try to be more relaxed and enjoy the moment we’re in instead of thinking about what’s next and what needs to be done.
In part, Paula’s drive to be a good mother and grandmother came from her own mother who died from cancer a week before Paula’s seventeenth birthday.
I [loved] my mother dearly, but to be frank, she made some stupid choices that affected our family greatly. I know by the choices that she made that I do not want to make the same mistakes she made. . . . I can try my hardest not to repeat them. . . . Looking back over her life, I’m sure she has regrets just like we all have because we are not perfect. But God will wipe away all tears from her eyes, as well as ours, and we will live perfectly in eternity in a home better than we could ever imagine.
For other grandmothers helping to raise their grandchildren, Paula’s encouragement is simple.
Just love them! Love them with all you have in you to love! Pray for them, and enjoy them. Don’t be eager to get rid of them. They know when they’re loved and wanted. Love them like it’s the last day you’ll ever spend with them. You never know what a day will bring.