She called me JaJa.
“Deanna, greet your JaJa Amy!”, my teenager said to her two-month-old infant daughter.
“Greet JaJa!”, she commanded her baby while laughing at my now stunned face.
Today…I think I became a grandmother. Well, I guess technically, I have been a grandmother for much longer than just today since the baby I am grandmother to is now two months old, but today…today it became real.
She called me “JaJa”.
In the local Luganda language, “JaJa” means “Grandmother”. My precious 14-year-old kept laughing right into my face as she so often does as she continued, “Mommy Amy, since I am your daughter, that makes my baby your granddaughter!”
I stood stunned and more than a little overwhelmed.
A grandmother…she just called me a grandmother. She just called her baby girl my granddaughter. But then…wait a minute...
My daughter. She called herself my daughter.
That almost hit me more in the gut than being called a grandmother did. And I sure would have expected it to be the other way around. But there she stood as she looked me in the face, eyes shining, face beaming, and proudly called herself my daughter. I didn't exactly know how to respond, as I gave her a huge hug and blinked back the threatening tears.
I didn’t say it. I didn’t have to. She said it herself. Because she knew it to be true. She knew my heart, and most of all, my love for her.
A daughter of my heart. A daughter whose birth mother is so far out of the picture. Alive, yes. But for this 14-year-old heart, her birth mother might as well be dead, as that would probably be easier to accept and swallow than being rejected, abandoned, and left for dead. It hurts…but sometimes the truth does.
She called herself my daughter. Honestly, I have never outright said, “I am your mother.” It really isn’t that true…I did not give birth to her; I have no legal paperwork saying that she is “mine”. No. I didn’t have to tell her, “You are my daughter”, or have legal paperwork, or give birth to her. No. She just spoke it to me herself out of heart knowledge and poured more love and joy and such deep down blessings into my soul that if tears would not have ruined the moment, I would have cried a river. But...then again...
I was the mother.
I was the mother who welcomed her into my heart and life and gave her a home.
I was the mother who gave her food, clothes, a bed, and everything else that she could possibly need.
I was the mother who had compassion regardless of her swollen belly or how it came to be.
I was the mother who kept loving no matter how much she rejected my love and pushed away.
I was the mother who comforted and held her weeping body over sins and shame.
I was the mother who would sit, and play, and teach, and encourage.
I was the mother who would love through discipline and punishment.
I was the mother who was there…who threw the precious 14-year-old 9-month pregnant body wracked with labor pains into my van and sped to the clinic.
I was the mother listed as the next of kin.
I was the mother who looked deep into fear-filled eyes and said, “You can do this.”
I was the mother who held on tightly as her teenage fingernails dug deeper into my skin with each contraction.
I was the mother who stood beside the bed speaking words of encouragement as she pushed that infant baby girl into this world.
I was the mother who wrapped and carried that still slippery seconds-old-newborn over to the weighing scale with tears running down my cheeks.
And I was the mother standing here taking pictures of the now two-month infant baby girl…my granddaughter.
I was the mother.
…and now, I am the grandmother.
It all connected with her today. If I am her mother…then her baby girl is my granddaughter.
I won’t even try to describe the joy. Or the surprise. Or the blessing. Or the deep down pride…and yes, more than the little emotion that flooded by heart and mind in that moment….when she called me “JaJa”. I looked at that still so innocent 14-year-old face and her puppy-dog face baby girl and couldn’t speak. Words sometimes just can’t express. And they just don’t seem to be enough. And so…I pour out my heart and soul in desperate prayer. Desperate prayer for all of the guidance, wisdom, love and grace that I need and will need to fulfill this task that He has placed directly in front of me. To fulfill this task that He asks of me, and has so graciously and lovingly given to me. This task of mother…..and now grandmother. Loving and guiding this mother, so that she in turn can love and guide. I never would have dreamed that at age 25, I would be a mother to teenage girls…and a grandmother to infants. But “thankful” and “blessed” do not seem to adequately describe the pride and joy…the honor and privilege. Because…
She called me “JaJa”.
She said, “I am your daughter.”