Monday, February 28, 2011

Nothing But Love, Raising Grandchildren

As I sit here this morning drinking my coffee, I was thinking about the millions of grandchildren that live with their grandparents and I think of how many people tell me on a daily basis that, 'I couldn't do anything like that,' because (fill in the blank)______________.

1- It would mean readjusting my personal life and career.
2- It would mean moving things in my house around or even getting rid of things or having to buy a new home.
3- It would mean getting up in the middle of the night with a sick child.
4- I am to old
5- I don't have enough energy
6- etc.

This is what I call selfish thinking. But perhaps my experience will help someone understand that while it can be tough at times (I am almost 55), the rewards and blessings far outweigh the adjustments.

We had just had our youngest son leave home, I had my craft room set up and a meditation/office set up when we received we not only had to get rid of things, we had to buy things...sippy cups, clothing, beds, car seats and a new car. Yes, if you are going to raise small grandchildren, your cute SUV or hybrid may not hold several car seats.

We were so blessed when we purchased our first van, because a local car dealer heard about our situation and let us put minimum down and make payments until we had paid some bills off and had it refinanced. It wasn't a huge Ford, GMC or Dodge dealer, just a local hometown car dealer who believed in helping others.

Clothing came by the bags full from friends who knew someone or had family who had outgrown clothing, we were covered on that end and their and dad salvaged what they could and brought them by.

Adjusting your life style...I can't argue with that one either. Used to picking up and going shopping, lunching with friends, motorcycle rides with hubby and NASCAR races, we now needed to find a sitter when we had to leave the house or take 3 kids with us. It became second nature and trust me, you remember raising your own children, so it isn't to bad! We were blessed again with neighbors and co-workers who would babysit when we needed them to. Once in awhile mom and dad would come visit (when we could find them). Many times they would call asking us to take the youngest one.

You take Family Medical Leave to get the initial important things taken care of...guardianship papers, medical reports, legal documents and time off to help the children adjust. They love their grandparents, but they are going to be confused as to why their parents aren't around.

You wake up in the middle of the night to screams as a child has just vomited all in their bed and while you are calming them down and helping them to the bathroom, the second child starts vomiting. Then there are the 2 AM visits to the emergency room with strep throat or an ear infection that couldn't have started when the doctors office was still open.

YES!!! There are many adjustments to be made, but what are the other options? Let a child go into child protective services care? Is that an option? Allowing your own grandchild to be raised by a foster parent? I am not saying there are no good foster parents out there, I know better, but for every good one, there are horror stories of child abuse, neglect, slavery and death. NO!! That was not an option for us.

I worked nights and God Bless my neighbors, they watched the children during the day so I could sleep.

But what changes, more than anything is your heart! Your heart breaks for these children and while you love them with your entire being, your heart hurts for what they have gone through....death of a parent(s), drug issues, prison, abuse, neglect....and, you want to love them through life!

We changed our entire life. Realizing where we were living was becoming more crime ridden, we didn't want to constantly worry about the kids if they went to visit a friend or were outside playing and while things happen everywhere, the murders, kidnappings, home invasions that were occurring in our community made us want to find a better environment for the grandchildren.

We found that where we are now. But it came with a huge price tag and mental anguish. Initially, when we realized it was a real possibility that we would move to WA state, we contacted our son (prison) and asked him about his thoughts and then called and spoke with our daughter-in-law (they were still married). But, knowing this would affect other family members, we asked DIL to have her mother and her meet with us so we could discuss this and get their feelings.

There was no call back, nothing from DIL and her family. So, I tried again and again and was told, they weren't available, her mom was not home, etc. Soon, without their input,we had to make a decision and we did, we chose to move to WA to a small town where the kids are happy, they have lots of friends and we are all busy keeping up with their music lessons, scouting, sleep overs, etc.

We were also drug through the court system by the other grandmother and DIL. They didn't have to take us to court, all they would have had to do was meet with us and talk to us and discuss this for the sake of the children. There are so many things that could have been different if we had just sat down and talked.

On the other hand, I know of a grandmother who had to move out of WA to another state with her grandchildren and the other grandparents helped pay for the move. They knew their grandchildren were loved and they could see them whenever.

We have always had an open door here and in AZ. Invites to birthdays were always given out, school functions, church plays, calling them to see if they wanted to visit for awhile so we could have some 'us' time. We moved up here, sent calling cards to mom, a web-cam, stamps, etc. Contact is sporadic on all counts.

What started this post? What has me in tears this morning? Yesterday, while driving around town to buy new rain boots for all of them (Girl Scout Cookie Sales are held outside) and finding a great deal on a brand new coat for the oldest (she doesn't like her North Face coat), she looked at me and said,' I know you love us so very much, because you take such good care of us. Even when we get mad at you for making us make our bed or take our medicine, we know it is because you and PaPa are the best Ranny and PaPa ever.'

Then she giggled and they all seemed to know what she was thinking as they sang out...the only Ranny ever. They know they have other grandparents, their friends have Nana's and granny's....but they believe I am the only Ranny on the planet earth.

For that one moment, for all the moments like this, for the times I am to pooped to move after scouting events or all night sleep overs, I realized, it isn't the kids who are blessed, they are truly loved by us, their daddy and I believe their mom and her family....but my husband and I, we are the ones who are blessed! Everyday, their smiles make raising our grandchildren so worth it!

Yes, it was an adjustment, but I can't imagine life without their precious faces and voices.

Have a blessed day and if you aren't raising your grandchildren, pick up the phone and call them and tell them you love them!


Scrappy quilter said...

What a wonderful post. We didn't raise our grandchildren (although we certainly helped), we adopted when I was 40, dh 45 and again at 42 and 47 (3 kids with disabilities). Our 3 older kids were in their late teens. And just like you we had to buy things, etc. However not once did I ever regret giving up our trip to Europe and some of the things we wanted to do. What you are doing is absolutely wonderful. Blessings!!

autumnesf said...

Its been proven over and over again that FAMILY is always better for raising kids -- all things being equal and safe. Children with able grandparents should never end up in the system.

I'd be happy if 2 of my kids three grandmothers would just call them and talk to them. They have cell phones with free long distance. And one grandma is great if we are in town and under her nose...but out of sight out of mind. And we are military. Shameful. The other grandmother is just a washout. Luckily my mom is so great it is like having three grandma's in one. And I just can't overstate how wonderful that is.

I know you aren't looking for a pat on the back but a big thank you to you and your husband. This is hard. We adopted our youngest in our late thirty's and it is harder. But I wouldn't change a thing.

Blessings friend!