These 3 are my babies though they are not babies anymore, they are the reason I get up in the mornings when my back, hips and knees are screaming at me to just stay put.
They are the reason I have temporary crowns instead of permanent crowns in my mouth because if it comes to buying shoes, clothes, paying for tutoring for them, that comes first just as any mother would ensure her children come first.
Let me just say it takes a lot of strength to raise your grandchildren and do not be for one moment fooled into thinking just because you raised your children this should be a piece of cake, it is NOT!
First, when we or at least I raised my children, I was in my 20's and 30's, not almost 60 and I was healthy, rarely caught a cold, worked night shift and stayed up during the day to tend to shopping, school functions, doctor and other appointments.
There were camping trips with my scouts as I was a den mother and now if I slept in a tent, I would not be able to stand up in the morning and my body cannot handle the cold as well as it used to.
There were long drives for band competitions, Karate competitions and more.
Now, I find myself crying at times and wondering what is wrong with me, why is it I see families where 2 or more children are in baseball, soccer, drama, music lessons and these parents seem to be breezing through their day of dropping one off at dance, the other off at baseball, picking them up and whisking them away to swimming or music lessons.
I feel deflated and defeated. I feel my grandchildren are missing out on so much because I can't keep up with the other parents and then it hits me...I am NOT a parent, I am not 20 or 30 anymore and I am one person running the kids around all over because hubby doesn't get home until after 6:00 in the evenings.
I have parents ask me if I will volunteer for this or that and I must say NO. I will help with scouts, but I will not go camping or hiking, I just can't. Hubby will help with some camping, but it has to be when he isn't working overtime.
Then there are the people who say it must be so much easier this time raising grandchildren. Hello?? What planet did they fall off of?
I am sorry, but it is NOT easier. First of all though they have lived with me since they were infants, I am constantly told by them how, 'I am NOT their mom/their parent, etc.. Boy when they get mad, I hear how terrible I am, how they want to live with their mom, how I never do anything, buy anything or take them anywhere. That stings!
No, they are right, my hubby and I are NOT their parents, however we are not their grandparents either because we are NOT afforded the luxuries that most grandparents are such as visiting and spoiling them. While they are pretty much spoiled in many ways, they live with us and that means ensuring they have chores to do, they do their homework, their grades are kept up, they have new shoes, clothes, money for extracurriculars, etc.
Grandparents that raise their grandchildren rarely get to go out on a date together, have no time to themselves, get tired of having to explain why we don't mind having their friends over, we just can't do it everyday because we are tired!
We juggle our finances and weigh our wants and needs against theirs. Yes, I would like a haircut, but the kids need this or that. Yes I would love to have coffee with a friend, but I just spent my last $5 on milk.
Don't get me wrong, I love my grands to pieces, they are wonderful kids, but being a grandparent is very different from being a grandparent that is raising their grandchildren.
One is part-time and lots of fun while the other requires a strong heart, body and mind. It is full-time with no vacations. It is having to answer questions of why this and why that and why can't I.
It is trying to make someone understand why we do this when they just got finished telling you how wonderful their trip to Hawaii was for 2 weeks, their cruise last year, their motorcycle trip, their vacation to visit their grandchildren and taking them to Disneyland or with them in their RV for the summer.
It is trying to not feel sad for them when they say they wouldn't take their grandchildren because they could never give up their privacy or time alone with their spouse and all their activities.
It is trying to not feel sad when your heart breaks in the summer telling the grands why we can't do everything their friends can because we can't afford it.
While parents are buying new cars, taking trips, working hard, we are struggling and worrying about what would happen if my husband lost his job? We worry everyday if we can make it on our retirement as mine is small and we keep having to dip into his.
It means giving up the dream of owning a nice car that doesn't smell like dirty socks and is constantly needing to be cleaned because A: it would be selfish to have such a car right now. B: We can't afford it and C: the grands would be mortified if we had a car that couldn't take their friends with us. Think a 5 person vehicle versus a 7-8 passenger mini-van.
My dream would be to have a new mini-van that has windows that roll down (my drivers side window hasn't rolled down since 2008 and we can't afford to have it fixed right now), doesn't have a bumper split down the middle from some person who hit it and drove away.
Maybe a new truck instead for hubby. His Dodge Ram has been junk since we bought it...the dash cracked and glove box fell apart and Dodge said..'so sorry, to bad so sad,' it was under warranty, however since we were the 2nd owner Dodge wouldn't fix it. Then the heater core has been replaced twice and isn't working again, the paint job is awful, the cruise control quit working...yes, hubby has dreams of a new 4 door truck not one with suicide doors and leg room for the kids.
But we are blessed, our vehicle's are paid for so we can't complain.
We raise our children the best we can, we enjoy them while they are young, pull our hair out at times when they are teens and dream of grandchildren to spoil. We never dream that someday we will be raising them and worried about if we will be able to pay for their college tuition, their braces, their music lessons. Will we be around to see them grown up or will we............
I know several grandparents who allowed their grandchildren to go into foster homes, still others are living with their parents and being uprooted each time mom has a new man in her life.
We are blessed! I know where my grandchildren are everyday. I know they are loved, protected and cared for. I know when I close my eyes at night to sleep, they are curled up under their quilts fast asleep. I know they are fed, cared for and not being harmed.
That alone, makes me grandparent strong!
Sure, I would love a vacation but more so, I would love to be able to take my grandchildren on a Disney cruise or rent an RV and take them to a NASCAR race. But I am happy at the end of the day when my granddaughter and her friend ask me, 'would you like to walk with us today?'
That makes me grandparent strong!
Seeing the smiles on my grands face when I go out and watch them run around the yard with the dog and fall on the ground laughing so hard they can't get back up.
That makes me grandparent strong!
Walking into a church for the first time and all of them begging to go back the following week because they enjoyed it so much.
That makes me grandparent strong!
It isn't an easy path to walk, but it is the path God placed us on. Would you or could you walk the same path if it were given to you? Some can and some can't, we had to, I couldn't sleep at night worrying about if they were taken care of, fed, safe from harm!
Life is good!