Grandparenting todays style

Well I am sure this will be a controversial post- its also a chapter in my book but this is the mellow version of it. My book tends to be pretty raw so imagine this as the cleaned up version LOL. This particular blog is meant for grandparents- so if your not a grandparent move on and do not bother to read it. Please this post is meant only for grandparents-so respect would be appreciated and if you go ahead and read it and get hurt – it was your own fault so best just to move on and read something applicable to you, I have many other applicable posts that you may glean a good laugh and hopefully some wisdom. I am going to come up with a gentler nicer version addressing new moms or maybe it should be read in preparation to be a mom before your hormones are all out of whack so some parents could actually hold an intelligent discussion before they actually have kids. Maybe this has happened to you, maybe it has not, but I thought I would try to put in words the heartache that can come with being a grandparent. Happy grandparents may read it and maybe offer their suggestions or advice – which is purpose of this blog site. Most pp talk of the joys of grand parenting and they share all their pictures and times spent with grandchildren on fb, I am so happy for you, maybe you can give me some advice. But for those of us having difficulty with this whole new area on our life journey and its heartbreak that came unexpected for me and is pretty difficult to talk about. However, I figured I would write this blog to share since I have personally suffered so much pain in this area, hoping to connect and maybe journey this road together with other grandparents.
Did you ever feel disappointed after all those years of struggling to raise your kids- doing what you thought was best: or what actually was the best you could have done in the situation you were in to raise your kids. Thinking over the last 20 – 30 years- the cars, the college, the clothes, the sleepless nights, the rehabs, the letters when they moved away or were put away, the sacrifice: emotionally, financially, spiritually that you invested that your kids that when they became parents would turn into selfish self-centered spoiled idealistic naive people. Well, I bet none of us would have thought that would be the result but when it becomes the result we have to deal with it and process that pain. I find the best way to process my pain is to find like minded people and compare, contrast and grow through the combination of those experiences. Its alot of hurt, but I am supposing if I expose my vulnerability of my pain that of many of my clients it will help others in the same situation. Sometimes grief does that, many times pain does that, illness does that, most difficulties in this life do that: so I am thinking maybe grandparenting pain will do that as well so that is what this post is dedicated to. Just knowing others are in the difficult situation you are, that they know the pain you feel, that they have somehow survived through it. This knowledge somehow eases personal pain. When our son Nicholas died many pp tried to comfort me – to no avail. But I had one friend- one out of many that tried. Dozens of friends showed up at my doorstep hours after his death and when I saw my special angel Alice, I knew there was one other person in my world who really truly knew my pain. As I cried I hugged her and I just collapsed in her arms and for the first time in my entire life I felt comforted. I had known her story for a few years prior to my tragedy, but it was that day I actually felt her journey. Years earlier, after years of struggles to get pregnant, she had a tiny daughter stillborn named Joni (after Joni Erickson Tada). Through her journey of pain she somehow found the courage to minister out of her pain. Alice volunteered weekly taking photos of newborns at the hospital, somehow an odd healing took place for her as she interacted with mothers of newborns. Another ministry that developed out of her personal pain was she followup on every newborn death listed in the local paper. To these grieving parents she wrote a letter of sympathy to offer words of comfort. I knew of these ministries and of her loss before my journey through grief. A few years after Joni died she finally had a healthy boy who was similar in age to my then 3 year old son which is sorta how we became church friends. When Alice came to my door upon hearing of Nicholas’s sudden death SIDS and I collapsed in her arms with shock and grief I knew there was one person in my world who actually knew the pain I was feeling- who really understood. That can be the purpose or work of pain – the bible says it is with the comfort that we are comforted that we in turn can comfort others. That’s it! That is the key to remember when we go through struggles. It is those who have walked that pain before us, they are the ones who blaze the trail to learning how one can live with grief. Divorced people can somehow minister to others in the midst of divorce in a way no minister or counselor can. Addicts can comprehend and support and assist addicts unlike any other treatment modality, thats why AA NA and the others have the potential of success. Parents who have gone through difficult teens, or the murder of their children, or children who enlist and die in the armed forces, or those who have lost a home to fire or whatever…. they can relate and what I call (get the juice out of the situation). When you have endured pain- its purpose is to alleviate or diminish the effects of pain in others- sometimes this process takes years, for others its just a matter of months. My friend Alice was out their ministering to grieving parents and overjoyed new parents within a few years, me on the other hand I did not speak of my sons death, I could not attend funerals I really could not even allow myself to visit my pain (complicated by having a 5 and 3 yr old at the time) for many years. I buried that pain inside me for so long. I avoided any situation likely to resurface it. For some reason others seemed to have a bounce back-Alice had a bounce back, but me, well I just seemed to harden- to be a bit more tough: it was like another layer of torturous shell. After all I had seen my share of pain. I had lived a life full of pain and yet I was as hard as they come. Weak and me were definitely not synonyms ever, If you know me you know I am a bold strong woman and always have been. Actually, before Nicholas died I never actually had anyone I loved die before- sure my grandparents or a relative here or there but it meant nothing to me, just “oh well they were gone you will get over it in 6 months” that was my attitude toward others who had lost loved ones. I never really had much love because I had never received much love. My life consisted of abusive relationships and i had learned to look out for number 1- that was me survival of the fittest. I am sure my parents loved me to the best of their limited ability but I had never felt loved- really I never actually felt loved until I met Mike – for some unknown reason he just loved me- bad mouth, sleazy, pot head: still he just loved me. When we married I was 8 months pregnant (unsure if he was even the father) and a few weeks before the wedding I told him I still had feelings for an old abusive boyfriend and yet he just loved me- he wanted to love that baby (who was actually his LOL). We were young, (18) dumb, and new believers but for some reason that man just loved me- it took years of his unwavering commitment to loving me until I actual knew the feeling of love. Knowing the Love of God and the Love of Mike unconditionally is what ever even allowed me to have the feeling of experiencing what real authentic love actually is. I mean the kind of lay your life down for love, real love- not an emotional feeling of lust or butterfly’s but real committed, selfless, unconditional, love. It is through the knowing of that kind of love that I was able to be transformed into a loving mother. I adored my children I mean adored them- every one. I was never a mushy mom- they all went to Mike for that stuff but I adored them and did everything in my power to be the BEST MOM ever. My life was never about me it was always about them. To me the best mom was not a mom that let you do what you want, rather, it was a mom who loved you enough not to let you do what you want, one who loved you enough NOT to let you sleep in her bed, or eat popsicles for breakfast, or tattle on your brother. My mom was a sad excuse of a mom, she was mentally unstable and in and out of mental hospitals all her life. She got pregnant with me 3 months after she had my sister on a weekend home visit from the mental hospital. When she found out she was pregnant it was take your psychotropic drugs and function or die in a mental state of nonexistence, so she took her drugs in hopes maybe I would die b/c the thought of another child when she was institutionalized and had a 3 yr old , toddler and an infant at home, living with a drug addicted perverted husband was just too much for her to take. Actually, she often tells me the story of how when she arrived home with me from the hospital she walked in on my dad having sex with a 16 yr old babysitter. My mom had a mess of a life. Often, when I start feeling sorry for my life I recollect her life and I dispel all pity for myself. I know I am truly blessed I am honored to have a wonderful home a wonderful husband and really a comfortable wonderful life.
Back to the kind of love I gave my kids. I was a strong mom- my mom was a very weak mom- no rules- let us party smoke cigarettes, pretty much we ran ourselves from my earliest memories until adulthood. I started getting high in 4th grade and my worst fear back then in the 70″s was that when I was walking the streets at 12 midnight cause we had no supervision or rules and I was a wild child, I would often wonder if I was kidnapped or killed how long would it take for anyone to know or care I was missing! This was my family- not a normal pea in the pod. SO I was on my own at knowing about mothering but the dream of all my life was to be a mother- I never wanted anything more all I ever dreamed and desired was to have a family of my very own. I was a warrior- always from a toddler I was a warrior- listen to this but inside this warrior was just a child a lost little child. My children were raised basically by James Dobson- he was my true father, my wisdom, my stability and my model. I read every book he ever wrote and faithfully listened to him on the radio daily, thats how I raised my kids since I wanted to be nothing like my parents. Anyone can say anything they want about how I raised my kids but in the context of what I did, I know I did the best I ever could and only me and Jesus really know the truth and he is the only witness I need. He is my only desire to impress and the only one who will judge any of my deeds and intents. Oh how great it feels to know this and only care about that impression. Through my kids eyes I am sure they think I made alot of mistakes (mistakes they now as parents are going to remedy LOL good luck with that!!!). I am sure I did make some minor mistakes but I was there all the way and I was 100% invested in their lives and I raised dozens of other kids besides my own 4 biological kids so all I can say is to them or anyone tell me what you think when you havve done what I did (like my perfect pastors over the years that spewed down judgment on us as some of our teens walked into rebellion thinking we were not good parents because of the yield- well good luck is all I gotta say). I have seen amazing, wonderful parents have awful kids and seen my share of awful parents have wonderful kids so all I have to say about the whole deal is if you had amazing kids – it was God’s blessing and if you had awful kids it was Gods blessing and a great learning experience of sacrifice and pain meant to make your journey one in which you have a great opportunity to comealongside others for comfort. You choose the destiny of your journey! None of my perfect pastors over the years had any concept or idea of compassion: nor would I ever have confided or been vunerable and real with any personal situation when it came to child rearing and their EXPERTISE. My expertise comes from reality and I know few there be that share it. If you asked my kids I am sure they would all have their share of complaints (lack of visual and emotional compassion being probably high on the list)hmmmm wonder why!!! but again if we talk to them after they have journeyed where i have journeyed…. say in another 15 -20 years I am sure they will all be singing a different tune. I actually had little to zero appreciation of my own parents(awful parents as they were) until I really walked their walk and/or understood their journey. Now I think of my family as a buffet of choices- parents offer all sorts of dishes but you choose what you want to become when you become an adult. I chose not to be the parents they were and that lesson was louder than anything I never wanted to be them- I never wanted divorce, drugs, sexual abuse. These things I tried real hard to avoid and was particularly careful in regards to diminishing those effects on me in my children’s lives. Most lessons I learned form my parents were what NOT to do or become! But some things I did appreciate and admire. My dads offered his sensibility- his desire for education, his ability to quit drugs, his commitment to AA, his concept that a house was warm enough at 65 (he had a lock on thermostat so noone could change it lol), his ability to love all races and people, his house was always open door policy- all welcome, his wisdom, his concern over dental care, I could go on and on how I loved and respected my dad. My mom, well I admired her sacrificial heart- she would give up her needs to help others often, her compassion, her ability to love(even though she had never really known the true sacrifical and protective love of a man), her acceptance of all people, all races and her commitment to keep her family together after many times getting us back form foster care or relatives, she easily could have given us all up and walked away, but she never would! Anyway I chose the things I admired and worked on those. I rebelled against the harsh horrible things they had on that buffet and in the end I would say I did a pretty damn good job balancing love and discipline, dependance and independance and thats why it hurts so bad as I endure grand parenting. Here’s what I want to say-to those new mothers out there(my daughters) When a baby is born bonding occurs- not just between you and your infant but between your infant and all the family. You only think of you and your spouse you have 24/7 to bond and love on your baby. You may think it will be this way forever but the reality(which your dumb ass should know being a freaking grown ass adult) is babies are gonna grow(fast) and as they grow optimal extended family bonding diminishes. If you seclude your child to you and your hubby- in birth, in the first week, the first month, the first year- ya you will all be a wonderful little family but because you ostracize and diminished the families input during these “bonding times” when your baby is a toddler- extended family will not be overjoyed to take care of a running, screaming, wild, peeing, pooping, tantruming, 2 year old(exasperated because they never had a chance to really be a part of that bonding in infancy). Bonding isn’t babysitting for parents on a date night 1 time a year- its done slowly week in and week out! When you rob grandparents and uncles and aunts of being involved in the birth, the baptism, the week in and week out privilege of seeing, holding, caring for, advising, bathing ect you only rob yourself and your child(dumb shit)because someday when they are 10 or 8 or 6 they are not going to FEEL anything for grandma and grandpa- its like hi gramdma and a force hug- thats what we are getting and will continue to get if this generation doesn’t wake up to what family is! My hope is when they are teens, maybe, if they can’t relate to their parents maybe then we will be important in their lives- but if not, then I will be glad and rejoice that my children were good parents(if they were) and if they are bonded and connected to each other I can only pray for the best in your family and let go the grieving past in OUR family. However, for the generation to come- what you have chosen to individualize will become generational. Hopefully our children will learn that before its too late to change it for their childrens children. But this is my pain- my kids have robbed me of being someone special to my grandkids because they have to be “everything”! They have to be the first one to take them to the theatre, rollerskating, horseback riding, ice capades, Disneyland ect… When our kids limit grandparents to…. run them to practice, come watch their football games (none of which I am even remotely interested in after 30 solid years of teens) and yet they will not let you take them out on the harleys, sleep over night and watch movies all night because they do not want them to be tired. Some parents feel if you want to take one kid you have to take them all- well when you have to play catch up with 7 grandkids believe me its not worth it, grandparents have limited energy- wait and see when you get there kids! So far of my 7 grandkids they all have loving wonderful parents so I do not worry for their well being. I know they are all “perfectly bonded”, some more spoiled than others, none of them do without so frankly I am not needed and the things I want to do with my grandkids their parents do not want to be done by me so I am what I term a …..diminishing grandma. I am only in my 50’s, most grandparents are in their 60’s because parents waited so long to get married (finding the PERFECT one as if that person exists) and waited to have children until later in their lives(want to get all that selfishness in own a house, good job ect…) but only a few of my kids have kids so far but with the way my kids are raising their kids I am getting heart wrenching dreams of grand parenting as each new one arrives. Its painful to think when my children were young I would have loved any of my brothers and sisters or my parents or Mikes parents to have taken an interest in my kids.Really who can have enough people to love your children!?” My sister was the only person that really ever loved my kids and doted on them and she lived far far away so they never really knew family as I would have dreamed, but all those years I invested into my family I dreamed things would be different for the next generation. I worked my whole life so that the sibling relationship would be utmost and and able to withstand individuality. Now 30 years later individuality is all anyone thinks of….self self self. The wedding ceremony is a prime example- its all about the bride, what happened to the fact a wedding is a lifelong union purposed for uniting two families to support these two loved ones-to become family…. family…hmmm in my experience of wedding having half of my kids being married, consider yourself lucky to get an opinion on the guest list, but hey you can contribute as much as possible- no questions or limits there! I tried so hard to offer to come help when my grandkids were born but they said they had it- they were fine – they are making their own family or if you want to take the grand-kids away Mercy no… NO they need to BOND with their children, “this is their family….its their turn… you had your chance to raise your kids(and they all have a word or two about your failings there! Sometimes I just want to slap them. I can tell you from my experience if you steal the infancy from siblings and grandparents you will likely steal the rest of their childhood. Grandparents will become gloried babysitters when you can find no one else to watch them and that is the reality that these new parents these days will have to deal with. When they need that babysitter of course the kids will not be accustomed to being with us so even that will become a crying battle…oh the youth of today!!! Lord have Mercy on the next generation….Any thoughts?????