God in His infinite love prepared the heart of a woman to love our Grandchildren. God knew that the evil in this world would one day be too strong for our daughter to overcome and He is in the process of healing her, I have that faith. But He also knew the pain that these children would have to deal with during the healing of their Mother.
Drugs don’t just affect the addict, they can take a whole family down. We have struggled with what was right and wrong so many times over the past six years, but we always knew that God would strengthen us for the day at hand. “In His kindness God called you to share in His eternal glory by means of Jesus Christ. So after you have suffered a little while, He will restore, support. and strengthen you, and He will place you on a firm foundation. All power to Him, forever! Amen” I Peter 5:10, 11.
Papaw and I have made so many adjustments that it has become the norm to expect change. I honestly think that this last change will go a long way toward healing our grandchildren’s hearts and helping them to learn what family is all about. Take a walk with me and see if you don’t agree.
The first adjustment came when our granddaughter was six months old and we started sharing her care with her Nanaw and Grandpa. To help our son-in-law, she would stay with us one or two nights a week, but mostly with her other grandparents. We all kind of put life on hold for awhile to start over caring for a baby. We saw her take her first steps, potty train and say her first words. Her brother pretty much wanted to stay with us and that was OK. We had a little bed right beside ours so that I could be close when he woke up with the nightmares. When they got a little older we opened up the attic and made a room for both children; I painted Spider Man above his bed and Tinkerbell and a castle above hers.
Over the next couple of years, we became more involved in our grandson’s life; enrolling him in Kindergarten, acting as a room mother so that he still had that family interaction like the other kids, going to grandparent’ day. All the while, their Mom would drop in and out of their lives. We dealt with anger like no child should ever feel, went to counseling with him, and tried so hard to be “normal.”
Stage three sees us adjusting to the fact that our daughter had almost removed herself from her children and our family completely. Lies to the children broke their hearts; promises made and never kept. Our granddaughter cried herself to sleep after a phone call from her Mom and never wanted to stay at our house again; it was a broken connection between only seeing her Mom when she was at our house (we managed the supervisory visits) and coming over and not seeing her. Children know how to protect themselves. Our grandson started wanting to sleep on the couch downstairs rather than sleeping alone in his Spider Man room. That is alright; whatever it takes. But the pictures on the walls and the constant reminder of his absent Mom soon became too much. His anger grew; his questions broke my heart. “Why didn’t Mom take anything to remind her of me?” he asked as he held a little card that he had made her for Mother’s Day. I didn’t have the answer. I still don’t.
What I think is the final-for-now adjustment is the family that God prepared for these two precious children. You see, neither Papaw nor I will ever leave them. They are always in our hearts and minds, but we know that we have to let them go to some extent. God placed a beautiful, loving woman in their and their Dad’s lives; a woman who understands the struggles that children go through in circumstances like these. She has been kind, nurturing and loving through all of this for the past four years, and soon she will be their step-Mom. I know from experience that my step-Dad was never a “step”, he was the one who was there when I got my first car, wrote my first poem, had my first child. Just like she will be there for our grandchildren; she already is. Thank You, God.
As you can see from the picture above, they have become a family. Look at the eyes, that is where you can see the real happiness. And where do we fit in? Well, I think that the next step is to become a Grandparent and not a caregiver. We have helped in every way we could think of to care for the children, but now I believe that we can trust that care to their Dad and “Mom.” They are in pretty good hands. We can enjoy picking them up for occasional weekend visits, trips to the zoo or King’s Island. Just like other grandparents. Is it hard? Of course it’s hard to know what our daughter gave up. I know the pain that she has to feel and I pray daily that she doesn’t use that as a reason to continue the addict’s life. But as I counsel the families that come to Prayers for Prodigals, you have to live in total surrender to the eminent God we serve and trust Him to know what is best. We do. And we will continue to follow His lead, no matter what.
“Three things will last forever–faith, hope and love–and the greatest of these is love.” We can have peace knowing that our grandchildren have all of these in their lives.