OPC – Raising Other People’s Children

I’m forty nine years old.  Almost fifty.  I have one older brother and two younger brothers.  The younger brother closest in age to me is seven years younger.  Needless to say I babysat alot when I was young.  I have one natural child.  I gave birth to her one month after I turned eighteen.  That was exactly one year and one month after I left home. 

I met my second husband when my daughter was sixteen.  He had a two year old daughter.  I started over again just when I was about to be done raising my own daughter.  We had custody of her and I ended up adopting her. 

When she turned fifteen my two living grandchildren came to live with us.  Again, just as I was almost done raising my second daughter, I started over again with a five year old and a ten year old.

I have been raising other peoples’ children almost all of my life.  Granted, this was my choice.  Each time it was my own choice.  As much as you can call it that.  I could not have lived with myself if I had done anything else.  And I wanted to do it.  

 I love my husband.  I loved him from the start.  The minute I first laid eyes on his daughter I fell in love with her.  She was nothing like my own daughter but I loved her with the same full heart that I loved my own daughter with.  When I signed the adoption papers I was so happy I can’t begin to describe it. 

And my grandchildren are every other beat of my heart.  The sun rises and sets on my family.  I love every one of their faces.  My arms ache to hug them.  My eyes are hungry for the sight of them whenever they aren’t there.  I miss their smell when I’m away from home.  My ears long for their voices .

And not one of them wants to see me in the morning.  Not one of them wants to hear my voice.  Not one of them wants me to touch them.  Every one of them wishes I was someone else.  Every one of them thinks that their life would have been better if I wasn’t in it.  Every one of them believes that if it weren’t for me they would be happily living with their natural parents where they long to be every minute of every day.  Every one of them wishes that I would disappear.

If I had a nickel for every time I heard the words “I hate you” in a day I’d make more money than God.  If I got paid every time someone said to me that “You’re not my mom” I’d be able to retire to my own island in the south pacific right now and never have to lift a finger again.  If I got a dime for every time I was accused of ruining their life by taking them away from their parents,  Bill Gates would look like a homeless bum compared to me!  If I got a penny for every day that they smiled until the very second they walked into the door after school, I could live the rest of my life on what I made this year alone.

It’s hard to think that you spend every day trying to give love, stability, grounding, a good foundation for the future, good self esteem, a good family environment and all the other things that come along with living in a solid family, to kids and that they hate you for it and wish you were someone else.

On the other hand, I don’t worry about where they are at night.  I don’t worry if they are getting anything to eat.  I know they aren’t being harmed by anyone.  I know that they are being fed, and clothed and housed and loved and encouraged and helped and counseled.  I know that they are healthy and confident.  And except for me, they are happy people.

When you consider the alternatives, that’s enough.

Please read my second post on this same subject.

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17 Responses to OPC – Raising Other People’s Children

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  5. Lizzie Mack says:

    That’s wonderful that you feel this way about your grand children – a very natural and enjoyable response! I feel this way about my niece! I guess this is the difference when there are blood or genes involved – a primitive response and pride to ‘one’s own’.

    Very different when they are not yours at all – and when their natural mothers are not even on speaking terms with you (and never have been/ recognise you at all) after YEARS of you raising their kid – not even a thank you – unfortunately it does pollute the groundwater slightly…

  6. thought4food says:

    Lizzy Mack, My kids HAVE thanked me multiple times in a million different ways. On Mother’s Day they are particularly vocal in their thanks for everything. I don’t have one single regret for one single moment of our lives together. They are happy that they are here, happy that the uncertainty is over, happy to know exactly who will be here when they get home, The oldest is a senior in high school, the youngest is going to the last year of middle school in the fall. They are happy, healthy, self possessed, self confident, wildly personable, exhuberent, smart, determined, forward looking, able, kids who are going to make their mark on the world.
    Maybe the difference is that these are my grandchildren. Anyway, I wish you luck and thanks for the comment!

  7. Lizzie Mack says:

    I find it amusing that people think children will remember who it was that did things for them when they are older. My parents stayed together so I know it was them but I can tell you I don’t turn around and thank them for the everyday basics very often Kids that get their needs met tend to take the provision of them – and whoever does this – for granted – I think.

    Having helped raise ‘other people’s children’ for over twenty years now (I’m 44) I think that anything you do or give to a child has to be for the immediate reward of giving and knowing that all that you have given finds it’s way into their lives – and that kids will probably not look back to thank you – but that you know you contributed to and enhanced them with your awareness of their spirits and gifts through your love.

    My first child is now a very successful 24 year old who lives on the other side of the country and whom I have no contact with but have great photos of her and her dad for years of her live which she is missing. My second two are Facebook friends but are totally involved with their soon not to be teenage lives. And now my fourth – yep – they keep getting younger – who is now 7 and whom I’ve had since age 4.

    Boy your lie detector gets finely honed by the fourth time around…

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  10. feeling you soo much! God bless!

  11. Bruna says:

    Hi! Reading your article I thought you would be interested about The Other Mother contest that we are launching, sponsored by SOS Children’s Village. Is an on line contest that is going to nominate The Other Mother of the year in the US.Check it out our web page: http://www.sosmothers.org. I thought you could share this information with your readers and of course, once we have it, share the stories too… Let me know your thoughts about it!
    Thank you,

    Bruna Carincotte.

  12. amy says:

    Oh my goodness, thank you for this.. i am 29 and also raise other peoples children..

    Thank you for sharing.

  13. Lares says:

    I also feel your pain – and glory. There is something so totally unique about raising someone else’s child that most traditional family structures don’t ever have to deal with. “My” child is not a relative at all, he’s a acquaintance’s son. Yeah, I know it’s crazy. Even though I know he desperately wants to be with his parents, there are some things I don’t allow. We don’t do “hate”, but we do talk about his feelings in more appropriate ways. And kids aren’t supposed to really appreciate you right now because, yeah, you have to say “no” because that’s your role and your job within that role. I remember his doctor said, “I hope he appreciates what you’re doing!” I laughed out loud, and I said, “Not now, not if I’m doing it right.” He’s not supposed to appreciate me and all the things I do for him until he’s older and realizes that he wouldn’t be where he will be if I wasn’t there to help him along the way. I fully expect that phone call when he’s 25, shocked that he’s so great and that I helped him be who he will be that day. That’s the call I’m really looking forward to. But I do love parenting, more than I ever knew I would or could. You have to work out those issues to find common ground, accept wholeheartedly that he will always dream of the day his biological parents will step up and do the right thing. Your acceptance of the kids’ deepest desires gives the children more reasons to trust you do the road, more appreciation that you do understand, at a minimum, of where they’re coming from. One new thing in our world is our new President. He has brothers and sisters who aren’t related, was raised by his grandparents, and had all kinds of interesting twists to his childhood. He’s a great role model to show kids like ours that not everyone comes from a traditional family structure, and that it’s ok.

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  17. TJ Malkemus says:

    I feel your pain and when I say that I mean that because I to am about your age and like you have given my life to raising my own and others children. I also have heard those words countles times and know the way they can pierce the heart. But, I do belive that it all happens for a purpose and my hope is that someday they when they stuggle with parenting as we do know that they can and will appreciate everything we did for them. Even if they never voice it in their own heart they will know they were loved.

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