I still get a lot of hits on this post and from the looks of it these are serious inquiries from people looking for help on the internet search engines. We live in a different world from the one I grew up in. Good, bad or indifferent, I did most of my growing up with my mother and father together. I don’t know what it’s like to be raised by someone other than my parents.
When my parents divorced, it was difficult. Even though I knew it was for the best, it was painful and confusing. I’m sure it felt the same for them. But I was still raised by my mother after that. I spent a great deal of time with my grandparents but I wasn’t raised by them.
So when I try to imagine what it must feel like for my grandchildren to wake up everyday without their parents, I can’t. I know what it’s like for them to live here with me, but I don’t know what it’s like for them not to live with their core family. I’ve never been there.
It must be incredibly lonely. It must be incredibly painful. And while I can’t understand what it feels like, I do understand why they wake up everyday wishing I was someone else. If I was in their position I would feel the same.
I was having a pity party in the last post. Sometimes I have to do that. When you are raising other people’s children, you must occasionally be selfish. You must occasionally think about yourself. Because it does get very difficult. As much as they love you, care about you, need you, want you, you will never be their parent. All of your thanks and appreciation will come in later years when and if they have their own children and they find out what it takes to say no when all you want to do is say yes.
I have no advice to offer about how to do this successfully. Our lives are a work in progress. We learn everyday. All I can tell you is to be honest about what is going on. Don’t be judgmental about their parents, but don’t let them off the hook for anything they did to put the kids where they are. It’s a tightrope walk over salted broken glass. Without a net. When it’s good, nothing could be better. When it’s bad, nothing could be worse. All in all, the good times outnumber the bad 10 to 1. I’d consider it well worth it if they outnumbered them 6 to 5.
Not long ago my grandson, Buddha, told me that I had no idea what it felt like to be him. I had no idea what it felt like to want to be like everyone else and want to fit it. I had to admit that I had absolutely no idea what it felt like to be him. The world is a totally different place than it was when I was his age. But that I did know what it felt like to want to fit in. But by the same token, he had no idea what it felt like to be me. He had no idea what it felt like to be standing there saying no when what I really wanted to do was say yes.
We then had a discussion about how we had both been cheated out of our natural roles. He was supposed to be my grandson, to be spoiled by me and then sent home to his parents. I was supposed to be his grandma, the place he came to, to get some extra cash and some of those things that mom and dad were a little iffy on. But due to bad decisions made by other people, we were forced into the roles of mother and son. We were cheated. And we are angry. But not at each other. At the situation. It’s taken us three years to get to this point. Like I said, we’re a work in progress.
I have taken to answering the “You’re not my mom” accusation with the obvious answer. No, I’m not. Then when they want to go somewhere, I suggest they ask their mom. When they want some money, I suggest they ask their mom. When they want to do something special, I suggest they ask their mom. I don’t hear that one much anymore. Usually only when someone is very upset. It’s an indicator of how bad they’re feeling. I usually perk up and start asking questions when this one pops back up.
I just don’t know. Send me an email, add a comment or something. We’ll try to figure it out together. It’s a hard place to be for everyone involved. But it’s a more and more common place to find yourself. You’re not alone. When you feel like screaming, there are a thousand more of us out there right now feeling the same way. When you feel like quitting, there are a thousand more of us ready to give up too. When you feel like pulling your hair out, we are ready to go bald ourselves ( I don’t suggest this, as that look is most definately NOT for everyone).
You think you’re going crazy and then one of them walks up out of the blue and hugs your neck for no reason and you start all over again. Then you think that maybe, just maybe, you can show them a new way. A better way. Or at least just give them a better option. And it makes it worth it. That, and the occasional unguarded smile.