For the last three and a half years I have had custody and guardianship of three of my grandchildren. We brought them home on the 20th of December, 2015. It has been three and a half years filled with many wonderful and happy times, but also times filled with lots of worry, stress and extreme fatigue! Parenting full time isn’t meant for 60+ year olds, but sometimes you have to do, what you have to do! And under the circumstances, we had to!
Today must be a good day! I have been thinking about my life, and feeling thankful. I am so thankful for all the little things I get to be involved in with these kids. The list is endless!
Every Monday, after school, it’s gymnastics for all three. Tuesday it’s tap for Ella, and Basketball for Christian. Friday it’s Park City youth group (Pumped) for Jayden. And Sunday it’s church and Sunday school. Then everyday it’s the things that every family does with their kids. I get the happy good mornings and the last kiss and cuddle at night. The daily I love you, and the grumpy tired tantrums. I get to buy and pick their clothes, along with washing them, folding them and putting them away in their drawers again. I have even enjoyed sewing pretty dresses and dance clothes for my little granddaughter. I love to see her dancing in her special Nana made clothes.
I’ve seen the first day of kindergarten, the first dancing lesson, the first day at school, the first nervous day at high school. The annual dental check ups, the tooth fairy visits and all the excitement that comes with that.
I’ve cuddled them when they have been sick. Made the trips to the doctors. Sought after the best treatments, picked up their medicines and supported them to health. I’ve also disciplined and dealt with bad behavior. And as any good parent does, I’ve talked about how they could do better next time. I’ve also taught to apologize and also the importance of forgiveness. What a privilege to speak wisdom into a child’s life!
I have loved organizing advent calendars and watching the joy each morning brings as we share the days up to Christmas. I’ve also had 4 Christmas mornings and days! Secretly buying the Christmas presents, filling the stockings and wrapping the presents. Sharing in their joy is heart warming.
I’ve made 12 birthday cakes and planned 12 birthday parties. Each birthday has had a theme where the invitations, decorations and cake, have all matched the special theme that the child has wanted. It has been so good to be able to bless them and see the happiness a birthday party gives them.
We have had many weekends away and holidays including two trips to Australia. We did a road trip from Sydney to Alice Springs, spending time at Uluru! Then flew to Brisbane to experience the theme parks and beaches. We even had a weeks holiday on a houseboat on the Hawkesbury River, north of Sydney! We stayed with my eldest and his wife, and another three of our grandchildren. The kids reconnected with extended family and we all loved it.
We’ve had a weekend of fun in Rotorua, a week away exploring Taupo and Mt Ruapehu. We have had a driving holiday to Cape Reinga, the very top of the North Island. We stayed at many places on the way there, and back, and saw all the tourist spots and highlights on our travels.
Right from the first day the children arrived at our home, and it then became their home, we changed, and created the surroundings to suit family life. We added swings, rings, bars, bikes, hoops and scooters. We made a special girls room for a little girl, and a LEGO table for building and storing for the boys. We made built in drawers in the wardrobes so the room space was bigger for play. We installed insulation in the outside walls to make the room warmer and cosy . I guess we were probably going to do that at some stage, but having two little boys in the room was really the motivation to get the job done.
I’ve brought the school stationery and covered the books in plastic wrap with pictures that are special to the boys. Brought lunch boxes that have separate little spaces for the different types of food, then prepared the food and filled the spaces, daily!!! Ahhhhh back to making school lunches!
I’ve been to the yearly triathlons, swimming sports, beach visits, sports games, parent teacher interviews and chats with the principal to discuss the children’s learning experience, or behavior!
We went to the pre high school days visit. Filled out the enrollment papers and then once accepted, returned to the school for the information day. I shared in the excitement and nerves of starting secondary school. Together we went to organize, and buy, the new school uniform. I had this experience with the little 5 year old as she started school as well. Both the start of secondary school and the first day of school are such momentous events in a child’s life. And I got to be the ‘parent’ to support, love and be there for each child! How spoilt am I?
As our household food needs have advanced from just two adults to a family of five, I have kept up with gardening, preserving, freezing and making jam. We’ve brought in bulk and tried to be as wise as possible with grocery purchases. We have had fresh fruit and vegetables straight from the garden to help with healthy living, and to teach the children the benefit of reaping the rewards from a little hard work.
So as I ponder the wonder, and struggles of daily life parenting our grandchildren, I wonder what on earth their parents are doing? What do they do with their day? What is their motivation for living day to day? What are the excuses they are making for not being a healthy influence to their children.
Wouldn’t you think that losing your children would be enough to motivate you to turn your life around? Wouldn’t you want to become the person that your child could look up to? Wouldn’t the thought of someone else bringing your children up, be enough to make you take the steps to sort out the mess you have made of your life? Everyone knows that a child needs to be loved unconditionally, have a home to come home to, food to eat, to feel that they belong, and that they are accepted and important to their Mum and Dad, and extended family. Does addiction mess around with your head that much, that you lose all sense of what it means to be a good parent? If so, I think addiction is a very selfish illness. And I feel very sad for the children. They must feel that they aren’t important to their mum or dad, and the feeling of being neglected by them must bring so much hurt! All I can do is try my best to provide the children with their basic needs, plus add a mighty dose of love, acceptance, value and a sense of belonging to each one of them. I hope and pray that with Gods help, I can do enough to help them to become whole and healthy, and eventually secure and contributing adults. That their sense of abandonment be replaced with the knowledge that both Grandad and I have opened up our home and hearts to them. That they have love and security here with us. We are on their side and we are their loudest supporters!
Young people please listen. When your parents warn you of the dangers of bunking school, being promiscuous, being lazy or selfish, taking drugs, or hanging out friends that are a negative influence on your life; please listen! Your parents love you and they only want you to have the best life that you can have. When you are feeling like being rebellious as a teenager (or anytime in life), please don’t think that just sampling drugs won’t hurt. They can give you an amazing feeling of euphoria, and can be an amazing way out from the normal humdrum way of life. But that feeling can become more desirable than living a clean drug free life. The high on drugs could make normal life seem dull in comparison, and the need for self control and self discipline, just too much like hard work. Believe me, taking drugs can totally mess up your thinking and your life! And it can end up being a full blown addiction!!!
Not only can addiction mess up your immediate life but it can also ruin your future. It can make it very hard to get a job or keep a job! It can take priority in your life where all you want is your next fix. Drugs will just mess with your head and cause you to forget the things that really matter, like your darling children! The effort it will take to clean up your life and become a healthy person again will seem overwhelming and way too difficult. But it can be done! It will be a long bumpy road but one well worth traveling. Get help immediately! Go and get some counseling and find out what it is that triggers your need to take drugs. If the pain of change is lesser than the pain of staying the same, you will make the change. If you always do what you have always done, you will always get what you’ve always got! Be brave and get better not bitter.
In conclusion, I couldn’t imagine raising our grandchildren without my amazing man, their Grandad. And I am so very thankful for his love and support. Together we are honored, and yet exhausted, to be parenting all over again. These are great kids and we love them very much. Our lives are enriched because of them. And yes, I am thankful.