You know how sometimes you don’t know what you are thinking until you say it out loud? Well, this morning, John and I were walking the dogs, discussing many things, including – of course – our kids. I found myself telling him that I had realized I would be the same age my mother became a grandmother for the first time when I become a grandmother for the first time. Mom was 22 when she had me. I didn’t become a mother until I was 36. (My sister and brother who have children also married later and had children in their 30s and 40s.) I also remembered aloud that my Nana, my father’s mother, became a grandmother around this same age. I thought about what fun we children had with her. I said to John that I was happy I would be young, energetic, and healthy enough to have adventures with our grandchild too.
I could see by the look on John’s face that he was wrestling with this idea. He is angry and frustrated with Skye, as am I. The evidence suggests to us that she is not prepared to be a responsible mother. So I said to John something that our dear friend Sherry has said, in her own way, on many occasions: The child can’t be held responsible for the decisions of the parent. The child is the child. He or she deserves to be loved and appreciated for who he or she is.
We who have adopted children should know this. Whatever we may think or believe about the decisions made by our children’s birth parents, their children – our children – are embraced by us as individuals on their own journeys.
John said that he was “proud” of me for thinking this way. He was still struggling. I get that.
As parents, we get down in the dirt of our children’s lives. She drinks. Will she become an alcoholic? He doesn’t apply himself in school. Is it learning differences? Will he drop out and never be able to support himself? She never picks up after herself or does her chores. Is she destined to be some spoiled brat, incapable of sustaining a real give-and-take relationship? He has an explosive temper. Will his uncontrolled emotions eventually land him in jail?… It’s hard not to worry or to intervene in some protective, constructive way.
I’m not a grandmother yet. But I think I’m beginning to understand what I’ve heard from so many others who have already reached that stage. As a grandparent, you can liberate yourself – to some extent – from the worries, and just enjoy the child.
Oh, I know, we still have miles to go before our worries about Skye fade or disappear. Perhaps they never will. But when Skye’s child makes his or her way into the world, I want to be ready to rejoice. In my heart, I believe that John will find his way to this place of accepting what is and moving forward as well. No father ever delighted in young children the way John did. From his “green bean dance” to get them to eat vegetables to his instruction about home repairs, bike riding, baseball throwing, and more, John delighted in amusing his children and appreciating their individual strengths and talents. He will be a wonderful grandfather.
As they say, no one can really prepare you to be a parent. There are too many exceptions to the “rules,” too many twists and turns. You have to experience it and make the best decisions you can with the information you have at the time. For me, it’s also important to stop and thank God for the opportunity.