This past weekend something happened that made me rather upset.
Last minute, Paul and I had our friends Cindy and Jack over. Jack wanted to make plans with Paul to go on a fly fishing trip over Easter break. The place that they want to fish is 5 hours away, very close to Cindy’s parents. Cindy and Jack were having a hard time finding a babysitter for their 5 year old son and we couldn’t help. That seemed like a no brainer fix to me. I suggested that they drop their son off with Cindy’s parents. Cindy said that her parents wouldn’t do that for them. They were still complaining about the time that they had to watch him for 2 hours. Really? That made me angry.
Then I told Cindy that my aunt wanted my daughter to sing in her only child’s wedding. She told me that my younger two children weren’t going to be invited to the wedding. It wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that the wedding is a couple of hours away. Being a part of the wedding would require a hotel room a couple of nights for the rehearsal and wedding. Another relative said that I should leave my other kids with some friends or my in-laws. My in-laws? They didn’t help out with the kids much before my mother-in-law was diagnosed with terminal cancer. How can people ask a favor and be so insensitive?? Paul offered to stay home with the youngest kids so I could take Angel to sing in the wedding. But it makes me angry!
Then it took me back to a time in my life when I needed help but found myself alone. On Angel’s 4th birthday, Matt attacked her. It took my brother and husband to pull him off of her. This event caused a chain reaction of hurt that lasted years after the actual attack took place. I decided that I didn’t want my children victimized by my brother like I was. Things were different, when my brother hurt me he was a child. When he hurt Angel, he was a grown man and she was just a little girl. For years there was a time where there was very minimal contact between Matt and my children. Because of this, my mom lost her number one caregiver, me. We also lost our number one helper, my mom.
Less than a year after Matt attacked Angel, I gave birth to my third child. I scheduled the C-section for a Friday because I didn’t have anyone to help watch the kids during the week while Paul worked. My mom stayed over the night before, then dropped the kids off at the hospital the morning that I had my third child because Matt had a doctor’s appointment. Paul and I never had the celebratory meal together. After I got home from the hospital, my mother-in-law helped for one day then I was on my own less than a week after having major surgery with my three little kids.
In response to everything that happened, I decided to solve my problems by starting up a babysitting co-op. It worked great. We exchanged points for child care instead of money. We had monthly play groups. I developed close friends that for some reason or other found it hard to get the support that they needed as a parent.
I wish that there was a flow chart with parenting solutions sometimes. If your child does this, you do that. Every parenting class that I have ever attended was always filled with controversy. To spank or not to spank? Work or stay at home? Breast or bottle? Private, public, or home school? One child wins or everybody wins? Vaccinate or not to vaccinate? Yada, yada, yada… I am sure it wouldn’t take too long to find a blog where someone is fighting over these issues. Nobody seems to have the answers.
Having your first child is such a major shock. I find it funny when women seem worried about childbirth. I was the same way. Seriously, you should be more worried about the next 18 years! Suddenly you are thrown into parenting without any idea what you are doing. Having a second child is also a shock. Yes, I was one of those people that thought it wouldn’t change my life at all. I also thought that my kids wouldn’t fight. That expectation got shattered pretty fast. I also thought that if I did the best job that I could possibly do that my kids wouldn’t rebel or make the wrong choices. Boy am I still learning! Having a third child was no adjustment at all. Wait, did I have a third child? I think so, except I did not document the first time she started to crawl, the first word she said, or the first time she spit up like I did with my first child.
Grandparents, why does our culture sometimes treat you like you are outdated and worthless? What a lie! You are a wealth of knowledge. You have the experience that some of us are learning through trial and error at the expense of our children. For all of the grandparents out there who are helping out their children some way or another, thank you. God bless you for making this world a better place. You are needed. You are appreciated. Parents, if you have parents that are wonderful grandparents, show them your gratitude. I know many parents that would do almost anything to have a little guidance.
This past weekend Paul suggested that we (Paul, Cindy, Jack, and I) make a pact to be good grandparents. The four of us promised that we would be there for our children when they have children of their own. We promised to be supportive, offer advice if asked, and to take our grandchildren for a few days to give their parents a break. We will take the wrongs and make them right.
This is our pact.