My two-year-old daughter was missing. I’d been sitting in a lawn chair under the Georgia pines that summer morning while I watched her play in the driveway and must have dozed off again. I ran around the yard and through the house and back outside calling for her—not too loud because I didn’t want to call attention to my parenting dilemma. My voice got shriller, and I tried to squash my panic. I wondered how long I should wait before I called the police.
I finally found her rocking on the next-door neighbor’s porch. She’d heard me but hadn’t thought it necessary to respond.
I was sure I had some horrible disease at 38 years old, but my doctor insisted my fatigue signaled depression and prescribed medication. A few weeks later, my husband and I counseled with our pastor who advised we just needed more fun in our life. We lived 900 miles from family, so we invested in sitters and in date nights (not many—too expensive), and it was just what the doctor didn’t order. I tossed the pills.
A couple years later, after we’d adopted our son, we moved back to Michigan to be closer to family. By then, though, my mother-in-law had died, and my father-in-law was in no position to give us breaks. My parents still lived 200 miles away, so they couldn’t regularly help. But one time, we decided to run away for a weekend. We deposited our daughter with a friend and met my parents halfway on Friday so they could keep our son who was about four at the time.
My mom took her babysitting job seriously. She refused to let him go snowmobiling with his cousins because she was afraid he might get hurt, though she ultimately relented. She reprimanded him for getting up to watch what she felt were inappropriate television shows while they slept, made him re-bathe when he hadn’t scrubbed his hands clean enough, and was horrified when he found her scissors and cut his hair. He burst into tears when we picked him up, and we never asked them to babysit again.
Fifteen years after my daughter was lost and then found, she became a single mom. At first she lived with us and then nearby. I knew what it was like to be a nonworking, supposedly wise, tired, mature mother without family help. So I knew trying to function as a young working mom with little spendable income who was still trying to find herself and ultimately developed some serious health issues had to be ten times harder. I became a very involved “nama.”
And I don’t think I ever fell asleep and lost her child.
That grand girl is thirteen now, which means I’m also another thirteen years older. My body rejects the speed I still want to travel and the weight I still want to lift.
My son, whose hair has long since grown back and who now lives 30 miles away, recently asked if I would care for his new little sweet pea, at least until she’s six months old, when my daughter-in-law goes back to work. He also asked if I could help with transportation—meet them halfway before and after work five days a week. I’m grateful that we live close enough to be an option (as in not living 900 miles away) and that he trusts me and wants the youngest grand girl to bond as tightly with me as the oldest. I’m also shocked at the cost of daycare.
But I have writing deadlines to meet, and I’m starting to finally lean into my limitations. I struggled with and prayed over my answer because I still want to do it all, and I didn’t want to lose this opportunity. We’ve finally settled on a compromise. This little munchkin will go to daycare three days a week, but then I get to rock and spoil her for two. “Spoil” being the magic word, but don’t tell my son. I’ll let you know how it goes.
And I’ll try not to doze off and lose her.
How much are you involved in lives of your grandchildren? Is it too much? Too little? How can grandparents balance their own needs with the needs of their adult children and/or grandchildren? What was your relationship with your own grandparents? Did you have family help with your own kids?
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Latest posts by Sandra Heska King (see all)
- How to Face Winter with Hope - January 25, 2016
- ROCKABYE BABY - December 8, 2015
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What fun to find you here, and I didn’t even realize that you are a Consilium-er! 🙂 Oh goodness! I’m so glad that you found your little girl. When I read that, I had a flashback to when Sheridan was around three. We were going for a walk, and I took her outside the back door, and realized I’d forgotten something (what now, I have no clue). I told her to wait in the driveway. We were in the backyard, and I was literally only gone a very short time. When I came back outside the house, she was gone. It made absolutely no sense. I’m talking seconds here. I was panic-stricken. Somehow in that time, she managed to walk down the driveway, four houses down to the corner, and was fast-approaching a busy street. I screamed, and she stopped–thank God!! I felt like the worst mother on the planet. I had her at forty, and was pretty much flying by the seat of my pantyhose. I’ll be ninety before I’m a grandmother, no doubt, so I don’t know how to answer your question. But I do know that you are one of the most loving ladies on the planet (and best writers), and I’m so glad that you found a really do-able and meaningful compromise. My grandmother “spoiled” me, too, and how I loved her. I’m sure you are adored by both your children and grandchildren. And if that is the result of spoiling, I’m all for it!
Sandra, I would bet if we took a poll we would find that a high percentage of our predecessors have at one time or another misplaced their child. I myself said a quite yet very heart felt thank you to our Lord for keeping our 5 year old from harm and bringing him back to us safe after his parents foolishly took down their tent he had been using all weekend as his location marker while he was attending a meet and greet with the local Porta potty. Leaving him without his marker to get back. This mama in her panic even screamed down her 5 year Olds name from the top of said Porta potty in fear that he had fallen in, and when no answer came entertained, for a brief crazed induced second the idea of jumping in.
I like yourself am blessed that our children trust us with own children today. My Girly Girls are a big part of this Grammy’s life and I am so thankful and overjoyed with the opportunities i have to serve my daughter’s and someday my son by simply getting to spend time with my granddaughters and sowing God’s love and Grace into their hearts and lives. Could it get any better than that!.
My body rejects the speed I still want to travel and the weight I still want to lift. – how these words are true more than i’d like to admit.
Im still raising two more teens and while my 1 yr. old grandson is a thousand miles away, i’m a bit grateful that i can focus on finishing strong with these two as much as i had the first two. raising girls in southern california with the hollywood glamor at our front door has been a constant challenge.
my daughter and her family will be here for Christmas and for that we are all excited.
We all love grandparent stories since ‘we’ some of us, are in that ‘role now’. I can imagine the fear of losing a little one even for a moment, I was always afraid of naps and me not paying attention. They do survive even in our ‘fear’, God is good and we can look back and know it is a season of young parenting, then teen parenting, then the parents of the new marrieds and then the wonderful ‘honor’ of being a grandparent. Treasure these special times. It goes quickly.
I’m still thinking of myself as a Gram in Training because my first grandson just turned a year old. I, too, was a mum without much help when my four boys were young, so I try to do all that I can for my son and daughter-in-law. The boy and I read lots of books together, and I discovered that he likes to sit in a laundry basket and play (we call it his man cave) while Gram folds laundry. So thankful that they live near so that we can be involved in their lives.
Sandra~what a delightful story you have woven here. Many of us have experienced some panic-type fear over children–especially adopted ones. Somehow, there’s always more guilt associated with adopted children. We expect more of ourselves because of the trust given us with our child.
You are blessed to have your adult children and their families close by so that you have that opportunity to enjoy the grandchildren with more ease than comes with our own children (or some I’m told). I still await grandchildren but have the sad feeling they will be far away–as in more than 900 miles.
Enjoyed your story, as always.
I love my grands! Don’t we all? But with their parents in the military, we won’t get to live close by for many years, I imagine. But I do go see them at least once a quarter, whether I have to drive or fly. The flip side is that my daughter wants me to come live with them and take care of her kids while she and her husband work. So balance for me is visiting as often as I can, hosting them when they can come my way, and not moving there, no matter how tempting it might be. I keep telling them that I might HAVE to live with them some day so we probably ought not rush it! 🙂 I think the most important things we can do for our children as they parent is to be proud of them, telling them what a good job they are doing with our grandchildren, and what great parents they are. I know that some folks can’t say all that but I bet there is something our kids do in raising our grands that we can encourage and support. Enjoyed your post, Sandra! Now I’m just counting the days until I get to see my grands for Christmas!
I am not a grandparent yet in fact my first son is getting married on December 27th. I am wondering what kind of grandma I will be considering I am struggling a little with letting go of my son. Great words today and ones that I will need to come back to one day when I become a grandma.
All my grand babies live nearby so we’re pretty involved in their lives. I help out as much as I can but do have to say no at times, then I feel guilty, which I know is ridiculous. My kids don’t make me feel that way, it’s just me always wanting to be there for my grands.
I get to live close to all four of my grand babies. We often have the 3 oldest (13,10,6) over night or for the day. I feel so fortunate to be so involved. In fact the 6 yr old is here tonight and we will bake cookies tomorrow. ?
My youngest son has a 9 mos old who I have been watching while mommy and daddy work since she was 3 months. I had to back out of several ministry opportunities in order to do it but felt is was what God was asking. I feel my age and realize why we have children when we are young but am grateful I can have this time with her.
Sandra you sure evoked some memories. It is hard to work around our limitations when we would love to become with our grandchildren as much as possible. But it is wise to compromise. So glad you have family close and they can all spend tine together. We have 11 grandchildren but only get to spend time with 5. 3 live 2500 miles away and 3 more we rarely get to see. But we love them all the same. Your family is blessed!
That made my heart stop, Lynn. I always tried to impress on my kids that when I yelled “Stop!” they needed to stop and not question because… car, rattlesnake, danger. It didn’t always work. I had Kolbie for several days in a row this month and start the new “schedule” on the 7th. She’s such a good baby. I expect I might be seeing her big brother a little more after some of the house renovations are complete. Love you big.
Oh my gosh, Monique. That would be hysterically funny (screaming from the top of a port-a-potty) if it wasn’t so hysterically scary. So thankful they were able to reconnect before things progressed to jumping in. Yikes.
Teresa… I can only imagine the challenges of raising children in southern CA. I hope you’ve had a wonderful visit with your daughter and grand boy. Some days I think running away makes a lot of sense, but I can’t imagine not living so close to family. And if they moved, I might be forced to follow. 🙂
Sharon… yes, nap times can be scary–when you’re not really sure if they are asleep or getting into something. I always worried when they slept too late in the morning. Now they have those video monitors, though. 🙂
Michele… man cave. I love it. 😀 (I have a picture of my daughter watching the Rose Parade while sitting in a laundry basket. 🙂 )
Janis… you are so right about the extra pressure we put on ourselves and guilt we carry when our children are adopted. At least we have technology like Skype if our families are separated by miles. It helps a little, I think.
Mary… my son has talked about eventually moving to Florida and wanting us to move, too, if he does. I like your balance of visiting and hosting versus moving–at least yet. 🙂 It sets those boundaries and lets you not get swallowed up in their lives. That’s a trade-off.
Mary… It’s taken me a while to get back here what with Haiti and holidays and… stuff. you are a mother-in-love now?! I’m thinking you will be a wonderful grandma. 🙂
I know that guilt that comes with the “no,” Elizabeth. I always have to reassess myself wondering if I’m being selfish or just investing in self-care.
Sharon… I find lugging that carseat with a baby in it super hard. And I *am* pretty tired at day’s end–even without doing very much. I know what you mean about having children while young. In my case I was almost 40 when our son came along, so it’s been a little more exhausting overall, I think. I keep reminding myself about Sarah… 😉
So Kelly… Eleven. Wow. How do you maintain those long-distance relationships? Or try to work with all the funky family dynamics? Families can be so complicated. (It’s not all perfect here. With the oldest, I feel more like a second mom since I’ve had her so much since she was born–more of the nitty gritty everyday stuff like care, feeding, and discipline–rather than the nana-spoiling stuff.)