Several years ago, my oldest son had a meltdown. He was in a marriage with a young son. He descended into a personal hell of depression and addiction. During the first 1 1/2 years, he managed to keep his job without actually going to work. That may have been the worst thing that could have happened to him. He could continue his poor lifestyle choices and support those choices financially.
After living through a year of hell, my daughter-in-law moved four hours away to be closer to her sister who helps her with childcare for this precious and beautiful grandson. I believed it to be a wise choice although it left holes in me that has taken years to heal. I don’t know if complete healing is there although I think I’m getting close.
I am deeply impressed with how my daughter-in-law has handled her life since then. She bought a house, my grandson is in private school, and she has a great job. She juggles the decisions, the finances, the discipline, and the lifestyle choices of my grandson. He has emerged unscathed from the divorce as far as I can tell, has immersed himself in the world around him, plays sports, has very good grades. In essence, they have made the successful transition to another life.
Last night she told me that she wants my son to be happy. I have no relationship with this son. This is not by my choice. He has distanced himself from our family and that is how it needs to be for now. I have also done my own distancing to preserve sanity in my own life and to keep the drama to a minimum. I hope that distancing will no longer be necessary one day. But I am so impressed with her growth. She doesn’t harbor anger and hatred. She wants him to be stable and have a calm life. Much of this is because she wants that for her son – and to have a relationship with a healthy father. Again, I’m impressed. Having gone through a divorce with my son’s father, I never quite reached that mature point. Perhaps I will work on it more now.
Being a grandmother brings a host of issues. One is that I am not in charge of my grandchildren‘s lives. I don’t get to make the choices that I did as a mother. That took a great deal of getting used to. I have two other grandchildren who belong to my middle son and his capable wife. Learning that I am not in charge when I used to be so terribly in charge has taken years of changing. Now, I try to appreciate the love that these parents use in the raising of their children. I’m getting better at it.
I’m humbled by the chance to spend time in my daughter-in-law’s home caring for my grandson. Her willingness to allow this is the stuff of appreciation. I’m sure this is a lesson that will continue to develop for me.