Disappointment: When Parents Break Promises

Image courtesy of Pixabay

“While we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed.” Titus 2:13

We cling to hope in our Christian walk. So many parts of the gospel remind us of that hope. But hope is sometimes difficult when dealing with other people. For instance, my daughter and grandchildren.

What happens in the next week or two will significantly impact my grandchildren and their relationship with my daughter. Will their mommy disappoint them or stay true to her words? It’s hard to know, and I’m a bit frustrated with the situation.

Without going into a lot of detail, I can tell you she’s made promises. Promises that she can’t keep because she doesn’t know what’s coming or what’s going to happen. My daughter tends to count her chickens before they hatch. A LOT. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen her do this. Every time I warn her, she says I’m negative. It will happen. I’m wrong to worry. Then, of course, her plans fall apart.

She’s doing it again.

Once I realized what she was saying to her children, I tried to get her to stop. She can’t see how her words affect them. She wants to be with them, hug and kiss them. I want this for them, too. But, even if things do go the way she hopes they will, it’s going to be a long, hard road. History says she’ll disappear instead.

Unfortunately, for Victoria and Amari, this leads to disappointment and frustration. For us, it means picking up the pieces of their shattered hearts. I wish she could see this, but she’s shortsighted. She knows what she wants, and she’s determined it will happen.

The disconcerting part is the way my grandchildren interpret her promises. Amari believes that on a specific date in a few weeks (yes, he states an actual date) he will go to live with her. That’s not going to happen. It can’t. Not that soon. I had to be the bad guy and tell him this last night. He wanted to know how soon they could live with Mommy. I told him I didn’t know, but it would be at least a year or two. I didn’t have the heart to tell him it might not ever happen, but that’s a real possibility. Past experiences point to the likelihood of her violating her promises.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

I’m not anxious for me. I know to trust in God. I’ve grown past the hurt of her actions and understand the peace my faith and trust give me. To two little children, this is not so easy. As much as I’d love to say, my prayers will change what she does and how the system will respond to her, I know that’s not always the case. So, I pray. I wait. I prepare to pick up the pieces if she shatters their hope.

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Be Still and Know

Courtesy of Pixabay

He says, “Be still, and know that I am God;
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10

I’m tired.

No, that’s not right. I’m exhausted, used up, a limp version of my former self.

Why? Raising children is hard. Raising grandchildren increases the hardship many times over. Yes, I understand that parents get tired and exhausted. I was a parent once, too. This is different. I promise you. Whether we like it or not, our bodies age and keeping up  with the pace of children is much, much harder as a grandparent.

This past weekend, I took some time out to go to a Beth Moore event with one of my friends. Bruce willingly agreed to handle the kids for the weekend. It was great to get away and focus on spiritual matters, but it wore me out! I usually try to grab an extra hour or two of sleep on Saturday morning. That, of course, couldn’t happen.

Between school schedules, work, and trying to meet deadlines, I’ve been averaging about five or six hours a night. I need eight to nine hours to fully recover from most days. Some of you don’t need that, but I do. Add to this the change to Daylight Savings Time, and well…a recipe for extreme fatigue.

This week, we had the District Science Fair judging for Victoria on Monday evening (results in a few weeks), gymnastics on Tuesday evening, and by Wednesday afternoon, I couldn’t keep my eyes open. I sat at my computer fighting the pull of sleep. In fact, I was so tired I forgot to take the kids to an appointment. I don’t forget things. That’s not like me. But this life is making it harder and harder to stay on top of everything.

What can I do?

Keep the calendar updated. Remember to check it daily (my mistake yesterday). Take a nap when I can. Go to bed early if at all possible (it usually isn’t). Keep extracurricular activities to a minimum. Yes, I said it. One extra activity per week is enough for the kids. They need time to be children without structure, without a planned schedule of activity. I don’t know how parents do it today. Many of them have their kids in some after-school activity. Every. Single. Day.

We need to slow down. Let the kids slow down. Let them run around without a plan, play in the yard, use their imagination, sleep in on Saturday. There’s a reason God directed the Israelites to take a day of rest.

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy.  Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy. Exodus 20:8-11

Even Jesus recognized the need to take a break. One well-known story tells about a day full of crowds seeking his wisdom and healing. Afterward, he and his disciples boarded a boat to get away from what must have been an exhausting day. A storm blows up and Jesus sleeps through it until his frightened disciples awaken him.

 Leaving the crowd behind, they took him along, just as he was, in the boat. There were also other boats with him.  A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. Mark 4:36-41

We tend to focus on the rest of what Jesus says to the disciples but notice his words to the storm. Jesus is tired. He’s worn out. He needs rest. The storm created a problem for him because the disciples fearing for their lives, woke him. What does he say? Quiet! Be Still!

We need our rest, whether we’re parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters. Everyone needs time to be still and know.

Raising Grandchildren: What Parents Miss

Image courtesy of Nutdanai Apikhomboonwaroot/freedigitalphotos.net

Children are a heritage from the Lord,
    offspring a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
    are children born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
    whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
    when they contend with their opponents in court.
Psalm 127: 3-5

A few months ago, my daughter moaned about missing the last of Victoria’s childhood and the last of Amari’s little boy years. They were nine and four when they came to live with us. At eleven, Victoria is moving into adolescence, but she’s at that point where she’s very grown up one minute, and the next, she reverts to a little girl.  Amari is six and in the first grade. He’s lost his baby cheeks and, although he’s still a little boy, he’s begun to focus on boy interests like football and basketball. Sometimes, he throws his chest out, pulls his shoulders back, and struts. It’s cute and hilarious, but I don’t tell him.

It’s sad that she’s missing this. There’s so much about them she doesn’t know and can’t share. As the Psalmist says, children bless and reward their parents. My daughter’s quiver stands empty due to her choices, and the rewards and joys fall to me and my husband.

For example, Victoria won the Science Fair at her school. First place!!!! Next week, she competes on a regional level. I grew up in an academic family. My father spent a large part of his career as the Dean of the College of Sciences at Clemson University. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Zoology. Winning the Science Fair rates high on our “busting our buttons with pride” scale. Her mom misses out on celebrating this achievement. She doesn’t get to be here preparing Victoria for her presentation and calming her nerves.

Amari barely spoke when he came to us. Now, he talks non-stop. He loves God, he asks amazing, complicated questions, and talks to everyone. Just yesterday, I took him to a follow-up visit with the Allergist. Brave man that he is, this doctor checks Amari’s ears, throat, and nose, then he lets Amari use the otoscope to do the same on him. Amari loves it! All isn’t joy for him, though. Recently, he ran into some trouble with some boys, a precursor to bullying in the first grade! Mom wasn’t here to recognize something was wrong, comfort him, and deal with the problem. I took care of it.  I’m glad to say his teacher responded immediately to the issue, too.

Children’s children are a crown to the aged, and parents are the pride of their children. Proverbs 17:6

It breaks my heart that my daughter continues to miss these experiences due to her poor choices. For us, we have the crowns mentioned in Proverbs living in our house. We’re tired. It’s hard work, but I can’t imagine life without them here. We are the parents in their lives, not their mom. Instead of pride about her true parents, Victoria avoids questions from classmates. They’re curious. Most of them know me, so if they ask why she’s with me, I tell them Mom can’t take care of them right now. That’s it. Nothing more needs to be said.

Hold your children close. Hold your grandchildren closer. When life becomes hard, remember they are your crown, blessing, heritage, and reward.