The Aftermath of Mother’s Day

Field of grass and flowers with James 4:13-14 in the forefront.

I survived Mother’s Day, and this year it wasn’t horrible.

I’ve shared before that I don’t love this particular holiday, but we faced a new problem this year.

Do we let the grands speak to their mother on Mother’s Day? Since the grands came to live with us, their mother has been out of contact as Mother’s Day rolled around each year. This year is different.

I ended up letting them talk to her. She begged all week, but I told her I couldn’t promise anything. I’m not heartless.  I had my reasons.

On the morning of Mother’s Day, they asked if they could buy Mommy something or send Mommy a card. I told them we couldn’t; I have no idea how to send her something.

Because they asked about her, I decided to let them talk to her if she called. I don’t have the ability to call her, so I waited to see if she would try.

She did. She’s allowed six minutes for a phone call, and I told her, “Yes, you can talk to them, but you can not tell them where you are or what you’re doing.”

She agreed. My heart cracked when I heard the excitement and surprise in her voice. I want to help her, but I can’t do that if she won’t help herself first. My priority is helping her children.

Why did I ask her not to tell them anything about her location? Because she confused and disappointed them last year with promises she shouldn’t make. She’s not in the clear yet, and I’m not going to talk about what she’s doing currently. Suffice it to say that her children might find hope too soon if she gave them more information.

Meanwhile, we get to deal with the aftermath of this brief phone call. It’s a tough decision to make for caregivers of children. The children want contact (most of the time), but after the contact, confusion and grief rises to the surface. It’s a balancing act of trying to keep them positive while acknowledging how yucky their situation is. . . and that they have no control over any of it.

Still, we had a good Mother’s Day. I’ll take that.

 

When Everything Hits At Once

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

© Barbara V. Evers, All rights reserved.

When I started this blog, I wrote about my journey to faith and the issues I dealt with along the way. The posts, although difficult to write at times, focused on a part of my life long past. I’d had time to reflect on and grow from the hardships and crises I’d endured. I knew the outcomes. I’d seen the victories that followed. I’d spoken to groups about them numerous times.

In the last two years, my posts moved into current territory: the problems our daughter faces with addiction and the life of raising our grandchildren.  These posts are harder to write. I write them soon after they occur with days, not decades, to reflect on what’s happening. I don’t know the outcomes. I’m unaware of the victories that will follow. I’m blind.

It’s much harder to write and share these posts. Many of you appreciate and respond to them, so I know I’m reaching an audience in need of my story, so I continue. I cling to verses that tell me all this will be worth it some day.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

But it’s hard.

I’ve been silent about our lives over the last two months as I try to determine what to share and what not to share. I still don’t know what I’ll leave out, but I can’t tell you everything. Sometimes we need privacy.

But here goes . . .

In February, Victoria’s father died (Facing Our Worries in Grand-parenting). That week ripped a hole in our lives, and we still don’t understand the ramifications of this event for Victoria. She’s managed well but doesn’t talk about it much. Thank goodness for counselors and friends who care about her.

The day after Victoria’s father passed away, Amari had an appointment with a developmental behavior doctor. It took five months to get on his schedule. We needed to make this appointment, and, thankfully, Victoria wanted to go to school. She would have been a major distraction during the two hour session, but I felt guilty about sending her to school less than twenty-four hours after her father died.

From this appointment, we learned that Amari has OCD/Anxiety and ADHD. This wasn’t what we were expecting. We knew something affected his ability to focus in school, but the teacher, the speech teacher, and his counselor thought it might be an auditory processing problem. Nope. Since then, we have gone through a variety of prescriptions trying to find the combination that will help him. Since anxiety meds tend to increase distraction and ADHD meds tend to increase anxiety, it’s a tough balancing act.  We’re still not sure what he needs, but we’re trying and seeing some improvements at school. Unfortunately, the first ADHD medicine the doctor tried would have helped him keep that focus into the evenings. It did not go over well. So we moved on to meds that help during the school day but wear off by the afternoon. Boosters have not proven helpful at this point.  Conclusion? We’re still struggling with a very distracted, unfocused little boy in the evenings when everyone is already exhausted.

Enough to tire anyone out.

A few weeks later, I accepted a call from my daughter, and found out by accident, that she was testifying the next day in the trial for Amari’s father. She was going to testify against him. I offered to come and support her, but she said no. It became obvious she didn’t want me to hear what she had to say. Then she argued with me about something small (a diversionary tactic?), and I decided to honor her wishes. The next morning, a social worker called me. My daughter wanted me there.

Gut-wrenching. I’ve read and even used this term before, but as I drove to the courthouse I finally understood it. My nerves on edge, I entered the courthouse, went through security, and found the courtroom. Amari’s father saw me the moment I entered. I didn’t acknowledge him, but his attorney kept turning around and looking at me. During a break, I met the social worker who told me Tisha’s testimony was next. By some miracle, she never testified because he changed his plea to guilty when court reconvened. The judge gave him a twelve-year sentence. Every time she headed down the wrong path in her life, she blamed him for dragging her there. Maybe this time, she’ll get it right.

As I left the courtroom, I spoke to the victim of this crime, a man whose life will never be the same. He will spend the rest of his life in a wheelchair unable to do the simplest things for himself or his family. I hesitated to speak to him, but my heart hurt for the pain he’d endured and the changes brought to his life. I explained who I was, and he was glad to speak to me. He could have seen me as the woman raising his attacker’s child, but he chose to see me as the woman raising one of his witness’s children, instead. In fact, he insisted on praying for me and my grandchildren right then, in the hallway.

I drove home desperate for someone to talk to. My best friend was out of town, so I didn’t want to bother her. My other best friend (yes, I have two) was working long hours, so I couldn’t call her. Bruce was at work. I called my older sister. It didn’t change the day, it didn’t ease my pain, but it helped to talk about it. She’s a very empathetic listener, and I’m blessed to have a sister like her.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up. Eccl 4:9-10a

I ask that you bear with me as I journey through all that’s happened. There’s more but not today.

Can the Grandparents’ House Be Home?

 

Photo by Kha Ruxury from Pexels

By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. Proverbs 24:3-4

 

My granddaughter turned twelve this week. As I looked over pictures of her, I was struck at how much she’s changed, especially in the last year. She prefers sitting in her room listening to music or watching YouTube over spending time with us. Her voice has a sharp edge to it that we’re trying to help her soften. Hormones are raging. She’s obsessed with a boy band.

The images of her past reminded me that she’s spent a large portion of her twelve years living with us. I don’t recall whether I’ve spoken about this here, but this is the third time Victoria has lived with us. It’s Amari’s second.

When my daughter was pregnant with Victoria, she violated her probation. Eventually, it caught up with her, and the probation officer gave her a drug test. When they discovered her pregnancy and drugs in her system, she went to jail. We’d refused to bail her out for her legal mistakes in the past, so, she remained in the detention center awaiting her hearing. After several months, this changed because her cellmate became violent toward her. She feared for the baby and begged us to help her. She, also, only ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches because she’s a vegetarian. After hearing these stories for several months (to this day, I can’t verify their truth) , we broke our rules and bailed her out solely out of concern for our unborn grandchild.

For once, she stuck to her promises and steered clear of the wrong influences. We got her into an outpatient addiction treatment program and helped her find a job. When her hearing came around, the only reason the judge didn’t put her in jail was me. I told him why we’d broken our resolve to not bail her out and confirmed that she was in rehab and working. He put her under house arrest. She was allowed to go to work, medical appointments, and church. Nothing else.

My granddaughter began her life in my home. She and her mother stayed with us until she was 18 months old, but, even after that she visited with us a lot.

When Victoria was five and Amari eighteen months, they came to live with us again. This time their parents were getting evicted and didn’t want to raise them in a motel room. We took the children in, but not my daughter and Amari’s father. We knew we could never have our daughter live with us again after the previous time. She disrupted our household too much. Amari stayed for six weeks, but without custody, I couldn’t handle his medical needs. Victoria stayed with us for five months since she was enrolled in K5.

The last few weeks Victoria lived with us, I became sick and could not get better. I hoped and prayed when she went back to her parents that we wouldn’t have to do this again. For awhile, things went well. We thought they might make it, but three years later, social services contacted me about taking the grandchildren.

If you add it up, Victoria has spent half of her life in our home. Amari, too, for that matter. You would think they would see this as their home. I’m not sure that they do, though. Their mother wasn’t always on drugs. She might not have been the kind of mother I’d prefer, but she wasn’t always messing it up, either. They miss her. Victoria, who at first had nothing positive to say about Amari’s father, told me the other day, “It’s weird, but I miss him sometimes.”

Amari knows where his dad is, but his dad hasn’t bothered to contact him in three years. I’m pretty sure this is the only home he remembers. It’s not the only one Victoria remembers, though.

I wonder if she’ll ever see this as her home without wondering about the one she missed out on?