Respite

green tree on grass field during daytime
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

This picture reminds me of the farm my maternal grandparents lived on until their deaths several years ago.  There was a field on this farm, back behind the pond, and even further back behind an old cemetery.  As kids, we had many stories we could tell to scare one another about the deaths of the people who were buried in that cemetery, or the ghosts that lingered on the hill.  But back in behind there was a field completely surrounded by trees, almost like a big oval or circle; and, although as kids we roamed every inch of that farm playing, as I grew older, when I took walks, I always ended up there.  I could breathe deeply there it seemed.  It allowed my thoughts to settle and caused me to be reminded of God’s majesty in creation.  When you walked back out and down the hills, there was one lone  tree like this standing gloriously alone.

I only ever thought of the term respite in relation to medical lingo, and trust me my knowledge of medical lingo is slim to none.  I never really was aware of the use of the term in regard to situations such as foster parents asking for respite for a brief time  – until my daughter went to a group home before she turned 18.  There was drama (imagine that), and my daughter went to someone’s home for the weekend who provided respite care.  Since that time I have heard the phrase used and often have thought of the meaning of the word.  Respite.  A delay for a time … an interval of relief ... don’t we all long for that during seasons of our lives?

Recently I have been longing for respite.  Respite from the craziness that tends to crash in from all different directions in my life these days.  If I listed all of the different directions that my head and my heart get jerked around to, it would sound as if I was regurgitating a litany of sad, scary, stupid things and I don’t want anyone to get sidetracked by my own personal dramas.  But respite is what I need.  Not only do I need respite, but I know Joseph and our two little ones desperately need it as well.

However, for me, respite has never been something that comes easy.  I might be able to quiet my body for a moment, but my mind is often churning.  Those are moments when I have learned to make myself stop and literally tell God to “take this, because I can’t”.   Since a week ago Friday, the main thought in my head as been:  Be Still and Know that I am God.  Hmmm…God knows I need respite as well.  I know that there are things that, as a family, we are going to have to work through.  We are going to have to process emotions that could threaten to tear us down.  We are going to have to be strong, incredibly strong, in order to help the ones we love overcome obstacles that would drive any adult to their knees, let alone a child.  We have the potential to be told news that will be heart-wrenching at best and could even be so bad as to be devastating, yet for me, if I don’t have the chance to get my feet squared and my knees locked, I may not do so well.  So we need to be shored up.

In raising grands, it is difficult to stay connected with your partner.  At least for us it is, and I would find it hard to believe we are unique.  We are older, raising young children who have come from a hard place, and while these are the years we looked forward to being along as a couple, we are blessed with the amount of life and joy (with heartache, screaming and tears mixed in) that we have in our home right now.  But as a couple, and as a family unit, we need respite from the world.  We need that moment to bind together as a family, to strengthen our bonds, and to prepare our footing for what each day may bring.

Some may think of this thought of a time of respite as a way to run and hide.  It’s not.  Trust me when I say,  there are few things in my life that I have fled from, I’m more of a bull in a china shop.  I want the truth and I want it unfiltered, then I can analyze.  I have said before I do not believe in coincidences.  I believe the week ahead will bring a lot of fun times for our girl, but will also be a week that will lay bare some scars.  Once that hard work is performed, I want her to have the chance to just be a kid.  To explore and be amazed and laugh and for a moment have no yucky thoughts.  I believe God’s hand is on our paths at all times, I believe in more ways than one He is reminding me to Be Still.  I don’t believe He would leave me hanging when it comes to the respite we all need.

At the end of the day, God will provide.  He cares about the most minute details of my life, and it matters to Him if my soul, my husband’s soul and our grand’s souls are refreshed through a moment of respite as we move forward on our journey.  But for a moment, my prayer is that God continues to know our hearts and continues to shine the light on our path so that our steps can be firm and steady.

 

 

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Summer Break!

 

bloom blooming country countryside
Photo by Mikes Photos on Pexels.com

I know – the first day of Summer is actually next month, however, it is the beginning of summer break!  It’s a love/hate relationship I have with summer break.  I am definitely a summer, warm weather kinda girl … I do not like winter … I relish the long, warm days of summer.  I am able to do my favorite things in the world during the summer – mow (yes, it’s therapy for me), help Joseph garden, plant and tend to flowers, harvest the veggies in our garden to be canned for winter, and just enjoy the daylight hours.  However, around mid-June I feel myself being ever aware that the Summer  solstice will mean the days will begin to get a touch shorter.  But hey, I’ll take every drop of warm sunlight  on my skin I can get.

But the part that wears me out about summer is keeping the kids occupied.  Thus begins the building of the wall of limits as it relates to electronics, time in front of  the TV, tablet or computer.  Like so many parents of kids, mine believe electronics are a right they are entitled too.  Uh – no – I don’t play that way.  I will admit, though, these two little ones do play outside a lot in the warm weather.  Spending time helping us plant and harvest in the garden, helping me plant and water the flowers, playing in their little pool, going on nature walks, and playing on the trampoline keeps them busy.  Most of the time.

This summer break, although still brand new, is one they will  relish.  I do feel, however, that this summer break needs to be used to heal.  Last week, while at the counselor’s office, I told her that because we have no school to deal with anymore, I want her to rip the Band-Aid off (so to speak) and insist that our Bear begin to open up.  That being said, I was already preparing to stock up on helmets and protective gear, because if the Bear truly does open up, we could be in for a torrent of more anger, rages and fear.  After we left counseling that day, the Bear’s behavior was as good as any kid can have.  And the next day and the next … all the while, I was informed that she did open up, she revealed things she’s guarded in the deepest recesses of her soul, and yet she walked with a lightness in her step.  Wow.  Being able to get some of the bad gunk off her belly and out of her heart seemed to have caused her to feel a bit better.

For us adults, knowing now what we know, our steps got a bit heavier.  My shoulders felt a bit weighted down, and a sadness seemed to settle over me.  But I continued to move forward, for if this tiny fierce little female warrior can be lightened, then I can as well.  In those same moments I felt the heaviness settle, I remembered a few very real things God had brought into my life in the week leading up to this session that were preparing me for the  upcoming days or weeks, things that most people would run and hide from, but because of my work in the criminal justice system, it was something I could look at, listen to and ponder.  I was allowed great insight that I would have otherwise not had, because God opened a door for me.  So as that heaviness came, moments later, a remarkable, awe-inspired thank you went out to God for preparing me in ways I didn’t understand and for allowing our Bear to feel safe enough to finally begin to delve into some truths of her life with her parents while they were in their drug addictions full-tilt boogie.

As all of this transpires, and the world swirls around our little family, I am beginning to reconcile realities of who my daughter became, to the child that I gave birth to, who I love more than life, who is paying a lengthy price for her drug addictions, yet maybe hasn’t faced reckoning yet as it relates to her children and the prices they paid.  Yet, as scripture and Samuel L. Jackson would say, “Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.”  It is not my job to make sure people “pay” who brought  harm to a child, it is not my job to punish my daughter for her failings as a parent, it is my job to help these children heal and for me to heal.  Most times, I leave me out of the equation, yet at my age, I’m learning to stop that.  It’s not healthy for anyone.

So I am definitely looking forward to this summer break.  I hope it becomes a time for us, as a unit, to come together, to heal, to grow, to have fun and get out and enjoy all that God has created for us.  He knows what this week holds.  He knows my fears.  I can let go of all of them and hand them over, because they get much too heavy to shoulder.  I will set up parameters for electronics – I will bask in the sunshine with my little ones – and I will thank God everyday for the unique opportunity we have to help them as they grow.  Come on Summer …. it’s Game on and I’m stocked up on protective gear and sunscreen!

Ephesians 6 says:    Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes…and pray in the Spirit on all occasions, with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all of the Lord’s people.

 

It’s Mother’s Day!! (Yay?)

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The woman in this picture is my hero.  She got married incredibly young, had four (oftentimes unruly) children, went to college and gained her degrees in order to teach math, has a passel of grandchildren and great-grandchildren and is the glue that holds our tribe together.

This picture (though not terribly clear) is the true epitome of my mom.  Taking three of her great-grandchildren (all three incredibly delicious if you ask me) on a ride, because it makes them laugh.

She has sayings such as:

  • I’m getting ready to run down the road naked!
  • Good morning Rosebud!
  • Go wash your face (after you’ve had a meltdown).
  • Don’t be mad at them (any grandchild or great-grandchild) . . . they are sick, or getting ready to be sick, or tired, or getting ready to be tired.
  • They don’t have to eat all of their food at my house!
  • Do NOT come into my house mad at one another.

There are more, many more I’m sure.  But these are a few.

My mom is afraid of only a few things in this world:  Water (she would have screamed for help to arrive, but sadly would never have attempted to save any of us); Dissension in her family; and something happening to our daddy, one of her children, grandchildren or great-grandchildren.

My mom is hysterically funny – loyal – committed – dramatic (although she would never admit it) – loud (although she might not admit that either) – and grounded securely in her faith in God and the promise of a Heavenly reunion with her parents.

She has taught me more in the way she simply lives her life than she can ever know.

But if I’m honest, I will admit that I’ve done a little bit of wallowing this  morning.  I vacillate between being sad that my two children are incarcerated and that if I’m being real honest, our relationships are beyond strained, yet realizing at the same time how blessed I am.

My daughter and I try to put a Band-Aid on our relationship, and we do communicate somewhat, but I normally hear from my son only if he is incarcerated (which is he again) or hungry … and I do not help him out of either of those situations.  Thankfully, my step-daughter is happy and healthy and is a blessing beyond words when we get to visit, she probably just doesn’t realize that!

I also know I am blessed that my children are alive, therefore there is hope that one day our relationships will be mended and we can share in one another’s lives.  I also know I am beyond blessed to be raising two of our four grandchildren, because regardless of how tense and crazy days can be sometimes, I would in no way give up this opportunity to be the safety net that these two children need, and hopefully continue to be a source of strength to them as well.

I am blessed that I have two sisters and a mother who know the path I’m walking and encourage me and lift me up when I need it.  I get to go hug my mom and tell her how much I love her.  I am always amazed at the person God chose as my mom … there could have never been another as perfect for me as her.  I love you mom.  I respect you.  I am thankful for you.

For all moms that are sad today, know that there are many who share that sadness.  But joy comes in the morning.  I will remember all of the things I can choose to be thankful for today, for that will help me today.  Sometimes we all just need a little extra love on days like Mother’s Day.

Pandora’s Box

When I was growing up, through  middle school and high school years, we studied Greek mythology.  I oftentimes had difficulty wrapping my mind around the various Gods and Goddesses and what each of their roles are.  I still could not name many of them, nor say with certainty for what they were known.  However, the  story of Pandora’s Box was one that always stuck with me.  Much like the story of the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve were told the one tree they could not eat from . . . and we all know how that turned out; Pandora was so curious about what was inside the box that she opened it and unleashed upon the world many bad things – some writings say miseries were unleashed upon the world.  It scared her so that she slammed the door closed and the only thing left inside of the box was Hope.

I haven’t  thought of the story regarding Pandora’s Box in quite some time, but in light of things that have surfaced over the past several weeks, I’ve thought of the story often.  I searched on the internet to find information  about the story and one of the things  I read was this:  “Pandora’s box” now means anything that is best left untouched, for fear of what might come out of it.  I understand that statement all too  well.

Haven’t we all been there  at some point in our lives?  Knowing if we say that one thing, complete that one action, make that certain decision . . . the lid will be blown off and all hell may break loose . . . but in some instances, we know we have to open the lid.  Opening the lid sometimes takes an enormous amount of courage, because you may not just be unleashing “bad stuff” into your life, but also into the lives of those that exist within your orbit.   Sometimes I believe it is human nature to be unwilling to open yourself up completely when it comes to painful things that you have experienced or witnessed.  I believe that it is often in our interests to shield those we love from pain, if possible.  I would much rather shoulder it than share it with someone I love, which really doesn’t make good sense does it?  Ecclesiastes 4:12 says: A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken. God tells us we need to bind together and when we do, we are not easily broken.

As I have attempted to work with our Bear in learning to trust us as capable, loving, caring parental figures in her life, I have learned myself that it is much better to release some of  these toxins that are allowed to take root and grow, so that the healing process can  begin.  Although she is beginning to put together more pieces of the puzzle for us,  it is as if she is innately attuned to what we, as her parents by proxy, can process through the lens of our middle-aged adult life experiences; and, she knows that she is best served by simply laying down bits of information so that we can follow her trail, much like another story, that of Hansel and Gretel, to the witch’s house …. the place inside her soul that clings to her hurts.  I believe she is desperately afraid of what may happen if words are spoken out loud.  I told her the other night that it is as if she wears her  anger as a coat that she burrows herself in and wears with pride.  For some reason that registered with her and she admitted that she does feel that way sometimes.  It seems safer for her to be angry than to be vulnerable.  Is this the example I set for her?  I certainly hope not.  But it may well be.  Being vulnerable is a side of me that I have never been willing to share with most people.  Joseph told me the other day I take the old saying:  “you’ll never regret keeping your mouth shut” to a whole new level and that wasn’t  meant as a compliment.

I believe firmly that God allows us what we need to know in each moment.  By that I mean that I feel as if He alone knows what are hearts and minds can process and sometimes He showers grace and mercy on us as we work through painful things or events in our lives, sometimes in increments.  I believe not only does He do that for those that are sharing the painful memories, but He also does that for the people or person who hear the memories shared, and then has to determine how to not only absorb the information, but how to help the narrator come to terms with the pain that they feel, while finding a way to bind the wounds so that true healing can take place.

Many days lately I have felt in over my head.  I have thought “this is above my pay-grade” more than once.  Then I stop.  I chastise myself.  I remember that there is not one thing in me that is enough to help the healing process, but there is an Almighty One that resides in me that can give me the strength, mercy, grace and love I need to have.  No, I must have.  I can be confident that He, the creator and author, chose Joseph and I to raise these children, because there is something they need that only we can provide.  But some days I wonder.  Some days I want to rage from the top of the roof.  Yet I am always afraid to take that to God.  Why?  Thankfully, He tells us in 1 John 3:20:  For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.  Maybe in order to teach the Bear to be unafraid to talk about her past, I need to be willing to be unafraid to speak to God about my true feelings, because after all, He knows  them already, He’s just waiting for me to give voice to them.  Maybe that’s a lesson He is teaching me through her.

Maybe we both have to trust that even though Pandora’s box has been opened . . . hope continues to reside inside.  Isn’t it cool that the Word says And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. (Romans 5:5).  It seems a bit ironic that the God’s created by man knew the importance of the same Hope that God gives us.  Greek mythology allowed humans to cling to that one small thing left . . . which was hope.  Funny how those things work out isn’t it?!  Hope.  Love.  Perseverance.  And that is why, no matter how difficult, we will continue to fight the good fight every single day of these children’s lives.

 

 

This Night Feels Different

Those are the words that my granddaughter screamed at me one night while in the bathtub.  At the time, she was 5-years old and we had just gained temporary custody of her (again) and her little brother.  On this particular night, the Bear had a soccer game.  Okay, I’ll admit something – I do not like soccer.  I don’t understand it.  I’ve had a bad personal experience (not from playing mind you) with soccer so I associate bad mojo with the sport.  But the Bear wanted to play soccer – or her father wanted her to play.

This was the first soccer  game I had attended, due in large part, because I did not want to have to interact (or pretend to) with the Bear’s parents.  Things were spiraling quickly with those two.  After the game was over, the Bear ran over to her mother and immediately clung to her.  As the  Bear, my daughter and baby-daddy arrived at my car, I could tell my daughter was seething.  Granted, this woman weighed probably 90 pounds and  you could begin to see the outward effects of her meth use, and she really didn’t look much like my daughter, but it was her . . . carrying the Bear.  I opened the car door to put the Bear in the car, grimaced (smiled) and said hi to my daughter and baby-daddy and as the Bear began to cry for her mommy, my daughter shoved the Bear at me  and told  me “this is your problem to fix now”, then stormed off.

Anyone who has ever driven a vehicle with a screaming child knows how bad it can be.  It was dark, I was furious with my daughter, I was attempting  to calm the Bear down, and nothing worked.  It reminded me of the times when she was 2-years old when she would have such rages that there was literally nothing you could do but watch her as she lay in the floor, completely rigid, screaming like a wounded animal.  Finally, I got the Bear in the bathtub, with candles lit and she began to calm down a bit.  Just as I thought she was taking a breath she screamed my name and when I came into the bathroom, through tears, she looked at me and said “this night feels different!”  And indeed it was.

We both knew in that moment that her life with her parents was over, as she had come to understand it.  Our hearts lay heavy with sadness and despair at what had just been lost.  My soul-sister and I both knew.  All I could do was agree with her.  And hold her tightly.  And I did.

Almost 3 years later, life with our Bear and Dozer has been a whirlwind.  Every time we think we can take a breath, life hits and we move through whatever it is we have to face.  That’s  life.  We continue to move forward.  For I know the plans I have made for you God tells us.  We have no choice but to move forward.

Then you have moments when you feel your life shift.  You know that nothing will ever be the same.  Sometimes, even, you will be driven straight  to your knees.  When that happens – the only way you can survive is to pray.  Cry out.  Look up.  Even when words fail us, the Holy Spirit intercedes with groans that have  no words.  God promises me that.    But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words (Romans 8:26).  I could not survive without resting assured that His promise is true.

No thing ever is a surprise to God.  God is THE author of our lives.  Where He sends us, He lights the path and provides the tools.  As it relates to these grands, it is our job to make sure they know how loved and valued they are, while teaching them about God and the fact that no matter what happens in our lives, we are only defined by who God says we are:  Loved.  Precious.  Worthy.  Adopted.

Our journey road keeps  winding.  We sometimes take hard turns, but our path is well-lit.  We have a tribe of family and friends that … well, I have no words for … they offer more things in more ways than they will ever know.

For now, this does feel different.  Yet at the same time, right this moment, I feel a certain calm or peace.   I watched @BethMooreLPM talk  about Christ calming the seas and asked, would you rather never see the true magnificence of God . . . or just have no waves?  I want to see God’s hand move and I will, because He is our strength and constant.  Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

At the end of  the day though . . . no matter  if  things are different . . . with these two grands – life is amazingly beautiful!

When you know the Truth . . .

I have always told my kids, as they were growing up, that if they know the truth about something, don’t argue about it.  What I mean by that is this:  if you know the truth, don’t allow yourself to engage in an argument with someone, state the truth and stand firm.  A person who wants to argue can, and oftentimes does carry that argument on with no interaction from the opposing side.  We bear witness to that often.  The Bear can have an entire argument with one of us over an issue, without either of us ever speaking a word.  She even works out the disagreement sometimes!

I say this as a preface to the fact that as the Bear told me the other day, “my heart broke into 17 pieces.”  Now our hearts haven’t broken over the same bit of news, but that’s how I feel today.  I feel betrayed.  I feel sad.  I feel anger.  I feel righteous outrage.  I feel defeat.  I feel heaviness.  I, for a brief second, could even begin to feel undone.

Why?  Because I allowed myself to relax.  I allowed myself to begin to believe a change was taking place.  I allowed myself to take someone at face value, not because I trust them, but because I am trying to learn how to trust them again.  Then Boom!  The big ole other shoe falls out of the sky into my path.  Dammit.  Yep.  I said that.

I have come to learn to never be surprised by someone’s  behavior.  It is rare that I have been surprised by what human beings do.  Being in the trenches of the criminal justice system for 27 years opened my eyes and built walls around my heart, and family, in order to protect all from what society can do to one another.  This time I allowed myself to be surprised, and yet not one bit surprised.  Doesn’t  make  much sense does it?

You see, although I cannot lay fault at the feet of any one person or thing that has caused my daughter to make the choices she has made, I do have a few people in particular that I hold accountable, herself included, because I know from raising these precious children, the damage that was inflicted.  I know, I know, justice is  not ours to serve – but let’s be honest, you do hold people accountable in your hearts.  At least I do.

Since my daughter’s current spouse entered our lives, beginning via her telephone while he was in prison, hell has been wreaked in my family.  Scars that are deceptively invisible run deep in her three children.  Scars that were perpetrated by her, by her spouse and in some measure, by the father of the two oldest.  My daughter has known that there is a thin red line that I draw in the sand as it relates to her spouse.  I will never allow her children to have contact with him, and if she chooses to continue the relationship, the children will have very limited contact with her.  I will  not allow them to re-establish a relationship with their mother, only to have her turn her back to them again for a man.

And I thought she realized it.  I thought my child, the one whose heart I thought I knew, had finally realized  the damage and that two of the greatest fears our Bear has are of my daughter’s spouse, and the fact her parents will see each other again and everything will “start all over again.”  My daughter and I have gone months without contact because I will not budge on this rule.  Over the months she has been incarcerated this time, we have had ample opportunity to discuss the damage.  I have shared with her  the fears the Bear has and the damage that has been inflicted on these children.  She has made promises to me and tearfully told me she can never make it up to them, but she will try.  Although I have not facilitated the mending of my daughter’s relationship with her children, I have not discouraged it either.  Now I feel like a fool.

You see, there is now black and white documentation that proves not only my daughter is still having contact with this man, but she is making plans for their future.  My heart aches.  My soul cries.  I looked at the faces of her two oldest children last night and this morning and wanted to cry out because I am angry and I am sad and I am . . . without words.  I can never thank enough the person who advised me of this and brought the truth into  the light.  It came about by sheer “coincidence”, but as I’ve said before, I don’t believe in “coincidences.”  Her heart was as broken as mine.  She loves my daughter and her children.  She so wants my daughter’s heart to change and she finds it unimaginable she is still willing to forego her children for the sake of a man.

So . . . she will  call tonight.  I will talk to her.  I will tell her I know  the truth.  I have to do so without condemnation, because, really, what good does  that do anyone?  I have to be matter of  fact.  I have often been accused by my kids of being heartless because I don’t show emotion, but all I know to do is state the truth, let her have her say, and pull the shield around these children ever tighter.  I will risk my relationship with my child every single time over these grandchildren.

God promises He can change hearts.  It’s  not my job to change my child’s heart.  It’s not my job to try and “figure out” when she’s telling me the truth and when she is not.  I have to somehow find a way to show her I love her, while also letting her know I refuse to participate.  I will pray for her.  I used to say all I could do was pray – but I know that is all God wants me to do.  Pray and have faith.  My hope is a little tarnished today . . . but it’s not faded.  God’s showing me mercy – that’s what I’m trying to learn to do as well – and maybe this is a lesson in that regard.  It will take a bit for this wound to heal.  I know some people don’t understand, or think this isn’t about me and it’s not.  But as a parent of an addict, raising grandchildren that were neglected, I do take it personally, for their sake.  I realize I have to let go of that too.

But for today . . . I will Trust God with all  my heart, and lean not on my own understanding. (Proverbs 3:5).

Cause I just don’t understand at all.  Not. One. Bit.  Thankfully, I can let that go and trust God.  But man it ain’t easy.

 

If I stay mad I won’t forget

We are dealing with anger a lot these days out of the Bear.  Again.  We are tip-toeing into the Spring season and as excited as I am to see the buds on the trees beginning to bloom, and the flowers peeking their heads up from the muck, I simultaneously dread this season.  It’s one that the Bear struggles with.  A lot.  When she struggles, her anger comes shining through . . . or maybe cutting through . . .

What surprises me is that she has had good days at school.  She seems to be on a winning streak there.  However, as I type that sentence I have to fight a sense that I could somehow jinx her day today.  Heavy sigh.  Moving past.  Although her days at school have been good, her afternoons at home have been trying to say the least.  If I hear that child scream “Are you kidding me?!” one more time I think my head will explode.  Yesterday, Dozer wanted to try the phrase out on me as he’s apt to do these days, following his sister’s example, and I had to quash that immediately.

One of my sister’s advised me to try pink Double Bubble gum when she has a meltdown.  Suffice it to say that as much as I dislike that kind of gum (cavities, sugar) I may buy stock in the company.  It works to calm her down!  I asked the counselor, shouldn’t it be time by now for that fight or flight instinct to subside?  Hasn’ she lived with us long enough to stop reacting like this – screaming and in our face about anything?  God love Heather . . . she just smiled and shook her head no.  I suppose these reactions and coping mechanisms are imprinted and it will take time to change her brain’s thinking.

I finally asked her why she is so mad.  Why it is that she has to react with screams and anger and stomping and her response didn’t surprise me – she’s mad at her mom.  Okay – I can deal with that, but I’m ready for it to not be used as a crutch.

A few days later, after her shower, as I was blow-drying  her hair I asked her why she is mad at her mom and she said this to me:  “because mom could have only been gone from us for a year, but instead she decided to escape and go with that man and now she has 8 years to think about her consequences!”  Profound for a seven-year old.  She’s put all of the dots together and understands the big picture . . . without knowing any nuances underneath the big picture.  I agreed with her that it was okay to be angry but told her that maybe it’s time to let go of that anger.  She looked at me with those huge brown eyes and said:  “but if I’m not mad at her, then I forget her . . . sometimes for 18 hours!”.

Ah ha.  The crux of the matter.  She feels guilty because she can go through her day without her mom weighing on her.  I know that means healing.  She doesn’t know that.  I explained to her that it’s okay to not think about mom every minute of every day.  I told her that when she goes through a day without mom weighing on her heart, then that means God is healing her.  God is allowing her to find peace in her heart, in her home, in her family and that is what mom would want for her as well.  I reminded her that although she may not think about her mom every minute, that in  no way means she has forgotten her or doesn’t love her.  But wow.  Think about that.  Addicts should know this is part of the collateral damage they bestow upon their children.  She has to process these feelings and she is 7. Years. Old.

Sometimes that’s where my anger comes in.  I have a history of flying off the handle or allowing my head to explode when it shouldn’t.  At least I feel that way.  I am working on that and as I’ve gotten older, I realize that my anger has to be analyzed and that I need to determine what fears drive me.  Part of my anger comes from the decisions my daughter and her baby-daddy made.  Part of my anger comes from fear that the Bear or Dozer or even our Zebra will make choices their parents did . . . I have to let go of those fears so that I can raise the Bear and Dozer, along with being integral in our Zebra’s life, with the knowledge that God and God alone is in control of our lives.  He created them.  He authors them.  He specifically chose the time and place for us to undertake our earthly journey.  Joseph and I have to remember that these children were placed in our care by God so that we can guide them, as Joseph would say – so they can have feet under them as they travel their God-made path.

And at the same time, I’m processing my daughter’s feelings being a bit hurt.  She wants to video conference.  I’m all for it.  She would like the kids involved.  I’m not sure how I feel about that.  I told her what the counselor suggested and it hurt her feelings.  As sorry as I am her feelings are hurt, there is a small part of me that feels a twinge of anger at her for acting as if she’s the victim in any way.  Yet that seems harsh for a mother’s heart.  Quandaries . . . my life is full of them.  I have to let go of any anger I still have with my daughter and her choices.  It’s not my place to attach judgment to her.  But I have to love her enough to be honest with her and remind her the situation we are all in is due to her actions.  Mercy and grace cover me daily, when I least deserve it, and I should show her the same.  She and I will video conference the first time and I will ask the kids if they would like to video chat with her.  Then we will pray to get through any emotional fall-out from that visit.

I was reminded today in a friend’s blog post about raising grandchildren, that Joseph and I are the fortunate ones . . . to be able to bear witness to the changes in our grands’ lives.  We get the anger, the ugly, the sick, the stink eye’s and the stinky, but more importantly we get the hilarious, the snuggly, the sugars, the discoveries and the unconditional love of these children.  Who could ask for more than that?!