And so life these days is different. After many years without children in the home, I am now a soccer dad. A Track and Field Dad... These days, I have to carefully plan my nights out according to the ability to find (and pay for) a babysitter. A notion that is a life changer given my choice of careers. These days I find myself constantly explaining that these are my grandsons and not my sons.... "yes, I know I don't look like a grandfather".... but so it is.....
These days, more and more black grandparents are finding themselves in custody of their children's children. It is a most challenging, monumental task. First from the standpoint of watching painfully as our children become unable or, in some cases, unwilling to care for the children they bring into this world. Second from the standpoint of, at an age when we should be enjoying life, we are tasked with raising and providing for children, at an age and time when we could - strike that - should be more concerned with affairs of approaching retirement, leisure activities and moving to a next level of life. Third the notion of being taken for granted by our children - to think that we are now asked to surrender our mature years and active lifestyle to care for those that you brought into this world. Whether it is from some irresponsible tryst, or a failed relationship, the bottom line is that our children are unable or unwilling to care for the life that is the product of those choices.
The gall of our children as they go on about their business because PaPa has the children and everything is going to be alright. We watch as our children move on to try and capture the youthful years they surrendered when choosing to have a child. The renewed baby momma drama (if the blood grandparents are not together), the essence of ex-in-laws calling out of the blue to inquire about the welfare of the children... inlaws who we don't know... nor have had any interaction with in decades... and now we are expected to answer questions??? All these questions, but no offers of assistance.... hmmmmm. And according to most that I have spoken with, professional or no, I am not supposed to be angry.
What??? Are you serious??? I am pissed off. I am disappointed. I am burdened. I am sad. I am almost overwhelmed.
Ok so, now we have to go to the system to seek benefits. This in and of itself is a humbling experience. The workers in the county offices have not been kind. They seem to not believe any of the elements of my journey and have not been the most helpful in my needs. The best bet is to not take it personal and keep pushing to get what we need to help support the situation. But sometimes it's not easy to ignore the neck rolling sista behind a glass who's line of questioning reeks of suspicion and disbelief...
In the end, the parents of my grandchildren have walked away from their responsibility. She does not call. She does not write. She offers no contact, assistance, argument, nothing. We have not seen nor heard from the grandchildren's mom. As for the dad, we do not expect contact. He is a long term guest of the correctional system.
I wonder how many grandparents are going through this type of nightmare. First to process the attitude of the children who have thrown their children into our lives. And then to deal with the behavior of these children who, up until this point, grew up in a situation that is totally reverse in consciousness, spirituality, folkways, mores, and common sense. Some grandparents haven't had to deal with a cultural divide. It's all good and all love. But for those that have, how do we choose to deal with this?? Sometimes the behavior is a complete and utter shock!!!! Sometimes the grandparents have to deal with bizarre and unruly behavior. Sometimes we have to endure undeserved disrespect... It is unfortunate.
In the end, I wonder what resources are really there for those of us who have to raise our grandkids. Everything and everybody speaks to what the grandchildren are going through, but what about the grandparents?? what about what we have to deal with?? Who is really there to help us?
My life has fundamentally changed. My essence has been rearranged. But it seems that no one cares about that. No one offers any remedy or concern for the changes therein... It's all about the children and I get it... but what about us???
In this process I have learned that my situation is called kinship. wow... as I contemplate this essence of kinship, I have learned, the hard way, that it's not just a job, it's an adventure.