Nobody expects to become a parent in their empty nest years. Nobody expects to start all over again with getting lunches made, racing kids to the bus, buying kids clothes and becoming a taxi to sports practices. Most people, if faced with this challenge, would not be up to the task.
Our kids were placed in the arms of Gramma when they were all still very small, as their parents were unable to care for them. Although she is a very young grandmother, I know that this is not what Gramma expected in her empty nest time. I’m convinced that our kids will never really know the depth of what she did for them, and neither will we.
She taught them to do so many things, gave them manners training, made sure they learned to swim. She fed them constantly, allowed sleepovers, and made sure that lots of extended family were around for support for them. Most of all, she wiped away tears and walked them through what is likely the most painful loss of their lives.
All the while, she went through the heartwrenching task of finding new parents for her children. This was not in the plan, but she did it in spite of what it would cost her, and in spite of the risk to her own heart. She met with social workers, hashed through what the kids needed, and hoped for the best, trusting the judgement of people who really didn’t know her kids like she did.
There were a lot of unknowns. Would these new people take them to swimming lessons? Would they be harsh? Would they teach them manners? Would they bring them to Grandma’s again? Once she signed papers, all of that was up to the discretion of people who didn’t know her kids at all like she did.
People asked her, “How can you give up these kids? Isn’t it selfish to want to be alone again?” Her response was that keeping the children and not allowing them to have parents to love them would have been the selfish act. No one really knew how difficult and how much of a personal sacrifice this really was for her.
But she took the risk. She waded through the papers that needed signing and gave consent for two strangers to walk into her life and take her most precious possession.
How do you thank a person for that? I’m not sure that we ever will repay the debt that we owe to her.
Real love is not something that can be demanded from a person. It is something that is given freely, willingly, and in spite of the personal cost. We have a Grandma who truly loves her kids. She has also extended that love to us.
When we walked in her door, she greeted us like long-lost friends, showered us with lots of stuff to help us, gave us endless streams of advice and help (which I should have written down), and accepted us as her own. We never feel like intruders or strangers in her home. We didn’t just get 3 new kids, we also got an awesome friend in the deal. We are so grateful for her. It’s a debt that we will never be able to repay.