We see you, Trauma Grandparents. We know this hasn’t been easy. But you’ve handled it like a champ. You didn’t choose this life. You didn’t have to go through the classes, the licensing, the home study process, but here you are—a valuable member of our family team and a hugely influential person in the life of a child who came with his own history.
We know you had misgivings about this at first. You worried for us—for our safety, for your other grandkids, for our family reputation. You wondered if we were strong enough to handle this and if you would love them the way you love your other grandkids. You just weren’t sure about all this. But you were willing to learn.
It’s been a learning process for all of us over the years. Each child has had their own struggles and we’ve had to learn their individual needs and quirks. We’ve had to be flexible and willing to change plans when this child needed it. We’ve also had to be rigid when it comes to schedules and routines so this child will feel safe. You haven’t always understood why we’ve had to do what we’ve had to do, but you were open to figuring it out with us.
You’ve asked good questions. You’ve made us think. You’ve offered outside perspective and solutions when you’ve had them and a listening ear when we’re all stumped. You have loved these kids fully and completely. You’ve learned how to be the grandparent these kids needed, even when that meant changing our usual family gatherings and traditions to suit their struggles and strengths. We know that hasn’t been easy, but it’s been inspiring to us to watch you show love and empathy through your willingness to see these family events through the eyes of this struggling child.
You understand that sometimes food issues have nothing to do with your delicious cooking. And maybe eye-contact when she first walks in the door is overwhelming, but she really loves a hug. He might need to sit in my lap longer than your children did, but that’s okay and you support it. The strong emotions of special days may leave this child a weepy, exhausted mess, in need of a quiet space for a few minutes—-a space you always gently help him find. It might take time for her to learn to trust you, but when she does, it’s the most precious gift you can ever receive.
This abnormal life has become so normal to you.
Your parenting expereince may not have prepared you for this. Your friends may ask you questions that imply those kids would be too much for them, or too hard to love. Or maybe your friends think you’re a saint for being the kind of grandma you’ve learned to be. But you know the truth—that you feel blessed to get to take part in raising and loving these unique and precious kids. You’ve become an advocate—educating your friends, reading the books we recommend, talking to your church community, volunteering your time, writing your legislators when there are bills that would impact their lives or their care.
We may not say enough how much we appreciate you. Sometimes we are so consumed by just trying to make it through the next day, the next hour, the next minute, we forget to tell you how much it means to us that you have choosen to enter this difficult life with us. You’ve seen us and our children at our worst and you’ve celebrated us at our best. You are a big part of the reason we felt like we could take on this challenge. Your support means the world. We may not say it as often as we should, but we are thankful for you. And our kids are too.