I’m a Mother Again…After the Age of 60
I remember when I became a grandmother for the very first time, my emotions were running high, and I was filled with excitement – joy and happiness engulfed me. Being able to see Jackson, my first grandchild come into the world was one of my greatest moments. Today, I am blessed with five grandchildren – four rugged boys and one adorable princess. Out of those five, two live with me – I am their primary caregiver.
Mom-mom had become Mom.
Before undergoing the transformation of grandparent to parent, I was in a time of self-discovery – learning who I really was (apart from my external titles) and developing my artistic talents. I was writing my second book, living in an apartment by myself, and I had just begun taking theology classes. No doubt about it, I was enjoying life and excited about what was around the corner. No matter how busy my life was at this time, I always had time for my three busy boys, the three J’s, because each one’s name began with a J. And just like most Grandparents, as I loved spending time with them, I also loved giving them back to their parents. Although my life was full and exciting during this time, something was amidst with my only son. He toppled into despair – and this despair and his subsequent incarceration would affect my entire family.
Incarceration not only affects the life of the individual, it also alters life for others that are close to the individual, the situation or both. To say that it was a difficult time is an understatement – my son’s incarceration took its toll on me, my daughters, and his 2 son’s. During the times of his incarceration, and when I saw my grandsons, I could see that their Mother became lax in their hygiene, their diet as well as unclean living situations that at times bordered on unsafe. Seeing my grandsons living under these conditions would crush my heart. To this day, thinking back to that time still brings back a profoundness of sadness and helplessness – the stress I had felt like a mountain sitting on top of me. My daughters began telling me (and I knew) that I had to do something but I didn’t know what to do or where to begin – so I relied on my faith for guidance with prayer.
I know that I am not the only Grandmother that’s been grappled with making such a decision, because according to the 2007 U.S. Census, 6.2 million children under the age of 18 were living with a grandparent. During my search quest for guidance, I came across 51 words from the book of Mark that would confirm what I already knew, and it says, “And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receive me: and whosoever shall receive me, receive not me, but him that sent me.”
Regardless of how free my life was at the time, I was about to become a parent again. Their mother and I worked hard at putting aside our differences and focusing on what would be best for the boys, and it was legally agreed upon that I would obtain guardianship until she was able to build a stable life for herself and subsequently the boys. Sure, my personal agenda would undergo major modifications but that didn’t matter – my grandsons were going to be living with family in a safe and loving environment.
According to an article in Pew Social & Demographic Trends, today’s grandparents are younger and physically stronger, but we are also in need of encouragement and more support for the new role and responsibilities that may have been unexpectedly placed in our laps. Because being a parent is more than a job or a title you celebrate in May or June – it is a 24-hour physical, mental, internal and external position that will give one a seven day workout.
For the sake of the children, with a big decision such as this, all involved need to make sure the transition work. The pros and cons should be discussed openly and honestly. Parenting doesn’t change—even if it’s your second time around.