01 February 2012

in praise of grandparents

While we are in East Africa, our kids are in the US. We've talked about this before so I know I'm not breaking any new ground here. But every day I am aware that my family is taking care of my kids. Every day they are making sure they get up for school on time and that they don't eat french fries all day and that they get their homework done. And every day I am thankful - because I know it is hard. Being a teenager is hard. Living with teenagers .. is hard. Trying to mesh two unique families into one that can dance through the hard moments of life together... that's a lot of work. I think especially of my parents who are used to having their own space, their own rhythms. The peacefulness of it just being the two of them has now interrupted by the jarring of high school schedules and dramas and responsibilities and wondering how to navigate all of it well with a child they didn't raise - so who isn't perhaps used to the way they like to have things done. I'm really glad our families are similar in so many ways, and that my parents are such good friends of mine. We can talk about issues and co-lead even
though I'm far away. And I know that they have chosen to do this because they love my daughter. But I also know, we are all glad that this is only for a season.

This last week I visited a few grannies who are also raising their children's children - but for different reasons than mine. These children's parents have died - either as a result of violence, poverty related disease, or AIDS. The loss of a child, the loss of a parent, a combined grief and the struggle to continue on day by day with limited resources, limited energy. In each family, this is a season where the grannies should be allowed to rest and let the younger generation take care of them. They have already lived a lifetime of hard work and poverty, and they have all survived a genocide when so many other's didn't. Under these circumstances they were responsible for providing for their children, their grandchildren, their neighbor's children.
These women are now choosing to continue to be mothers. Choosing to raise their grandchildren and often other people's grandchildren who have been left alone after the war claimed so many young parent's lives - and poverty and AIDS continues to steal men and women from their children. Seriously, I get mini panic attacks when I even start to daydream about what it would be like if Billy and were involved in an act of violence here in East Africa and not able to come home to our kids. This is a reality for thousands of individuals who love their kids just as deeply as we love ours.

Each of the grannies that we met with did this with a heart of gratitude for all they have been given. With their own failing health, with their own limited resources, they are thankful they are still alive to raise this next generation of children they have been given.

Sometimes, all we have is each other... and sometimes, that is when we discover that "each other" is all that we need to make life full.


Leave a comment, start a conversation::

Related Posts with Thumbnails