We live in a tough world Recycled Moms. It beats us down, chews us up and spits us out. And all that is usually before lunch! We deal with so much pain, some of it old and new wounds that pierce the heart fresh every day.
The very fact that we are raising our grandchildren (or other family members for Kinship Caregivers) means our world changed in remarkably hurtful ways. Our children died, abandoned their kids, are serving in the Armed Forces somewhere across the world, or just don’t care to see these precious faces. Each Recycled Mom has a unique story and every one of them is founded on heartbreak.
Yet we care for all the people left in our lives, grown up and growing. At times we wonder if we will ever even recognize this place we now live in. Will we recover from the earthquake that uprooted us and establish footing again? How can we recover from the shock, the unexpected crushing, unfair blow that brought us here?
Our world is no longer safe and we cannot control it anymore. The actions of others have disrupted the predictable, orderly future we had designed. Our self identity has mutated into a whole new creature, one that changed diapers, scours Google for homework answers and goes to little league games instead of relaxing on a tour bus.
Faith and Patience. How can we be gentle with and on ourselves? We must learn to have mercy. We have it for everyone else. Practice faith in God and in yourself. Practice patience with yourself just like you do with your children. Time will pass at the same pace no matter how we feel. So we may as well be graceful and allow time to heal our brokenness. Faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1) We know we hope for our little ones to grow up healthy and happy. We know we are working diligently toward that goal. Therefore we can envision a time in the future when we have arrived at that miraculous destination.
Let others love you. This is a tough one for women who are used to being the giver and seldom the receiver. Allow friends and family to babysit, cook, clean the house and take you to lunch. These loving reminders that we are important are ways we show mercy to ourselves.
Do not linger in the past. Even if we could go back there, we would choose to stay here where our grandchildren are. The new you is not bad, just different (likely with more grey hair!). The new you (me) has more treasure than the old one. The things lost are insignificant compared to the glory of refrigerator art; whispered I Love You’s and gap toothed smiles.
No pressure cookers. My mother used a pressure cooker when she was in a hurry to get something cooked. I remember seeing that lid blow off one day. It left a huge hole in the wall and would have severely injured any person in its path. Continued pressure to perform, to live up to the world’s expectations, leave us with the same unconfined impact when we finally explode. We can hurt someone including ourselves. So don’t worry if the kitchen counter is clutter, socks are all over the kid’s bedroom floor and the beds are unmade. In the big picture, none of that matters. Learning to let it all go relieves the stress and eases the pressure.
Share. Talk to others who have or are living through the same experiences. We can all share ideas, tips, resources, a hug, play dates and kid approved recipes. Somehow talking to people who understand is very therapeutic. Read books, peruse websites that contain information on child rearing for grandparents. Join a support group. If none is available, start one.
Take it easy on yourself. Relax and remember you are human. You will make mistakes. You will have incredible successes. Learn from the all and have mercy on yourself!