Two weeks ago today I received an excited phone call from my daughter and son-in-law. They had been awarded custody of his daughter (age 13) and son (age 11). I am so excited for them because I know how much they have been hoping this would happen, but I will admit I have mixed emotions because I know how much this will be changing all of their lives and it won’t be easy for any of them. However, deep down inside I think this is the best thing that can happen for my grandkids.
I have never been a big fan of labels and people who get associated with labels like ‘step’, ‘ex’, ‘half’, ‘former’. I know some people who are not willing to accept others into their lives because they have that label attached. I was excited to become an instant grandmother when my daughter got married 3 ½ years ago. I consider these children to be my grandchildren and not my step-grandchildren. They may not feel the same about me, but I intend to treat them as such.
My son-in-law, Jeremy, adores these children. I could feel it in his words when he first exchanged emails and instant messages with me when he was stationed in Kuwait during his engagement to our daughter. I could see it in his eyes when he was able to have his children with him for the period around their wedding. I can hear it in his voice when I talk to him. In order to support the family he had so young, he needed to stay in the military and various overseas duty posts meant he had to give up custody of his children. When we have talked in the past, I can feel how much it has hurt him to not be able to see and talk to his children as they are growing up. He has missed so much of their lives and from the first time I knew about his children, he and Jennifer talked about trying to get custody or at least significant visitation with them so that he could be an influence in their lives.
Did I want my daughter to have to move overseas at 19? No. Did I want her to have to struggle with being a military wife at a young age? No. Did I want her to have to face the challenges of being a step-mother to children when she was just leaving childhood herself? No. But she was willing and happy to take on these responsibilities and face them with courage. Has married life been as easy as she expected with these challenges? No. But she adores her husband, loves her marriage and is willing to take these children in to her home and love them with all her heart and soul.
From life experiences, I know that the future is going to be hard on their family. I am hoping that with love and patience my grandchildren will be happy in their new home. I hope they will give their father and step-mother a chance. I hope that the words that get said from all will be words that are regretted later.
I am going to Georgia in two weeks to get to know my grandchildren better. I am praying that I can become their friend and that they will accept me in their lives. I hope that their hearts are touched and opened and that they will be one of the blended families that truly becomes a ‘family’.