They asked if I had any prayer requests today. So, I answered,
“Please pray for my daughter. It is hard to wake up every day wondering if she is alive.”
That is the point we’ve reached in this years-long battle. But unfortunately, knowing the truth does not make it easier to accept. I go to bed unpacking the horrendous situation; I wake up putting it back in its compartment to manage my day. Juggling these intruding thoughts day in and day out is complicated.
Life goes on for families on the sideline of addiction. We continue to work, pay bills, shop, and keep living. Some of us are raising grandkids. We’ve begun the education journey all over again. Early alarms, breakfast, bus stops, pickups, school conferences, sports, birthday parties, and chores are part of our new routine. I raised my kids, I never thought I would start over, but here we are.
Today, my husband mentioned gratitude for the joy we experience with our grandchildren. We share intimate smiles and knowing glances as they grow. Yet, we are walking them through a complex situation. While it is fluid at times, it has been nonstop. They’ve witnessed more than they should have, and we want to take it all away. Yet, we listen to their feelings and allow them a safe space to share, vent, cry, and be angry.
Tonight, my grandson asked me if there was Al-anon for kids. Somewhat surprised, I asked if he knew what Al-anon was. They both told me it was a group for families who have a loved one with alcohol or drug problems. I don’t remember discussing that with the kids; however, we talk about many things. Them wanting a group of their own speaks volumes to their pain.
I work to be transparent with these children the best I can. However, our talks become more direct as they get older, and answers are not always easy. The most challenging question is one word, “Why?”
‘I don’t know,’ will not suffice. Educating myself on addiction has been key to finding ways to explain it on a level they understand. Expressing the brain and mind issue comes easy. But for children, it’s not enough, nor is it a reason. Will they ever find an answer to that question? I’m not sure they will. One day they will be able to explain it in their own words. But, when they do, I fear the question will haunt them where it hurts the most, their heart.
This past weekend my granddaughter was invited to a birthday party. She told me that the young boy was like her. I asked what she meant. “He lives with his grandma too; his family has the same problems we do.” And last week, her friend told her that stress could cause sickness. Her friend is another child without her parents. My granddaughter is eight years old. So we have a generation of kids growing up in the mess of addiction.
Innocent babies who are all asking the same questions,
“Does mommy love me?”
“When will I see dad again?”
“What did I do wrong?”
And on the other side are grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends doing the best they can to listen, comfort, and care for the kids left behind. My heart aches for the kids who have no family. So often tossed into the foster system, they get lost along the way.
We are out here. We pray in quiet hope that we are doing something right. Though we feel like failures, we do all we can to love these kids onward while wondering if our child will live. The dynamic is confounding. To not wear the worry like a bathrobe daily is a challenge. Some days, we wear it together. Trying to find the balance between being a mom of an addict and raising the children of an addict can be crushing. I am never alone but often feel so alone.
But, my shoulders just shrugged as I typed that, and it may be the best way to explain it. You shrug because what more can you do? Life goes on, and whether I am good at this or not, I have two amazing grandkids here. They are excellent students with hearts of gold. They are enjoying a life filled with experiences, traveling, laughter, fun, and our little family is blessed. They learn about choices and consequences, compassion, and caring with boundaries.
I don’t know if I will ever let go of the failure feature in this addiction epidemic. But I know I am not alone. Parents worldwide are sitting alone tonight, contemplating what they did wrong. I accept I was never a perfect parent; none of us are, but do we deserve to cry wondering if our child will be alive tomorrow?