Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Unsung Hero (12/07/06)
TITLE: Time’s A-Passing
By Corinne Smelker
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If I knew then what I knew now, would I have married Tim? Would I have had three kids, all so different? Would I be sitting here with little Jonathan on my lap, his blond hair tousled, one thumb hanging slackly from his rosebud mouth, sup-supping as the last of the tears leave his tiny body? Would I be listening for sounds of his bigger sister, Rachel who is meant to be sleeping, but whom I suspect is listening to music in her room?
Ever since Julie came back to the house, high on drugs, frame emaciated from malnutrition; and vowing yet again to change her ways, Tim and I have been the parents to these parentless children. Two different fathers, neither one of whom probably knows that they even fathered a child, from two different states, all have converged to bring these little ones into our lives, whether we chose it or not.
Would I have chosen to have Julie, knowing the heartache we were setting ourselves up for? Would I have gone through 36 hours of labour, only to end up with a c-section because she refused to come out? Would I have listened to lie her way out of yet another sticky situation that she, impulsive child that was, put herself into?
What if I had chosen another path? Rick instead of Tim? Two kids instead of three? Work instead of being a stay-at-home mom? A pastor’s wife instead of the wife of a banker? What would my life look like then?
Friends look at me and I can see the silent questions. “What did they do wrong that they have to raise their grandkids?” And, “Why don’t they kick her and her kids out into the cold?” Do they know how hard it is? I am holding flesh of my flesh, bone of my bone. Tim and I may never get recognition for the role we play in the lives of these precious grandchildren. The State treats us like second-class citizens, if we ask for help they laugh at us; and give a stipend if anything. Foster parents get more. Oh it’s not about the money, but we are using our retirement to fund the expenses that come along with little ones. I had forgotten how much diapers, formula, cribs, car seats and everything else costs.
Unsung heroes – that is what my online support group calls us grandparents who take on the job of raising our children’s children. I don’t know that I am a hero. Given the choice between leaving the kids in the bug-infested, drug filled hovel, and bringing into a home where they will be loved and cherished, is there even a choice?
So, as I hold Jonathan close, comforting him as he cries for his mommy, I look through the knothole of time and reflect on the past, since I cannot glimpse the future. Even with the challenges I have faced, and the ones Tim and I will face, I am sure that my choices would remain the same.
Jonathan snuffles and moves in closer to my neck, damp breath hot on my shoulder. I realize I may never get recognition from friends, only condemnation and puzzlement. I may never get official sanction from the State; but I get recognition from the only source who in the end matters – my Lord Jesus Christ.
To the thousands of grandparents around the globe who take on the parenting mantle for a second time – thank you – you are truly the unsung heroes of the world.
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