I used to work for our local Housing Authority (yep a Government job – eek). I started in the winter of 2000 and left in the spring of 2011. Not that long but, trust me, long enough. When I started, I had no Grandparents raising Grandkids. When I left, I had dozens raising their Grandkids. I was curious in my 10th year and started looking at issues.
I will admit that even though we are a small rural community, we have our issues with drug abuse and yes, that was one of the causes. The parents (our children) got into it bad, had babies, then they chose not to raise them. Meth is one of the biggest abuses (in my book) since it burns out that part of your brain that brings happiness. (Yes, working in Housing I had to take classes on how to recognize signs of abuse, sales, and meth labs.) Since they (the users) want that euphoria again, they keep using. Problem is they will NEVER get that high again because they destroyed that area with the drug. The nastiest drug in my mind. I agree that there are many other drugs out there, but meth to me is one of the worst.
Then there is that “I don’t have to earn anything, it is owed to me” attitude. Just because we tried to give them more than we had, somehow they got it into their brains that all of life just gives you things. WHERE/HOW DID THAT HAPPEN? My parents tried to build a better life for us than they had (it’s kind of a parent thing), but we knew we had to “earn” the right to have things. Nothing in life is free. It all comes with some type of cost -physical, mental, monetary – something!
To be fair, we also grew up thinking that if you worked hard, were ethical and honest; you would be rewarded. We all know that doesn’t work anymore. You have to work smarter to get anywhere now. This does NOT mean it is better, right, or decent. It doesn’t even mean it is wrong. It just means that the rules have changed. I love being smarter than I was thirty years ago, but just being smart does not get you very far either. The issue is that my daughter has not gotten any more “common sense” smarter.
Part of me (the deep Mom ALWAYS loves her children part) believes it is my fault. She was born with a major disability (20 surgeries in 20 years and a permanent condition that can’t be fixed through modern medicine), so I did protect her more. I never had much money even though I had three jobs and went to school part-time to try to earn a better job. I tried to make the best of it. Every paycheck we went out to eat and saw a movie. During the summer months (her surgeries permitting) we would take mini-vacation trips with my mom up into the Rocky Mountains. Those were fun one-day or overnight trips. We drove where ever we wanted to go and found spots of water – river, creek, or lake. Then we would all stop and play in the water for a while. Not much, but they were tons of fun.
Then there is the other part of me that wants just to grab her, shake her, and say: “You double-dumb-ass, get your head out of your butt and use it!” (My father love Archie Bunker and his slangs became a huge part of our lives.) It is not meant to be mean or hurtful, but to try to get her to wake up and smell the coffee. Her only surviving child after the fire is in my care. The older he gets, the more he sees and understands. He is ten now and every broken promise, missed appointment with him, and painful letter of I miss you (but not enough to come see you) are starting to turn sour.
We have ALL been through something in our lives — some more than others, some less, but still something tragic. Sometimes the thing was extremely devastating, but you do get through it. I thought that, but now I see that some people can’t. That was the point when I reached out for help. She should have, attempted, but didn’t follow through with it. Something as devastating as losing all your worldly possessions and your child in a fire is a tough pill to swallow. The problem is if you don’t swallow, it gets caught in your throat and you slowly choke on it. She is choking, and I don’t know how to save her anymore.
She has friends her age that also have children, difficulties, drama in their lives – but they did not abandon their families. It is almost as if it is easier for her to ignore or forget that she has another child (again it was her choice) than to step up and accept that she needs to get her shit together and be his mom. Why does it seem so easy for her to do this?
A ton of mothers (including myself) has had their kids visit friends, relatives, summer camps whatever the escape method was for us to get a bit of a break. I never ONCE (and I had the option) thought to simply pass my responsibility of caring for her on to someone else. TWENTY SURGERIES IN TWENTY YEARS – all done in another state which meant travel, lodging, necessities of being on the road, taking time off from work(s), and all the other fun stuff (not) involved in travel were part of the plan. I went through every single visit. The nerve-racking waiting for the Surgeon to come out and tell me all is fine (because a nurse at another hospital told me that “Honey, the surgery will be fine, it’s only the anesthetic that could kill her.” – WHAT!?!). I did learn the hard way that whenever a doctor tells you it should take an hour – plan on two, take two hours, plan on four. It is NEVER is done in the time they say and never done early.
This is not just about girls either. I know a ton of younger men that dump or ignore their responsibilities of family and children. I am also lucky enough to know some really amazing younger dads. The kind of dad like I had who always was into whatever the kids were into. We asked to join 4-H , no problem. We needed rabbits to show at the fair – no problem (until they turned into over 100 – that’s another story). He gave us a great farm life to grow up in, and it was amazing. I tried to extend that to my daughter but failed. Now I am working on my grandson. Wish me luck!
You can also check me out at: www.helbergfarmstories.com for fun stories from our farm.