People say being a grandparent is the best. In a lot of ways this is true. You get to spoil the heck out of the kids, jack them up on sugar, and then hand them back to their parents for bedtime.
In our case, though, we do a lot less "jacking up" of our grandson—at least not before bedtime. For the past few years, he and his dad have been living under our roof. Just when our nest was nearly empty, we've been thrust back into the days of grade school artwork, trips to the playground, and stories before bed. It's the best.
What isn't the best is not knowing how long we'll be doing this. Not because I'm anxious to get back to my life as I knew it. And not because I mind answering 473 questions a day from a curious seven-year-old. What's difficult about not knowing is the thought that one day, we'll need to let him go. I'm crazy in love with this child, and in so many ways, I wish I
could raise him as my own.
But I'm not his mother, and my husband isn't his father; we're his grandparents. This means we share some of the responsibilities of Mom and Dad without the authority to determine what happens next—and when.
The two million other grandparents in America who are raising their children's children know what I'm talking about. My husband and I feel blessed to be able to give our grandson a safe, secure, loving place to live for as long as needed. But there's a huge emotional risk involved. Eventually, he'll move out. We could lose this little boy who has our hearts wrapped around his tiny fingers.
Knowing the emotional risk involved, why would someone sign up for a gig like this? In many ways, God has been grooming us for this role over the past 27 years. We've raised four sons of our own. It's a rare opportunity to be called upon to use all of your life's training and experience for the good of another human being. Getting to be part of shaping our grandson's life at a time when he needs stability and security more than anything is a privilege beyond words.
Our grandson's life got off to a bumpy start. But in the midst of so much change and
uncertainty, our home can serve as an oasis where he can know with absolute certainty
that he is loved. We're not going anywhere.
I know the life he has isn't ideal and probably isn't what God had in mind when he first conceived of a family. TCW contributor Margot Starbuck wrestled through this same realization—that the upbringing she experienced with multiple fathers wasn't God's primary intention for her. In "Why One Dad Is Best," Margot shares her story and takes a personal look at the problem of not having a single, steadfast father.
But God can redeem even less than ideal circumstances. Just ask Sharen Ford. She's an
expert on adoption and orphan care. In a TCW interview with Amy Simpson, Sharen offers
a vision for how the church can be family to one another—literally accepting each other as
adopted sons and daughters of God.
Not everyone is called on to adopt a child. The decision to adopt or have biological children is a personal one every couple makes for themselves. Natalie Lederhouse, TCW's assistant editor, shares her own journey about family planning. Lots of women will relate to her story, "Why I Don't Have Kids . . . Yet." If you're at a similar stage in your marriage, I hope you can celebrate and savor the freedom and joy of this season for all it's worth. After all, seasons pass.
Which brings me back to our grandson. When I fret over how long we'll get to have him in our home, I remember that God's timing is perfect. He is walking beside our grandson, his parents, and us. None of us is experiencing this part of life alone. God has it all in hand, and he sees the beginning from the end, even when all we see is the messy stuff happening now.
Trusting in God means believing in him the way our precious little grandson is counting on us. He's not worried about tomorrow. He's just wondering whether it'll be Grandma or Grandpa who's going to play ball with him in the front yard.
Grandparenting is risky because love is risky. It hurts and it heals; it makes you soar, and it leaves you in despair. Disney has yet to build a roller coaster that can do all this. And yet, even in the midst of heartache for our grandson and the life we hope he can have, I know where our instinct to get on this thrill ride came from: We love because God first
He knows better than anyone how it feels to be crazy in love with his offspring. He risks it all—the heartache, the joy—for all of us, his children. And in Jesus he tells us,
unequivocally, we're worth it.
Family is worth it.
Marian V. Liautaud