Ever since I wrote yesterday, I have been thinking about this new role of ours in being "mommy and daddy" and not just grandma and grandpa. I know we do all the work and put in all the love that a mommy and daddy do. We have been caring for them full time for over a year now and most of the time before that. For our granddaughter who will be two in August, our home is the only home she knows. Because I have cared for her for most of her life, the two of us have bonded with each other. She does not know her real mommy as mommy, although we talk about who mommy is through pictures.
Our grandson, who will be three in less then a week, still knows his real mommy. He talks to her on the phone every day. He knows she lives far away and that she does love him. He knows I am his grandma, yet he calls me mommy. Even though we have always addressed ourselves as grandpa and grandma and not once said "I am your mommy or I am your daddy".
Let me just say here, that I have read books and articles about the importance of fathers...to me it is common sense that a lack of a father will affect children in one way or another. I have discussed this with my husband all along the affects on these two little ones of being denied a daddy and that eventually we would have to deal with this fact and it's affect on these children. Both have different fathers and neither are involved with them...never have been...this makes me very sad for them. It is a tragedy when children are denied a daddy...every child deserves one.
A few months ago when my grandson began to ask where his daddy was, I would say that I didn't know...I really don't know, but, know it is very likely his father is in jail or prison which of course I am not going to tell him this. At first my anwering in this way was fine...until one day, he wouldn't stop with the questions. This was very likely due to the fact that a couple of daddys were in our daycare room at school to pick up their kids. I explained to him that he had a special grandpa instead that did all the things that daddys do and that he was very lucky. This answer was acceptable to him for a couple of weeks, but during this time it became very evident to me, his deep need to have someone to call "daddy" just like his friends that he played with every day.
I left it alone....until one day, when one of the daddy's was in our room, he asked this young man, "where is my daddy?" and of course not knowing our situation he said "I don't know, where is your daddy?" My grandson answered very matter of factly and quite proudly, "my daddy is driving his big milk truck! Right mommy, my daddy drives a milk truck!" Tears filled my eyes as I realized just how much he needed this "daddy". He began to tell everyone that grandpa was really his daddy and that grandma was his newest mommy...that his other mommy lived far away and that his mommy and daddy will always take care of him. We don't argue the point with him and of course our granddaughter copies everything her big brother does so she calls us the same thing.
In no way are we trying to repalce their real mommy or their daddies by birth. We are just trying to give them a normal, secure, happy, loving home that they can thrive in. In being their "mommy" I am not trying to take anything away from their real mommy...I am trying to give them something they need. I am not trying to remove her or hurt her but I am sure she takes it that way. It is not that I don't care how she feels...I walk on egg shells with her because I don't want to fight with her...I don't want the drama because I get so easily pulled it. I am not the enemy, just trying to give them the best they deserve, just as I promised her I would. In my mind, it is not about her but about them and that is what matters the most. Maybe I am wrong...if I am I will learn that I am sure. We are walking on unknown territory...all my years of being a mom and working with young people did not prepare me for this...all the decisions...knowing what is best for them...always what is best for them.
Part of me feels like we have earned these names of "mommy and daddy", yet I still feel twinges of guilt because they call us these names. It makes them so happy and if you could see the way they look at us, you would know just what I am talking about.
Not everyone is understanding of what we are doing. Some people judge. Some people avoid or don't want to talk or hear about it. Friendships have changed. Even those that are supportive don't fully understand what we are going through. I feel isolated much of the time...I am lonely. I don't have all the answers and I surely don't do things perfectly...just trying to do the best that I can each day.