OVERVIEW OF FIFTH CHILD

We can fool ourselves into thinking that we have our lives well planned out. It was that way for me, being a product of the 1950/60’s: I’d go to college, meet my prince, get married, have children and live happily ever after. As much as I thought I knew what to expect, my life was riddled with surprises. But the last was the most unexpected, compelling me to write Fifth Child, a non-fiction book about the anguish and consequences of a drug-addicted child, which resulted in parenting her child almost since birth.

My husband and I are cast into a shockingly large demographic. Grandparents raising grandchildren is a growing phenomenon in our country because of our shifting economy, unmarried teen mothers, alcohol abuse and illegal drug use. Close to 10 million grandparents comprise the club. We had already raised four children. Jaime was our third child, and Brady is her son, who began calling us Mommy and Daddy when he was three. Readers may be amazed to find calamity overcoming a so seemingly traditional family. But as events and family history unfold, disturbing pitfalls and unfortunate genetic vulnerability reveal fault lines that can sabotage people from any walk of life.

"The Addict's Mom Sharing Without Shame" Video is so important whether addiction has touched your life or not. It's powerful. Please click on the link below to watch the video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHNZbbePiKg

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

FIFTH CHILD?

So sorry, with no extra minutes, there's been no time for blogging. I've been restructuring FIFTH CHILD, making the story more novel-like and more compelling (I might even change the title). Needless to say, my time doing this has been shared with being a wife and mom, volunteering for three major events, rehearsing for an upcoming show and buying a new house. I promise to get back to my blog once my book takes on a new shape. Happy Holidays to all and a Healthy 2013!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

When Brady Was Five- Chapter Excerpt from"Raising Brady"


After we got home, playing with his trains got boring so he begged to go to his favorite place, The Model Train Store. Even the fifty-minute drive to Culver City didn’t bother or bore Brady. Pulling up to the store, I couldn’t get his seat belt off fast enough.

“Why can’t I buy the Lionel Train?” he pleaded. “I’m old enough to work it.”  

The train was expensive and a very serious train. I kneeled down to be sure he’d hear me.  
“Brady, on the box it says you have to be at least eight years old,” I said, relieved I had an out.
“But, Mom,” he said, "the box won’t know I’m only five!”

We left the store, with Brady yearning for his eighth birthday. I left hoping they’d change the age on the box to twelve by the time Brady turned eight.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Excerpt from Chapter 3 -"Into The Abyss"


                                                                                                          
         “How are you, Jaime?” I said, with my walls up.
         “I’m living with friends in a motel room,“ she depressingly said. “None of us have places to live so we pooled all our money for the motel. We’ve been here four days and I can’t buy groceries. I need my money to pay for the room.”
         She began to choke up. “I’m hungry, Mom.”  
         I began to weep. She said she was hungry. I knew to never give money to an addict, but I am a mother, and I had to go to my child. She was hungry.
         After driving an hour, and arguing with myself whether I should be doing this at all, I was there. I pulled into the parking lot of a seedy golden yellow-painted motel with what appeared to be strung-out druggies and drug dealers crowding the area. It was like a scene out of a movie. Some were in cars, some leaned against them, while others were hanging outside the motel doors. I felt ill and scared. I never imagined I’d be in a place like this. How could my daughter have adapted?

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Swamped As Only A Mother Can Be

Sorry it's been a while since blogging. You're going to hear that a lot. Mothering has stepped up a notch and I'm swamped. There's more homework in Third Grade: 15 minute reading is now up to 20 minutes a night, home work is not only Literature and Math, but Geography and Science, too. Then there's Tennis and Piano, Eye Doctor Appointments, Check-Ups, free play and getting sick. Of course, the getting sick part happened right after he was home from school for Teacher Conferences and religious holidays. Help! Where's that extra minute for... me? Oh, almost forgot; I'm a functioning Mom, again!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

It's The Little Things That Makes A Mom Smile



It’s been said that most children don’t fully appreciate their parents until they have children of their own. 

Our son, Adam was breezing along with two kids, and didn’t truly feel the impact. It wasn’t until his wife, Darcy gave birth to third baby, daughter, Charlie, that Adam was in frantic land.                                          

“Mom, now I know how difficult parenting is,” Adam exhaustively, said. “I really appreciate how hard you worked having all of us.”                                                                                                                    

There is a G-d!
            

Monday, September 10, 2012

TODAY, STU IS 5 YEARS CANCER FREE!!!!



(The following is an excerpt from Fifth Child)         

At first Stu thought it was just stomach gas. Then he thought it might be an ulcer or perhaps his heart. After several check-ups with negative finds, he concluded it must be a strained back and went for physical therapy. It was there that the therapist said he felt a mass on his abdomen that didn’t feel right.

After seven months of much discomfort, having to sit in an upright position to be able to fall asleep, in 2007, Stu was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s abdominal lymphoma. As with any C-word diagnosis, the news was devastating. With all we’d been through  -with all Stu had been through- it was hard to accept we had another hurdle to negotiate, especially with our newest responsibility. How were we going to do this? I had a husband getting ready to go through chemo and a three-year old going through the tyrannical three’s!            

Never a typical terrible two year old, Brady made up for it as soon as he turned three. He challenged and tested us every step of the way, throwing toys at us when he was frustrated, hiding in places we couldn’t find him and refusing to sit for more than thirty seconds in a timeout. Stu and I searched our memory bank for clues. But when our kids were young, not even Adam was this defiant. It seemed that Brady wanted to see how much we could take, whether we’d take it, and then also take him. I read that anger was a normal response for children with abandonment issues and that it will come out in places where a child feels safe. If this was true, it was good that Brady felt safe enough with us to express his anger, but very stressful on us keeping our emotional responses in check.                                                                                     

“Brady, we love you, no matter what you do,” we repeatedly said to him. Still he pressed on. There were certainly times we let him get the better of us and felt impotent in our parenting skills. It was exhausting, not only because of our ages, but with the uncertainty of what was ahead of us concerning Stu.                                                             

Stu was scared and I found myself with my walls up; not able to face that he had cancer. I drove him to chemo but couldn’t be around it, so I left and ran errands, anything for diversion. Stu thought it was mean of me, but I saw it as survival. I was overwhelmed by Stu’s illness and needed my wits about me to care for a child. “Lynne,” Stu weakly said after a chemo session, “I don’t think I can do this and raise Brady at the same time.” 

For Stu, going through chemo was like having a major flu that never went away. He felt so sick, so weak and in such pain that he thought we should have Brady go to one of our other children’s homes.                                                                                                                                  

“Please, Stu, we can’t do that to him.” I begged. “He’s been through enough upheaval in his short little life. We have to make this work.”  
            
The next day, we had planned a hair-shaving party so that when Stu began losing his hair, Brady wouldn’t be afraid. Our youngest son, Josh came over to do the job. Stu sat on our staircase, while Josh made jokes as Stu’s hair fell to the floor and Brady’s laughter filled the room. Afterwards, Brady climbed up on Stu’s lap and put his arms around Stu’s neck.  “I love you. You’ll be fine,” our little old soul said, in no uncertain terms. Then Brady began to sing and Stu felt the joyful spirit that only a child can bring. “I think Brady’s the one who’s going to get me through this,” he surrendered.                                    

Amen.                       
            
Stu completed his treatment in July, just before Josh and Hazel’s August wedding. He was still weak and looked like the lead character in the movie, Powder. But Stu enjoyed being able to witness Josh happily getting married with Brady, Aidan and Skyler in the wedding party and brother, Adam as his best man. 

(That was five years ago -again, Amen!)  

                                                                                                                     

Friday, September 7, 2012

September 6, 1976

Jaime would have turned 36 yesterday. It's always a strange day. I usually think of her in her best light, with a few episodes of her and her addiction trying to creep in. It's daunting, as I try to think back to her childhood and all the dreams a parent has for a child.


What happened to our baby? We named her after my beloved grandmother so that unconditional love would be part of her being. She was swaddled in a pink blanket made by Stu’s mother, to add sweetness and gentility to her life and my mother gave her a huge Raggedy Ann doll for protection. Jaime was the sweetest and most Bohemian of our children. She strived for originality even in elementary school. Her fashion whims would have even impressed her idol, Cindy Lauper, as would her musical talent. We had such hope for our child.
            
At least we have the best of her with us. When I told Brady that it would have been Jaime's birthday, he said we should buy a cupcake and put a candle on it. He's such a little old soul. I then explained the Jewish custom to honor those who've passed; that we light a candle on the day of her death to remember her. He asked what date she died on and I got to share something curious with him, which most likely wouldn't be to a numerologist. Jaime was born on 9-06-76 and died on 6-09-09. It still blows my mind.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Almost Back To Blogging

Our trip to Israel was AMAZING but exhausting. We flew to Philadelphia and New Jersey to visit family and decompress. As soon as we got home to California, I had to purchase school supplies, lunch box snacks and Brady was back in school. We've been adjusting to the new schedule and I'll be back to offering up more book excerpts. I've been self-editing and made some needed changes to the manuscript. Hope summer was good for everyone. It's been way too hot here!

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Is Someone Listening?

 A few weeks ago, I took Brady and cousin, Aidan, to a show put on by Israeli teens touring the country. The teens sang and danced while colorful slides of Israel lit up the screen behind them. I saw people smiling in the marketplace, praying at the Western Wall, children happily running into the Mediterranean, soldiers holding the Israeli flag, photographs of Holocaust victims at Yad Vashem and a video about the "Lone Soldiers" -volunteers who travel to Israel alone to fight in the army.

The boys enjoyed it as only 8 year olds can but I was so touched that I couldn't control the tears constantly running down the side of my face throughout the presentation. All I could think about was how much I wanted to experience Israel and the thought stayed with me.

Last week I received a call from a newfound friend that took me by surprise. He said there was an opening for one more family to go to Israel this summer for "Family Israel Experience". What? Was someone listening? He said he thought of us and if we could make it happen, he would make it happen. It was an offer we couldn't refuse.

So, not only are we going to Israel in 3 weeks but one of the evenings is scheduled for us to have dinner with some "Lone Soldiers".

Someone HAD to be listening.....

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

BUT I MUST WASH MY HAIR!

So, it's Day 8 of summer vacation. I've planned something every day for Brady for do. But, today I MUST make a couple store returns and we're out of things like milk and eggs so MUST go shopping. Brady only wants to ride his bike or go swimming. Like I'll really get him to do errands with me. Now, he's nagging me for a snack. But, he just had breakfast and I MUST take a shower! Then he asks if he can have a friend over. I tell him I'll answer that AFTER I'm out of the shower. WHAT??!!! It can't be noon! I've only made the beds and just gotten out of the shower!!! I'm being paged, AGAIN, by my relentless 8-year old. NOW what??!!!

Okay, I surrender. I put the returns off until tomorrow, will pick up groceries while he's at Tae Kwon Do later today, I'll blow-dry my hair and take him to the pool.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

And The Playing Continues....And I'm Pooped!

I'm exhausted but Brady's the one playing!

Every day since school let out, our house has been full of kids. Along with arranged play dates, our house is also filled with the neighborhood kids. I think I've run out of peanut butter and jelly! Boys can really eat and drink! Every time I turned around, the refrigerator door was opening and closing.

This is such a different life than when my kids were young. I've had more kids here for Brady in four days then all four of my kids had over their entire childhood!!!!! I pat myself on the back for today but wish I knew "this" Mom in the 70's. I'm sure my grown kids wish so, too. At least I've been given the opportunity to do it better. Although, at times, I question whether we're giving him too much.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

So Much for Plans -The Playing is Awesome!

We were so surprised to sell our home in 2 days at full price along with a back-up offer! Of course, we still lost money but could move on. We had 45 days to find a place to live.

Our plan was to put our home on the market and wait 6 months or so for it to sell and then rent for a few months until the new planned community was completed in the area we wanted to live. We had to act quickly and were lucky to find a home for rent a couple blocks from where the new homes are set to be ready in spring of 2013 (we wanted Brady to be in the same neighborhood). Another strike of luck was that we had to sign a year's lease, so selling when we did aligned us perfectly with our plan. The house fits most of our needs but what is amazing is that we're in a jewel of a location. Our back gate empties onto a huge green belt, which is like a park! It has benches and walkways, flanked by 2 pools, a play area, tennis courts and a sand volleyball court, not to mention all the built-in kids. Brady's in heaven!!!! "Mom," he said. Can you believe it? I can just get on my bike and go out by myself." He feels so free and independent. After school, he meets his friends and they ride round and round the walkway, switching from bikes to scooters to big wheels. I've had kids in our house almost daily, which I didn't do when my kids were young. My grown children would hardly recognize that I've become the Kool-Aid Mom! I'm just sorry I was too overwhelmed when I was younger to do the same for them.

This has been a wonderful move for all of us. We have wonderful neighbors (whom we know from Brady's school) and even OUR social life is bustling. The new neighborhood is only a couple blocks away but will be fairly normal with streets and homes. Who has a park in their backyard???!!!! It's going to be quite a challenge moving from this sweet location!

The other day, Brady (our little old soul) said, "You are really good parents. You're always trying to make my life better."

That's what it's all about!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Here We Go, Again!

Again, I haven't been writing because another change is taking place. Because we're raising a child, we need to move to a more kid-friendly neighborhood. We thought, because Brady always did play dates, we could get away with living in a more adult community. WRONG! Guess who gets to be his play mates when not on play dates? He needs kids around him. So, we're moving on Monday. Needless to say, it's been hectic, crazy and stressful but all in a good way. After we're settled, I'll be back to the blog. Thank you to anyone who's been reading it, especially for your patience. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reminders Of Her...

It's that moment when I hear a song we sang together or I see someone on the street whose mannerisms or  looks are so much like hers that I gasp, or when Brady does something so phenomenal that I wish she was here to enjoy it, that brings me to tears. With all the hell she put me through, I only think of her in the most loving terms -I miss her. It's never easy losing a child and the emotion hits me when I least expect it...like now.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Disney Cruises Forever!

So sorry I've not been blogging. Stu, Brady and I were on a 7-day Disney Cruise. I cannot believe it took us this long to do this. It's the ONLY way to travel with a child. We had family time AND alone time while Brady happily played with newfound friends in the Oceaneer's Lab Kids' Club. In fact, he didn't want to leave it. There were adult activities, kids activities and family activities -so many, we couldn't get to all of them! The shows were Broadway calibre talent, the food was wonderful and even our dinner mates couldn't have been better. Service was incredible! By the third night, our servers knew Brady's name and what he liked to eat (not difficult since he only likes the mac 'n cheese) and followed us in rotation from restaurant to restaurant. Every detail ran like clockwork and we couldn't be happier. Getting my skeptical husband on a ship was a project in itself but even Stu wanted a longer experience. Oh, and if you ever go on the Disney Wonder, do not miss reserving your "adults only" spectacularly delicious and impeccably served dining experience at "Palo".

We're ready to go again and hope my other kids and some friends join us. Had I known how fantastic and rejuvenating this was when my other kids were young, I would've taken out a loan just to go. Thank you, Disney! Sorry to sound like a commercial but I am still so jazzed!!!!!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Snippet From Chapter: THREE PARENT FAMILY


Two months passed and I hadn’t heard a word from Jaime. Every time the doorbell or the phone rang at odd hours, I shuddered, thinking it was the police telling me they found my daughter in a ditch.  That thought haunted me when I slept and when I was awake. It’s a nightmare many parents share when their children are addicts.

It was a Saturday morning towards the end of summer. I was still in my pajamas, casually reading the newspaper and finishing my cup of coffee when the phone rang.  I thought it might be Adam calling from Tennessee, but it wasn’t; it was Jaime. For the first time in a very long time, her voice wasn’t hoarse. She asked me to please just listen and not talk. Something inside me gave me a foreboding of what she was going to say.  I held my breath.                                                                                                                     

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Can You Moms Relate?

With all I've had to do in the last few weeks concerning the upbringing of one 8 year old, I kept saying to myself, "I'm too old for this!" Then I realized, "I was too old for this even when I was young!" Raising four kids in my twenties equates to raising one in my sixties -none of it easy! A massage, a manicure, a pillow, or a minute to myself would be wonderful right about now.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

From Chapter 2: "MISSTEPS"


My God, I’d spent years smelling my teenagers’ breath for alcohol, looking for dilated pupils and asking them if their friends were smoking pot. Our kids were even fully involved in the D.A.R.E. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program in school. How could this be happening to our family? 

We drove straight to the outpatient rehab facility, located inside our local hospital. I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience as we rode the elevator up to the floor labeled “Chemical Dependency Treatment.” I never imagined our family would be here and hoped I didn’t see anyone I knew, at least not for the time being. I didn’t want to have to explain anything, just yet. When we reached the front desk, the reception staff was very friendly and asked us if we’d like water or coffee while we waited.                                                                        I’d rather have a new life, I thought.



Jaime began the program the next day and was assigned to a counselor whom she’d see weekly, and who could randomly drug-test her. She received a behavior log, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, written rules of the program, and she attended her first patient meeting that night.
“How was it, Jaime?” I anxiously asked when she got home.
“It was okay,” she despondently answered.  “I just don’t think I belong here.”
“Maybe it’ll get better with time,” I said, sensing this was not going to be the easy fix I was hoping for.
           
It was a big life adjustment for all of us. While Jaime went to daily patient meetings with other addicts/alcoholics, we were expected to attend meetings twice a week, Mondays and Fridays, in the same building. Stu and I were labeled co-dependents. Initially, we thought co-dependents were the interested parties attached to the addict or alcoholic. But we soon learned that co-dependency is a behavioral issue -a tendency to behave in excessively caretaking and/or controlling ways. Our name was all over that one. Stu and I had a lot of work ahead of us if we wanted healthy relationships. Who knows? Maybe Jaime’s disease would make us healthier!           


Monday, February 20, 2012

Snippet from the Chapter-"MISSTEPS"


            The rehab program had rolling admissions, so patients entered at different times and graduated at different times. Many co-dependents stopped coming when their qualifiers graduated, but some stayed on to continue sharing their strength and hope with the new people coming in. We developed a genuine compassion for most of the people we met through program. We might see them casually or not see them for years, but we will forever be part of the club and they will always be friends. Many people who haven’t experienced this process can never understand, and I always feel compelled to try to make the co-dependent experience vivid. Program people get what you’re going through. There’s no small talk and no explaining necessary, but there is a lot of empathy and hugs. It feels safe.
             Unfortunately, the twelve-step program is not a cure-all and we saw many alcoholics and addicts come and go, along with their co-dependents. It was very eye opening and upsetting to see so much failure and pain. The miracles were those who got sober and stayed sober.                                   
            We learned quickly, but found it difficult to accept that addiction is a family disease in which we played a part. It’s so easy to say that it’s the alcoholic or addict with the problem; that it’s not our disease. Even though Stu and I didn’t choose to abuse drugs or alcohol; as significant others, we were part of the problem. That concept took longer to grasp.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chapter Excerpt: GRANDPARENTS AS PARENTS -Can Anyone Relate?


Being grandparents as parents is a unique life. Some people miss out on their childhood; we’re missing out on our golden years. At this stage in life, Stu and I were supposed to be planning European cruises, not cruises by Disney. We looked forward to getting up leisurely on the weekend, not at six o’clock in the morning and, most certainly, not to the voice of SpongeBob SquarePants on the TV! We can’t always accept invitations because we’re at the mercy of finding a babysitter. My days are bookended by school drop-offs and pick-ups, with not much time in the middle. How can the day go so fast? Early evenings were supposed to be filled with relaxing activities like preparing a quiet dinner for Stu and I, or soaking in a hot tub, while he picked up dinner. Instead, I’m making grilled cheese sandwiches -and taking a leisurely bath? That means, while I sponge quickly, Brady’s running past my tub after his “Nano” battery-run bugs, yelling for me to watch. It’s back to the chaotic daily life that only a child can provide. Don’t get me wrong, in Brady we’ve been given a joyful gift of life that we wouldn’t trade for the world; but we’ve also been given a few lifelong challenges.

“Brady, it’s time to do homework!” I call out.
“Can’t it wait until later?” he pleads. “I want to play.”
“If you wait until later, you’ll be too tired and you still have to practice piano,” I tiredly answer. “And I need time to make dinner.”
“But, Mom,“ he argues, “I’m a kid, and kids are supposed to play. It makes us happy.
He always manages to make me smile.
“Well,” I say, “you are a kid, and you are supposed to play. But your first job is schoolwork.
Then I try the competitive approach.
“Brady, how come your cousin Aidan does his work without arguing and looks forward to solving math problems?”
“Mom,” he says as if I’m clueless, “Aidan and I are two very different people. We were made that way, so we don’t do things the same.”
What can I say to that?
“You’re right, Brady, but you still need to do your work.”

After more coercing, we finally sit down together to do homework. He’ll look bored, play with the pencil until it flies out of his hand, argue that his printing is neat when it isn’t; and homework that should take fifteen minutes, is taking forty-five!”
How many more years of homework do I have to look forward to?

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Chapter Excerpt: Oh, No, Brady's Almost 8!


Brady's favorite outing became The Model Train Store, a forty-minute drive from our house.          
“Why can’t I buy the Lionel Train?” he’d plead. “I’m old enough to work it.”                       
“Brady, on the box it says you have to be at least eight years old,” I said, to my relief.                        
“But, Mom,” he’d say, the box won’t know I’m only five!”           

We’d leave the store, with Brady yearning for his eighth birthday. I left hoping they’d change the age on the box to twelve by the time Brady turned eight.                                                

My boys were never that interested in cars or trains, so this was new to me. Even if they had been; we couldn’t afford them, which left them content to play with anything they could find in the house. 

Barely two years old, our galley kitchen was Adam’s favorite area to explore. He’d pull all the pots and pans out of my cabinet and play. One morning, while I was in the bedroom folding laundry, I heard Tracy and Adam giggling. By the time I peeked into the kitchen to see what they were laughing about, my jaw dropped when I saw Adam. He was covered in white grease! He had taken off his clothing and diaper, lifted the plastic lid off my giant can of Crisco, slathered it all over his body (even his head), and was sliding on the linoleum floor from one end of the kitchen to the other yelling, “Weeeee!” I should have bought him some toys. I can’t begin to explain how long it took me to clean him up.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NOT for Grandparents ONLY


This was sent to me by a friend and worth reading for the chuckle:

ONLY A GRANDMOTHER WOULD KNOW...

‾A Cup of Tea ‾
One day my Gramma was out, and my Grampa was in charge of me.

I was maybe 2 1/2 years old. Someone had given me a little 'tea set' as a gift, and it was one of my favorite toys.

Grampa was in the living room engrossed in the evening news when I brought him a little cup of 'tea', which was just water. After several cups of tea and lots of praise for such yummy tea, my Gramma came home.

My Grampa made her wait in the living room to watch me bring him a cup of tea, because it was 'just the cutest thing!' Gramma waited, and sure enough, here I came down the hall with a cup of tea for Grampa, and she watched him drink it up and rave about it.

Then she said, (as only a gramma would know), "Did it ever occur to you that the only place she can reach to get water is the toilet?"

Friday, January 27, 2012

Excerpt from Chapter: RAISING BRADY


This chapter could have been called “Spoiling Brady” because that’s one grandparent trait we’ve had difficulty abandoning. As much as we don’t want to spoil him, we’ve lost the battle many times, which our grown kids are only too happy to remind us.

With all Brady’s been through, we wanted to afford him as much pleasure as possible. To Brady, like many boys, that meant anything with wheels. It began at two years old with fire trucks and police cars. We spent our weekends, with Brady in tow, visiting local fire and police stations (he knew the firefighters by name) and to local fairs where fire engines and police motorcycles were on display. We couldn’t do enough for him, most likely overcompensating, because Jaime wasn’t there.
            
When Brady added autos and racecars to his repertoire on wheels, his collection totaled at least five hundred cars. He knows where every car came from and knows if one is missing.    

“When I grow up, I want to make billions and trillions of dollars!” Brady exclaimed.  “I want seven Ferrari’s and each one will be a different color for each day,” he confidently stated. “That way, if one breaks, I’ll go to the next one.”  Maybe he should raise us!  
          

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Excerpt: HOPE IS ALL WE HAVE


Jaime spent two hours trying to tell us how ridiculous we were, that we were wasting her time. “The drugs belonged to my friend,” she lied.                                            
“Just take the test, Jaime,” I said through clenched teeth. “If you’re innocent, the test will prove it.”
Coaxing and coaxing, I was beside myself with exasperation.                                          
“Don’t bother with the test,” she dismally said. “I’m not clean.”                                                           

We said she needed to leave our home and figure out a way to get sober. Stu and I promised we would take care of Brady, who was a little over two years old at the time.                                    

Against our advice to go into a six-month locked rehab, which she could afford with its sliding scale fee, she chose to go back to the same sober living home she failed at twice before. She feared that going into a locked facility and not being able to work; she’d lose her clients and be limited to her visits with Brady. But that would happen, anyway, if she couldn’t get clean. At least, there, she’d have a chance at sobriety.            

Her plan was not promising. However, no one knows when someone decides to get sober. Maybe this was her time and we held onto our hope.             

Friday, January 20, 2012

EXCERPT- "We Project Great Things For Our Children"


            Neither Stu nor I could believe that we were even in this position; we didn’t smoke, drink or use drugs. This was far from our comfort zone. We spent countless hours re-hashing her life, what we should have done better, what we did wrong and what we should have done differently, all the while blaming each other. This was our child, so it had to be our fault!  
            What happened to our baby? We named her after my beloved grandmother so that unconditional love would be part of her being. She was swaddled in a pink blanket made by Stu’s mother, to add sweetness and gentility to her life and my mother gave her a huge Raggedy Ann doll for protection. Jaime was the sweetest and most Bohemian of our children. She strived for originality even in elementary school. Her fashion whims would have even impressed her idol, Cindy Lauper, as would her musical talent. We had such hope for our child. At age thirteen, at her Bat Mitzvah, Stu and I offered her advice: “Consider all that life offers and choose wisely so that you can strengthen the values which define you as an individual. We offer all our love, support and guidance to help you complete the precious collection of ideas and feelings which make you the unique and wonderful person you are.” I missed those days of innocence and hoped she would choose wisely.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

GETTING IT STRAIGHT

Brady remains our touchstone. For example, a few days after entering first grade in a new school, he confronted me out of the blue, hands on his hips: “So what are you, my step mom or what?” Taken aback, I responded, “No, Brady, because a step mom wouldn’t be related to you. You have my blood running through your veins.” He looked a bit confused. “Brady,” I continued, “I’m your grandmother and because I take care of you; I’m also your mom. You have two in one!” He said, “How about Dad?” I said, “Same thing.” Then he got a very serious look on his face and said, “So, let me get this straight. In real life, if Jaime were still my mom, you’d be my grandmother. But because she couldn’t do it, you’re my mom?” I said, “Yes.” He said, “God made a good decision.”  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

CHAPTER EXCERPT


Please let me know what you think with your comments. Should we read our children's diaries if we think they're in trouble? 


Jaime was understandably livid when I told her what I had done. 
“How could you do that, Mom?” she screamed. “You had no right! You intruded on my privacy!”                        
“Jaime, I’m sorry, but it’s my duty,” I desperately improvised, “my duty as your mother, to protect you. If I don’t know what’s going on, then I can’t help you. And you need help!”                        
“I hate you for this,” she screamed. “I will never trust you, again.”                                 
She slammed her bedroom door and locked it.                                                

The next morning, I was referred to a therapist who treated adolescents. Jaime was still angry, perhaps justifiably so, but reluctantly she agreed to go. After about two months of weekly visits, the therapist met with me. “Jaime has a healthy view of herself,” she said with confidence. “Don’t worry. She’s fine.”            
                                                                                                                                               
Had my daughter snowed the therapist, just as I had snowed adults when I was a teenager?  Jaime got involved in wholesome high school activities, drum line and show choir, and met some very nice friends. Maybe the therapist was right. I felt encouraged and hoped this would give her the self-worth I felt she desperately needed.

Jaime seemed to live a double life. On the one hand, she was wholesome, talented and sweet. On the other, she was conniving, sneaky and trashy. In hindsight, Stu and I should have been stronger with our convictions and our parenting, but we weren’t. Her transgressions went unchecked. Because we viewed Jaime as fragile, we always gave her the benefit of the doubt. We just never thought she’d turn to drugs. 

Monday, January 9, 2012

EXCERPT FROM CHAPTER: "RAISING BRADY"



“I’m five years old, I know Karate, and I can take the pressure.”   -Brady, age 4-1/2



A therapist once told me that a child needs just one person to give them love and consistency in order to thrive; Brady has two. Because Stu and I were always present whether Jaime was there or wasn’t; the changeover for Brady when Jaime left was much less traumatic. It seemed almost natural when he transitioned into calling me, Mommy and Stu, Daddy. They were the roles he needed us in at the time.    

                                                                                                                   

As time went on, we felt like Brady was our child. We had to feel that way to parent him properly. We parent him like a natural parent but with the unconditional love of a grandparent. It’s not easy. We have to be the disciplinarians; when what we really want to do is read lots of books to him, keep him up late and spoil him like other grandparents we know. It’s a fine line and complicated to balance. Brady needed parents more than grandparents so Stu and I eventually abandoned the latter role. Although, he’s missing out on having grandparents, I know he feels the duality by our actions and attitude. Luckily, three of his great grandparents are still alive and even though they are on the east coast, they have shifted into the grand parenting roles. Brady knows that we’re his grandparents, but we’re Mom and Dad to him.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Excerpt from Chapter 1: "MOMMY?"

I’m not God. I’m not an angel.  I’m just a man. - Brady, age 5

How many parents can honestly say parenting is easy? Even the luckiest people, with the easiest children, face frequent challenges that they feel ill-equipped to handle. For my daughter Jaime, we had all known that parenting would be especially challenging, because she had a history of drug abuse. Even so, she immediately took to her role as Brady’s mother. Jaime enjoyed mothering and adored her son. She nursed him, nurtured him and as customary in the Jewish religion, gave him a Hebrew name: Shai Chaim, meaning Gift of Life.  The name suits him.
         
A few years later, in the preschool playground, I spotted my grandson, this little Gift of Life, playing with another little boy.                                    
“Brady, there’s your mommy!” he called out.    
For a brief second, Brady looked as if he were expecting someone else. Then seeing me his face broke out in a big smile of acceptance.
“Mommy!” he yelled with excitement.  
Taken aback, I actually turned to look behind me until I realized he was calling me.   
          
Until that moment, Brady had always referred to me as “Mama.” He couldn’t pronounce the “gr” sound when he was first forming his words, so that’s what stuck. When Brady would hear my daughter call to me, sometimes he would mimic her. I used to chuckle to myself when I’d hear him yelling “Mom!” in full voice from the top of the stairs, sounding just like my daughter. It struck me as cute. I never saw it as a premonition.  

Life is so unpredictable, full of irony. Irony, however, can come at such a cost.                                                                                                                                                

Friday, January 6, 2012

EXCERPT



After soccer, I made grilled cheese for Brady and a frozen dinner for myself. Gratefully, when we were finished eating, he did his homework with minimal prodding and then we played ”Word Bingo.” He practiced five minutes on piano and played fifteen minutes with his trains before taking a bath with his collection of boats where I washed his tangled hair and carefully combed out the knots. After persuading him to get out of the tub before his fingers turned into prunes, he got into his pajamas, I read him a bedtime story, and we both conked out.
            
This might seem normal for some moms with kids, but I’m in my early sixties raising my grandchild! 
                                                                                                                                                
After somewhat blindly raising four of my own children into adulthood, being a grandparent raising a grandchild, has given me, along with my husband, a second chance to re-assess and do it better.
            

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Font & Space Crazy

To all my loyal Followers....

So sorry I've not been blogging but life took all my extra minutes away, which turned into months!
I'm trying to share excerpts from Fifth Child, but transferring them to the blog space is making me crazy! The fonts and spacing and line-up keeps changing on me, so forgive the rough read. Hopefully, it's interesting enough that the visual won't bother you.

Chapter Excerpt: We Didn't See It Coming

When my husband Stu’s brother was forty-seven, he and his wife had a baby. We couldn’t believe that his child would be three years old when he was fifty!
“Is he crazy raising a child at his age?” Stu said disapprovingly.
“It’s going to be so hard physically and emotionally,” I chimed in. “He’ll still be doing homework when he’s sixty!”
“Thank God, we’re past that,” Stu smugly said, feeling sorry for his brother and his newly scheduled life.
We also had good friends whose children had to work, so our friends became the caregivers of their grandchildren from six o’clock in the morning until six o’clock at night. They even turned their living room into a play area. Though they didn’t mind it a bit, Stu and I would just shake our heads, never imagining that could be us.
“Can you imagine being stuck at home every day taking care of toddlers?” he’d say with a negative shiver. “We’d never do that!”
“I’m just glad that’s a decision we will never have to make!” I concurred

***

As soon as Jaime realized she was pregnant, she became sober and stayed sober.

In her thirteenth week of pregnancy, Jaime wrote to her unborn child: "You stayed strong in my womb when I thought I couldn't go on. You believed in me when my heart lost its song. you believed in me when I couldn't find the strength. You taught me patience and wisdom to the end. I will nurture all I can and love with all my might. You are my baby and the blessing who saved my life."

Jaime saw her child as giving life to her, instead of her giving life to Brady. Perhaps this was the problem.
“Jaime,” I said with sincerity, “now would be a perfect time to work on your issues before the baby is born.”
I knew she’d probably reject my suggestion, but I had to try.
“There’s a terrific therapist I know, who works with addicts,” I eagerly said. “Even twelve-step meetings might give you support.”
“I hate twelve-step meetings,” she contemptuously said. “People just become addicted to meetings. And I don’t want to go to your therapist. I’ll be fine.”

My poor daughter. Choosing drugs in the first place meant that there was at least one buried problem that needed examining.
“Mom,” she said point blank, “I can do this on my own.”
This statement took my breath away. It filled me with fear. 

Three years later, Brady was two and a half on the day he called me "Mommy" at the playground. Jaime had been almost entirely absent from his life for six months. The poisons of methamphetamine had ravaged the girl who used to think clearly, and at one time, had a beautiful rosy complexion. Now, Jaime's face and arms were covered in lesions that she constantly scratched; she'd jerk her neck, as her eyes nervously jiggled. Our daughter, who thought she was going to be saved from her addiction because she gave birth to a child and would devote her life to him, was back on drugs.