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.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

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.

2 comments:

  1. I dont know if I ever told you, but my mother lost her brother to heroin when he was around 19. His name was Georgie and I named my company 'Georgie World' after him. I never got to meet him.

    -Bethany

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks for sharing that with me, Bethany.
    Drugs are a terrible part of this world.

    ReplyDelete