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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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.