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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Friday, March 21, 2014

Remember to Ride A Rocket Ship

The following story caught my attention. It made me smile, it made me teary and it made me remember to make it fun. Enjoy!

I wanted to share a post my husband made this morning. We have custody of our granddaughter who is 4 and a half. Tom came into our lives when Marley was 2 and while it was sometimes a tumultuous ride during her terrible 2's and 3's, the two of them have formed a very special bond. This story just highlights how special:
I'm off work today and Renee asked me if I would take Marley to day care. I really didn't want to at first, but then decided it would help Renee get to work on time and it would give me some one-on-one time with Knarley Marley.
As I'm putting the car seat in the car, Marley asks, "Is that a rocket chair?"
I started to give the usual, “No, it’s your car seat.” I caught myself and smiled, “It sure is! Are you ready to blast off?”
The delighted smile that followed would have melted the polar ice caps.
I get her buckled in and I run through a system start up of our ship. I look at Marley in the rear view mirror and ask, “Are we ready to ignite the main engines, captain?”
She giggles and squeals, “Yeah!”
I put my hand on the ignition key and start a countdown from 5. Marley joins in at 3 and it’s, “…3...2…1…IGNITION!” I start the car and she’s all grins.
I back out of the drive way into the alley and stop. I look back at Marley, “We are clear for launch. Launch in 5…4…3…2…1…” I punch the accelerator which throws Marley back into her seat. Oh my word, the squeal of delight was nearly deafening. Of course I had to punch it to create the launch effect…it was for Marley’s enjoyment. Ok… I admit it… I haven’t “punched it” in years and some of the deafening squeal MIGHT have been me. (In all seriousness, it was a small punch, just in case someone else was pulling out of their driveway too.)
As we “rocket” down the alley Marley starts saying, “Look at that planet. Oooo… look at that planet. That one is a tiny planet…”
As we are pulling out on to the main road Marley breathlessly asks, “Are we in outer space?”
“We sure are!” I point to the other cars, “Look at all the spaceships up here with us, Marley…er…Captain.”
The drive to the day care consisted of Captain Marley noticing that all the “ships” on the other side of space(the road) were going the wrong way and that only we were going in the right direction. At one point I hit a bump in the road and Marley asked, “What was that, Opa?” I grinned at her in the rearview mirror and replied, “Space turbulence.” She nodded as though it made perfect sense to her.
We docked with her daycare and I got her safely transferred to her next duty station.
On the drive back to the house it hit me. I really didn't want to take her to daycare, but I am so glad I did. Marley turned a mundane event into a tiny little adventure.
I used to be that way. I used to find delight in almost any situation. Growing up, sadly, makes us lose that ability to make anything fun. I miss that part of me that disappeared as I grew up. It’s something I am definitely going to work on resurrecting. Maybe not to the level Marley is, that’s an exclusive ability rewarded to the children who haven’t been saddled with the burdens of a grown up. However, I can certainly bring a little bit of the wonder of a child back into my thought processes. It won’t be easy in face of everything an adult faces on a day to day basis, but if I can accomplish just a little bit of that wonderment, it might just lighten the load a little bit.
Thank you Marley. Thank you for the exciting voyage to your daycare space station and for reminding this old man what it means to have a little fun every now and then.


If any of you reading this are grandparents raising grandchildren due to your child's addiction; do any of you worry that addiction might be in their future? If so, are you doing anything to prepare them to avoid this "first" choice?                                                                                                             

With 10 year-old Brady being the child of two addicts, I talk to him honestly about his propensity. Yes, addiction sometimes skips a generation, but what if it doesn't? Then it's like Russian roulette and it's better if he chooses not to play. I talk to him about his future peers. I let him know when they become hormonal (I have to explain what hormonal means), they go crazy and want to experiment with anything they can get their hands on, and what they might say to him to coerce him. They'll try to convince him how much fun it is -alcohol and drugs make you feel good. Then I explain that his birth mom felt that way but it immediately took hold of her brain and changed it. He often exclaims; "Why would anyone want to do drugs and do that to their brain?" I say it's because kids think nothing will ever happen to them -they're omnipotent. But no one is, especially if the addictive gene is in your body and you wake it up. It's better to say no in the first place and not take the chance. 

I don't want to harp on this and put that kind of energy out there but want him to have the knowledge and be prepared. What about any of you?