“Mommy who are my grandparents?” Are the words my six-year-old, Elyas uttered to me just a few days ago. My heart sank as I tried to figure out how to respond to his question. Why do you ask? I questioned him and he said his friends talk about having grandparents and he was wondering if he had any. For so long all I ever wanted was to give my children a family, a united family full of love and support.
I told Elyas that my mother is his grandmother and while he calls her grandma he never really understood that she was his grandmother. I tried to allow my mother to be a part of my children’s lives even though she and I never had a relationship, she did make the effort when my oldest was a toddler but as her addictions progressed I choose it was best to limit her involvement. With time it became as if we, my children and I, never even existed. I never knew my father and my grandfather passed away before Elyas was born. My grandmother is alive and while I love her more than words can say she has not been too involved in the lives of my children either so that leaves pretty much no one in my family that can fill those positions.
I explained to Elyas that he has grandparents from his daddy’s family, I told him his daddy’s mom who he knows as “abuela” is his grandmother. My husbands mother seemed to be an amazing grandmother who cared so much, that was what we thought while she lived in Dominican Republic. After we brought her to live with us in US it became obvious her “loving persona” was fake. She was cold with my children and always compared them to other children bringing them to tears on more than one occasion. She hit the all time low when she turned down costume jewelry my daughter made for her. I’m not perfect but you never turn away a gift from a child. It’s sad really because she would give her life for her grandchildren in Dominican Republic and the youngest was born and has grown while she has been in the US.
My husbands father was not actively involved in his childhood and my husband hurts from that even now. As the years have passed we had hoped that his father and siblings would want to be more involved in our children’s lives but it has not turned out that way. Now that my husband is older he tries to stay in contact with his father more and has slowly built a relationship with his brother for which I am so happy, it was about time. I guess I expected too much or was just delusional.
Making it a priority to spend time with my children has never been a priority to anyone on either side of our families. I had always dreamt of a loving family full of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins for my children to fill their lives with. To see them beam with excitement planning summer visits and looking forward to family visits, to know that when I’m gone they would have more family ties to keep their circle tight. It’s for the sake of my children that I tried for many years to reach out to family on both sides to be a part of our lives but everyone is too busy with their own lives. I want my children to know their family even if they are distant family. It’s important to me that they know where they came from.
I had hoped to never have the need for this conversation with any of my children but especially my six-year-old. I never expected I would have to sit with my child and show him pictures of family members and explain who they are. I had hoped I would never see the day that my children would have the need to ask me… “How come they don’t visit mommy?” “How come I never see them or talk to them?” “I have cousins?” It’s heart breaking. And while some may not think it’s a big deal, it really is to me.
And this is not rare in this day in age where there are so many broken homes and single parents struggling to provide for their children and doing everything possible to make sure they feel loved. My children are lucky to have both parents and a few people in their lives that truly love them. I just hope they will grow up feeling completely loved which has been my goal from the beginning. For those who have not made the effort or simply are just not interested, it’s truly their loss.