an encounter with my grandson: rebuilding after estrangement

July 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

Sometimes we just need to take time away from family to find our own sense of self outside the system. My daughter has been estranged from me since the winter of 2011. We used to talk frequently, we were very close. Then, because I set a boundary about her over sharing problems in her marriage, she cut contact with me. The story is much longer and deeper, and will be told in time, but the backstory to our relationship is that my ex-husband (her step-father) molested her when she was a child. He also abused her physically and psychologically. I stayed with him, even after she disclosed the molestation and eventually moved into foster care. I had been making amends for my part in that painful sequence of events for 14 years up to the time she broke off contact. I didn’t hold it against her. Heck, I’ve broken contact with my own father and mother numerous times. I do miss her, though, and her children.

During those years of making amends I helped her raise my grandson. She had him when she was 22, in an abusive relationship with a drug dealer. She left the guy shortly after Grandson was born, and we pretty much co-parented him until they moved away in 2005. Both my husband and I were very close to Grandson, he stayed overnight many evenings a week. I hadn’t seen him since the summer of 2010.

Last evening I was working on my dissertation and out of the corner of my eye I saw a young man ride up on a skateboard and walk up the front steps. I went downstairs to see who it was and there stood my 17 year old Grandson. He is taller than me now, slender, his once apple cheeks now stretched over wide cheek bones and a narrow chin. His eyes, however, are the same, these deep soulful grey-blue eyes that take in the world around him with thoughtful consideration. We spent the evening talking, Husband came down after calming BigDog, and it was wonderful to re-connect.

I was aware that I have changed, I was not so pushy, nor anxious, about directing the conversation or forcing anything on anyone. It was a very comfortable evening sitting and chatting. Grandson was even able to get close enough to BigDog to feed him treats through the crate door. That was very special, as BigDog is pretty particular about who he lets get close.

After Grandson left, I felt a wonderful sense of completeness, like a missing puzzle piece had found its way back into the puzzle. I know his visit was only possible because of the hard work that we are all doing to repair our distressed family relationships. My daughter, me, my grandson, my husband, even my dog. And it is so gratifying to see it come to fruition, one encounter at a time.

I love my grandson, and I am very happy to have him back in my life, in whatever form he decides is right. I love my daughter and I respect her need to take care of herself and her family. I miss them, and in missing them I redouble my efforts to recover from the psychological injuries that made me a fallible parent to begin with. Perhaps we can change what is possible, from one generation to the next.

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