Once upon a time, when I was an incredibly different person, and in what feels like a different life, I unexpectedly became a single mother for the second time. My son was 5 months old when his father ended our relationship and moved 3,000 miles away for work. Having packed up and moved two states away from my family for his job a few months earlier, I suddenly felt stuck between a rock and a hard place. I had a special needs child, had just had a baby, and had quit my job in order to move. Panic consumed me as I tried to figure out the next best step. My super-supportive parents implored me to come back home and stay with them until I got back on my feet.
That time in my life is somewhat of a blur. On any given day, I was more than likely riding an emotional roller coaster. Depression, uncertainty, anger, anxiety, and resentment overwhelmed me. If I’m being perfectly honest, there was a modicum of relief mixed in, but I would not recognize that until later. While I was worn so thin, my kids were receiving an abundance of love. My parents stepped up in a huge way for my children and me in one of the darker moments of my life.
Within a few months, my new life was beginning to take shape. My old job had re-hired me, and I’d found a great sitter for my kids. Being brought to my knees made me realize that something enormous was missing in my heart. Though I’d grown up in church—and even been baptized as a child—I came to find a depth to my Christian faith that I never had before. My new church home embraced my little family with open arms, and my loving mother was sitting next to me every Sunday. While being on my own had felt daunting just a few months before, I now felt like I was ready. So, when the house across the street from my parents came up for sale, it just felt right. My parents bought the house, and I covered the payments.
It was the best of both worlds. I had my own space, but we could walk right across the street for dinner or for the kids to just spend time with their grandparents. My children have developed a close relationship with the— particularly my son with my dad. I feared the long-term effects of Beckett growing up without a dad close by, but my father stepped right into that role. From day one, my son has thought that his PawPaw hung the moon, and the feeling is mutual. From my father, my son has learned the art of playfully teasing his mother, how to ride a 4-wheeler, climb into a deer stand, get a great deal at the flea market, and to always yell “Roll Tide.” Every morning my boy pops out of bed and asks to call his PawPaw. Their bond is truly something special to behold.
Without my parents’ support through a tough time, I’m not quite sure what my life would look like now. Without his PawPaw, my son would have been missing something he needed his first 4 years. I have a wonderful man in my life now whom Beckett adores, but PawPaw will always have a special place in his life. Sometimes grandparents are more than just grandparents. I don’t know that there’s a word for it, but I do know that I’m eternally grateful to them for loving us so fiercely and for going above and beyond both as parents and grandparents.