Today, I want to introduce you to my friend, Rachel Mahnke. Rachel has had a major influence in my life in the arena of grandparents raising their grandchildren. I asked Rachel to write this blog both to encourage those of you who may be doing the same, and to challenge those who are not to understand the challenges that these grandparents have in our churches and communities. –Cavin Harper
Hi, my name is Rachel Mahnke. I am a grandmother. To be more specific, I am a grandmother to 11 precious children. But I am more than that; I am a grandmother raising my kin. My husband and I have adopted two of our precious grandchildren.
In today’s world, we are called Grandfamilies. A lovely title for a wonderful job. I used to feel so disappointed that this was my new title; that this was my new job.
I wanted to be a grandmother like all the other grandmothers. I wanted to have my grandkids come over for the day, give them lots of love, hugs, and kisses, feed them wonderful food that they would rave about to their parents, and happily send them home. That is not how it happened in my world. In fact, it is not the case for hundreds of thousands of grandparents today.
We all have a picture perfect scenario running through our heads. Our children will find someone wonderful to marry, and they will have a wonderful life together. They will serve God. One day in the not-so-distant future they will have beautiful babies that will call me grandma. We will live nearby and share many wonderful memories together and live happily ever after.
My reality looks somewhat different than that. Same with many of you. We live in a fallen world. Most of us are doing well to say that our children are happily married. Some of us, if we’re honest, are struggling to have truly fulfilling marriages.
Life can be exceedingly difficult, especially for those of us that are raising kin. There are a great many stressors that come with raising children that have been removed from their homes. Every adoption begins with trauma.
Comparing Leads to Disappointment
I found that wishing my world looked like everyone else’s only made me unhappy. When we compare ourselves to others, we will always be disappointed. God made each of us unique. We are not like others. We all have different skill sets. Different families. Different circumstances.
My world is unique unto me. My God did not make a mistake when He created me. He knew what I would need to survive in this world. I have strengths that are God-given, and ones that I have picked up along the way.
I choose to put away that picture perfect scenario my mind had created. I choose to see my world for what it really is. I praise God for the things that I have in my life. It’s not how I would’ve done it, but I can only see where I am right now.
“God knows the plans He has for me, plans for good and not of evil to give me a future and a hope.” I hold onto that verse dearly. I choose to live in the present; I cannot change the past. We will only waste time and energy that we need for today if we are spending it on wishing we had done things differently. I need to be present to care for my family today. They deserve that.
Every day, I make it a point to find something to be grateful for. Especially on difficult days. This is important to my mindset. It gives my heart courage to continue. It reminds me that God is good, even when the day might not feel good. I often remind myself to choose joy. My children are healthy, and I walk with a God that loves me. That is reason enough to choose joy.
I love being my grandchildren’s momma. I love sharing life with them. I could not imagine life without them anymore.
So, the next time things are not what you had hoped them to be with your grandchildren, remember to live in the present with them. Put away the picture that is in your head and behold the one that is right in front of you. It’s the true one with which you have been gifted.
Rachel Mahnke lives in Colorado with her husband, Lee, and their two grandchildren. She writes and speaks on the topic of grandparents raising grandchildren, and has her own FB Group page called GrandFamilies and Kinship Care Growing Successfully. You can connect with Rachel through her website or email.