When I was 14, I packed my things and left.
I was fighting a lot with my mother, and my father was in and out of my life and addicted to painkillers. I just couldn’t do it anymore, so I walked out.
I lived with my dad for a bit, but it wasn’t good. I stayed with friends but eventually asked my grandmother if I could stay with her. She was in her 70s, and she reluctantly agreed.
I stayed there until I finished high school, and it’s only now that I’m approaching my 20-year high school reunion, and after having three children of my own, that I realize why my grandmother was so reluctant to say “yes,” and how much she must have sacrificed by taking in her troubled, slightly drug-addicted, disgruntled, often absent from class, foul-mouthed, rebellious grandson.
She fought with me over homework, girls, drugs, clothing, hygiene, religion, bad movies, and even worse music.
It was just her and me in that home, and she never took her eyes off me. I can still remember her sitting in the white vinyl rocker next to the refrigerator, a wrinkled, moisturizer-soaked hand on her forehead, shoulders slumped, trying to figure out how to raise a teenager long after she’d intended to raise a teenager.
I can say with 100% confidence that I’d never have straightened out, finished high school, and eventually gone to college without my grandmother.
Now, at 37, I think I’m a pretty good dude, with a stable marriage and awesome kids.
All of it started with the foundation my grandmother set when she said, “Yes. You can live here.”
Grandma died when I was 21, long before she had a chance to see me turn into something she could be proud of. But I must say, I cannot look at this picture from my high school graduation and not see both pride and relief in her eyes.
So grandparents raising your child’s child, I know it’s a burden.
But I also want you to know that you are probably saving that child’s life in ways you may never see.
So hold ’em tight, because they might not appreciate it now, but they will.
Trust me. I know.
This post originally appeared on No Idea What I’m Doing: A Daddy Blog. You can read more from Clint in his book, Silence is a Scary Sound: And Other Stories on Living Through the Terrible Twos and Threes. This recommendation is an affiliate link, so we may earn a small commission should you decide to purchase it. If we’re sharing it, it’s because we think it’s great!