Sitting in Lansing, Michigan in the capitol building last Wednesday (9/18/19) I wiped the tears from eyes as I listened. Let me back up a bit. I didn’t plan to become the full-time guardian for my three-year-old grandson, I don’t expect any praise, compensation, or reward. However, when someone notices and recognizes the effort Paul and I have made, the empty nest plans we’ve shelved, the commitment we’ve made it’s like when I ran cross country in high school and heard the unexpected cheer as I rounded a turn on the course. I didn’t need the encouragement to finish the race, but it helped. It was reassuring and lifted me.
Well, last Wednesday, I sensed a lot of cheering. It was the Michigan Children's 1st Annual Relative Care Day in Lansing, at the capitol. Relative care is when a relative, like a grandparent, steps in to care for a child in place of the child’s parents. Sometimes these arrangements are informal, sometimes they are court-ordered, and sometimes they are foster care arrangements.
When our group of Relative Caregivers was in the House Gallery, Michigan State Representative Frank Liberati stood on the House floor and called for everyone to stop and recognize the work, the love, the time we give. He called us Heroes. Tears came to my eyes. It just felt good for someone to recognize the important work we’re doing every day. The work is not glamorous but is truly setting the stage for the future of our community, our state, our country, and our world. It is tirelessly loving unconditionally, helping with homework, tying shoes, calming night terrors, just showing up, every single day. It is always putting the best interest of these children we love in front of everything else in our lives.