Despite the fact that both my son and his wife had full-time jobs, they still couldn’t make ends meet financially. I would buy them groceries, clothes for my grandson to have at their house, give gift cards to restaurants so they could go on dates. When my son was out of work for a few months, my husband paid him a generous hourly rate to complete projects around our house. All of this was in addition to caring for our grandson during the week.
Although they had agreed to an amount of $150 a month, they stopped paying me for daycare after one year. My husband and I understood that it was difficult for them as young parents. We thought that if we could help them through difficult times, they would eventually be fine on their own. The first time my son asked for a loan, I once again ignored my gut feelings and decided to lend him money.
Over the years, there were several loans for car repairs, monthly bills, and rent payments. There were also many promises of re-payment that weren’t upheld and then paid late, often with guilt provoking comments from my son, “I don’t know how I’m going to afford gas for the next two weeks.” I rationalized that helping my son would help my grandson, which was my ultimate goal, to protect my grandson at all costs. I was using all of my energy to try and care for the people I love and keep everyone happy. I felt caught in the middle of an impossible situation. I’m reminded of a lyric from “Already Gone” by the Eagles, “So often times it happens, that we live our lives in chains, and we never even know we have the key”.
My husband is a very logical person. He isn’t heartless by any means. He simply has the ability to think before he feels, something I admire and strive to emulate (I haven’t been successful yet). I call it his superpower and I have always trusted his judgement. I’m ashamed beyond words to confess that I disregarded his warnings when deciding to lend money to our son. It’s not that my husband didn’t want to help, it was more that he didn’t understand why they needed the help.
He wanted to know what was happening to all of their money. His question was valid. He offered to help them set up a budget and teach them other valuable financial tools such as establishing an emergency fund and saving for retirement. He also had suspicions, and when he voiced them to me, I wouldn’t listen. He pointed out that my son and his wife seemed to be able to afford cigarettes, and weed, and meals out for lunch and dinner. It wasn’t out of line to suggest their money was also being used to support their habit.
I only perceived his words as judgements about them and their lifestyle, rejecting the possibility they were simply young and having a hard time. I’m not sure that I will ever stop blaming myself for the tension and friction those disagreements brought to our marriage. I’m eternally grateful for my husband’s response when I asked for his forgiveness, “There’s nothing to forgive. You didn’t do anything wrong. You love him and you were trying to help.”
To be continued…
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