A message to the mother I was, from the mother I am now
Well, you did it….Can you believe it?? 4 kids out of the nest and flying solo. Very impressive, especially since you weren’t so sure how this was going to turn out. It sure got a little tricky in those teen years, didn’t it? Especially with, well…you know who. But you (we) made it! And so did she.
Now you have other mothers asking you how you did it and you really have to think hard about that, don’t you? They’re scared, just like you were. They know something isn’t right with their teen, just like you did. How did you get through it? Was it something specific that you did? Was it something you could tell them, so they could do the same thing? Hmmmm, it’s hard to say, isn’t it? All 4 kids were so different, with their own personalities and way of “being”…
I’m guessing that all kids out there are pretty unique, just like yours, well “ours” are. But when I think back on the worst of the worst…the really bad times, I stand in awe of you. At how strong and brave you were, when you really had no idea what was happening or what to do next. When you knew your (our) beautiful, loving, amazing little girl was still in there somewhere, but you didn’t know how to get her back.
When communication in its simplest form was unattainable, pretty much impossible, you stood strong. You weren’t gonna give up. No sir. This was your child. You would fight for her till your dying day. And you did. And maybe…. just maybe, that had an impact on her.
Even though she sure convinced you that she didn’t want anything to do with you, maybe she noticed that you didn’t disappear. That might be something you could tell the other mothers. Don’t give up.
It’s funny- when you try to talk to her about it now, years later, she doesn’t remember any of it, does she? But you (we) sure do. The police, the hospitals, the cutting, the suicide watch…the trouble at school. The off-campus probation… How in the world was our sweet little girl in a room like that???
Do you remember sitting outside of her bedroom all night long, listening for the slightest hint of trouble? It makes me weak just thinking about the fear and uncertainty and, ok, terror that we went through – you and me, wondering how to save our baby.
And then one night, you heard it. She was talking on the phone with a friend. What were they saying???? Something about the sea turtles? Of course you only heard her side of the conversation, but it seemed so completely out of character for the person she had become.
They were going to save the sea turtles. Oh, I don’t have the slightest idea how she thought they were going to travel to the other side of the world to rescue these animals, but that’s what they were planning. Remember how you wanted to burst into her room and scream at the top of your lungs that she couldn’t even save herself- how was she going to save the turtles???
But something made you stop. Something made you think for a second. Remember that? You thought to yourself, wait a minute. If she wants to save the sea turtles, maybe she’ll think about them more than herself. Maybe that’s what she needs -something bigger than herself to believe in. Maybe if she’s thinking about the helpless sea turtles, she won’t be thinking about her next party or whatever else she was planning.
So, for the first time in a long time, you went downstairs and went to sleep with peace in your heart. Boy, did you need that….
And the next day, you brought it up at breakfast, didn’t you? Didn’t we see something stir inside of her? It wasn’t much, but it was there. She actually talked to you that morning. About sea turtles! I remember that. It wasn’t much, but it was a start. And you realized that baby steps were good. Sometimes, baby steps are all that you have.
Maybe that’s another thing to tell the mothers who are going through what you went through….take anything you can get, no matter how insignificant it may seem. Grab hold of the slightest spark in your teen and keep fanning it until you see a flame, no matter how tiny. That little flame may just be the key to your teen’s future. Don’t let it die. And for goodness sake, let it be THEIR flame, not yours.
I remember how a spark was ignited in you that day too…You wondered if there were any other mothers like you (us) who might be able to find that missing something in their teen. You thought maybe you could help them find that light in their teen, so they could steer them back onto a pathway that may lead in a completely different direction. I mean, who wouldn’t want that, right???
We never did travel the world to save the turtles, at least not yet. But wow! You should be proud of how you nurtured and encouraged and coached that girl to where she is today. Can you believe how far she’s come, just because you didn’t give up? Because you let her know that you would never leave her? NEVER??? And you helped her discover who she really was and who she wanted to become. You helped her find options that worked for her! Options that neither one of you knew were even out there!!
And because you gave her the freedom to dream and explore, she’s found a love that even SHE didn’t know was buried deep inside! Who would believe that the anorexic teen who refused to eat anything healthy, or anything at all most nights, would end up with a passion for cooking that has her on a path to becoming a chef at the most high end chop house in town!!! Not you, that’s for sure. Even I don’t believe it and I’m in a much different place than you were at the time of all this drama.
Yup, you did good. You didn’t give up. You grabbed hold of the baby steps when that’s all you had. You looked for the tiniest little spark in her, no matter how insignificant it seemed. And you helped her find options that would lead her on a pathway to the future of her dreams!
Oh, and I want you to know, tonight was something special. You, 10 years older, went out to dinner tonight at that famous chop house where your daughter is working her way up the ladder. You didn’t know anyone – you just went there for a nice dinner. You told the waitress that your daughter works in the kitchen and as you were on your way out the door, the owner of the restaurant stopped you. He wanted you to know what an amazing daughter you had.
He said she is an incredible worker and is very talented. He wanted you to know that he will be working with her to give her the skills she will need to succeed in the business. And while we were talking, someone else came up to say that everyone in the kitchen loves her too. Didn’t see that coming, did you? You were right, she WAS still in there. It just took a lot of love and patience to get her back. And it was sooooo worth it!