She's been out of my home for 3 weeks now. I feel the clock ticking. I see the hands of time move. I wish she knew how precious this time is.
We have talked through Facebook, she has contacted others in this same way. Thank goodness she has talked to her big brother. I hope she talks to him more. When he went through his teenage rebellion she was so lost without him, I hope she understands that he is the same without her. They have always been so close.
Yes, my heart breaks knowing every day that I will not be seeing her when I get home; but the hurt runs even deeper knowing how worried her big brother is as well.
My first response to her was to let her know: "It's not too late to turn it around..."
I know this. I know how strong she is. I know what things she can accomplish. But I also know that it get's harder as time goes on. Ohhhh do I know this all-too-well. Yes, from personal experience. She feels like she needs time to think things through and figure out what to do.
So, in looking back on my "Epic Parenting Fail", I have made a few notations in my mental parenting book. (after all, I've got two more to get through this...)
Although I love my eldest daughter more than is possible to put into words, I realize now that I let some things slide:
Even as they grow, even as they shy away from personal connections with parents, even as they scream that they don't need it, remember to hug your children every day.
I used to come home from work, tired and worn down, knowing in my head the list of things I needed to accomplish before I could let my head hit the pillow. Megan would often be watching the little one's for a bit after she got home from school since they got home an hour after her. And most days she would have cleaned up, or at least straightened up the house. I excpected that this be done, as this is part of being a family and living in a home. Often, though she would complain that I never aknowledged this. Yet, I always tried to point out something she had done well.
Imagine the different way those words could have felt to her had I taken just a moment to hug my eldest daughter. To kiss the top of her head and tell her how important she is/was to me...
I would give anything to be able to do just that...
And another thing:
My eldest children are from my first marriage. Their father and I divorced when they were about 5 and 8. I was young, mid-twenties, and started dating again. I was working two jobs, raising two kids, and I thought it was a good idea to add a romantic interest into that mix? Geeze. What was I thinking, right? There came a point when one relationship became serious. I thought I was doing it right; the kids were not introduced to him until I felt it was serious enough to be "forever"... But I should have seen that MY forever may not have been everyone else's forever... We did marry, he was great with my older kids; seemed to embrace a father-type role, and eventually (less than a year after we married) we welcomed our triplets to our family.
Sounds great, right? Well, love, or percieved love, is blind.
A month before Megan turned 17, my husband left the home. He had been her stand-in dad for 10 years. When he left, I actually felt it could be a positive thing, as our household could be more serene. But for a girl who was about to turn 17, about to start her senior year; a girl trying to figure out how to grow to an adult, this was a huge blow. 'He was my dad for 10 years mom, and he just walked away...' Add to that the fact that the people in his family that, in her words, 'so easily act like she never existed', especially as she celebrated her 17th birthday a month later. I'll never forget the pain in her voice as she told me how much it hurt that the woman she had called Grandma for 10 years didn't even aknowledge her birthday. 'Not even a card, mom. Not that I expected much, but I thought she'd send a card...' In my eyes, these were normal feelings in the face of a family split. Now, I wish I had gotten her in to talk to someone that was removed from the family. I am not all-knowledgable; I thought I could help with my talks of strength and taking the lemons life gives you and making lemonade, etc. In hindsight, I wish I had taken her to a professional to just talk out her feelings.
Imagine the pain I could have spared my daughter had I not remarried. I don't fully regret getting remarried; I am so lucky to have the children, our triplets, that came out of that relationship. But, as I start again as a single mom, that's how it will stay. Me and the kids. They do not need to be exposed to my romantic relationships, they do not need multiple people to come in and out of their lives. Their dad is part of their lives, and by working together I am certain that they can reap the benefits of a mother and a father even while we are in separate households.
There are more regrets, more things I will change in my parenting style, but those two are the most important in my view of the recent events. Those two are the two that I have full and immediate ability to change.
Epic Parenting Fail? I don't know, but yes, it feels like it. But after all, we are human. We learn throughout our lifetime, learning is how we grow. So, by analyzing the parenting I am doing I am growing. Hopefully in the right direction...
© erikalandon 2012