Epic Fail. That's what it feels like...

Epic Parenting fail... Or just Parenting?

I am sharing this only to let anyone out there who may be going through a similar situation see that they are not alone. As a parent, I continually wonder if I am "doing it right", or if I am failing in key areas. These last two weeks have really left me wondering. Really left me doubting. Really left me reeling...

My eldest daughter is 17. Up until a couple weeks ago her grades were almost all A's. She was on track to graduate with her class, most of whom she had known and gone to school with since Grade School. She was proud of her last report card that was above a 3.0 GPA. She was helpful around the house, and watched her little brother and sister often while I worked my second job. And sometimes while I worked late at my primary job. She was proud of herself when she could make sure I came home to a clean house. She was working hard at what she needed to get done as a 17 year old....

And in an instant, or what seems like and instant, all this changed.

Her Facebook post that morning: "and here's where it all goes bad..."

I left for work that morning telling her that I would talk to her after school. She was in trouble, and I was taking her phone, the rest would be ironed out when she got home from school, and I from work. She asked for lunch money. And then asked for extra money so that her and her friend could go to Muchas Gracias at lunchtime "...'cause that's what we do on Mondays, Momma."

Yes, she still called me Momma. Up. Until. That. Day.

I called my eldest son at 6:11 that morning and asked him to wake his sister for school since I had her phone and she used that as an alarm clock. "Mom, she must have left for school already, she's not home." My mouth went dry. My mind started reeling. My heart sank.

Sank to the bottom of my stomach.

I asked him to check the yard. To check the garage. To check all the bedrooms and the closets.

He said "she's not here, mom... what happened?" 6:11 that morning. The time is oddly etched in my mind. And my heart sank again.

Sank to my smallest toe.

She was gone. She had taken off.  But I still had hope at that point. I still thought she would go to school. Graduation was just around the corner, she wouldn't do this, right?

I called the school at second period (her first scheduled class of the day). No show. Then again at third period. No show. No show all day. When I got home I checked School Wires, the site wherein I am able to instantly see attendance and grades. I had hope again: her 6th period teacher had marked her present! I called the school to verify. No - sorry Mrs. Landon, the teacher was mistaken, she is not in class. And my heart sank yet again.

Farther than my smallest toe.

Now, to understand, you need a little background. My middle daughter is my heart. She is my joy. She is my pride. She has been my everything for almost 18 years. I worried about her when I became pregnant with the triplets, as she would no longer be 'the baby'. But she held so much love for those three little babies that were so difficult to bring into this world. I worried about her when Little Eric died, but she was still so young and innocent (9 years old) that she simply understood that he was in Heaven with loved one's already passed. She learned to help care for the special needs of her little sister, she learned to deal with the ongoing special needs of her little brother. She was a rock star.

Or so I thought.

I retrospect, I can see that things were harder on her than I understood. While I was a SAHM, my focus was on getting the babies healthy enough to thrive in this world. While I thought I was able to give her extra attention she felt as though she was in the shadows. I didn't know. I revelled in her Dance team activities, in her Cheerleading ventures, in her school accomplishments. But, yes, I had two very fragile babies to care for, and I was in mourning. Mourning the loss of my precious baby boy, and the impending loss of the marriage that brought those babies into our lives.

 But even so, I thought I was doing the best for my kids...

So, last week my daughter ran away. She ran to escape. She ran to hide. She ran to restart. She ran to be with her boyfriend. She ran away. She showed up at her Dad's house 4 days later. She looked thin and needed love. But I felt that she needed to face what she had put the family through, and face her demons. I am big on personal responsibility. She came home two days later; but she had told us she would run again. She promised her sister she would watch her gymnastics meet, and she did. There were moments that Sunday in which I saw glimpses of my daughter, but those faded as she reconnected with her boyfriend on Facebook towards the end of the day. There were painful moments also, in which my daughter who had always been respectful and kind was not there. She cursed in front of her little brother and sister. She said things that were hurtful to me.

That night, as I slept with thoughts and dreams of a counselor visit in the morning and getting her back into school; she left again. I woke in the morning and once again, like in the days during the previous week, I cried so hard and deelpy; reminicent of the days after my son died, when I never knew pain could run so deep. And my heart sank...

Farther than I knew it could go.

She's been gone since Sunday night. We are entering a new weekend. A weekend wherein I miss my daughter with every part of my soul. With every part of my being. With every minute that passes.

I have spent the week looking back, looking forward, and questioning.

Was this an Epic Parenting Fail, or simply just parenting?

I don't know.

I just don't know...

(to be continued...)

© erikalandon 2012


Shasta said...

Ouch. That's so hard. I'm sorry you have to deal with this and to doubt yourself.

It's very hard to know how much was parenting and how much is just who they are. I got extremely good grades in school and have been fairly successful and well-rounded. My sister's in prison and literally labeled a terrorist by the US government. Are we who we are because of my mother or are we just who we are?

Stay strong. She'll come back eventually. Try not to be judgmental when she does.

Erika Landon said...

Nice to "see" you Shasta!

It's amazing how different yet how similar kids can turn out from the same upbringing...

Non-judgmental is what I am working on... I have taught personal and community responsibility strongly, and fully believe in it, and it is hard to see this as simple rebellion rather than a failure on my part. But I will work on it.

How are the boys doing? I've been very out of touch recently; too much going on... They are getting big, and I share your thoughts on the brain damage and raising/lowering the bar. My sister recently reminded me of how much I expect of my kids versus what I would expect from Levi... I expect hard work and over-the-top accomplishments, yet I celebrate small things with him. Brain damage is brain damage, and we can only be happy for what is accomplished, even if that be that they only TRY to do something.


Anonymous said...

Oh Erika, I'm sorry. There's not really much else to say.

Erika Landon said...

Thanks Amy... Those girls of yours will grow up and the hormones will rage... Stay in Alaska, keep them close!


Kelley said...

Wow, what a story. I am sorry to hear the pain in your words. I think as parents we are always looking back and wondering could/should I have handled that differently. I am at this moment having trouble with my oldest daughter. She is so responsible and on top of everything. Straight A student, gymnastic team, and well rounded. Although when we argue she is so angry and disconnected. I don't know what to do to strengthen our relationship, because I am scared this will happen as she gets older if I don't. You story has touched me and made me realize not to wait that I need to work on this now. I hope that things get better for you soon. Just be ready with open arms when she come home.
New follower :-)

Erika Landon said...

Thanks Kelley. I debated whether or not to post that. But, the reason you mentioned is exactly why I did... We aren't trying to be our children's friends, and we have them for only a short time. The only thing we can do is show them how much they mean to us, every moment!

My daughetr will be fine, I'm sure. She's a strong girl, I just wish she had made different choices, or made the choices AFTER graduation!