This last week has been a very difficult time. One of my daughters, at fifteen, thinks that she is ready for this world and all that it has to offer. I am a strict parent. I am the first to admit it. I also know that sometimes I am too strict and that, just like when you get nervous riding a horse and hold the reins drawn in too tightly, you can cause an explosion of anger that can damage yourself and everyone around you. She struggles with self-esteem. Over the last year her father has all but walked out of their lives (she has a twin sister) in lieu of what his new girlfriend wants. She suffers from fairly well controlled ADHD, and responsibility has never been her strong suit. It is a daily challenge, but we make it through and in the end I know she will be okay. She made a big mistake. She fell for the super cute boy. The super cute boy asked for pictures. She obliged. I recently had to contact the super cute boy and explain to him the laws on child pornography and the distribution of such pornography and that some parents have access to complete text logs. The pictures have been deleted, and removed, from all known sources. There is nothing, absolutely NOTHING that I can do beyond that to take them from the unknown sources. Hopefully this won’t come back to haunt her later. She, of course, lost every privilege known to a teenager. I didn’t yell at her, even though I had to bite my tongue and dig my fingernails into my palms to keep from doing so. I spoke to her calmly, quietly. She had no answers to the biggest question that I had. Why?
I spent most of the week walking on eggshells around her, until on when Thursday I decided that I couldn’t keep doing it. I couldn’t tiptoe around it anymore. I was in constant contact with her school counselor (she has regular sessions with her) all week and slowly felt that the entire event was shifting to a place that I think will neither help, nor teach my daughter a lesson. She acted inappropriately. She behaved irresponsibly. There are consequences to every choice, good or bad. She started playing the victim. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am her mom and I hate seeing her hurt, seeing her cry, seeing the utter humiliation on her face when she realized what was happening, but I also know that if we step in front of every consequence, if we help her make excuses for her choices and back off on other rules because she is just “so bummed out” then we are not, ultimately, helping her at all. It breaks my heart. Tiny little pieces, everywhere. She is that boy’s victim, I understand that and believe me, I am angry at the boy, angry enough to consider driving over to his house and making it clear that I am not afraid of going to prison (not really, prison would terrify me but he doesn’t know that). I am angry because he “talked” her into it. I am angry at her. I am angry at myself for not realizing that that is what he was doing and that my daughter, who craves attention, would fall right into the most classic trap of teenage boys out there.
She is pushing me. She is asking to do things, like drive the car, when I have already stated that she must have all C’s or better to get behind the wheel and she currently has a D. She knows this rule. But she is trying to turn this rule into something that doesn’t matter in lieu of the terrible things that have happened. Yes, it was terrible that he shared those pictures. But he shouldn’t have had them to share. I blame her, I blame me. I question my choices, my parenting style, everything.
On Friday my mother called me from Arizona. You see, my aunt passed away in July after a long battle with lung cancer. She was an amazing woman. My amazing uncle stayed by her side and took care of every aspect of her care. They had been friends from childhood and their love was truly amazing. My uncle passed away on Friday. His heart gave out while he was vacationing in a foreign country. We are working with the embassy to bring him home. We don’t know when that will be. We don’t know how long it will take or what the procedure is. It is a process. The loss that our family feels has shaken us all. Our only consolation is that theirs was a great love and he seemed so lost without her. Now they are together again. When I spoke to my father on the phone he was so broken, so hurt. His family consisted of his father and mother and his big brother. He lost his father when I was an infant, his mother in 2010, his brother’s wife 7 months ago and now his big brother. His entire immediate family is gone. I can only be there, listen, and hope that a man as stubborn and hard loving as my beloved father will be able to work through his grief, again.
On Friday night my daughter challenged me. I had spent the afternoon crying, crying for my uncle, my aunt, my dad, crying for my cousins because they lost both parents so quickly. Crying for myself. We are a close family. We always have been. With that comes the deep sorrow of losing someone close to you when others might not understand your pain. I had finally stopped crying and we were watching TV and I was joking around with her sister about her phone and she said, “Shut up, you’re being annoying.” I was baffled. We don’t talk like this in our home. It is rude, disrespectful and I know my mouth dropped open. My day had been rough already. She was already in trouble for sending pictures out. I lost it. I yelled, I ranted, I went on and on and she went stomping back to her room. I followed her. I calmed in mid-hallway but the challenge had been issued and I decided that it was time to make her face up to her actions.
I told her that she wasn’t allowed to speak that way in our home, and that she was going to start being respectful of those around her, including her siblings. She screamed about NOT being respected, I calmly explained that it is earned and it is not something that is just passed out because you share a gene pool. She screamed that she hated me. I told her that was okay, because I loved her. She screamed that she wanted me to send her away. I told her no, I wasn’t going to do that. I explained that the only “away” that there was was to her father’s house and she immediately screamed that she didn’t want to be there, that I should send her to a boarding school, just anywhere that she never had to see me again. She screamed that she would go to the school counselor and tell them she wanted to be put into the foster system. I asked her on what grounds she thought they would even begin to consider that. She had no answer and it made her even madder. I didn’t back down. She told me to get out of her room. I remained in her doorway, the whole time with my heart just crumbling at her cruel words and keeping it together because she probably really needed to scream just out of sheer frustration. I told her that I loved her, and that she needed to start talking to me, that she needed to stop blaming those around her for her actions, and that just because she was hurting that it didn’t make it right to hurt those around her. I asked her why she was so angry at me. She had no answer. I asked her if I had yelled at her, up until this point, at all about what she had done. She said no. She started to calm and admitted that she was just mad about it all.
We fell on the topic of the pictures. She covered her ears and screamed over and over that she didn’t want to talk about it. I continued talking to her in a calm voice, I told her that if she was old enough to “do those things” then she was old enough to sit and talk about them and the consequences. Finally, after what seemed like forever, she dropped her hands and looked up at with me and said, “I can’t tell you because I can’t trust you.” I was shocked. I asked her why. She paused. She said she didn’t have a reason, that it was only because she knew I wouldn’t approve and she would get in trouble. I explained that this was different than “trust” and that she knew that. She admitted that she did know that. She said she had done horrible things (it turns out they weren’t so horrible after all, but when your kids say they have done “horrible” things your heart falls all the way to your feet.)
I told her that if she talked to me we could find a way to work through her emotions. She said, “I know what I did was wrong, I knew when I was doing it that I was wrong, I know it, I know it! I don’t know why I did it. I like the compliments and now I can’t stand to think about it! I can’t sleep! I can’t think about it, I can’t talk about it, I can’t, I can’t!!!!!” She was sobbing. I don’t know if we had reached a good point or bad point. My only degree when it comes to psychology is “BeingAMom101” and I am not sure I am ready to graduate. What I did know is that she was admitting that she knew she was wrong, and she was showing remorse over her actions, finally. I don’t want her to feel badly, but I knew she had to accept her mistake for what it was. A HUGE mistake, and that most mistakes can be fixed. I told her that I understood. I know how it is to dwell on something awful, to have it haunt your dreams, chase you through your nights until you will do anything you can just to not think about it. I told her that we would take her to a different therapist, out of the school system, and that we would work through it, help her gain some self-esteem, help her learn to deal with and move on from mistakes that can’t be corrected. I told her that I would go too, and we would find our way through this together, as a family. She settled, finally. I was exhausted. We hugged, said our “I love you’s” and parted for the night.
I went to bed exhausted. I spent my fourth night in a row crying instead of sleeping. How I can I teach my daughter about acceptance and moving through things if I sit there and worry about her all night? That is hardly leading by example. It is a different thing, yes, I know. I just don’t know how to help my lost girl. I don’t know how to bring her back to us and to make her see how beautiful she is. I tell her all the time, but its not me she wants to hear it from and I can’t give her what the world isn’t offering.
Today I sit here, sick, probably because I haven’t been sleeping. I need to focus on homework. I have an exam to take. I don’t want to go to work tomorrow, but there is nobody else to work for me. I want to sleep, just sleep and rest my exhausted brain and my aching heart. I want to burn my college books (but I won’t because they are expensive and I am broke) and I want to go back in time and make a Skype call to my uncle to tell him I love him. I know he knows that. I can FEEL that he knows that. I sent him, not so long ago, a private message on Facebook and told him I loved him, and he said, “I love you too, sweetie.” I can hear his voice saying that right now, in my head, because he always called me “sweetie.” I can hear my aunt’s laughter, she always helped me through things. I need her right now. I want to talk to her so much.
Like an idiot I didn’t save the message from my uncle and I dearly, desperately want it back… just to have, to maybe put on the back of a picture my aunt and uncle together. Something. I am sentimental like that. I want to ask God why he is pushing me so hard. I feel guilty because of my shaken faith. I feel badly because I feel like I have must have made huge mistakes with my daughter for her to want male attention so badly.
I feel like I am swimming along but sinking little by little and every once in awhile I get a foot hold and am able to pull myself up again long enough to regroup. I really wish I could get to shore, just for awhile. I am just so tired. I am tired of being awake at night. I am tired of the tears that keep coming, they are falling even now, as I dump my emotions into this blog. Now I must wipe them off, go pick my daughter up from work, and make my way through an exam somehow. Stand up straight, soldier, you have work to do….