I took a big step this week and now, after the fact, it’s killing me. And I have an even larger step to take in the next couple of days and I’m scared. Can I do it?
Earlier this week I drew a line in the sand with my third daughter, Emily. She’s twenty years old and lives away at college. She doesn’t have a job and lives by the Mother Pays for Everything Creed. Emily and I have been bumping heads for months, mostly over the fact that she wants me to “gift” her a car. This week we discovered that she filed income taxes (how can you do that when you don’t work??) and claimed herself as a dependent. We asked her to amend her tax forms and she refused. We cannot claim her as a dependent on our taxes and it’s costing us a lot of money that we don’t have.
So hubby is looking for ways to cut back on bills even more than we already have and cell phones are at the top of the list. At Christmas time we finally got my second daughter off our cell phone bill. She’s getting married in four months (OMG! There’s so much to do!) so it was long past time. Emily has been away at college for two years, but all of her stuff is still here at home. Anyway, hubby decided that if Emily had enough alleged income to file taxes (really, she doesn’t have a job!), then she should be able to pay for her own cell phone. I conveyed the message to Emily and she made the decision to remove herself from our account and establish her own account. She could have stayed on our account if she paid us each month for the cost of her line, but no, she wanted to be completely independent. It will cost her twice as much as if she had stayed on our account. And that’s what’s killing me. She’s a college student. She really doesn’t have a job. She’s living solely on student loans. And she can’t afford a huge cell phone bill. And I did this to her. Ugh!!
The other side of my brain says, wait a minute! She’s how old? And she doesn’t even have a part-time job? She’s lucky to have had a cell phone all these months! And she’s living on her own, away at colllege? She has nothing to complain about. These are her choices.
Yeah, but that doesn’t help the ache in my mothering heart.
And this little issue is minutely small compared to the other line in the sand I have to draw. This one regards my youngest daughter, Brianna. She’s eighteen, a senior in high school. She goes to school once a week (on a good week) and therefore won’t graduate on time in June. She doesn’t have a job, because she can’t get herself out of bed to get to a job on time. And she doesn’t understand why managers aren’t understanding when you show up for work a half hour late or not at all. Bri has been told her boyfriend is not allowed to spend the night and yet she regularly sneaks him into her bed in the middle of the night. We’ve told the boyfriend that we will call the police the next time he spends the night. So now it appears they’ve both turned their days and nights around so he’s sleeping in her bed during the day when I’m away at work.
I could go on for another page about the “infractions” Bri is guilty of and all the consequences and punishments we have doled out in the last four years. But why bother? The fact is, these things have happened on my watch and I’m guilty of enabling her. And this week, when I discovered another $400 missing from my checking account, I reached the last strand of my rope. I’m drawing the line.
Well, I’m planning my strategy to draw the line. It’s complicated. Brianna is a mess. Plain and simple. She’s got more issues than I have fingers to count them. She is eighteen, so the world looks at her as an adult. And yet, some days she functions with the mentality of a ten year old. Don’t think she’s stupid or learning impaired. She’s not. She’s incredibly smart. She is a master of manipulation. She’s conniving and could easily qualify for an apprenticeship with the CIA. I’m not kidding! But she’s a lost soul. She has no discipline, no regard for right/wrong, no respect for herself or others. She’s gorgeous—could have a career as a model—but she believes she’s the ugliest teenager in town. When she’s not using, she has a wonderful personality and a really great sense of humor. But we rarely see it.
“Throw her out!” many people have said. To where? No matter where she goes, her problems will follow her. And no one wants her problems. “Let her live on the street for a couple of weeks and she’ll get it figured out.” Honestly, she won’t. She needs help. And she needs more than I can provide. And this week, when I reached the last strand of my rope, I started making phone calls. I’ve found a residential treatment center that will help her through all of her issues. And her health insurance will pick up a large part of the cost. It’s where she must go. It’s the only place left where she is welcomed. But she is eighteen, so I cannot force her to go there. According to law, she has to make that choice.
So now, my mission—and I have agreed to accept it—is to convince Bri that she needs to get help and she must go live in a residential treatment setting. I have to present this to her in a way that allows her to believe it is her idea and gives her the hope/faith that this will be the right choice. I have to convince her that she will survive without her boyfriend, that she can finish school in the fall, and that being clean and sober is the only path for her.
Can I do it?