For those parents who need to know there’s light at the end of the tunnel, today I can tell you, there is.
Many of my posts have been about my trials and tribulations trying to parent Brianna through a tumultuous adolescence. So many days I wondered if I would survive until she reached “maturity”, however anyone wants to define it. Many nights I lay awake worrying about why I wasn’t getting through to her, why she kept making the worst choices.
Today she started college.
Three years ago, I wasn’t sure she would finish high school. Never in my thoughts did I think she was incapable. But always in my thoughts was the fact that she didn’t believe in herself. I had complete faith that if she ever found a way to a safe and healthy journey, then she would make better choices and accomplish great things. No matter how desperate I tried to lead her to a good path, she always had to take the less-traveled path, the bumpier road.
Four years ago, I had a conversation with Brianna in which I told her to write down the songs she wanted sung at her funeral. That got her attention, but only for a minute. On her worst days, I watched her get handcuffed and put in the back of a police car, I watched her get escorted into court, I dropped her off at MADD classes and STS locations. I’ve lost track of the number of therapists and psychologists we’ve seen. And I cried as I watched her shrink to 85 pounds.
I can’t point my finger at any one thing that finally connected with Brianna. No magic potion. No maturity pill, although I searched every pharmacy and health food store. I know I said a lot of words throughout her journey, some good, some I’m not very proud of. Can I offer words of wisdom to another parent just starting on an adolescent journey? Sorry, no magic words either.
When my second daughter entered adolescence, it created a great deal of havoc for our family. At the time, I went to church and talked with our pastor, searching for answers, wisdom. He prayed with me. And he told me that I had done the best I could as a mom and that I had laid a solid foundation. “Let her go, let her take her path, and have faith that she will come back to the foundation you’ve put down.” Those were tough words to accept, and I didn’t embrace them. But all these years later, they ring true. So if I have anything to offer, it’s that philosophy.
Brianna will celebrate her twenty-first birthday in about two weeks. She’s a late bloomer in terms of college, but she’s there because she chooses to be there. She was just as excited to start college today as she was to go to kindergarten all those many years ago. And I am just as proud of her today as I was then.
“You did good, kid. Now go take on the world.”