Sunday, March 18, 2012
It Gets Better
For those of you who have been following my blog for the last several years, you know just how difficult it was for me to raise Salinda. From 13 to 18 there seemed to be a new and more difficult challenge every day, including but not limited to, legal trouble, residential treatment, violations of probation, chemical use, a series of very negative friendships, demands to change schools nearly every semester, an unplanned pregnancy, refusal to live at home, and a long list of arguments and challenges between the two of us. I was literally, as you will recall, stressed out to the point of physical symptoms continuously for several years. I remember the days well.
This weekend she was home and she has grown up so much. She has claimed me as her mom, after years of refusing to do so. She loves me -- I can tell -- and we are communicating as adults. We can talk about the past and recognize the mistakes each of us made. She knows her life isn't always easy and that her choices have put her in a difficult position, but she is living each day with dignity. She's working at Dairy Queen and I observed her at work the other day doing her job with so much patience and kindness that it made me proud. She's in college and loves her criminal justice classes and is hoping to draw from her experiences as a teenager to be an effective juvenile probation officer some day. She is working hard to be a good example to her younger siblings and try to help them avoid the mistakes she has made.
So for those of you going through hard times and asking yourself if it is worth it -- it is. There are years when kids are teenagers when possibly the only thing you see is how much you want to disrupt or terminate your parental rights just because each day is SO HARD. But as someone said recently (I cant' remember who -- I've been living in a fog for months) the horrible teenage years only last 5 years, and even if there is an awful transition to adulthood that takes 10 for them to come around, that is still 10 years of 50 or 60 years that these people will be in my life, assuming I live to be that old. So with Salinda we had 7 great years before the hard ones, and right now it looks like we will have several decades of good ones ahead, so the five ones that seemed unbearable.... they were totally worth it. And that's without mentioning the grandkids ;-).
Hang in there folks. The obnoxious teenager who looked at you with a look of pure hatred now just might turn out be a beautiful young woman who looks at you with love in her eyes some day. It gets better, and it's totally worth it.