Things That Hurt, and Things That Don't

This morning I woke up to a phone call from a young girl in Vietnam who is coming to live with us for the next school year. I spoke to her and her parents in small and confusing sentences, about how excited we all were to meet each other.

When I got out of bed and shuffled out of my room, I found a letter from another young girl. One who already lives with me. One who is not excited about living with me and whom I have hurt and mishandled.

The letter was brutal. It was young. It was carelessly honest, spewing out words that will never be retracted, but will be remembered. The first thought that went through my head was : oh man. Did I ever say these things? To my mom? Because the sting was real. Even though I know that this is part of growing up. I know that growing pains aren't just felt by the kids that are growing, they are felt by the people growing them. I know I can not take it personally, however personally it was written. I know all too well how the lack of maturity is also the lack of a filter. I know to set the letter on a shelf and put it away, inside of me, and take out the things that I can hear: You Never Listen; You Humiliate Me; You Judge Me; and work on those things. Address them with my actions more than my words. This anger is not remedied with seven hour long conferences. It is remedied with compassionate parenting, but firm parenting. I have given all of my children, and in fact all of the people in my life, far too much liberty with me. I have allowed them to blame their poor choices and bad attitudes on me. I have enabled their excuses and I have tolerated their justifications. Me, of all people. I have spoiled them. I am an enabler. A DIS-abler. Because really, I have disabled them, thus far, to being successful in relationships and taking responsibility for their actions and attitudes and behaviors. I will try to listen, and respond with truth, even if it is inconvenient for them. I will try to discipline without humiliation. I will try to never judge, and always remember my own careless youth. There is no perfect parent. There is no manual on raising girls. Trust me, I have searched. There is only heartache and joy and learning on both sides. And I am learning. So it she. But it stings. For both of us.

One more day, home from work, endless hours to face my physical pain, my failures as a mother, a wife, a friend. Free from distractions. I have all day to read books or watch TV, and I find myself staring at the wall thinking: Ok, what next? How do I take the next step? What is the next step? Where do I go from here, other than the bar? The bar. That sounds very appealing.

Too much snow, too much gray, too much hurty couch time. I need to go for a jog in the sunshine with a keg of beer at the other end and happy dancing daughters singing my praises. Wouldn't it be loverly? Soon. It's coming. I can taste it. There was a speck of blue sky this morning when I got up that was pushing back the clouds. It lost the battle, but maybe tomorrow. Maybe winter will give up the ghost and springtime will come. Or maybe I can make my own sunshine out of hope and determination. (and a little bit of whisky?) I am ready. Or I will be, as soon as I shave my legs...

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