The fourth of my meme 8 has spurred some interesting questions. Here is a brief (well as brief as I am able to make it!) explanation.
My oldest son is 28, married, lives in Michigan with his wife and my two grandkittens, and is the assistant manager for some store there. I call him Bug for 2 reasons - he was always bugging me with very insightful questions that I didn't have answers to and he was fascinated with insects even as a small child. He and his wife (that still sounds strange to my Mommy ears!) are coming in for Christmas and I am so excited/nervous I can hardly stand it!
My 2nd is 25 and is, for at least the next 2 to 3 years, a guest of the Federal Prison System. He got involved with drug trafficking to support the habit he began when he was about 12. I always asked if a parent was going to be home at friends' houses. I always talked to the parent to confirm their presence... I never EVER thought to ask if the parent would introduce him to drugs!!!
By the time he was 18 we had spent close to $50,000 on lawyers, rehabs, counselors, fines, military school. We had also moved 2 times to try to get him into a better situation. NOTE TO THE WISE: If your child is hell bent on doing what he/she is going to do, moving will only provide an opportunity to find the same people wearing different faces in the new place. By the time he was 19 he was in state prison. By the time he was 21 he’d gotten out of state, reoffended and was in Federal Prison. He has not spent a birthday or a Christmas at home since he was 13.
THANK GOD his brain is now kicking in. Sadly, he’s realizing what a mess he’s made of his life. Happily, he starts college in January. Once again, it will cost us money, but we will gladly pay the price if it means he has a chance to straighten his life out for good. Right now he thinks he wants to be a counselor to try to guide kids away from the path he walked. I’m praying that his history will lend such credibility to his counsel that he will be able to spare other families the agony we have endured. He also wants to pursue his musical career. He writes some unbelievable stuff!
My 3rd is 16-1/2 and currently a guest of the County Juvenile Corrections Residential Facility. We adopted her at 11. We knew she came with a load of baggage and we will continue to stand by her and help her deal with her problems. However, after some reaaaaly bad stuff that happened in October, we told her that she would always have a place in our hearts, but she no longer (at least for a while) had a place in our home. When she went to court for her sentencing, we asked them to help us help her. The court, knowing that in the last 5 years we've spent over $30,000 on her counselors, lawyers, rehabs, psych hospitals, and medications (not including the adoption costs), agreed to keep her locked up, for her own benefit, until January when she should be going to military school. As long as she's confined and not out in the free using drugs or beating people up, she can't screw up her scholarship.
I do have to give her some serious credit, though, because when the judge asked her if she wanted to go home, she said flatly, NO. She explained to him that she knew she could not make it “out there” and feared she’d do something so detrimental that there would be no coming back from it. Her long term goals are to join the military, possibly the Coast Guard or the Marines. The school to which she has a scholarship will help her decide which is best. They will also help her learn self control and discipline in a way that we, as her parents, have been unable to manage. The program has approximately an 82% success rate with kids just like her. We are SO, SO, SO VERY BLESSED to have found it!
I am blogging all of this stuff because I know there are lots of families out there who deal with such issues, but are too ashamed or guilty feeling to mention it. I, on the other hand, have n.o.t.h.i.n.g. to be ashamed or guilty about. My children were raised with the right moral values in a loving, upper middle class home with both of their parents doting on them from the first moment we laid eyes on them. They were expected to do chores, earn an allowance, get good grades, tell the truth, and be respectful.
Were we perfect parents?? NO. Did we make mistakes along the way?? YES. But we always did the best we could with the tools we had, and EVERYTHING we EVER have done has been for the benefit and wellbeing of our children. PERIOD. We could have retired by now if it wasn’t for all the money we’ve spent trying to get them the help they need. But it’s not about the money – it’s about the LOVE. We could have thrown up our hands and walked away a long time ago, but that is not who we are. And it is definitely not in line with the moral values we want them to understand and live by.
As for those who think we somehow did something that screwed them up: I REFUSE to allow anyone to make me feel like a bad parent or a low life because of my kids’ choices. I REFUSE to hide my “dirty laundry” in an effort to avoid offending anyone, including the miscreant kids who dirtied up the stuff to begin with! My husband and I live by, and taught our kids to live by what we call the headline test: If you would be embarrassed to have it splashed across the front page of the newspaper, then DON’T DO IT!
If you are a parent with perfect children, get down on your knees and thank your creator that you were so awesomely blessed. If you are the parent of a child who, like ours, has spent a good part of life with his head stuck up the wrong part of his anatomy, take heart. If you know you did the best you could, then hang in there and believe that God is in control and things will eventually all balance out. If I didn’t have that to hang onto, I’d have to be locked up now. In a rubber room. With a nice clean white coat to help me hug myself to sleep.
Speaking of sleep – I’m going to bed and try not to have nightmares about what could be happening to my kids in places where I can’t protect them. A mother’s job, truly, never, never, ends!
As always – Peace and blessings, and sweet dreams.