If you can't make it better you can laugh at it. ~Erma Bombeck


Friday, November 16, 2007

My Jailbirds - Answers to Meme queries

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.


  1. Wow. Thanks for sharing all of that. It seems so simple when they all start out - doesn't it?

    I applaud you for your openess and willingness to share and help others. I will keep you and your children in my prayers.


  2. I stumbled on your blog from Lucille and momtomy6pack. I admire your honesty and integrity. Thank you for sharing your story. With three little ones, your story seems worlds away. Yet, I know it is not too long before they will be making their own decisions. I hope and pray that they will achieve that balance you mentioned. I look forward to reading more of your inspiring and amusing writings.

  3. Luc - Thanks, as always, for your words of encouragement. The holiday season is the hardest on me. I can't listen to "I'll Be Home for Christmas" at all!

    Denise - Thank you for the kind words. I hope that something in my experience helps you to have it a little easier raising your wee ones. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Awesome post. I k.n.o.w. where you are coming from. Although none of my kids are incarcerated, it is only by lots of prayers and the grace/mercy of God. I won't expound because this is your blog but I certainly do understand. I hope your time with your son and daughter in law goes well. And if I can locate your email, I'll send you a pic of my granddaughter. I love your blog. Margie

  5. Hi Margie! It is so cool to have a fan! LOL! Sounds like maybe you should start your own blog to share your story. We could become the "There but for the grace of God go YOU" mommy bloggers! LOL!! Would be great to see a pic of your grandaughter. My email address is damama002@yahoo.com Have a great day!

  6. Great post, and thank you for your comment over at my blog earlier today. You have the correct attitude about your situation, and that's coming from my personal AND professional viewpoints (I'm a mom of two teenage girls, one of whom got off track last year at college, and I'm a counselor who tries to help kids and families like yours, and it's a very difficult process to get the kids back on track again). You do NOT have anything about which to be ashamed, my dear. Take care, and God bless.

  7. My kid's Mom - I'm so honored that you took the time to stop by! I'm also honored that you, as a professional, approve of my "bad" attitude toward my kids' situations. I've had lots of behind-the-scenes emails telling me that I have no business putting my kid's legal and emotional problems on display. No wonder the world is as messed up as it is! We are a society of people who are terminally ill on all the secrets we keep.

    Thank you for being a voice of hope and reason to your patients. Believe me, there are those of us who DO listen - Hubby and I didn't get so stable all by ourselves, ya know!

    Peace and Blessings for a Happy Holiday Season!

  8. Life has not been easy for you.
    I've been lucky with mine, as far as jails are concerned, but we've had a load of trouble with the mental condition of our youngest - and so many put it down to overprotective older parents.
    If I ever wore a hat, I'd take it off to you.

  9. Dragonstar - isn't it amazing that people who aren't wearing our britches keep trying to tell us why they are so tight?? It just chaps my backside when know-it-alls decide that they could solve your problems if you'd just... blah.. blah. blah... Even the professionals are only providing a best guess based on what "usually" works! So, as I've said over and over - if you are working from a place of love and continually looking for new tools to try to get the job done, then TO HELL with anybody who tries to make you feel bad! XOXO

  10. This is my first read, and I am so glad I found your blog. It is so good to hear the way you veiw your children and your parenting skills. It's hard not to judge and feel judged when your children are making bad choices. I respect the job you have done.

  11. Tari - Thank you so much for taking the time to read all this. And thank you for your kind words. I pray you never have to learn any of the lessons I share first hand.

  12. God bless you - I have learned over the past year or two that you can do everything "right" as a parent, and still have a child be out of control. And I have dealt with the people who will look for a reason, any reason, that things got messed up. What's funny is that people will come up with reasons that are direct opposites. It's because we homeschool; it's because we sent our daughter to school for eighth grade; it's because we have too many kids (yes, this never happens in 2-kid families!); it's because we are too strict; it's because we are too lenient.

    What it really is, people, is "free will." Remember that concept? You do the best you can, but there are no guarantees; and those of you who are feeling smug, should just be feeling pretty darn lucky!


WELL HOWDY!! Thanks so much for popping in to leave a note. PLEASE be sure to check the box by "E-mail follow-up comments to..." so that you'll get my response to your comment. I almost always respond personally And sorry for making you do the Word jumble mambo. I wish there weren't A***ole spammers running rampant in the blogverse!


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