Three Steps Back Again

My niece is living with us for the third time. She has had a pretty rough life, I won’t lie. But then again, even after going through the loss of her mother at 6 years old, her life was not bad. Her Dad’s parents took her and her brothers in since no one in her Mother’s family wanted them. It was not easy for her Grandparent’s. Their children were grown and out of the house, well, at least one of them was out of the house. Unfortunately, this is where the problem started. She was the only girl and everyone worried about her. They gave in to her every whim and they never made her responsible for her actions. Now at 14 years old, she has had sex, done drugs, and drank. She has skipped school and run away. She has no respect for authority or anyone for that matter.

As I mentioned before, this is the third time that she has lived with us. The first two times were because she ran away and we thought we could help. This time is because she got kicked out. Did Grandma and Grandpa want too? No. Do I support her decision, yes. Why do I support the decision? Because Grandma and Grandpa are in their 60’s with no help aside from myself and Grandpa’s sister. The constant arguing, telling her Grandparents to F-off. Threatening, threatening, threatening all the time. So Grandma and Grandpa had enough and kicked her out. She hopped from couch to couch for about two weeks and then one night I received a phone call asking if she could spend the night because she had nowhere to go. What was I going to say, no? So she came over, and here she has stayed.

Every time she has lived with us, the friction becomes unbearable in the house. My kids fight with her, my husband fights with her, I fight with her, my husband and I fight with each other, my kids fight with my husband and vice versa. The entire time, she stands there, pretending like she didn’t instigate it. She will say or do something right in front of you and not even a split second later is screaming in your face that she didn’t do it. She is full of empty promises, empty promises, empty promises. I will go to school. She goes and hour and a half late. I will come right home from school. She shows up past curfew. I won’t smoke. She comes home smelling like ganja and cigarette smoke. I won’t have sex. Well, you know how that goes.

I love this child like she came from my own body. When she was born I was the first one to hold her (after her parents of course). I watched her grow and change as she blossomed from a baby, to a toddler, to a little girl. I remember when my her Mother died, it was quick, sudden, and unexpected. She wasn’t even 30 and like the breath that blows out a flame, she was gone. At the funeral, as my daughter and I were walking out to the car, her Father tried to get her to go with him. She wouldn’t. She tugged her hand out of his and came running up to me and then proceeded to yell across the parking lot that she was riding with us. That’s how she has always been, a mind of her own and damn anyone that tries to change it.

So here I sit, an hour past curfew, waiting to see if she comes in the door. I’m not her guardian so I have no legal leg to stand on. I can’t call the police if she doesn’t come home. I have to call Grandma, who then calls the police to report her. Even then we have to wait the obligatory 24 hours. She is bright, oh my lord, she…is…bright. So why do the bright ones make the dumbest decisions.

She is my child. Why? Because I love her. I will always love her. And by the grace of God we will get through this….with a few less hairs and a few more wrinkles.

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Scared Sideways

Almost 13 years ago, I was blessed with a beautiful baby boy. He was everything I had hoped my son would be and more. He was funny, resilient, and fearless. He was also kind, generous, loving, compassionate, and empathetic. He could just look at you and know if you needed to be left alone or if you needed a cuddle. I was one of those Mothers who was blessed with a special bond with my son. We knew what each other was thinking, how they were feeling. We knew what to say, what to do, how to navigate the uncomfortable silences. But not anymore.

Today is day 3 of my son refusing to come home. Now, there is a lot to this back story that I won’t get into. The kid in me understands how he is feeling. The Mother in me wants to fix it all and make everything alright. As a Mother, it is my job to protect my children and keep them safe. It has been made blatantly obvious to me over the last few days that I have failed as a parent. I spoiled, coddled, cuddled, and protected him to much. He is screaming out to have a voice of his own, to stand on his own two feet and make his own decisions, consequences be damned! This morning I awoke to realize the relationship with my son will never again be the same.

This makes me sad. It makes me want to cry and scream and curse the world. How do I maneuver through this minefield with  new lines that have been drawn in the sand. I can no longer treat him like my little boy, but yet he is just barely being categorized as a teenager. How do I guide him to become the man he is meant to be, and not the man that society sees him becoming. The line he is walking is a thin one. One misstep, and it is a downward spiral into the seedy side of humanity.

It’s Saturday, my son should have walked into my room to see if he could go hang out with his friends. Then, later in the afternoon, he would call and ask if he could have a sleepover. None of that happened. The last two nights in my house have been eerily quiet. I have slept, dreamless yet fitful. I have awoken feeling like I went twelve rounds with Rhonda Rousey (which we all know I wouldn’t last two seconds with her) and going through my day like a zombie. The things that usually bring me joy when I am in a dark place don’t appeal to me. I don’t want to curl up under the covers and watch a movie. I don’t want to read a good book. I don’t want to take a long bath and unwind. I don’t…I don’t…I don’t.

How will this new chapter end, I am not sure. I am scared, the thought of tomorrow makes me terrified. Lyrics from a song that both Trisha Yearwood and Leann Rimes covered describe my feelings perfectly.

“How do I live without you, I want to know. How do I breathe without you, if you ever go.

How do I ever, ever survive? How do I, Oh how do I live.”