November 12, 2012
This past Friday was a very important day in our lives. Maddie had college orientation at a 4 year university where she will be getting her Bachelors in Psychology (she practices on her family) and her masters in Occupational Therapy. Big deal, you say? Well, the truth is, it kinda of is a big deal around here. A very big deal. Let me tell you why.
Around the first semester of Maddie's Freshman year of high school she began to not care much about school. She loved the socializing and the boys but really didn't think it was worth her time to do her school work. We did all of the things we thought parents should do. We checked her grades online constantly. We reprimanded, grounded, punished, rewarded, allowed natural consequences, cried, yelled and grounded some more. Her groundings probably added up to nearly 3 years of her high school career. Still it continued. We were at our wits end. We tried counseling, prayer, giving her space. Seriously nothing worked. We are the kind of parents who always stick to our guns. We have boundaries. It's not all willy nilly up in this house.
We had no one to turn to for advice. We were the first of our peers to have a teenager. Our friends were baffled. Family members were judgmental. Of course it's easy to judge when your kids are still in preschool and you have no idea what's down the road. People we didn't know very well who had teenagers would make it sound like their teenagers were perfect. Their kids never did anything they shouldn't, were straight A honor roll students that were always respectful, volunteered at homeless shelters and fell asleep every night reading their bibles with their chastity nicely intact. I now know this kind of teenager is more the exception that the rule and that parents are often in the dark or in denial, which is a very good coping tool during the teenage years. That and wine.
The low point of my parenting life came in December of her Senior year, almost 2 years ago. She said to us, Can't you see, you can't MAKE me care about school? Nothing you have done for the last 4 years has made any difference. Why don't you just stop trying? I don't care about school. I don't care about my future. My poor momma's heart nearly stopped. What do you do with that? She was absolutely right but watching her not care and destroy her future was destroying me. Then the most wonderful thing happened. She failed 2 classes the first semester of her Senior year, one of which was English. You kind of need that to graduate. About that same time she received a conditional acceptance letter to college but she has already blown the conditions and all of her friends were starting to get their acceptance letters. Maddie realized something, turns out she did care about her future only she was kind of late to that party but she was determined to change the path she was headed down.
The last semester of her Senior year she killed it! At this point it was too little too late but it did make her realize she could do it.We had always known, but now she knew too. She was serious. Finally. Left with few options she started Community College in the Fall. We made her financially responsible for a good portion of that cost. We felt she needed ownership. It was a smart move. Maddie has been working hard this past year and a half. She takes school so much more seriously that most of her friends. She currently goes to school full time, gets great grades, works 2 jobs and has grown into a genuinely wonderful girl who I love but who I also very much like. With this transfer the next chapter of her life will begin. I couldn't be more proud of her. She might as well be transferring to Harvard. That's how proud I am.
For those of you out there who are struggling, know that there is hope. Know that you aren't alone. All those lessons you think are going in one ear and out the other, aren't. Don't give up no matter how badly you want to some days. Most importantly know that you will survive this and maybe even be better off for having been through it. True story.