During the past year we have made the transition from parenting a teenager to parenting an adult. It wasn’t our choice to make that change which made it all the harder. I have shared my struggle to make that leap for a simple reason: writing is an outlet for me and a way to work through my journey to find the Lord in the process.
When our daughter planted her rebellion flag, my immediate instinct was grief. I was mourning the loss of what I thought our relationship was. I was deep in all the blame of what I had done wrong to allow this to happen.
How did a kid who had the entire world in the palm of her hand, walk away and put a wall between her family and her wants? Turns out it was amazingly easy, she put one foot in front of the other and didn’t even look back. Blind panic and an impulsive nature can put you in a bind.
However, it was my blind spot that turned out to be the struggle that hurt me so badly. I let the struggle become about me. I was wrapped up in my faults, my doubts and my confusion.
A simple part of me felt like it was the ultimate betrayal. A precious and loved child who hits you where it hurts the most — your ego. My entire life has been about the roles that I have had. I’m a great wife but I was prideful of being an amazing mom. Yet here I was, now a candidate for The Worst Mom in the World award, and the hurt was a living thing that made it hard to breathe at times.
I was missing the forest for the trees.
It’s been a year of firsts. The first time we went on vacation without our oldest. The first holidays spent wishing she was here but celebrated without her. The first birthday, mine and hers, without her. It began slowly ... we fell back on our faith and we knew that there was one solid truth throughout all of the process ... God had us in his hands.
We live in a world where bad things happen and we constantly face temptation so it was so easy to be clouded by the details. I simply got to a point where I was exhausted physically and mentally from the pain so I changed up my prayer. I asked God to heal my heart from the pain and to just love her through the process.
I would find myself getting set back in my progress so I wrote my little prayer, “Lord heal my heart,” on sticky notes, stashing them in a few places to remind me throughout the day. It didn’t come overnight. It was well over a year into the process when one day my phone rang and I saw her name pop up and, in complete surprise to me, it didn’t hurt. Instead I was filled with happiness at the idea of her call.
We would go on to establish an open line of communication. Nothing has changed in how we treat her, how we talk to her, how we love her, but the “me” in the situation was gone. I let go of the hurt of what her actions did to ME. I stopped focusing on what MY actions could have caused. By taking the “me” out, I could just love her and be there when she was ready.
Will we ever be close again? I believe we have already started down that path. Will we forgive each other of the hurts? Yes, because frankly we must show each other the grace that God shows us. I have no doubts that we won’t forget, it’s human nature not to. Instead of looking back, I’m stubbornly looking forward.
I have learned so much over the path our family has walked this past year but the simple joy that I feel when I see her face or hear her voice reminds me that regardless of anything else, I’m still her mom. No one can wound you like those closest to you yet no one can love you like they can either.
— Kalynn Brazeal is a conservative, Christian wife/mom/country girl carrying around an MBA, several decades of business experience and a strong opinion. Now living in the remoteness of North Dakota, she continues to share her column on life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness and cake. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.