If we could, would we raise our children any differently knowing then what we know now?
The woman who submitted her story for me to publish to my readers listened carefully as I trepidatiously asked her for more details. I appreciated her wanting to tell her story and I knew that I was venturing toward raw territory when I asked her to touch more upon what lead her son to use drugs and become angry at her, and the world.
Her story was not about what she could have done differently with her son, but it was a story about what she needed to do as a parent to keep her son alive. The story, as currently written actually made me angry at her for not trying harder, and I didn’t want the same judgement to be passed by other readers. We needed more information.
As we progressed in our conversation it was revealed that she did try. She tried everything she could. But it was thirty years ago, she was a single mom going to school and working, and had neither the money nor the resources to help her son, the love of her life, deal with his behavioral issues. Realizing that it was not only about writing it all down, but about revealing all the truths that have caused her so much pain, she asked me not to publish her story. A story that I felt should be told.
As my husband and I experience our eldest son’s teen years, I feel this mother’s pain as if it could be my own, but I cannot fully empathize. I am not her. I did not raise an only son all alone at a time when the internet was not available to assist in research and ADD was not yet a common label attached to kids who could not stay focused. I have not had to endure the bullying of my child from relentless children who have not been taught tolerance or acceptance of others different from one’s self, and I have a husband as my ally as we work together to help our children get back on the right track when they fall off.
As parents of three boys, my husband and I have been riding an erratic roller coaster – the kind that all of your senses tell you not to trust. From the rickety noise it makes as it careens across the track, to the sketchy operator who appears as if he left a child locked up in a cage at home after drinking a fifth for breakfast, to the feeling of being harnessed in by a simple bar that you’re not sure if you heard click into place between the rusted bolts.
This ride, called parenting, has taken us on hairpin turns that jerk us into steep descents leaving our stomach at the top, and slow ascents allowing us to recover before we get pitched back into another thrilling drop, screaming and hanging on for our lives.
This mother is paying the price for steering her son away from hurting others and himself, but she is living peacefully knowing that he is more than just alive but is living well with a wife and a child, of whom she is not allowed to visit. As I worked on her story, I was filled with fear that I too could be that mother who loses her son from disciplining too hard, or not disciplining enough. But I refuse to allow fear to run my life, and at the moment, I want to drop down on my knees and thank whomever is listening for allowing me the strength to do what it takes to raise three healthy boys.
I am thankful for learning the tools to help guide our eldest son into taking accountability for his life and turn it around before it was too late, and have him still tell me how much he loves me.
I am thankful that my boys still expect me to kiss their warm cheeks and say good night and good morning every day.
I am thankful for a husband who has changed his tune from calling me paranoid to praising me for being present and mindful with our children.
I am thankful for having had the time and the resources to conduct the research into raising teen boys and the affects of drug use on developing brains. Research that empowers us to stay the course as we implement guidelines and expectations.
I am thankful for children who aren’t afraid to speak to me and tell me their fears so that I can help them.
And I am thankful to live in a place that breeds spirituality to allow me to not get caught up in all of the noise so that I can hear the cries for help, even when they are not spoken.
My heart goes out to this mother and I praise her for not being afraid to do what she knew she needed to do to save her child. I hope that one day her son will thank her for being strong and accept her back into his life. She deserves that right.