Apparently, letting my daughter go live with her biological father is very, very controversial. At first, I thought I was just imagining things. I thought maybe I was reading too much into people's reactions. But, it seemed that when I would explain to folks that Macey has her mind made up and that I'm letting her give living with him a try, people would look HORRIFIED. Surely that was all in my head. Right? And then, it became clear to me last night (after a particularly unhelpful comment) that people actually ARE judging me for letting her go. It's not just in my head. It's real.
Okay, people. Here's the dealio:
Macey is just like me in many ways. Our hair is very similar (minus the tween side pony tail.) We're both bossy. She has my technicolor hazel eyes. We're both very sensitive. But most of all, we are both incredibly head strong. And when we make a decision, that's it. Decision made. And for better or worse, we live with the consequences.
Several months ago, Macey decided that she wanted to live with her biological dad. Truth be told, I think she is under the impression that it will be heaven there. Marshmallows and unicorns and glitter and no chores. HOORAY!!! Of course, I know that's not true, but she's still insistent that she will be happier there. And in those several months, I have tried EVERYTHING to change her mind (short of tying her down to the bed and administering Chinese water torture until she submits.) She's not havin' it. She's going to Illinois. And if I don't let her go, she will proceed to make the lives of everyone around her completely miserable until I comply. And she'll never forgive me as long as she lives. No. Really. She will forever hold it against me that I didn't trust her judgment and let her at least give this a shot.
As I see it, my job is to teach her to be a person. I give her tons of every day lessons on how to avoid all the bad stuff and find more good in her life. We've talked about the super slippery slope drugs can be. We've talked about how to prevent her wavy hair from going crazy frizzy. We've talked about how a boy should and should NOT treat a girl. We've talked about makeup, the best way to get a chocolate stain out of your shirt, and why it's important to follow her heart.
With all this teaching that is going on, I have to force myself to let her make mistakes. Some big, some small. I let her leave the house even though I totally hate her hairstyle and worry she's going to be made fun of for it. I let her get a C on a test because she didn't study as much as she should have (but then had a long discussion about our expectations for her grades.) And I'm letting her go to Illinois even though I think it's a huge mistake. It's a mistake that she has to learn for herself. And as long as this mistake isn't dangerous and won't completely ruin her life forever, I'm going to have to let her make it no matter how hard it is for me to stand by and watch. I have to have faith that she will figure it out and be better for it in the end. And God willing, she'll come back to us... to me.
I'm getting a lot of, "Well, sometimes you have to give a kid tough love because you know better than they do." And, "Who cares if she wants to be in Illinois? You're the parent here. PARENT HER no matter how tough it is."
And my response?
Screw you and your judgmental ways. I'm not a monster. I'm not a lax parent who doesn't really care about her daughter. I'm letting her go BECAUSE I CARE ABOUT HER. While she's in Illinois, she will be safe. She will be loved. She will absolutely be okay. There is no reason on the planet earth for me to stop her from going, except for my own selfish wishes to have her here with me instead. And what am I teaching her if I put her happiness last on the list and put my own at the very top?
So. She's going. And I can't stop crying. And my heart is breaking. And in almost 72 hours, she will get in that car and leave me. So, for now, I want all those naysayers to leave me the heck alone and remember that I'm losing my daughter here. Be kind to me because this is one of the hardest decisions I've ever had to make. I didn't take this lightly. Far from it. So if you can't be supportive, go jump in a lake.
"What kind of mother ARE you?!"
The good kind.