Thursday, May 26, 2011

"What kind of mother ARE you?!"

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.


  1. ((((((((((((Jenny)))))))))))))

    FWIW, I totally agree with you. Sometimes pointing out something might not be what a child expected isn't enough, and they have to experience it themselves. And obviously if her father was a totally inept parent you wouldn't let her go.

    I support you, & I send more love & hugs for the next few days/weeks (and beyond of course, but extras for then). You rock, lady!

  2. Hey Jenny! Sometimes the hardest decisions we have to make as parents are exactly this kind. It's difficult to let them make these choices on their own despite knowing they may be making the "wrong" choice. Like you said, if she were to be in danger there or not cared for, it would be a different story, but according to you, that's not the case. Sometimes these choices provide the biggest opportunites for learning. If we don't allow our kids to make difficult decisions sometimes, they won't be able to when they're adults. I totally support your decision to do this, and it's more of a reflection of your quality parenting skills than it would be to just force your will upon her, much like you said. Lots of love and support here. Good luck!

    Brian Gill

  3. I love you and I'm behind you.

  4. Whoa! WHAAAAAAAAT????

    Have these people missed the part where she's going to live with her FATHER? You know, her other PARENT? WTF? It's not like you're sending her to Illinois to live on the street!

    I had the experience of living with my dad, on a day-to-day basis (not until I was 21, but still, I got it). My sister didn't ever do that. Nowadays I am close to my dad and we can have long meandering conversations. Meanwhile, to my sister, he is still a guy she doesn't know very well and doesn't understand very well. To her, he's less of a dad and more like Uncle Dad. Yanno? This rich and meaningful relationship that I have with our dad does not exist for her, which makes me sad.

    You can never have a real relationship with a parent that you haven't lived with on a day-in/day-out basis. Past the point where you're still feeling each other out, past the point where you've annoyed each other and you've stomped up to your room and had to make up with each other later.

    I know this has got to be the hardest thing you've ever done. But I want you to know, you're giving your daughter an extraordinary gift that she will treasure for the rest of her life, and which she could not get any other way -- the gift of a *real* relationship with her father.

  5. I think you are so brave to let her experience this for herself. I support you 100%!

  6. Who gives a shit what others think? Sorry, but you have made your decision as an imformed parent so screw them. Hugs girl!

  7. I like what henna73 had to say about this.

    And I like what you had to say on it. This is one helluva tough call, but you know it's the right one for her - even if it's the "wrong" one for you.

  8. Jenny, I am about to cry & I wish I could reach through this screen and hug you. Yes, you are definitely the good kind!!! And you are absolutely right-if you didn't let her, she would never forgive you. I know this b/c it still hurts me deeply that my mother refused to let me live with my father, even for a short period of time. She threatened to go back to court for full custody & stop visits if I didn't drop it. He was not dangerous, she let my brother go, but she could not bear to be without me. She will still tell you that is why she wouldn't let me go (btw he lived 15 min away).

    I love her, but honestly I still hold it against her enough that I don't think you could say I've forgiven her. She is 64 & I am 30. My parents split when I was 7.

    I am kind of in love with you right now. Thank you SO MUCH from the bottom of my heart for letting your daughter do this. Thank you, thank you. You have no idea. Seriously. I love you and thank you.

    P.S. I second everything Puppie said too. ;)

  9. When I was 16, I fought with my dad to go live with my mom. We fought all summer long about it, and finally, a week before school started, he gave in. I knew it was always about what he wanted for himself rather than what he wanted for me, but it was also a very important life lesson for me. I learned a LOT about my mom that I wouldn't have had I not lived with her (mostly in the 'everyone was right about her' sort of way).

    Macey will be fine. The people it is important to - you, her dad, and her - know that. Everyone else is just projecting what they want onto you. These are the same people who would have a meltdown when their kids want to go to college a few states away rather than then in the next town (another thing I did after getting that disappointed look from my dad when I wanted to go to a school 1000 miles away).

  10. Letting our kids make their own decisions is one of the hardest thing in the world. Macey is loved by each of her parents and all her family. She will have a wealth of love in Kansas or Illinois. Right now we are hurting more for ourselves than anything because we love her so much. You have given her a gift beyond anything she can imagine at this time. Wrap your arms around your shoulders and know that I'm sending you a Huge Hug and all my love.


  11. I can't say anything more or better than what's been said, but I just want to give you a hug, and let you know that there are a whole lot of people out there who think you're a great mom. You'll get through this. And you'll both be better for it.


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