The “perfect “child creates the perfect nightmare.
by Connie Vigil Platt
Most mothers think their children are the best at everything. That’s how I felt about my daughter, Kathy. She was beautiful: tall and slim with flawless skin that seldom produced the usual teenage blemish. Her teeth were white and straight.
Others often commented that Kathy was model quality. Her personality could charm the birds out of the trees. In my mind, I pictured movie contracts, limousines, and swimming pools. In a perfect world, that might have happened. But not in our family’s world.
At age 15, Kathy was expelled from school for smoking in the girl’s room. That’s when my dream of her bright future vanished. Her father and I weren’t aware that she smoked. We had talked to her about the terrible effects of that bad habit, but I guess we were too trusting.
We no sooner overcame that hurdle than a teacher brought Kathy home from school in the middle of the day because she passed out and fell to the floor from her desk. The drug she was using was never discovered. Loyal to her user friends, she wouldn’t tell us what she took or where she got it.
“How could you do this?” I asked our daughter.
She just stared at her shoes and wouldn’t answer.
I had always welcomed Kathy’s friends to the house, and now I found that they too were users. They thought if they spoke in their own code, I wouldn’t understand what they were saying. So in self-defense, I learned a whole new language.
Marijuana has many names: Mary Jane, hemp, cannabis. Weed used to be something you pulled out of the garden. Cocaine is nose-candy. A joint is a cigarette. Strung out means to be hooked on something.
Her father thought the best thing would be to restrict her going out. I hesitantly agreed. Kathy was permitted to go to school, come home, and go to church services only with a family member.
“You can make me go to church, but you can’t make me pay attention,” she said. Often I had to nudge her to stay awake during the sermon.
Consequently, Kathy snuck out of the house and ran away. She came back on her own. We realized we could do nothing to make her change her ways.
When I asked my pastor for advice, he reminded me of James 4:7, that we can stand up to Satan’s attacks so he doesn’t get the upper hand. Now more than ever, I needed to resist Satan on my daughter’s behalf.
This became tougher to do as time went on. During a drug raid at a party Kathy was arrested for possession of drugs. Because she was a first offender, the judge was lenient and sent her to a rehabilitation center for thirty days.
I went to see her every visitation period and even attended rehab meetings. They were like AA meetings, where everyone tells how badly their parents treated them. I didn’t know how miserable Kathy had been at home until it came out in a public meeting.
Though her father and I had tried to do our best, that wasn’t good enough. We drifted apart in our marriage for a while, and this only widened the gap between Kathy and us. We didn’t know how to handle the situation. We blamed each other, eventually separated, and ultimately divorced when we should have been presenting a united front.
When Kathy was released from rehab, the counselors told her to start all over by making new friends. On the drive home, she wanted to stop off to see a friend. I couldn’t see any harm in that.
Little did I know. The first thing the “friend” did was to offer her a beer while I stood there.
To her credit, Kathy said, “You know I’m not supposed to drink.”
“I was talking to your mom,” the friend said. It was a quick comeback — but not true.
Within days, my beautiful girl went back to her former ways. Her old friends were more exciting, living on the edge of danger, one step ahead of the law. Rehab and AA meetings didn’t work for Kathy anymore. High most of the time, she always blamed me and/or her father for her behavior. But she never considered that the problem might be within her.
The counselors said she must have been born with a mental illness that had never been addressed. You can see a broken leg, but you can’t see a broken brain.
By the time Kathy was twenty-five, I thought she had settled down into a normal life. She was working out of town, so I didn’t know if she still used drugs.
She met a nice man, and after living together for a short period, they married. He had his own business and was doing well until he lost it all due to her drug use. Kathy spent more money on drugs than she did on groceries. He sold his business and started driving a truck. With him being gone so much and with other problems, and Kathy divorced him.
Second time around
She married the second time to a young man who enrolled in collage when he found out she was expecting. They started their own family, and Kathy avoided more legal trouble for quite a while. I thought our problems were behind us.
Then Kathy was arrested the second time for trying to sell an illegal drug to an undercover agent. This time the judge didn’t take pity on her and sentenced her to eighteen months in a woman’s prison. Though terribly shocked, I pulled myself together for the children’s sake.
These innocent little babies — a boy age two and a girl six months — didn’t deserve to lose their mother. Instead of letting them be put in foster care, I quit my job to take care of them.
Resurrecting old hurts, Kathy blamed me for divorcing her father and accused me of trying to steal her children. She didn’t understand that I was just trying to help.
Once she got out of prison, Kathy took the children to live with her. But before long, she returned to rehab. The counselors think she’ll be in and out of the rehab system the rest of her life.
Kathy hasn’t spoken to me since her sentencing, and she won’t let me see my grandchildren. So much for my dream of baking cookies with my granddaughter. I say a prayer every day that Kathy will come to her senses.
Maybe I wasn’t a good enough mother. I do feel guilty because I couldn’t think of any way to help her when she lived at home.
My pastor has been a pillar of support, someone I can always confide in. He explained once that while a person might fall from the path of spirituality, there is always hope. I cling to this.
I also cling to my faith in God.He has helped me understand that a person is responsible for his or her own behavior. That includes me. I have prayed for forgiveness for past mistakes and have come to terms about my guilt.
Good from bad
I’ve also come to terms about Kathy’s actions. I realize I could not have stopped them. Though some of the consequences of her behavior include missing out on seeing my grandchildren grow up, I hold on to the truth of Romans 8:28: Because I love God, everything — even the greatest pain from a wayward daughter — is working for my good.
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