When my daughter was 14 years old she shook my foundation and tested the conviction of my prayers.
Her father and I have been divorced since she was four. Life for a child living in two different homes has never been easy. I tried to create an environment for her that was happy with few disadvantages. I sacrificed and saved to take her and her brother on trips to Disneyland. I worked hard to juggle life as a single working mom by driving them to soccer practices, piano lessons, drama rehearsals, baseball games, doctor’s appointments and parent teacher conferences.
When my daughter told me she wanted to move in with her dad, my weakness made it feel like her decision was a rejection of me. A slap in the face against what I had given and sacrificed all those years. I was hurt. I questioned myself as a mother. Perhaps, if I had been a better mom she never would have wanted to leave.
When she first approached me with her decision I calmly listened to her reasoning. I tried to help her outline the pros and cons of living in either household. I had hoped she would come to same conclusion I had. The advantages of living with me far outweighed the disadvantages of her moving. When she eventually chose to live with her dad my heart broke. It didn't break just once, it broke repeatedly.
Unbeknownst to her I sat in her room and cried the day I came home and found she had packed up all of her personal belongings. Silently, I was sad when I saw her with her new group of friends I had never met. I sobbed for hours after I dropped her off at her dad’s house to begin her first day of high school. My heart ached when I realized life during her formative years was not going to be what I had envisioned. I grieved for what I felt I had lost.
Once my heart spent enough time grieving for what wasn't, it eventually opened up to what could be. It became a relationship full of laughter, trust, admiration, respect and honesty. We spend time together every week on mother/daughter dates. I have added hundreds of miles on my car. We send texts with silly Emoji symbols to say I miss you and love you. When we are together we take selfies with silly faces. I started watching all of her favorite shows so we can gossip about everything we've seen.
I finally realized we could create a wonderful relationship with different circumstances. As a mom, I'm proud to discover she is the daughter I had always dreamed she would be. Passionate. Talented. Caring. Independent. Strong. I just needed to let her express who she was, and let go of what I thought was best.
As a mom I knew I could have made her stay. I could have forced her not to leave. By the grace of God, the prayers I have always had for my child withstood during my personal struggle.
My daughter feels secure in my love for her. She knows she can move away and my love will never change. She can advocate for her needs up against a force she has always wanted to please. She is able to make tough decisions to fulfill her dreams and her passions. It wasn't because I was a terrible mom she decided to leave. It was because of the mom I have been she felt empowered to do so.