I was having lunch with a friend on Friday when she revealed that her daughter is a heroin addict.
A few years ago, I would have been shocked that heroin addiction could hit so close.
I’m no longer shocked.
I know too many families that have been affected by addiction. I know parents who read books on parenting and were involved in their children’s lives yet still have a child in jail, in rehab or in trouble.
What surprised me was my friend’s candor and lack of embarrassment.
She talked about being grateful for a judge who took control of her daughter’s life. She talked about the phone calls she received in the middle of the night and what those calls meant. And she talked about her daughter’s best friend who, as a result of a stroke at the age of 21 due to drugs, is in a nursing home for the rest of her life.
What she didn’t talk about was guilt or blame.
My friend is my hero.
She’s not my hero because she’s survived tough times or because she was a particularly great mother.
She’s my hero because she not only accepts who she is and who her children are, but she understands that we can guide our children, but we can’t control them.
I need that reminder.
I’m the mom who thinks that every time my children make a misstep or a mistake, I’m somehow to blame. I’m the mom who is guilty of sometimes believing that my children’s successes and failures are a direct reflection on me. And I’m the mom who shrinks when her children’s grades or extracurricular achievements don’t always measure up to others. I’m the mom who needs a reality check from people like my friend.
She’s teaching me that sometimes successful parenting is simply surviving another day. Sometimes successful parenting is learning to let our children fall. Sometimes successful parenting is reminding ourselves that we’ve done our best and that’s all we can do.
She’s also teaching me that, in reality, successful parenting can’t really be measured.
Instead, we need to focus on acceptance, forgiveness and honesty with ourselves and with others. And we need to focus on perspective.
As I write this, my son is on the couch watching a baseball game, and my daughter just came home from a middle school dance. He’s acting a bit contrite about our recent heated discussion regarding his grades, and she’s mad that he’s eating popcorn out of her bowl. Yet they are both here with me. They are both healthy. They are both safe. And they will both tell me they love me before they go to bed. Despite my self doubts and concerns about my parenting abilities, I know days like today should be treasured. There are most likely tougher times ahead.
That’s parenting, and that’s life. That’s also why we have to hold on to the memories and the reminders that we, as parents, can only do so much then hope our best was enough.
My friend’s daughter has been clean for several years, and I called her tonight to ask permission to write this blog. She gave it unconditionally with only a few words of advice. ”You have passed on your values. All you can do now is trust and realize that your children won’t always follow them. You also need to remember those values will always be a part of them.”
Well said my friend. Well said.