For many parents, letting go is one of the most difficult things to do. You see it a lot at back to school time. Moms sobbing at kindergarten drop-off. Others hovering in the hallway not able to leave. Me? I wasn't that mom. In fact, I nearly had to pry my six year-old off my leg to get her to go into her kindergarten class for weeks, then I went to work. I never worried that she wasn't okay or that she'd miss me. I wanted her to become an independent little being. My strategy worked for a while.
My grade schooler was smart and confident (once she kicked back and assessed the situation because she's an introvert). She loved school and dance. Had lots of friends and was constantly busy. She would ask my advice but make her own decisions. She didn't really need me that much unless she was sick and for me that worked out perfectly fine. That's the whole point of parenting, right? Raise a kid who can be eventually go off in the world and be successful on their own.
Slowly over time, that changed. My daughter's migraines got worse and she needed me more. I adjusted my work schedule and life to be available if the phone rang. Then two years ago, our lives took a dramatic turn. We had to make a hard decision to pull our teen out of school to try to get her migraines and what we now know was POTS under control. For the first time since my daughter was a toddler, she really needed me. And, I dropped everything to make it happen.
Today, I watched Rosie pop out of bed, shower and get ready for the second day of school. While that's not significant for a healthy child, it's a monumental accomplishment for my teen. It's something that she'd never be able to do the past couple of years because both her migraines and POTS are worse in the morning. Plus, if you add stress to the mix, it's almost 110% guaranteed that she'll get a migraine. She didn't.
I'm so incredibly proud of her. She's overcoming a syndrome that puts many kids in wheelchairs and on oxygen. She's rejected the Amplified Pain Diagnosis, which she could have given in and accepted. She's just made it through ten months of Vestibular Therapy to get over a concussion and is getting her balance back and is almost done with eye training. She went to school by herself, sitting on the couch, isolated and feeling a bit lonely, yet she never let depression in the door. And, she watched all her friends do all the things she wanted to do but couldn't, like dance.
For me, letting go isn't hard.
As I watched my daughter bounce down the driveway into a friend's car today, I didn't shed tears because she's growing up and it's gone so quickly. I cried because she was finally able to do something like a healthy teenager. Last year, she'd listen to friends complain about school and she'd look at me and say, “they don't know how lucky they are. All I want to do is go to school.” This year, the day before school she said, “Ugh. School.” She even sounded like a healthy teenager.
As a parent of a chronically ill child, I know that our battle isn't over. There will still be good days and bad. But, I've always said that if we get her to school a few days a week, it would be a success. Today, is proof that may happen and I have to give a huge shout-out to my child. Rosie, you are one tough cookie and you amaze me every day. I can't wait to see what your future holds. I'm not afraid to start letting go.