Sometimes I do know what I’m talking about

I don’t imagine a lot of 16-year-olds read my column.
If my own daughters were still in that age group, I know for sure this writing space would be the last place they would cast their eyes because they’d be sure to find their haphazard and often dramatic ways cloaked in feeble anonymity and spread like alphabet butter in a 600-word essay.
Today my young women are spread across the 20-something years and they have learned—since I began writing “The View From Here” in 2004—to tolerate their mother’s often public musings on their messy bedrooms, unwashed dishes, and piles of dirty laundry.
Still, they may roll their eyes. I have loved and raised them as best I could. We’ve had many ups and downs. I’m still learning how it all clicks and so are they.
But I was reminded recently just how tenuous the parent/child mosaic remains out there.
Even when parents do the very best they can, 16-year-olds can pack up and leave home under the belief that something better exists outside the four strong walls of love and opportunity they’ve grown up in.
Memories of yesterday flooded back to me, poked at old wounds, cast old shadows of soul drought, and of desperate times of the heart.
A dozen years ago, one of my own children left home just short of her 16th birthday. And although I tried to move heaven and earth in as many directions as I could to keep her at home, the winds of her change eventually trumped me.
Most of the time I knew where she was, but sometimes I didn’t and the stress of all of it rotted my stomach. Thank heaven for a rib cage or my heart would have leapt from my chest in those distressing times.
There was a part of my psyche that wanted to hire Special Forces to kidnap my daughter and plunk her premature, would-be independence on a remote island made out of duct tape.
I ended up in counselling and I learned a hard, hard lesson in what degrees of control I had.
My daughter didn’t return to live at home after the age of 16. It broke my heart. I missed out, and so did she, on some good “at home” years and she knows it. My daughter took the bumpy road and it was difficult. She wouldn’t dispute that.
She stopped going to school and because of that choice alone, and the fact that she did not hold herself responsible, the education crust in the pie of life was unfinished.
If you asked my daughter today she would, of course, agree that her hindsight is 20/20 on many levels during those tender years.
I’ve never stopped believing in her despite some “tough love” choices I chose to make, and I’m infinitely proud of the wiser woman she is today.
That said, I still would go back in time and try to change her mind the day she packed her things because, from a mother’s point of view, it wasn’t the right choice.
But as Leslie Poles Hartley penned, “The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there.”
In spite of what I cannot change, today I am restless to run screaming down the street with a red flag and magic wand. I wish 16-year-olds who leave good homes would read this and believe me when I say what a grave lapse in judgment it is.
I wish I could change a young mind just like that. If only it were that easy.
Do the hardest, most unthinkable, and most mature thing of all and go home with your suitcase and hug your mother and hug your father and spill your heart, tell the truth, face consequence, and accept compromise.
Home is where the heart of your young life is. This much I know is true.

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