Sarcasm drips from her lips, her stare like ice, “I never said that, Mom.”
“I don’t remember your exact words, but you did allow me to believe that your father said it was ok for you to go with your friends instead of staying home Thursday night when our friends come over.”
“I never said that.”
“Well, we did discuss this last night and you let me believe--”
“I never said that.”
I give up. The 13 year old lawyer sitting across from me is denying the conversation we’d had the previous night. And had I not thought to ask my husband about it, she’d have gone out with her friends instead of being part of family night, which is exactly what she wanted.
“Could you please take off your shoes and leave them in the mudroom on the shoe shelf?”
“My feet are cold.”
“Ah, so you didn’t forget, but decided that your way is better than mine, is that correct?”
“Why can’t I keep my shoes on?”
“Get your slippers. You do have some, don’t you?
“Because, this is not the first time I’ve asked you to take off your shoes and not track dirt into the house.”
She removes her shoes and sets them by the door.
Inwardly fuming now, “Could you please put the shoes on the shoe shelf in the mud room?” I manage to say mostly in a calm voice.
She mumbles incomprehensibly, and I ignore it, because, well, it is just easier that way.
Adopted six years ago, recently diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder, my daughter struggles with her ability to love and feel loved, to compromise and accept responsibility, to be honest, or even find anything to be happy about.
Having endured six years of screaming tantrums has left me with PTSD and anxiety attacks. From my perspective, this child is hopeless. Having a fruitful relationship with her seems impossible. I can’t imagine ever seeing her able to hold a job, because she doesn’t have the ability to compromise and accept responsibility for her mistakes. I can’t imagine her ever marrying or having children of her own because she doesn’t know how to love another human being (since she was abandoned by those who were supposed to love her when she was young). I can’t imagine her ever being happy, because she just never is no matter how hard we work to help her be so.
“Since you decided to keep your shoes on this morning, made a conscious decision that your way was better than my way, I need you to sweep floor.”
She doesn’t completely balk.
I continue, in lecture mode, “I want you to understand something. Is it a really big deal that you wore your shoes in the house? No, in the big picture, this is not important. But your obedience is, and let me tell you why. In three years you want to be able to get a driver’s license, right?
We’ve talked about this before.
“Well, that is a big responsibility. And in order for me to be able to trust you, I need to know that you will obey me in all of the little things.”
In full blown lecture mode now, I have her attention, so I continue, “If you want me to be able to give you the keys to my car, then I have to know you are going to obey your father, me and the law. I cannot let you take our car, unless you learn the lesson of obedience now and show me you can be responsible.”
She begins to sweep the floor and comes back to me later, a little smile on her face, “I’m finished, mom.” And that is enough.
And so, since giving up is not really an option, God keeps whispering healing into my heart. I can’t see the road ahead, but He promises that in the end we will see healing. So instead of succumbing to hopelessness, I decide to accept His offer to trust in Him alone, and I watch her set down her broom and take flight.
I don’t know how it will happen and can’t possibly imagine how she will turn out, but in giving up my own striving I am letting the Lord take over. And, I can’t wait to see where her flight will take her.
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