My daughter, who is 16, moved out.
When I was 16, I was no picnic. It makes me shudder now to think of the things that I put my parents through. One cold February night I told my family that I was going up to my room, grabbed a bag I had packed previously, grabbed my purse and snuck down the back stairs into our kitchen, out the garage door and walked to the post office in our small town where I had a taxi meet me. I rode half an hour away to another town and moved in with a friend of mine. I didn’t tell anyone. There were no cell phones back then and so it wasn’t until the next day when I called them to tell them that I had left and wasn’t coming back that they even had a clue where I was.
I didn’t think about how they must have reacted, I didn’t give a single thought to what my six siblings thought of my unannounced departure. I was 16, invincible and thought that I was doing the right thing for me.
Needless to say, it didn’t work out like I planned and about a month later, I had returned home.
Flash forward 20 years.
My daughter is 16, almost 17. She has had both a good life and a very hard one. She was bullied from grade 2 until grade 9, sometimes to the point of involving the school board and even the police. She has not always had it easy with us either. Inheriting both my stubbornness and selfishness and my husbands temper, we clashed a lot.
But two years ago things started to mellow out with all of us and get really good. She made some excellent friends, she was getting along great with us and she came out.
Since coming out, she has had nothing but support from us, from our other kids and from her friends. And then she fell in love.
Last summer she told us she wanted to move out and my husband and I spent an afternoon with her at a local restaurant (to avoid getting overly emotional or loud, we chose a public place) and talked to her
rationally about the repercussions of that decision. She chose to stay.
Then, recently she started talking about it again.
Last night she announced that she no longer wanted to be here, for reasons I won’t go into because they are her own and in this medium, she can’t defend herself. I got frustrated and very hurt. At the end of a long and circular argument, I threw up my hands and said “fine, you’ve obviously made up your mind, just go.”
Shawn hated this, but our hands were fairly tied, since in Ontario at 16 if she wants to leave, we can’t legally hold her and she knows it.
Today she came back and packed up her clothes and the things that she wanted most. I sat on her bed and watched her after pleading with her again to stay. I held my other children who cried because she wasn’t going to live here anymore. I talked with my husband Shawn for ages. I held him too and he held me.
It made me wonder, with all of the things that I went through as a teen and all of the things that I put myself through needlessly, did I really do all I could to keep her from repeating the worst mistakes of my life? Did I prepare her enough? Will she be okay?
The way we see it, this could go one of two ways, either it will crash around her and she’ll come home, or she will survive and thrive. Either way, we have made it known to her that we are always going to be here for her. She’s our little girl and nothing will ever change that.
I can look back at the events that have slowly lead up to this for nearly 17 years and I can browbeat myself about whether I did the right things with her, but in the end, I cannot change this no matter how desperately I want to. I only hope she knows she can always come home.