My Daughter Moved Out

by Be Heard on March 21, 2012

in Parenting, Teen

This is a hard post for me to write, because I have spent the last 24 hours in various states of anger, disbelief, utter sadness, on the verge of a breakdown and just plain numb.

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.

She left.

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.

Always.

nuala Curvy Girl Guide Contributor, Nuala Reilly, is a 36-year-old mother of five from Tillsonburg, Ontario, who spends all of her free time either trying to promote her books or talking her kids out of making her officially loopy. Bargaining with them only works if she uses cash and/or access to the car. You can read her blog at www.nualareilly.wordpress.com and buy her books at www.nualareilly.com , as well as follow her on twitter.
angi March 21, 2012 at 8:48 am

My heart breaks for you and her. 16 is a tough age…we think we know so much and it isn’t until much later that we realize how little we actually did know. I pray for the best of things for you and her. I believe that with this kind of love, she will succeed because of you…whether she’s with you or not.

Britt W March 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

Oh wow. Thank you for the perspective. I did the same thing twice with my parents at 17. Once in the middle of the night without them knowing with an ex fiance, and the second, with a new boyfriend; they knew, but I wouldn’t hear anything my parents said – I was going no matter what. Both times I was badly hurt, and both times they took me back…until I moved in with my aunt, and stayed there until I shipped off to the military. I never once stopped to think of my parents and how I must have hurt them, especially after they took me in and adopted me when I was 10. After 5 long years in several foster homes.
I told my husband yesterday, our 2 yr old was going to be like me, he’s so ready to go and be independent already, I just know he’s going to move out by the time he’s 17. I didn’t realize how badly I hurt my parents, and I now have some insight to what I did, and how I will feel when my son leaves.
Thank you for writing this. I have a phone call to make.

Michelle March 21, 2012 at 9:50 am

Wow. What a brave post and brave mom. Sounds like you love your daughter very much and I am sure she knows it. At 16, we think we have all the answers. Well, I am more than double her age and each day I realize how little I know! I cannot imagine how tough this would be. Sending good thoughts and prayers your way!

bellawriter (Nuala Reilly) March 21, 2012 at 12:08 pm

Thank you ladies for the amazing words of support. I am terrified for her and worried that she will not know when to say she needs me again, or not want to say it.
Like I said to her though, I don’t support her choice (to move out), but I support her. And that will never change.

sarah March 21, 2012 at 1:22 pm

my dad always tells me….never say to your kids “and don’t come back”….so by leaving the door open…she knows you’re there for her…even if it is a big mistake. My children are young….and i cannot imagine this day coming (but maybe it will)…but take comfort in all that you have already taught her about right and wrong…keep those lines of communication open…that will make all the difference if she needs to say “this was mistake” or “mom i’m doing good”.

Bellawriter (Nuala Reilly) March 21, 2012 at 6:28 pm

She moved out last monday night, and this past sunday she and her girlfriend came home for dinner. She still texts me everyday. So far, she is doing well. I don’t know if “proud” is the right word, but I’m grateful we’re still on good terms.

Britt W March 21, 2012 at 6:45 pm

I agree, leaving the “door” open will be enough. After the awful breakup with my ex fiance I stayed with friends for 2 months, trying to pull myself back together, my parents would bring food, and check up on me. I wanted to come home but didn’t know how to tell them, until one day my dad came by after work, and asked me to come home. No yelling, no guilt, just “we miss you and want to help you” Parents intuition maybe?

Erin @ Miss Lifesaver March 21, 2012 at 9:31 pm

The most important thing you could do is make sure she knows that your love for her is unconditional and that she will always have the option of returning home. She will carry that with her anywhere she goes. I can’t even imagine how hard this must be for you and your husband. ((hugs))

Al_Pal March 21, 2012 at 11:53 pm

Ooof, Good Luck & Best Wishes!!!

KristenS March 22, 2012 at 12:38 am

This is killing my heart, because I was such a terror to my parents such a short time ago, and I threatened to do the same thing, and move in with my boyfriend (you know, the guy I mentioned the other day…the jackass). I’m glad, for my safety and my parents’ sanity and well-being, I couldn’t move out at 16 or 17. I can’t IMAGINE the s*** I would’ve gotten into if that was legal here.

My heart breaks for you, Nuala. I don’t know what to say, besides that I’m so sorry, and I just want to hug you right now.

So much love coming your way, lady.

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