Why is it when we’re a teenager, everything is so life and death dramatic? I remember when I felt like I carried the weight of the world on my shoulders, and NO ONE could understand me. My hormones raced. My view of the world was shielded with sunshine and rainbows and I could not understand the full effect of things, like I do now. Well, today, my husband and I confronted the same fears and confusion by another teenager, only this time it was his 13-year-old daughter.
For the first time in her life, she felt real pain, confusion, and disappointment when she returned from a week-long visit with her mother’s family. You see, since the summer she has been living with us. In August, my husband was awarded custody of her. She has not seen her other family since May and six months to a child might as well be an eternity.
When we met to pick her up, she was crying that she wanted to stay and not return “home” with us. After several minutes of coaxing and trying to talk peacefully, she finally relented and came with us. She cried the entire way home. I tried to think of intelligent, comforting things to say, but shamefully all that came to mind was “I wish she’d stop crying,” and “How silly is this?” Then, I realized she had never gone through anything like this before. How awful for a teenager who is trying to adjust to a new life. First, leaving them on her own will to come live with us. But, the real thought of “living with daddy” never set in until she went back to visit. Her world had a veil of sunshine on it, and today that veil was sadly lifted even if for only a little while.
Her dad and I explained to her that now she has two families. We explained that it is normal to miss them. We explained other children feel the same way. We explained, “As bad as you feel, it will all work out.” I knew those were clichés, but I also knew she was 13 and not 40, and had limited experience with unpleasant things. Did we say the right things? Probably not. Did our words come out sarcastic or phony? Probably. After all, we have no experience with 13-year-olds, but we did our best to ease her pain and her confusion. I explained “You are not in a tug-of-war. You have two families that love you and want the best for you. This is part of growing up. We all face things that aren’t fair. We get over them and move on.” “I won’t get over this,” she said. Wishing I could fill her mind with all my bad experiences of life and the feelings that come when you learn to get over things, I only listened.
Life is full of facing things that aren’t fair. Like Rocky said in Rocky Balboa, “It’s not how many times you get knocked down, it’s how many times you can get up and keep moving forward.” Regardless of our millions of situations, which may seem hopeless at the time, such as leaving family and friends, switching schools, gaining a new family, or even losing a loved one like I’m about to lose my father-in-law, as long as we continue to move forward the best we can we will always become better for it.