Having finally finished the draft of my upcoming book (thank heavens!) yesterday was the first “normal” work day I’d had in a long, long time. Normal usually means I have three or four magazine and newspaper stories I’m working (this time of year they are almost always about skiing, my true love and career). Generally, I bounce between the stories, doing some research, making some calls, doing phone interviews, drafting.
Okay, and I do my share of meandering too. Like to Facebook. And to see what is up on my number one most favorite blog on the planet Suri’s Burn Book (I’m an addict. Thanks, Sue Hecht, for that). To twitter (where I get stressed out. I’m still such a lousy tweeter). To my favorite ski resort web sites to check conditions and plan my upcoming runs. And back to Facebook.
It was a mellow day. And then THIS popped up on my Facebook Feed.
A guest blog. About me. Written by my daughter. That I didn’t know about. For a moment, I scratched my head. How did I feel about this? Her exposing me and my weaknesses and how she feels about them?
And then I realized just how I felt:
Fan-freaking-tastic. This blog, this from-he-heart sharing on her own, was just another step toward her being an independent, successful, outspoken, honest, sharing and meaningful adult. So while it took me by surprise, I was tickled.
Which brings me to the New Year. Lauren is home now, working full-time for a few weeks at her bank job before she heads back to DC for what will be the second semester of her junior year in college. It seems like a minute ago I was dropping her off in DC, no clue if she could handle all the challenges of being a college student in a big city, never mind one with Type 1 Diabetes on board. And here we are. She’s thriving. Her GPA is high and her a1c is low. She successfully interviewed for what she calls her “dream internship,” which she will start the day she returns in mid January. She’s also obviously not just building herself a community, but being an active part of that community (witness the guest blog).
In other words, she’s doing all the things I dreamed she’d do as I was raising her.
That means we’ve crossed over to this place where people look at her – and us – and say “Wow, things are so awesome. What’s your secret?”
Our secret is this: things were not always so awesome, and they may not be some time in the future. But always, every day, I worked with one main premise: how to help her learn to be a happy, fulfilled, healthy person who happens to have diabetes.
Notice the order of that goal. Happy comes first. So does fulfilled. This is because I truly have believed since Day One that a big part of “healthy” is absolutely “happy.” This has meant compromise for me as a mom. I’ve said it many times: the easiest thing to do as a mom is be selfish and keep them locked away and “completely safe.” But that’s not raising the person to their full potential, if you ask me. There have been times, over these years, that I’ve tossed and turned worrying about her physical health. Because I let her take educated, supported and well-thought-out risks.
Like letting her to go DC for two weeks in high school with no medical person alongside her. That trip, I can still see, jelled her decision of where she wanted to go and what she wanted to do. Had I not allowed her that freedom (even though it scared me), who knows if she’d be heading for that “dream internship” in a couple of weeks?
And like not stopping her entire life because her diabetes self-care was not up to snuff for a pretty long period of time. She looks back at it with some regret now. She knows, as a sensible adult, that higher blood sugars and less checking probably impacted her high school grade point average. She realizes, though, that it was just something she had to go through to get to the “other side,” – and that she had to get there on her own. Had I grounded her from life or shut her off from all the other things she was interested in at that time, she’s not be the rounded person she is today. This I am convinced of.
I guess what I’m saying is as this year moves forward; I look ahead with great excitement for what my daughter is going to do with her life. And perhaps for the first time in my D-Mom life, I don’t look back with guilt and regret.
Because I did my best. I knocked my head against the wall. Things were not perfect, and there were times I wanted to just give up. But my daughter and I saw it through, and did not ever sway from that order of “happy, fulfilled and healthy.”
I truly believe that’s why today she’s all three of those things.
I cannot wait to be surprised by her again. More guest blogs in places I don’t know about. More exciting adventures in Washington DC. I hope other parents reading this take note.
Keep trying. Offer your support. Keep yourself a part of their daily diabetes care. Learn all you can about the teen years and growing up with T1D on board. Remain an integral part of their support team. But don’t ever, ever let diabetes rob them of their happiness and joy. It might mean dealing with some fears on your own, and it might mean taking some leaps of faith.
But in the end, we can be the folks who keep their happiness and joy alive. That’s the one part we truly can forever control.