Would You Like Me to Walk You to Your Car?
“Would you like me to walk you to your car?” my daughter suggested, as my husband and I stood in her new dorm bedroom. We had been there awhile lugging boxes in, and inspecting the place that was now her Home.
She was ready for us to leave. Ready to step into adulthood.
But I was not ready.
As we drove away from campus my heart filled with memories of her younger self. Her naturally curly brown hair always wrapped around her serious face like a curtain. Blocking others out. Even me. Her stuffed animal collection, her love of books, her poetry, her art.
How had this day come? I felt robbed. Cheated by time. Anger, regret, and sadness filled my heart as I thought of so many moments I lost because of circumstance. For most of her life I was a single parent, and held multiple jobs to provide for her and her two brothers. She had to step into an independent role early in life, so it made sense that as I was not ready to leave, she was. I wasn’t there for her. Time with your children really is like the cliches say, isn't it? Fleeting and fast.
I wept for the first hour on that long drive home. I weep still.
There are small family traditions she created with her Bonus Dad that break my heart daily. Usually he walks in the door after work, calls her name loudly up the stairs, so they can make dinner together. He doesn’t do that anymore. Sometimes when I longed to be near her, I would go sit at her desk in her room, as she tolerated me in her space asking how she was. I miss her eyes rolling at me in an attempt to get me to leave.
This pain is deep, and it takes courage to lean in to letting go. You aren’t just dropping a child off to a new temporary home. You are dropping off how life was. As I have been processing this change in our family, I have thought a lot about the parents in our program.
Parents who enroll their children in treatment are some of the most courageous people I know. Leaning into the unknown of what's ahead takes strength. My role in admissions, is to sit with parents as they decide if this step is what is best for their child. Sometimes when they are sharing about their children, it's as though they are describing one of mine. I recall one parent call recently, with a Father. He asked all of the logistical questions in a methodical and somewhat detached way. What was the length of stay, the cost, logistics of getting their child there? After some time, he got a bit quieter, and more gentle. He asked with a catch in his voice.
“Is there any hope?”
I sat with him for a moment. I could have dove into the many amazing family resources we have to support him in this. I could have shared our incredible statistics and results. Instead, I just said, “This is so hard, isnt it?” and we sat quietly together for a few minutes. Breathing in the heartache that is parenting. This is not easy. It's not certain. It's painful. It's filled with regret and imperfections. It’s an awakening of our own childhood. It's beautiful and exciting. It’s draining and unfair. But, is there any hope?
I think that is all that's certain. Hope.
Hope that they will be okay. Hope that they will grow. Hope that they will know how deeply they are loved. Hope that by us letting go, they will become and love who they are. Hope that we will be okay too. Hope is the one guarantee.
As an employee of Evoke, I've seen that a culture of hope and healing is not just something we sell, it's who we are. The supportive conversations and texts sent from my coworkers about the difficulty of this stage of life has meant everything to me. It has strengthened my belief in the family support that Evoke offers. I know that our team at Evoke wraps our arms around parents as they “drive home” after placing their child in our care. It's our culture. We offer support, a listening ear, resources, and most importantly: Hope.
At Evoke, we will “walk you to your car,” even when you might not feel ready.