I’ve lived in the same community for ten years. My children spent a combined 8 years at the local high school. During this time I have gotten to know its people and after moving back “home” to Massachusetts for a brief six months, I came back here to this little New Hampshire town because I love it and this is home. This is where I raised my children. This is where our lives have been. I am one of its people.
When things happen in this town, we feel it. We feel it because, although it’s not a tiny little one stop-sign town, it IS a small town. Names hit the news and these were parents who sat with us on booster committees, the guy that runs the diner downtown, the kids that sat in classes with our kids. You may not KNOW these people, but you know them. And when stuff happens it hits you.
In the last week there has been some headline news that involves two young men, both my youngest sons age. One young man died in a tragic accident while at college and another was arrested for selling heroin. I remember hearing their names over the years, saw them in the halls at school during open house and hanging out on Main Street, and hearing their names being read at graduation. These boys could have been one of mine.
My heart goes out to their families. Both incidents, tragic.
How my children didn’t get tangled up in the nasty web of drugs is beyond me. Addiction has been a BIG issue on both sides of the family tree. I’ve had this discussion with people many times over the years and they have always made the comment about what an amazing parent I am. As much as I would love to take credit for this I can’t. So many parents that are having issues with their kids and drugs are amazing parents too, yet they find themselves wondering….. “What did I do wrong?”. The fact that I never found myself in their shoes is luck. Yes, I loved my children. Yes, I was involved. Yes, I was a strict parent. BUT so were some of these other parents, the ones watching their kids being dragged off to rehab or jail. The ones burying their children.
LUCK. FATE. Divine intervention. Whatever you want to call it, that’s what it was.
And, if you are lucky enough to dodge that bullet there’s always some freak accident that could come swooping in and take you down. I always thought that having small children was nerve-wracking. Kids turn into teenagers that get their licenses. They turn sixteen and all of a sudden are able to drive. On their own. To school. To their fathers. Over snow and ice. FAST. Looking back their starting to drive was probably the beginning of my mounting anxiety problems! Once the kids started driving and I would see firetrucks and ambulances go speeding by or hear about an accident in an area I knew the kids “could be” I would send out a group text, “you ok?”. At first the kids would respond honestly. After a while they began to make wise comments about lying in a ditch somewhere. Despite their sarcasm the fact that they responded told me they were OK and my heart could stop beating so fast and I could relax. You send them out into the world holding your breath. ANYTHING could happen at any time and that scared the hell out of me.
LUCK. FATE. Divine intervention. Whatever you want to call it. That’s what it was.
It is so hard to balance being the kind of parent that is in their kid’s faces enough to try to keep them on the straight and narrow while at the same time allowing them the space they need to make good decisions on their own. Being a parent today is enough to turn your hair grey and put you on heart medication by forty. Nobody has all the answers. I don’t have any tried and true advice…….. I just know what I did. Be present. Love unconditionally. Listen. Be consistent. Hold them accountable. Apologize when you should. Is it always enough? No.
I know I got lucky, because life is fickle. You can do everything right and still get the short end of the stick. I am so very truly, every minute of the day, THANKFUL that I have been lucky with my kids. That they grew up and entered adulthood without the complication of drugs. That they grew up and became good, kind, hard-working people. That they grew up and entered adulthood.
Too many parents haven’t been afforded that opportunity.
Sending love to these families on this rather sleepless morning……