Dear Dr. Laura,
After hearing call after call from moms who cannot let go, I felt like I needed to write. My first-born son was the joy of my life. I loved being a mom and I was determined to do it “right,” meaning I would be the mom I had longed for my mom to be to me. He was extremely strong-willed, but I told him from day one, I am your mom, not your friend.
Without going into detail, life was not easy. My husband was a musician, I was a nurse. I worked nights so that I could be home for my son. We moved to Nashville, my husband eventually gave up the music gig and life was good. But my son was difficult. He refused to work in school; in fact he refused to do anything he didn’t want to do. He was bright, but unmotivated. Through the years, we had him tested, he had counseling, he went through a wilderness program, we homeschooled him, he went to private school, and we placed him in boarding school. Nothing worked. Through all of this, he continued to pay the consequences for his behavior.
One Friday morning, my husband found our son sitting in his car in a cloud of smoke. Upon rolling down the window, my husband was assaulted with the smell of weed. His butt was marched to juvenile hall, were he spent the entire weekend locked up. Monday morning he came before the judge in an orange jumpsuit and shackles. At 17, we kicked him out of the house because he would not abide by our house rules. He was welcomed home once he conformed. One big rule was: you have to graduate high school. We told him, you will not live on our sofa and be a parasite. If you have no desire to go to college, get a job, and get your own place. Our son worked menial jobs for minimum wage for less then a year before he decided this would not work. He went to the Navy recruitment office and enlisted. He was signed on to become an Arabic linguist…..this is how high he tested. He was able to complete about 6 months of training before he found out that he did not get his security clearance. I don’t know – maybe his past coming to bite him?
Today, at 24 years old, my son is a Navy Corpsman. After his clearance was denied, the biggest compliment I received from him was, “Mom, I know you did everything you did because you love me. I don’t blame you for anything in my life that hasn’t worked out. I know I have to take responsibility.” I am so proud of my son. I love him, and have always loved him with all my heart. I suffered through as much anguish as he did all the times he had to pay the price of his choices. I paid as dearly as he paid. But I wouldn’t change anything. I am his mom, not his friend. And this is about him becoming all he is meant to be, it’s not about me.
Thank you Dr. Laura for spurring us on to do the right thing.