Fly with the Phoenix

Mom’s growth moment at daughter’s school
August 12, 2009, 4:25 am
Filed under: Family Transitions

My daughter starts a new school tomorrow, but during last week’s orientation at her middle school, it was I who learned something about myself. Since my daughter moved in with her father and enrolled in the school in his district, I’ve struggled through a grade and a half trying to come to an acceptance of our new arrangement. For several weeks following my daughter’s move, I couldn’t stand in front of my kitchen window filling the coffee pot at 7 a.m. because the bus she once rode to school loaded the neighbors’ kids within my view and I’d cry. “She should be on that bus,” I’d say as I turned away from the window.

So pasting on my happy parent face when I’d attend conferences, concerts or other events at the new school was a tough assignment for me. I’m ashamed to admit that I crumbled a program from one of the first concerts at the school and threw it on the ground. I’d have probably spit on it if my husband hadn’t admonished me for littering.

This place just wasn’t as good as the old school. The teachers were geeks, the curriculum sucked and the principals didn’t have a clue what was happening around them–that’s what I told myself.

But last night, something happened.

Because her father was out of town, it was my job to take my daughter to the orientation. She’s about to start the eighth grade and seems glad to start the new school year. Like most 13-year-olds, that enthusiasm will probably be quite cool by the end of the first quarter, but I saw that she is happy there and it clicked with me. No distractions, no “happy parent face” or making pleasant small talk with her father and his wife. Just me and my kid at school decorating her locker, waving to her friends, chatting with her English teacher from seventh grade and introducing ourselves to her science teacher.

It’s the same school with the same challenges as last  year. In truth, it probably isn’t up to par with the middle school she left, but like gravity, there’s nothing I can change about that. No, I suspect the difference came from within me. Because a lot of my hurt and resentment has been felt, dealt with and put aside, I could see her school through my daughter’s eyes.

Maybe you can teach an old dog new tricks.

For any parents struggling with a custody change, acceptance is a tough thing to attain, but be patient because it’s possible to find peace. Stay involved with your children, be kind to yourself, be true to what’s in your heart and in time, you too will be able to attend a school conference without doodling mean faces on the handout.

Feel free to share stories of your acceptance moment with us in the future.


1 Comment so far
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Think of how far you’ve come. You truly are making the most of your situation and have risen above where most people would be. Congratulations on your transformation. I hope you continue to find the meaning and lessons in what is and will happen.

Comment by Leslie Weil Masaki

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