28 May Finding Opportunities for Growth
By Denise Caudill Irons
I knew it would happen, but I did not expect it to happen so quickly. Since my public declaration last month of being a control freak, I have been provided with “opportunities for growth.” In other words, situations presented themselves where I was encouraged to release the white-knuckled grip that I attempt to have over my daughter’s life.
The first revelation occurred at my daughter’s check-up with Dr. Escobar. I alerted him prior to the appointment about concerns I had with her behavior. My list of observations and worries were documented and ready to be discussed. I was prepared. By the time of her appointment, I had worked myself into an all-encompassing frenzy of anxiety and fear. I was convinced that a medication change would be necessary, and I dreaded the complications that would result. After I disclosed my list of concerns and braced myself for the diagnosis, Dr. Escobar responded that my daughter is normal. I replied, “Say what, now?!?” (in my head, of course). What really happened was that I was dumbfounded and couldn’t comprehend what I heard. I was completely taken off guard. Of the million things I expected to hear, this was not one of them. Dr. Escobar was kind enough to give me a moment while I attempted to process the words that were bouncing around in my brain. Normal. She is normal.
After I pulled myself together, Dr. Escobar graciously explained that the behaviors I was concerned about were typical of a teenager. He discussed the good points of puberty, and then provided me with ways to help her navigate this transition. Of course, one tip was to orchestrate opportunities that promote independence. The message was clear that my constant interference would impact her development.
Honestly, as a recovering control addict, the possibility of backing off is inconceivable. Until one day, it wasn’t. My daughter is an equestrian. Her introduction to horses began with hippotherapy, and she evolved into an independent rider. Today, she rides weekly and prefers to ride with a bareback saddle. Recently, our barn hosted a horse show. My daughter has participated in the past, but we would leave after her competition classes. Taking into consideration the messages that have bombarded me for the past month, I decided this would be an opportunity for growth. I decided that we would stay and watch the other riders compete. While my daughter ran free in the barn, I would not hover. The decision did not come easily. Our barn family took the time to convince and reassure me that she would be fine.
So, I sat and watched the other classes while my daughter was somewhere inside the chaos of the barn. Every 20 minutes or so, I would go to the entrance and listen for her. Once I heard her and without being seen, I would return to my seat and watch the show. As time passed, I relaxed more. I began to enjoy myself as I connected with other parents. I was able to hold a conversation and not be distracted. Finally, after nearly 4 hours, it was time to leave before the rain started. As everyone predicted, she was fine, and she had a wonderful and memorable day.
I am on the road to recovery by taking baby steps and one day at a time. Rather than attempt to protect her from every obstacle, I realize that I need to let her learn her own lessons. When she stumbles and struggles, I will be there to help her navigate through the discomfort. I know that she will be stronger developing her own strategies, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept. For now, I am going to be proud of my accomplishment; but secretly, I am wishing that it will be awhile before I am presented with another opportunity for growth.