19 and (Still) Growing

   Posted by: Michael Bernier   in Today's Reality, Yesterday's Memories

Tomorrow is my daughter’s 19th birthday. It’s the first year she will be celebrating it away from my home and the rest of our family. She will be with friends, who I’m certain will make sure she has an enjoyable day, and there is a remotely possible chance that her mother and I may get to speak to her for a few minutes.

This occasion has given me mixed feelings. On the one hand, I am sorrowful she will not be around to celebrate the day with us; on the other, I am proud to see her trying to move forward and trying to be more like the adult she has become. But, being proud of her doesn’t mean I have to like all of her choices; in fact, I’m not pleased with most of the ones she has made over the past six months or so (on which I will not elaborate here, other than to say she has chosen to take up permanent residence elsewhere). However, I do respect the fact that she is being the independent young woman we tried to raise, and she is making her own choices.

As a result, she is also learning what it truly means to live with the consequences of her actions. Because she has chosen to live elsewhere she is no longer considered a member of my household; among other things, this makes her ineligible for medical coverage through my employer’s health plan, and she must get her own policy. The same is true with her car insurance (she doesn’t own a car, but she is both licensed and living in a household that has one, and under Texas law she must have coverage or she gets points put on her driving record). On top of it all, at last word she did not have a job, so it’s uncertain to me how she plans to pay for any of that. It’s hard for me to know whether or not she has taken care of all these things; she has communicated very little with any of us in the last few months. But, from what I do know about her character as I watched her grow up, I am certain she will stick with it until she has everything worked out.

There have also been changes in the rest of my family as a result of her decisions. One of my sons spends a lot of his time in her old bedroom, where his computer is now set up on her old desk. Financially, I have one less mouth to feed (although my sons are quickly filling that gap), and there will be one less dependent to claim when my wife and I file our taxes next year (this is a fairly fresh one on my mind since yesterday was Tax Day). It’s also one less person for me to worry about taking to the doctor when she’s sick, or the dentist when she has a cavity, the eyeglass shop when she needs new contacts, or the pharmacy when she needs medicine. All of that burden is on her now.

If you haven’t figured it out yet, all of this change has hurt me greatly. I’ve tried my best to put it all in perspective by looking back at when I was her age, but the comparisons aren’t quite the same. Aside from the obvious difference in gender, when I was 19 I was living away from home as well, but my parents had been divorced for about 18 months and my three brothers were split up living with one parent or the other; my family today is intact and all living under one roof. She has had tremendous financial support for her college education; I was working two jobs and paying for my college classes out of my own pocket. Any way I cut it, it’s just not the same situation.

I don’t know if she will ever read this blog, but if she does I hope she comes to realize how difficult it is for me to watch as she heads down this road, knowing what lies ahead but unable to get her to believe, or even listen, to my experience-filled voice. It had been my hope that I could have helped her avoid going through the School of Hard Knocks, but it appears she decided to go there anyway. I have come to conclude that it must be a rite of passage for all of us at one time or another, and the cycle will likely repeat itself when she becomes a parent and her children head out into the world.

I do know that she’s very bright and very deep-minded, and I believe someday she’ll figure out what I was trying to tell her now, and come back and say “you were right.” I just hope that day comes sooner rather than later.

Happy Birthday Michelle!

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This entry was posted on Friday, April 16th, 2010 at 9:29 pm and is filed under Today's Reality, Yesterday's Memories. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

2 comments so far


Mike, I too have a daughter that has chosen the hard route. I speak to her daily and thank goodness she includes me in her life but I too am sick with some of the choices she has made . The hardest part is seeing her not even realize that the biggest decision she has made is SO wrong. I pray daily that God will put a man in her life that will love her unconditionally JUST LIKE SHE IS. I also pray that God will remove the person in her life that makes her feel that she’s never good enough. God will definitely have to be the one to rectify this situation because she, for whatever reason, just can’t seem to see how unhealthy this relationship is. My daughter has gone back to school so she’s making some steps in the right direction. I”m very proud of the person she is, I just wish she could see herself the way that I do. I’ll pray for your daughter as well. Hang in there….

April 17th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Just as your daughter will gain more wisdom and insight as the years progress, so, too, will you. This means that your pain will lessen, and you will grow more comfortable with the fact that you aren’t responsible for your daughter’s life any longer – nor are you responsible for any mistakes that she makes along the way.

If she never makes mistakes, she’ll never grow. Mistakes are simply hard learning, and one of the necessary evils of growing up.

April 28th, 2010 at 2:48 am

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