If I am being honest, with myself, and with you, I own some of JoDee’s addiction. I know what everyone says about addicts owning their actions, but that is only partially true. I know where I went wrong. I know how I let my daughter down. Hindsight really is 20/20, but there isn’t much I can do to change the past. I can admit it. I can feel guilty for it. I can make sure I don’t make the same mistakes with my other children, and I can tell you about it. Maybe someone learns from my mistakes.
To understand my mistakes, for me to tell you about them, is to start at the beginning. I graduated high school pregnant with JoDee. It’s a tough road, being a teen mother, but I would do it again without question. I always feared that JoDee would follow in my foot-steps. While she was in high school I badgered her about sex. I continuously made it clear she could talk to me, tell me, and ask me, anything. I wanted her to be able to live life, enjoy college, and not be tied down with responsibility to early. When she graduated high school, without getting pregnant, I was satisfied that I had done my job.
As soon as she graduated, she was hanging with friends, rarely coming home for longer than it took to shower, nap, eat and take off again. I was happy. It was the summer after she graduated, she was living free until she started college. I thought that was what post-high school, pre-college students were supposed to do. I had no idea that her then-boyfriend, whom I loved, had a brother who was a heroin dealer/runner that would introduce her to a disgusting way of life. I gave her all the freedom she wanted. She was practicing safe sex, so what could go wrong? Wow. What an idiot I was.
Not to mention, on top of the fact I already felt that she was responsible and no child of mine would ever be stupid enough to get mixed up with “that” sort of thing, I was going through a divorce. And not just a divorce, but I was in the middle of another situation, that I won’t get into to protect the privacy of others, that was painful and consuming. At any rate, I was clearly not paying attention to the things that were important. If I was 100% present, I may have noticed that in August of 2012, when she returned from a camping trip she was acting differently. If I wasn’t wrapped up in my own personal drama, drama that should have been insignificant compared to my daughter’s life, I may have noticed that she was staying out for days at a time and I was calling her to ask when she would be home. I may have noticed when she did come home, she would do it when I wasn’t home, and it would sometimes be 3, 4 or 5 days before I would see her for more than a minute or two at a time. If I hadn’t been so determined to have a settlement with my ex-husband that would include letting me buy out my house so I didn’t have to move again, I may have noticed that my daughter was spending more time with her boyfriend’s brother than with her boyfriend. There are many times that I lay in bed at night replaying this time in my life and I am angry and disappointed with myself. I’m embarrassed, and disgusted, of both my job as a parent and my own personal shortcomings. As a parent it’s my job to be an advocate for my children and instead I paved the road for someone to manipulate his way into our lives. My children deserved my full attention, and I was distracted. This is my fault.
I found out soon that JoDee broke up with her boyfriend of 3 years, to begin dating his brother. That should have been a clue how off the rail she was. Her ex-boyfriend called me many times telling me that his brother was bad news and JoDee was probably doing drugs. I thought he was a scorned boyfriend. I asked JoDee about it. I insisted she start coming home every night. And she did. With her new boyfriend, who admittedly I did not like as much as his brother. I told JoDee many times I thought the guy was a strange. But that’s the funny thing about parenting an adult child, even if they don’t seem like an adult, is you start to think you have to watch your boundaries. I kept thinking, she is over 18. She can move out, leave, and cut me from her life, so I have to tread carefully. BIG MISTAKE. If I can teach anyone anything, it’s that if you love your kids, if you want to guide them, you do it without hesitation, without fear of reprisal because anything less is a crime.
Our children, my children, deserve for me to be their parent whether they are 18 or 80. The lessons we teach our children will be forever. I did JoDee wrong by believing she needed me to be her friend, and not her mother. I was horrifically mistaken when I thought at 18 I had taught her everything she needed to know. I am so sorry that I made this terrible error. I had a giant lapse in judgment and by default my child suffered. Maybe I could have prevented her from going down this terrible path. Maybe I could have stopped it before it went too far. Maybe nothing would have changed. I really don’t know. All I know is I am her mother. I am Jay J and Jared’s mother. I am co-parenting AC children and I will never let any of the children down like this again. I have learned the hard way. Please, learn from my mistakes. Heed my warning and continue to parent your adult children as a parent, because anything less may be deadly.