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Wednesday, June 03, 2009

You Can Lead a Horse To Water


We've all heard the adage "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink."  Well, this horse has walked away from the water entirely.  That horse being Kathleen. 


The 3 months that she has been home have been wonderful (for the most part).  I'd say that 95% of our time together was positive, good, loving, and productive.  But, Kathleen suffers from what I used to suffer from - a chronic case of PMS, and about 4 days before a cycle kicks in, the bad attitude kicks up.  Fortunately for me, though, I had that "thing" taken out about 7 years ago and have been at peace ever since.


Regardless, Bob and I have tried to provide Kathleen, at 30, every opportunity to get her life back on track, and it looked as though it was headed in that direction.  I helped her start her own website and blog.  We got her laptop fixed and then replaced.  It was a real mess when she got here.  She stopped smoking if for no other reason than we refused to buy her anymore cigarettes.  So, after she ran out of the cigarettes she brought here from Florida and smoked outside, she was done.  And, she did well in quitting cold turkey.  We are proud of her for her cold turkey bravado.


She gained weight (almost 25 lbs) in 3 months and she looks fabulous and healthy.


Kathleen got in touch with advertisers and had a good thing going with her blog, and an opportunity to kick that up a notch or two.  It was beautiful what she was creating.  Kathleen is extremely talented and creative.


Since she has been here she has helped around the house and decorated her room so that she was happy with it.  She even took up photography and took some wonderful pictures with the extra digital cameras we had around the house.  I thought her photography was beautiful.  I know I enjoyed photographing her.


We went shopping together and took walks together. We laughed together and cried together a few times. All in all, it has been good.  It has been wonderful having her home and helping her find her own happiness.


While here, she reconnected with an old boyfriend who is going thru a tough time and is serving in the Army in New York.  They spoke multiple times a day.  We really like him.  He is a good guy.  And, last month, he asked her to marry him, but first, he had some personal issues to resolve, and then he had to serve 15 months in Iraq beginning in October.  Having Kathleen and Glen in his life gave him something to look forward to.  He has a lot of love for Kathleen, as we all do.


Well, I don't really understand what happened really.  Bob had gone to Maryland for his interview and Kathleen had found a job at a local restaurant and started on the morning that Bob left for Maryland.  I put the kids in the Suburban and drove to the restaurant to pick her up at 7pm.  She had been at work since 11am so she had had a full 8 hour day in training.  I, too, had had a full day with the kids and cleaning up, doing laundry, and putting a desk together for our sewing machines.  Kathleen wanted to get started on her fashion designs again.


We stopped by the grocer on the way home.  We were out of milk and some essentials.  Everything started to go downhill from there.  Kathleen complained she was tired, and I understood, as I was too, but the way she communicated it was by being temperamental.  I let it ride.


We got home and the kids helped me with the groceries.  Kathleen retreated to her room and got comfortable.  I fixed dinner for the kids and for Kathleen and called her to dinner.  As I walked back into the kitchen I noticed that Kathleen had dropped her shoes in the middle of the kitchen floor, as had the kids.  So, in addition to asking the children to please pick up their shoes and put them in the shoe closet (yes, we have a closet just for shoes right inside the garage door), I asked Kathleen if she would do the same.  She walked into the kitchen grabbed her shoes and pitched them into a pile of shoes that were hers and accumulating next to the back door.  I asked her if when she was done with dinner if she would kindly put her shoes in the closet.  She said "No.  I'll do it in the morning. I'm tired."  And then she had a few choice things to say that I won't repeat here.


To make a long story short, she was short with me and disrespectful.  It would have taken her 10 seconds to put her shoes away.  So, I said "fine" and said "Well then, out they go" and I threw the entire pile out the back door onto the deck.  By the way, I've done this with the children's and Bob's shoes as well when they are left all over the kitchen and have taught them to put them away when they come home.  A few times I put Bob's shoes in the freezer.  Tough love can be tough, let me tell ya.


Well, Kathleen called me some names in front of the children and I told her that she "will" treat me with respect in our home or "there's the door."  I told her that when she can treat the members of this family respectfully, including her son who she treats harshly, she was welcome back.  I explained to her that this is our home and our family and this should be the most supportive and secure place for every member of the family.  When one member throws a wrench in the works, it upsets the entire applecart.


Kathleen retreated back to her room and packed her bags.  With attitude, she walked out the door.  She did not come home that night.  Monday morning, she came to the back door and started banging on the window.  I opened the door and said "Good morning.  Are you ready to treat us with respect?"  Kathleen turned on her heels, called me a name, and walked away.  I watched as she walked up the driveway with her purse and her suitcase on rollers.


4 hours later the phone rang and it was a sheriff asking if Kathleen was my daughter.  Of course, I said "yes."  He told me that she wanted me to pay her bus ticket back to Florida.  I said "No." I told him that she needs to come home and get her head out of the sand.  She needs to go to work the next day for a job she just started.  She has a son whom we are raising and she needs to think of him.  She needs to stop being so stubborn and treat the family respectfully and learn to appreciate all that we have done for her to help her.  He understood and said he would talk to her.  An hour later he told me that he had dropped her off at the bus station and that she had no money.


I heard nothing till the next day.  I did talk to her boyfriend, however, and he had not heard anything from her in almost 48 hours.  We were both worried, but to be perfectly honest, I was angry.  Angry that she had used us and found it so easy to walk away without a word or a care. Angry that in her bedroom I found a bag of moldy food, trash, and empty soda liter bottles under her clothes in her closet.


This morning we got a call from her in Florida.  She had made her way, somehow, back to Florida and back to the townhouse where she lived with a friend for the last 2 years.  He didn't want her back and didn't know what to do.  He had rented out her room.  But, he let her in the door and now he's stuck.  But not as stuck as Kathleen.

Hard headed.  Stubborn.  Disrespectful.  Selfish.  Unappreciative.  Ungrateful.  Unable to face responsibility and make good on her own life.  


I have this to say:  "Kathleen, we love you.  We have wanted nothing more than to give you the opportunities you need to make a good life despite the fact that you are starting so late in life.  We tried, but we expect every member of this family to be respectful and considerate of each other.  We are all human and we will all fail at this at times, but walking away from the family and running away from your responsibilities when you don't get your way is foolish and childish.  We all need to communicate, not berate.  I love you and I miss you, but with all that I have done for you, that we have done for you, including raising your son - I refuse to put up with the crap and I don't have to.  I don't know what your plans are, but we should talk.  Let's work this out.  Running away never solved anything.  There is always tomorrow and always hope."


June 5, 2009

Kathleen ...

I'm sorry.

I should have never let you leave that night.

I should have come after you the next morning when you walked down the driveway.

I should have been a better mother when you were growing up.

I should have given you more.

I should have tried to better understand you.

I am sorry.

That is all I have to say.  I expect nothing from you.  Absolutely nothing.

I am hurt and I was angry.  I know you are too.

I forgive you.  I do not expect you to ever forgive me.


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