My family (Steve, Chelsea and I) just returned from taking my 16-year-old daughter, Maddie, to Pennsylvania to stay with her dad.  If you have kept up with my newsletters, you know this event has been planned since August.  I am just kind of amazed that it actually happened.  I figured someone would chicken out. Maddie”s dad (we will call him Bob) has remarried and has two young boys, ages 10 and 12.
So both of our families lived under the same roof for 3 days and 4 nights.

This is quite a miracle, considering Bob and I have not spoken much in almost 4 years, and before that, it was a very strained relationship for 11 years. His family made our family feel very warmly welcomed.  The only glitch was the night we got there.

We drove in a snow storm from St. Louis, MO to Dubois, PA.  So it took us much longer than normal.  We finally arrived around 12:30am, and we ended up not being able to make it up his steep hill in the snow–so close and yet so far. We had to have the car towed the next day.  Bob and Steve got along very well, joked and kidded a lot.  Bob”s wife (we will call Jane) was gone most of the days at work, but she was also very
kind and allowed me to share her kitchen and cook.  Their boys adopted Steve, who gladly played video games with them.

They have a beautiful mountain chalet home, sitting atop a mountain.  The front of the home is all glass with a fireplace running up the center; it was very peaceful to watch the snow silently falling while all warm and comfy in the house, with a fire blazing and a huge sparkling Christmas tree. One night we all helped Chelsea by discussing some relationship troubles she was having with her boyfriend.  We came together as two families for the sake of our kids.  I really appreciate my husband for having the humility to do this.  It was not easy for him, especially the time leading up to it. We really learned a lot about ourselves, in conversation on the way up AND on the trip home.

Steve learned about forgiveness.  I learned compassion and that I need to meet people where they are and not expect them to have learned what I have in my life.  Chelsea learned how to be honest and respect herself at the same time. I am not sure what Maddie learned.  She was strangely quiet the whole visit.  I think she was just taking it all in, like a surreal movie scene.  She had really wanted both families (especially her dad and me) to live in harmony, and we did.  It was hard to say goodbye to Maddie. Her dad said she cried as she saw our car drive out of sight.

She had not shown much emotion prior to that.  My little girl is spreading her wings, and I respect her for that, even though I miss her. I trust that she is doing what she needs to do, to reconcile with her dad, to see how responsible she can be without training wheels (I am the “training wheels”).  Ever since she came to live with me nearly 4 years ago, I have been her safety net.  She is now ready to test her ability to take full responsibility for herself without me around.  I say, “GO, Maddie!” She plans to return in the summer, but I
am not sure if she will finish out her senior year in high school here or in Dubois.

Whatever she decides, I know that she and I are deeply connected and always will be. It is like that one song goes, “Wherever you go, whatever you do, I will be right here waiting for you.” Yes, my heart has been broken.  I am sure, if you have ever had a child leave for the first time for several months, you can relate.  My heart is mending though, and I choose to look at this situation from a positive standpoint–more time alone with my hubby and a little less drama never hurts either :).

Peace & Blessings,

Angie Monko