This morning I got up before seven, made pancakes, and dropped Abby off at her high school for quite possibly the last time. She was scheduled to take the ACT test and we decided it would be easier for me to drop her off than for her to have to find a space, park, etc…
Like many students, Abby doesn’t attend school in person anymore. As summer drew to a close, we discussed it and decided the safest option for our family would be for her to be a virtual student. There were a couple of instances where she had to go up to the physical school building to test but that is all being done virtually now as well.
2020 has been an unbelievably difficult year for humanity but I would argue that she has had a particularly rough time of it. Not only is there a global pandemic in play which has all but robbed her of her senior year in high school but she has lost two grandparents in the last 18 months. She has long struggled with anxiety which has impacted her life and daily activities far more than I think we ever really knew and this year has been enough to break the strongest of people.
Our relationship has been tumultuous the past few years and although we are close, the arguments which ensued over schoolwork, a messy room, and what I saw as lack of accountability lead to meltdowns on her part and angry tear filled rants on mine. We are very very different and it is often difficult for me to see things from her perspective and point of view.
Over the last few months, however, I have sensed a shift. Virtual school has actually been easier for her to manage since she can work at her own schedule and pace. After years of not wanting to open up, she has recently begun attending counseling with a wonderful therapist and has an outlet for her fears and concerns. She has sent applications to a couple of different colleges and is interested in studying art.
Abby is hilarious, one of the funniest people I have ever met. She uses humor to deflect, to entertain, and to distract. She is incredibly talented, drawing and painting both by hand and by electronic means. She is creative, able to come up with more ideas than she ever has time to execute. She is kind and sensitive, often to the point that we might not realize we have hurt her feelings until it is too late. She is responsible, taking on the health of her family as priority during this pandemic, giving up things that no teenager should have to and making good choices to protect herself and others.
As I look back over the years, there are so many things I wish I would have done differently. Regrets over words spoken in frustration and fear. All I can do is ask for her forgiveness for those times and let her know that I am, as we all are, a work in progress. I don’t know what the future holds for any of us, but I have had the abrupt realization that this time of ours as parent and teenage child is drawing short. A realization that sometimes takes my breath away.
That is why, although she was perfectly capable of getting herself up, making her own breakfast, and driving herself to the school this morning (and I could have slept in!), last night I asked her if she wanted me to cook her breakfast and give her a ride, to take some of the stress off of a busy morning. And I hope she knows that no matter what happens, I will cook her pancakes anytime.
Karri Temple Brackett
October 24, 2020