Saturday, April 29, 2017

She's Moving Out -- Again

Today I’m moving my 23-year-old daughter out of the house – again.

Like many young adults today, she moved out for college and moved back home after graduation. Her goal of graduate school in speech pathology didn’t go as she planned, so home she came.

That was two years ago.

Getting used to having her around again was difficult for us all. My then 10-year-old granddaughter who lives with me had taken over my daughter’s room which they now had to share. The house became more tense with a new schedule of comings and goings. My husband used to laugh and say that when my daughter was in the house, a cloud of tension descended. I had to worry about planning meals around someone else’s likes and dislikes, to listen to complaints of the filth left behind by the ones with whom she had to share the upstairs bathroom and to lose sleep over the every-now-and-then 2:00 a.m. homecomings. Her not getting into grad school was hard on her confidence and self-esteem, so I had to be a cheerleader and help her see that life doesn’t always go as we plan. Most of the time she didn’t want to hear my advice because this little blip in her agenda was all she focused on. In other words, she had no plan and felt that at age 21, she was supposed to have it all together.

During the next two years, she did a lot of childcare for quick money and also worked as a floater at a local non-profit for adults with disabilities and mental health disorders. The term floater means that she went where she was needed. If a staff member called in sick, she filled in. She mainly worked in personal care – feeding, changing, etc. those who couldn’t do it for themselves. At first, she was unsure that she wanted to be there. After all, she had a college degree from the University of Florida; she didn’t train to be a personal-care aide or to handle people with behavior outbursts. She could make a lot more money waiting tables or being a nanny. As she got to know the clients, though, she got excited about the work and became an advocate for this population.

Cards and art the clients and staff gave Kelsey on her last day at the non-profit program.

She was also at home during the last months of my husband’s life. She helped with doctor visits and chemo treatments. She even traveled with him on his last trip to our place in North Carolina. Just the two of them stayed together for a month in our RV. She got an ear full of his tales of his past life, of how he felt about certain people who pleased and disappointed him, and of his limited future. They both had a fascination with brain chemistry and psychology, and he told stories about his time in Germany when he oversaw a psychiatric unit of an Army hospital.

She was also at home when he died and was here to grieve with the rest of us. She was invaluable to me, helping with transportation of my son with Down syndrome and listening/advising her niece when I just couldn’t relate to the 6th grade daily drama. More importantly, she transitioned from being my child into being my friend. I’ve watched her mature and gain so much self-confidence. She has found her voice and isn’t afraid to use it. She is strong.

These past two years gave her a new goal, too. She decided that she didn’t want to be a speech pathologist anymore. The experiences she had as a floater and with helping her stepdad allowed her to see where she will be most effective and happy – as a nurse, specifically as a psychiatric nurse.  
She investigated the requirements to obtain a BSN, took the required classes at the local community college, and applied to three universities for their accelerated programs which would allow her to complete the degree in a little over a year. She was accepted at two of the three. The one she chose had 600 applicants and she was one of the 32 chosen. How’s that for a confidence builder?

So today, she’s leaving again. She’s only three hours away, but her life will be moving at warp speed and she won’t be able to come home much. After she finishes the program, she has a plan for the rest of her life that she will work toward; however, because of her experiences of the past two years, I’m confident that she will be able to deal with life if her plans go awry.

I am one proud mama.

I advised Kelsey to watch One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest so when someone refers to her as Nurse Ratched, she'll understand.