Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Take Good Care Of My Baby

In the words of Bobby Vee:

Take good care of my baby
Please don't ever make her blue
Just tell her that you love her
Make sure that your thinking of her
In everything that you say and do

Take good care of my baby
Now don't you ever make her cry
Just let your love surround her
Paint rainbows all around her
Don't let her see a clouded sky

My oldest daughter, Jessica, will be 18 years old this year. It’s so difficult for me to reconcile that fact with the miniature child I brought home nine years ago, the child who had been moved from foster home to foster home, had survived brain cancer and its treatment, and had endured physical and sexual abuses that would leave her scarred for life. She is now a relatively happy, vibrant young woman who still has her moments of aggression related to her diagnosis of Reactive Attachment Disorder, but who overall is enjoying life and brightening the lives of those around her.

I wish Social Services could see her now. I’m not sure they would even recognize her. She is quite self sufficient in many of the tasks she will need for semi-independent living – cooking, cleaning, activities of daily living – and she envisions her future as a nurse’s aide. But during a meeting yesterday with the support team that met last year for a person centered planning exercise for Jessica I was forced to face an issue that I admittedly had been avoiding – Jessica has a boyfriend.

Like I said, she is almost 18 years old, and rightly so, she has an intense interest in the opposite sex. Her support team and I have worked diligently to help her understand the ins and outs of relationships, and have worked to help her understand the sexual side of things, her ability to say ‘yes’ as well as ‘no’, and concerns for her health and safety. But still, I’m not ready.

I honestly don’t believe that my angst would be any different were Jessica not significantly intellectually disabled. She is my first girl child confronting these issues. It’s hard for me to see myself as the mother of a young adult. I’m used to my children being just that – children. But now, I must get used to the fact that they are soon to be adults. I worry about her vulnerability – I worry about her heart getting broken – I worry that she will get taken advantage of – I just worry. But like I wrote on July 4th, I want all my children to have the freedom of choice, and one of those choices is to engage in a loving, sexual relationship.

I guess it’s almost time for me to accept what I say I believe, eh?


mommy~dearest said...

Goosebumps. As parents, I don't think we're ever ready to face the intamacy topic!

And it goes the other way too- when I found out I was pregnant with Jaysen, although I had been married for 5 years already, the first thought in my head was "Oh sh*t! How am I going to tell my parents I'm pregnant?!?" Haha!

Rena said...

Yeah, I'm not looking forward to that part. My daughter is only 13, but recently she said boys are "okay." This is a step up from "yucky." No honey, boys are icky until you're 35!

It sounds like you've done a great job helping her learn about relationships and sexuality, which is really all we can do as parents. The rest is up to her to make good choices.

Anonymous said...

That is tough. I am sure you have added concerns for your girl. I imagine when M is that age we will have our hands full.

Hang in there.

Anonymous said...

We could talk about daughters growing up over lunch. Soon. Been there, done that, and about to have a go at it again. Emily will be leaving in August so I feel like round two is coming. It's so hard to want a life for your children but let go enough to let it happen. This is one of those things that crosses the normal/atypical void...along with many others.

Talk to you soon.