Thanks to Scout, who wrote a post quoting this line from the movie Flatliners, “In the end, we all know what we’ve done.” giving me the peace needed to write this.

What did I do? I risked jail by hiding you until we could see a judge, when things got too bad for you to stay with your mom. I took you in when you were skinny, dirty, and angry, and never once treated you like you were anything but my own child, fed you, clothed you, and taught you limits. I took you to church and school, and made sure you got plenty of time with your grandparents, defended you, even against your dad when I thought he was being too tough. I listened, sometimes for hours, many times to the same stories because you needed someone to talk to. I put up with your mother, and did my best to make sure the two of you had some kind of relationship. I quit my job and did without to be home with you, and when it looked like you would give up and quit school, home-schooled you. I smacked you, once, hard enough to set you down in the floor for the name you called me. I cleaned up after you, taught you to cook, clean, and how to take care of yourself. I made sure your car had insurance, gasoline, and decent tires.

I cried, when you decided in all your young adult wisdom to move back in with your mom, when they called and told me you were in jail, and when you turned down my offer to help you get a real life. I loved you, and still do.

What did you do? You destroyed things that didn’t belong to you, refused to put any effort into doing anything for yourself, broke every rule and denied it, and lied even when it made more sense to tell the truth. You threw fits when things didn’t go your way, ran up a huge phone bill at your grandparents calling a man you knew wasn’t good for you, and went to horrifying sites on my computer. You treated your grandparents shamefully, dumped the friends that loved you, started going against everything you ever said you believed in, and treated your dad and I like dirt under your feet. You got tickets you still haven’t paid, went places you knew you shouldn’t, and got yourself thrown in jail the day before Thanksgiving.

The last time you were here, you stole from me.

What won’t I do? I won’t keep my mouth shut to keep the family peace, spout platitudes to make you feel better, or bail you out of jail, ever. I won’t tolerate your attitude, listen to your lies, or defend you when you’re wrong. I won’t lie to your grandparents, dad, friends, or the police for you.

I won’t stop loving you, but it’s over precious girl. It’s time to grow up.

(But if you decide at some point to pull your beautiful head out of your perky behind and start doing the right things, I will do everything in my power to support and help you.)