I have really been struggling lately about this period in my life. A brief recap of my story for those who don’t know who I am. My 19-year-old daughter was diagnosed four years ago with two congenital heart defects, a rare heart condition that was caused by those heart defects not being diagnosed. The rare heart condition led to pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH/PH) which is basically high pressure in the pulmonary (lung) arteries that causes them to close up. Both the heart condition and her PAH are incurable and irreversible. Her congenital heart defects could be corrected but not with her PAH. She does take a lot of medication one of which is an infusion pump she wears that 24/7. She is also on oxygen 24/7. She just finished her first year doing part-time online classes working toward a bachelor’s in fine arts majoring in illustration.
Here is where I am trying to find my way.. Nicole is 19 years old now and she will be 20 in September and no longer a teenager. I am her power of attorney and health care surrogate. Nicole is on disability so I handle her finances also. She is an adult now and while I will always be her mom I would like to be a friend (or more so) as she gets older. The problem I am having is finding a balance between what is doing too much for her and not allowing her to have more independence. I do not usually get involved with anything that has to do with her classes other than help with applying for financial aid and keeping up to date on her grades etc.
My next door neighbor passed away at the end of May and I was very close to him. The memorial service was this week. I went with another neighbor and we were talking and she said it is different parenting an adult child. Something I never really thought about. I have a friend who believes that while you live under my roof you do what I say and I do not disagree with this but there are boundaries to it. Her daughter is 18 years old and they still tell her what time she has to be in bed asleep or she will get grounded. I do not agree with this and feel this is more on the controlling side. But this is just my opinion and none of my business.
Nicole’s friend (actually they consider themselves dating) who lives in Maine is coming for a 10-day visit the first week of July. Nicole and Shayne haven’t seen each other since last July but they are chatting, messaging, texting whenever he isn’t working. Nicole and Shayne are going to stay at a hotel for six days together.
Now, I have a huge problem with this but she is 19 years old and the adage “if you are living under my roof you do as I say” pops to mind but I just don’t feel that I can do this. Maybe it is because and probably most of it is because she is sick. I do worry about her taking full control of her medical issues without me there to help her. She thinks this will be a good experience for her.
I worry because I sometimes think that Shayne doesn’t understand the severity of her illness. I am freaked out about it. What if something goes wrong? What if Nicole doesn’t keep track of time and her pump runs out etc.? Nicole’s counselor says that I shouldn’t worry about it because there’s nothing I can do to change it except forbid her to go which I believe in my heart would damage our relationship. In February when this was planned I told her that I would only allow this if she could show me she could be responsible with taking her medicine etc. without me telling her to. I must say she has done well.
I don’t know how I will get through this. Nicole and I have never been separated more than overnight. I know that I have to come to terms with this. I have started a list of projects that I want to get done while she is gone and I will have to keep super busy. The problem is that I put so much of myself into homeschooling and taking care of Nicole’s medical issues that I have lost myself. I have to find out who I am and what I feel God is leading me to do. It probably won’t be much longer before Nicole will decide to take over all of her medical care as long as her health remains stable.
I probably haven’t made much sense and for that I’m sorry. My thoughts are so jumbled and I just feel so lost some days. I don’t literally have an empty nest but feel like I do in a lot of ways.