Warning: This is an unapologetic proud mama post.
For anyone who knows me in person, they know that I am not as close to my oldest daughter, Beanie, as I am to my youngest, Peachie. I was closer to Beanie in her younger years. She was smart and funny and seemed to breeze through life. She was always an honors student (although she never had to really work for it), a star athlete and won numerous awards for her volunteerism. I was often asked if I was her mom, and it was with great pride that I would claim her as mine.
Although she had been recruited by many colleges to play basketball, she decided she was done with sports. She went away to school and began to party. Hardy. Perhaps because of the discipline of sports, the strict codes of conduct that were required along with the high academics that were expected to play high school sports, she had a need to be undisciplined and let loose for a while. She also decided she wanted to be a forensic psychologist and started an internship in a high security prison.
We started not knowing each other. I couldn’t listen to her stories of violent murders and rapes. I don’t drink and have never been a partyer. I am an introvert. Beanie is an extrovert on steroids. And college seemed to magnify that even more. Suddenly we had nothing to talk about. Her life became the bar scene, her rich friends and violent criminals. Her grades were still great and she still volunteered so there was not much I could really say. And then she spent her senior year with an emotionally abusive boyfriend that turned physical. We spent a lot of time in family court over that. Overall, I was a nervous wreck with worry about her.
And now she is living home pursuing her Masters Degree. I don’t see her much between her boyfriend, her school work, her internship at an inner city elementary school, where she works with kids whose parents have a lot of interaction with the criminal justice system, and her job with a not-for-profit who helps kids get back on track after some experience with the crime. She has now decided she would like to work with at risk kids who still have a chance rather than with hardened criminals.
A couple of weeks ago she told me she had a meeting at a local college and could I pick her up afterward? I got there a little early and while waiting in the foyer got into a conversation with another woman waiting. She asked we which one was my daughter and I pointed her out. “Beaner? She is your daughter?” And while I was once always happy to claim her, this time I was hesitant since I had no idea what kind of meeting this was. Turns out that Beaner, who is active in the group NoMore, an organization working to end domestic violence, now speaks at local campuses to help young collegiate women like her speak up about their experiences as abuse survivors and to get help. This mother then went on and one about how much Beaner has helped her daughter and her family go through the process of holding an abuser, and a college, accountable.
Then recently Beaner invited me to attend a dance marathon which was a fundraiser for the not-for-profit she works for. And once again a woman sitting next to me asked which was my kid. Same response. “Beaner is your daughter? I can’t begin to thank her enough. A couple of years ago my daughter dropped out of school and was selling herself for drug money. Really got in with the wrong people and did some jail time. She was court ordered to enroll in this program and Beaner took her under her wing. In February she took the GED and Beaner helped her apply for community college and she got in! I thought I had lost my baby girl and now she is going to college! Your daughter gave her the confidence to think she could actually do it.”
And so I have had cause to look at my daughter through someone else’s eyes. Yes, she is loud and wild and parties too much. It would not surprise me to see her on Girls Gone Wild. She gets too many speeding tickets and has so many problems of her own making. She still watches very violent, psycho stuff which chases me from the room. She is a bundle of constant anxiety which leaks all over me. But then there is this other side to her. The compassionate, caring, big hearted person who would literally do anything to help someone else. She doesn’t just regurgitate some post on FaceBook about issues. She puts her money and her time and her talents behind her beliefs. And she, in just the infancy of her career, has already helped a couple of young people (and those I don’t even know about) in very important ways. I can’t even imagine the places she will go.
I am one very proud mama.