Soon the phone rang and I quickly answered. It was Marcie. Madison was ok but the car had rolled into a water-filled ditch. When I arrived at the scene of the accident, there was some missing pieces, no police, no ambulance, no other cars and no friend. Just my two daughters and my son standing in the middle of the road staring at Marcie’s car laying on its side in a five foot ditch. I jumped out of the car and raced over to her. In the headlights I could see she was in shock, but there was no blood or broken bones that I could tell. She said, “I am so sorry, Mom. A cat ran out in front of me and on this dirt road I skidded out of control.” My poor daughter. I was so glad to see she was ok I didn’t even care how it happened.
She hadn’t wanted to call me because she was so scared to tell me she had wrecked her sister’s car. I told her to always call, always. Her friend’s mother had come had taken her friend home once she saw the girls were ok and Marcie had arrived.
Being teenagers no one had called the police. As we stood and waited for the tow truck my friend took me aside. “I know you are upset, but I want you to look at Madison’s skid marks in my headlights. She was going way too fast and lost control. I am not sure if there even was a cat. Do you think she might have been drinking?” What?! My daughter didn’t drink. She told me so. We had an open relationship. My neighbor just looked at me as though I had two heads. As I walked away to gather my thoughts my daughter, Marcie came up to me. “Mom, Madison smells like alcohol. I think you should have her take a blood alcohol test. She could have really hurt a lot of people tonight. Maybe next time she won’t be so lucky.” I let all this sink in. I realized what I had to do.
I took my daughter to the emergency room. I wanted her to be checked out head to toe. Once they had done all the routine checks for injuries and found nothing more than a small case of whiplash, I asked the nurse to perform one more test, a sobriety test. I had to know if what I feared was true. Asking for the test was a test of my own program.
- My daughter would hate me for not trusting her
- I would feel guilty if the test came back negative
- I realized how much my daughter’s approval meant to me and it felt wrong
- I faced the fact I had to choose between upsetting our easy going relationship and being a responsible parent
My daughter resisted, but conceded after the ER nurse explained it was going to happen because I was the parent and she was under 18 years old… end of discussion.
When the results came back with a high enough blood alcohol level to earn her a DUI I realized quickly why the police hadn’t been called.
I felt like an idiot. Was I so gullible to believe her story about a cat and losing control of the car? It seems everyone saw the truth, but me. I felt naïve and foolish. I understood why so many parents turn and look the other way when their kids do wrong. It is so much easier.
I realized a few things that nights in the ER
- I had allowed our relationship to become what a mother/daughter relationship was not intended to be. We were not friends, we were still a parent/child. She still needed me to be the parent. One day we would be friends, but that day was not today
- I had to face my own fears of being rejected and abandoned. I was afraid of being alone and it was not my daughter’s responsibility to be my friend
- The slogans, “Do the next right thing” and “Let go and Let God” became my life preservers reminding me to take it one hour at a time and leave the results to my Higher Power
- Without my program I wouldn’t have had the tools to face my dependency on my daughter
My daughter did not like having her life opened up to scrutiny, but in the end she and I worked through the lies and created a much more authentic relationship. One where I am the Mom and she is the daughter.
Reach Out Recovery Exclusive By Madeline Schloop