No one prepares you for this situation. There’s not a book given out to you when you take your newborn home. It’s not a topic that comes up at a visit with your pediatrician or at a parent-teacher conference. No, instead, this is a situation that comes without warning. The kind of moment that sticks in your memory. A life “before and after” kind of moment.
When our family was navigating the Juvenile Court System, I had no idea what was up ahead. I spent days with my mind swimming in possible outcomes, all of them worst-case scenarios, of course. I googled like crazy, but I was never even sure what to google. What are the keywords you type in when your heart is filled with fear and regret, and you’re scared of what this will all mean for your child and your family? And while I normally went to friends for advice on things like potty training in the early years and how to get my child to do and turn in their homework in the middle school years, this wasn’t exactly the same. I felt alone. Really, really alone.
So today this letter is about one thing. Making sure you know, really know, that you are NOT alone.
This. Is. Hard. Can we just say that? Can we acknowledge that first and foremost? Because it’s so challenging, anything you are feeling right now is ok. There are a lot of unknowns. The hard to accept reality is that someone else is responsible for determining consequences for your child. The lack of control over what those consequences will look like and how it will impact your child, their future and your family feels brutal.
I know you are worried. I know there’s a high likelihood that most days, you turn every detail around in your mind over and over again, trying to make sense of how you got here.
As you go through this process, you will have to have times when you feel numb and other times when you feel all the feels. Friend, this is trauma. Whether you were blindsided by your child’s arrest or this is something you’ve been fearing would happen for quite some time, this is real trauma.
I won’t sugarcoat it. We may be at the beginning of a long journey, but there are mamas here who have gone before you and more coming behind you, and I promise we will get through this. You will come out the other side of this one day, and when you look back, it won’t sting quite as much.
You’ll learn a lot about yourself and your child in the process. You’ll learn about the peace that comes when we begin to release a little of our need to control every outcome. You’ll learn what it means to show up for your child when you want to run the other way, and whether they show it or not, your child will learn it too. You’ll learn how very strong you are.
You’ll examine your own judgments of others, and you’ll have compassion for hurting parents in a way no one else can. You’ll meet some strong people who will inspire you to push through, and your own strength will inspire others to do the same. You’ll stand up when you get knocked down, and you’ll claw and fight through it even when you are exhausted.
It will never feel like winning until one day you look back and realize you won. Not because things turned out exactly as you hoped but because you had to love your child through a journey that would have been a lot harder without you and YOU showed up. The hardest things that you and your family are living and breathing today will one day be the most powerful part of your story.
Hope and Hugs,
P.S. If this blog resonated with you, be sure to check out Episode 1 of our podcast, Unyielding, where we give a broad overview of what you can expect in the court system.