Six months ago, our 19-year-old daughter shocked us all by secretly getting married. How did we find out? A friend told us she saw it in the public records of the local newspaper. All of the fighting and yelling and shed tears that ensued, and continued for several months, have finally subsided, and she has since moved out and now lives a thousand miles away.
My Teenage Daughter Eloped
When she was born, I was scared. We both were. What kind of parents would we make? We were so young ourselves, still in our early 20s. But we had the same hopes that new parents of all ages share: we wanted her to be healthy and happy, enjoy whatever pursuits she wanted in life, go to college, live fully and experience everything she could.
But things don’t always work out the way you expect.
Throughout high school, we preached and guided and encouraged. She applied to six colleges and was accepted to every single one. Despite only mediocre grades throughout school, she proved to us, and to herself, that she could do it. And then she decided to join the military.
She comes from a long military family, so we encouraged this decision (although that scared me too), and she was introduced to the world of emergency medicine and a life of providing caring to others. She became a leader among her young peers. At a young age, she received her EMT certification. We couldn’t have been more proud.
But then, as it often happens in military life, she met a man, fell in love and well, now you know the rest. My teenage daughter eloped.
Learning To Refocus With My (Now) Married Daughter
All the fears, all the anger and hurt feelings have passed (mostly, anyway) and we’ve had to refocus our parental energy in an unexpected direction. The most important point to remember was that this was still our child. We wanted to keep her in our lives. We never wanted any estrangement from her over this or anything else. So refocusing was the only option. We didn’t agree with her decision by any stretch of the imagination. But it was done, and wouldn’t be undone (we tried), so all we can do now is be there for her.
I worry every day about her. She’s not alone, but she’s gone from us, and is busy making a life for herself. I wasn’t ready for it, nor was my husband. But would I really ever be? If I’m honest with myself, the answer is no – not if she had waited five years; not if she had waited 10 years. (OK, perhaps 10 years.)
So for her, I now find myself playing a supporting role in her life as opposed to my primary role of the last 19 years. We’ve given her all the tools we could to prepare for life, and she made a big decision – way too soon, in my opinion, but she made it, nonetheless. Now, I’m a mother-in-law.
And I’ll be OK with that…someday.