Car Washes in the Dark

Car Washes in the Dark

My husband and I have two teenagers in our house, and we are trying our best to raise them into responsible and caring adults. For those of you that have already been there and done that, I'm hoping you can look back on that time with a smile. You survived it. Teenagers, after all, can be quite fun, and they can add a lot of energy to the house.

For those of you that haven't or might not ever get a chance to raise these strange little people that look like adults and make you think they are adults (when in fact they are not), it really hasn't been as bad as some people will tell you. The hardest part, I have found, is that teenagers are brutally honest when it comes to their ideas about you as parents. You rarely can "fake" it with them. They will sniff out insincerity and hypocrisy like nobody's business. And they are like little mirrors reflecting back to you the areas in our lives where we still need to do our own "work".

The challenge that we keep running into is that we really don't know what we are doing most of the time--especially with our oldest. We have never done this before so we often have no frame of reference. And winging it doesn't exactly feel like good parenting. What has been heart-wrenching for us at times is just how much dealing with teenagers has been like trying to deal with the aftermath of infidelity.

Not long ago, our teenage daughter went over to a friend's house on a Saturday night. The ever-evolving tandem of growing responsibility and trust has made its bumps in our family before, but this night the wheels definitely fell off the bus. All seemed to go according to her plan, and she came home at midnight when she was supposed to. However, the following morning, when we went to use the same car that she had driven the night before, there was mud all over the rearview mirror and on the tires. That was really strange, because the friend she went to visit does not live on a dirt road.

When we asked her about it, she told the partial truth.

Insert trigger number one: lying to my husband. After what I have put him through with my affairs, the man truly needs a lifetime of truth and nothing but the absolute truth. He handled the situation with grace, but lying is definitely a trigger for us. Not the kind that keeps us stuck like they used to, but the pin-prick "ouch" feeling is still there.

Trigger number two would be my shame. It is interesting raising these teenagers, because while I am not proud of it, I completely understand their tendency to only share what they want us to see and know. Share the good; hide the bad. I did that most of my life. While I chose not to let shame take over, it does rear its ugly head in situations like this, and that feeling of wanting to run and bury my face in a rock started to rise up in my chest.

Before you think the obvious, let me say it: I am an adult now. I need and want to act like one. I am not a teenager, and while a lot of my development got arrested there, I am eternally grateful for the gift of being able to choose a better, more mature and lasting perspective on love and relationships.

As the story unfolded with our daughter, we finally got to the bottom of what happened. This took several hours, and we ran the gamut of emotions: anger, frustration, silence, tears, repeat. She ended up going to a place where she had no business going so late on a Saturday night. She and her friends got stuck on a dirt road because they got lost. In order to hide the mud, they went to the carwash at 11:00 pm. However, they left mud under the car and on the mirrors, because, I'm guessing, it is pretty difficult to wash a car in the dark.

Seems like a whole lot of effort to cover their mistakes when the truth is so much easier.

This is where it hit home. I cried as I saw my daughter start to confess. I know that had to be very difficult for her, because the shame was written all over her face. I cried even more when my husband gently told her that there would be a punishment but that we love her and she is allowed a do-over. He reminded her that we only care so much because she is so valuable to us and that we want her safe. He also told her that next time she finds herself stuck on a dirt road in the mud with her friends, we would come and get her instead of her panicking and fearing the loss of love from us. We forgave her.

I hate to think of my daughter alone in a carwash in the middle of the winter late at night. She forgot how much she was loved and how much she mattered.

Today, I hope that despite whatever you face, you can choose to know you matter. You can choose to remember you are loved. You can stop running and hiding and covering up. Or you can choose to let go and start to forgive. This won't necessarily mean you will get what you want or that you can change or control the outcome, but you can start to choose differently.

To Healing,
Elizabeth

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Thank you for sharing this

Thank you for sharing this story. What a beautiful reaction your husband had to give to your daughter, I pray she always remembers that. A father's love is like no other. I'm hoping that you also felt that grace when your mistakes came out to him - eventually. I know driving on a dirt road is an entirely different level of betrayal, but did you ever feel this kind of grace? Shame is so often a reflection of the rejection we feel from those we love as well. I don't know your whole story, or how long it has been for you and your BH in recovery, but I'm presuming you would both have grown leaps and bounds in your inner man since D-day. I hope that you accepted the grace that your BH gave to your daughter as your own that night, I hope. It is so very hard to accept our mistakes and the forgiveness offered to us, and yes offering that to ourselves. Thank you for being willing to be vulnerable with all of us, this can't be easy to do.
To Healing . . . .

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