She graduated!

I’m really grateful my daughter earned her high school diploma. There was a time when I might have taken it for granted that she was graduating. I had her ideal future all planned out after all. Her high school graduation was going to be her first but not last. You see, she is a very smart girl. She was an honor student. Surprisingly she still graduated with honors.

Things went downhill with the pandemic. Maybe we would’ve been able to manage her mental health issues better if COVID never happened. I guess we will never know.

Online schooling is not for the smart but unorganized extrovert. It was hard for her to stay focused. Even when school went back to in person she had problems. She missed so much school because of her hospitalizations that she had to go back to online school again. It was December right before Christmas break when she finally got set up to do schooling online. She didn’t want to start school when every one else was on break so she didn’t. Right after the new year started, she went to outpatient full-time. They didn’t give the kids the opportunity to do schoolwork at the time because it was a privacy violation.

That left Arabella with weekends and evening to finish school and that wasn’t going to happen. The outpatient program cut Arabella back to part-time so she could work on school. She was months away from graduation and hadn’t even started yet. I was afraid she wouldn’t graduate. Hopefully she could get done before she made the waiting list for residential.

Then one day she decided to finish her online schooling. She literally worked on it all day and stayed up all night to complete classes. I did want her to finish but didn’t think her obsession was healthy. I even told her several times that it was okay to take breaks. At that pace, she finished it in no time. It was one less worry I had about her future.

Later we found out in residential that she has ADHD. She was finally able to focus once it was treated. She also got into some new hobbies such as painting. For a long time she felt like she wasn’t good at anything because of her inability to concentrate. Plus both of her siblings have a raw talent for music that she doesn’t have. She didn’t feel like she had a place or purpose compared to them.

I felt terribly sad that a lot of the issues she was having with school and concentrating were fixable but we just didn’t know. Honestly, I also thought before that ADHD was kind of a cop out diagnosis. Sometimes I thought it was just a matter of being more disciplined. But now after I’ve seen how focused she is, I think I was wrong.

Now I also see that I missed the same symptoms in my son. For boys the doctor said it presented differently. The boys would rather be defiant saying they hate school instead of feeling like they are stupid. I wish I would’ve known some things sooner. Maybe I still could’ve changed things.

I have the same thoughts about Arabella going to residential and learning DBT. I wish I had known what I know now sooner. But you can only do the best you can with what you have. I have to let that go.

I am excited that Arabella graduated. She had a lot of obstacles with her mental health over the last year and a half. Paul and I are planning a trip to Maine with her this fall to celebrate. Hopefully it will make up for some of the things she lost along the way. She was supposed to be a foreign exchange student this year. That didn’t happen.

She is a high school graduate now. It is the first step into her future, a future she decides. It may not be what I choose, but it is a step in the right direction. I am happy for that.

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