My heart ached as I looked into Elise’s tear-stained face. In that moment she looked younger, her wet cheeks somehow accentuating her freckles. And yet, her beauty also struck me. She is becoming a young lady, growing up. Who knew it would be so hard.
Granted, what Elise is dealing with is probably not all due to the changes going on in her body as she heads towards adulthood. I think she is dealing with a heavy dose of transition stress. Not as much transition to another culture and country, but more transition to a different lifestyle. We’ve taken much of the knowns away from her life and replaced them with a whole lot of uncertainty. And I think that perhaps is what is causing the stress that her body is reacting to quite physically at times.
Elise lives for the future. She’s the kid that asks me as she is heading up to bed, “What’s for breakfast tomorrow?” At the end of the day, she isn’t reflecting on the day behind, but always looking to the day ahead. I know this about her because I am the same way. This isn’t really a negative trait, but it does cause problems sometimes in learning to enjoy the present and it definitely causes problems when there is very little future that is clear enough to look forward to. When you find your life’s meaning in what’s ahead, uncertainty throws you into a hopeless lost feeling.
Of course, the fact that she is a lot like me should make things easier. I used to think that when I grew up and became a mom I would know how to deal with a daughter just like me because obviously I would know what to do. I remember specifically telling my mom this as a teenager. But of course now that I am an adult I am approaching things from a completely different point of view. I have years of experience and growth under my belt, and no matter how much I try to share that with Elise, a certain amount of it she just has to figure out for herself.
And so knowing all this, my heart aches for her on those days where she heads out the door to the bus stop with a stomach-ache and headache. Thankfully those days are getting rarer. And even on the days where I do send her off to school that way she will sometimes return home in excellent spirits, full of energy and life.
And there are other days where I see a glimpse of a maturity that is beginning to develop in her. More and more often she is looking around, finding things that need to be done, and doing them without being asked. She is such a big help on those days, and I am thankful for the person she is and is becoming.
Disclaimer: I was hesitant to share some of this because first of all it is very personal to Elise and secondly I don’t want people to feel that things are too terribly negative right now. I had Elise read through this and she has given me permission to post it. As for the negative aspects, I hope that you can see the positive as I can. But the truth is that there have been some days over the last few months that really have been horrible. They are getting fewer and farther between, but that doesn’t change the fact that they have happened. Hopefully this post will be an encouragement to others who are struggling with similar issues, and a chance for you to know how to pray for us. Since our plans to return to the States have become finalized, things are settling down a bit, but there are still many stresses ahead for Elise as she leaves the friends she’s learned to love here and thinks about trying to figure out where she fits now in Arkansas. Please keep praying for her and for all of us as we transition.