I keep getting asked the same questions asked of me: Where do I find my strength? What do I plan to do to continue Amanda’s legacy? Am I eating? Am I sleeping? Are you going back to work soon?
And I continue to have no real answers. I live day by day doing what I need to do for Amanda and the message I think she put out there. I don’t even know if I am doing it right. I don’t know if I am saying the right things. I just know that I am doing something that needs to be done. There are so many kids and parents out there that are needing help. From some of the conversations I have been having with parents from the west coast to the east coast of Canada, it seems that bullying/harassment is going alongside mental health problems. What comes first – the bullying or the mental health problems? Or is there a predisposition? Each case is different and each child is different , being their own individual person (like a snowflake dancing in the winter wonderland). I can’t help but feel for the parents right now (at this very moment) who are sleepless and worrying about their child (or children). Their anxieties and fears are so real. Their emotions are raw. And they tell their friends who also have kids. But (sad to say), no one really understands how it feels to have a ultra-sad child who feels utterly helpless and wants to do things to themselves which may have potential fatal outcomes, unless that parent has been there in some capacity. I understand, I was there not too long ago.
This past summer, Amanda attempted to self harm herself. She didn’t succeed because she called me and she got the help she needed in time. But I can say that even though she promised not to do it again, I was a basket case all summer. I spent my time making sure that there was someone to watch over her. I checked in with her all the time. Weekends were spent at home so that she wouldn’t be alone and feeling abandoned. As much as I wanted everyone to lead a more normalized life, it was very hard to. Near the end of summer, as Amanda felt more comfortable to go out, I eased up and began to feel more comfortable. That’s not to say that I didn’t text her all the time. I didn’t text her to ask how she was. I found out she was okay when I asked if she wanted ice cream or candy or McDonald’s (when I was out). I checked her Facebook posts to make sure she was okay. It sucked the life out of me but I kept on going. September was another month that took lots of energy. The going back and forth to the hospital. Being a full time working mom took its toll. I had a sort of new job. But… I was exhausted. I was stressed. I was worried. Nothing in my life could have ever prepared me for this. There was no more Mel next door to my office to talk with everyday to get my daily dose of advice. I did find others to talk to for therapy. But Amanda was better and I felt we were going down a good path. Until…
It is hard to be a parent in today’s life. We believe that kids have it easier than we did and our kids think we have it easy as parents. (After all, the money just comes out of those little cards we put into the debit machines, right mom.) A story shared about Amanda at one of the memorial services was the story of the lemonade stand. Amanda and all the neighbourhood girls would be so entrepreneurial. They gathered lemonade crystals, cups, ice, tables, chairs and of course, the container (with a lid) for the money. Then they would move themselves onto a ‘high traffic area’ of our neighbourhood so that people would buy their lemonade. Never mind that the ice always melted and Amanda always volunteered our ice because we had an automatic ice maker attached to our fridge. Well Amanda thought this was the best business. They didn’t have to pay for any of their ingredients and they got to keep all their money – of course divided up by however many girls decided to help and sit out selling their drinks. There were times when all my cookies disappeared out of my cupboard also. I think they sold the cookies plus any candies that didn’t melt in the sun. Oh the life of a child ….
Raising kids in this 21st century will be a challenge with the advent and ever changing world of technology. Even though we keep reminding our kids about how to use it properly with the ‘safe internet’ lecture, I don’t really think they all hear us. Yes they nod and agree. But then they turn around and continue to take pictures of themselves by the hundreds (eg – pose and snap). They send pictures of each other. They give cell phone numbers away. It’s no wonder that the % of kids out there have a higher degree of anxiety. They continually worry about who will or won’t call or text them. They want the clothes that will make them noticed. Their hair and nails need to be done. As you can gather, I am talking about the girl children some of us have. Boy, the girls sure work hard at trying to fit it. And then sometimes, it backfires. Body image, what to say and do, how they wear their clothes… it is all a part of it. Putting your self together is a big job for a teenager everyday. Then add school work on top of that, especially in the higher grades. Now try to say ‘hello, how are you?’ to this particular teenager. Ackkk…..
Bullying, attitudes, anxieties and depressive states won’t all go away on their own. We have to help them along. I thank everyone and admire those out there who are taking the time to administrator a Facebook site, helped gather links to articles, keeping Amanda’s memory positive and helping me to save my blogs so I can post them somewhere else and be archived. I think I said this last night too. It is getting hard to write at night because I am soooo tired.
I am going to put this to sleep and then I’m going to bed. Maybe not to hear my ‘big teddy bear’ breathe loudly but at least to rest my brain which feels really heavy by the end of the night. I am no longer worrying about Amanda in a fearful way. I worry now about how I can keep her legacy alive and ongoing. My message to the friends I know and to those I don’t, please help me in keeping the bonfire sparked and glowing. We can all work together to make the SNOWBALL bigger.
Love Carol xoxo