My daughter absconded from home as a teenager, but a year later, she sent me a letter that made my heart sink — she had learned her lesson and was ready to come home.
Mothers are important. I know that now. My name is Tim, and I have a daughter named Kate, whom I love with all my heart. She is my only child and the only thing that reminds me of my late wife.
Unfortunately, my wife passed away during childbirth, so Kate has never had a mother. Perhaps it’s why she grew up with so much angst. I tried to be a good father and mother to her while I raised her, but it just wasn’t enough. I tried to be strict, but understanding and that worked until Kate got into high school.
Her teenage phase was so nerve-wracking, I’ve put off having more kids because I didn’t want to deal with another child. Kate grew up alongside a boy named Jim. I personally think the boy was her better half, but she did not share that belief.
Jim was a smart boy who came from a good family, and he always followed Kate around when they were little. When they became teenagers, the two took things a step further while I pretended not to know because I secretly hoped they would stick together for life.
I liked Jim. He grew up into a calm, rational, and family-oriented person whose idea of a great time was curling up in bed with a good book and a glass of wine. My daughter was different, which is why I wish I’d done a better job parenting her.
I tried not to be too strict, but in the end, I was, and I denied her a lot of things because I was afraid for her; the world was a dangerous place anyways.
All that sheltering made my daughter want to experience freedom. Unlike Jim, she wanted to go to parties and get caught up in different social vices.
While they were together, Jim’s straight-laced attitude grated on her. She called him “boring” and “a nerd,” which always pissed me off. One day we spoke about it, and the discussion went terribly. “Jim is such a nerd!” she had shouted as she entered the house that day.
Now, now young lady,” I said. “I won’t have any Jim slander in my house.” I’d meant it as a joke, but Kate’s temper flared at my words.
“Is that a fact?” she asked. “Perhaps you could simply adopt him and have him be your child instead.”
“Where did that come from young lady?” I wanted to know.
“I hate Jim dad,” she huffed. “I want to be done with him.”
“Everyone calls him a stiff,” she continued. “It’s social suicide if I keep seeing him.”
With that, she stomped into her room and banged the door. There was trouble in paradise, but I didn’t know she would actually go through with it.
Jim may have been a nerd, but I knew he stabilized my daughter’s spontaneous whims. Unfortunately, that was no longer good enough for Kate, so she broke up with him and started seeing an aspiring rockstar named Keagan
Keagan had long hair and, like Kate, was a party animal. The relationship had all sorts of red flags attached to it, and I pointed them out to my daughter one day.
She had been preparing for yet another party when I returned from work. I promptly told her she would not be allowed to go, and it led to an argument.
“Why can’t I go?” she yelled.
“Because you’ve been to enough parties to last a lifetime,” I answered.
“That’s my problem dad, not yours,” she told me.
“You should never have left Jim. At least he kept you grounded.”
As soon as I said it, I knew there would be trouble, but I forced myself to continue. “Keagan is not good enough for you, why can’t you see that?”
“You’re just saying that because you want me back with Jim,” she replied.
Maybe I’d just rather have you be Jim’s girlfriend than a groupie to some wannabe rockstar!” I said. How else could I make her understand?
But Kate did not take kindly to those words, and as soon as she was 18, she ran away with Keagan. Her social media feeds had photos of them attending parties every night, and it made me feel terrible though there was nothing I could do.
Years went by, and I gave up on hoping that my daughter would learn her lesson and return home. Keagan was involved in an accident that cost him his hand, which meant he could no longer play. He had no savings, and Kate had no job, so they became hobos.
On the other hand, Jim was doing well, financially and otherwise. He had moved on with a woman he started dating shortly after my daughter left him, and they now had a family
One day, Kate sent me a letter asking if she could return home because she was broke and had no friends outside of Keagan’s circle of delinquents. I accepted her back on the condition that she cut off ties with him which she did.
When she returned, I sat her down and had a long talk with her. She cried when she learned what had become of Jim and decided to do better. Now she is living well, but I always wonder if things would have turned out better if her mother had been around.
What did we learn from this story?
Spend time with someone who helps you save your money rather than spend it. Kate could have had a better life had she stuck with Jim. They could have grown together, but she dumped him for someone she considered more exciting because of his straitlaced nature. It was a decision she came to regret.
Listen to your elders; sometimes, they really do know better. Had Kate listened to her father, she could have avoided all the heartache and suffering she got from Keagan. She thought her father could never understand her plight, so she ran away, but she learned her lesson.