There’s something about raising children (especially teenagers!) that can put a mom-heart through the ringer.
I’ve rarely longed for anything as much as I’ve longed for my daughters to thrive in every area of life. In their relationships. In their emotions. In their bodies. In their careers and passions. In their thoughts and beliefs.
So when you’ve got a kid who feels unmotivated, frustrated, and stuck, you both feel that pain.
That’s where I found myself six years ago. My daughter Kacie, then 16, was struggling in every area. Previously a good student, Kacie had decided that classes, reading, learning, and especially college were simply beyond her. She told me she couldn’t remember anything she learned in class anyway, so why even try? She added that she hated school, hated reading, and thought learning was a waste of time.
Her plan was to drop out of school and continue partying with friends who, like her, had given up on their hopes and dreams.
When kids struggle, moms do, too
My emotions were all over the map. Some days I helplessly longed for a breakthrough. Other days I embraced a sort of manic “I can fix this!” warrior-mother attitude. Other days I felt completely overwhelmed and even panicky. And of course, I frequently wrestled with guilt: If I were a better mom, would we even be facing this kind of crisis?
I grieved over many things, including my daughter’s vision for her future. She had bought into a devastating lie: She believed that the amazing opportunities that come with learning, curiosity, books, and education were simply not for her. They might be for other people, but not for her.
I had to do something.
At that point I’d been working for a brain training company for a couple of years. In that time, I’d heard countless stories from other parents about the difference their programs had made in the lives of their kids.
Now I needed help for one of my children.
Moms know how to git’er done
I knew that enrolling my daughter in a LearningRx program would mean a commitment of both time and money and, as as a single mom, I had precious little of both. But when I weighed the sacrifice against the chance of transforming my daughter’s vision of her future, I knew I would find a way to make it happen.
I guess that’s what moms do, isn’t it? We git ‘er done. If there’s something our babies need, we find a way. Look, I hadn’t brought this kid into the world and spent 16 years doing everything in my power to help her grow and thrive just to throw up my hands at this critical juncture. Kacie would be on her own in a couple of years, which meant I had precious little time to finish equipping her to do life well. I needed to act quickly.
I bit the bullet and took her to the LearningRx center in my city. I suspected a lot of factors were contributing to Kacie’s struggles, but I needed to know if cognitive issues were part of the mix. At LearningRx, they tested Kacie’s attention, short-term memory, long-term memory, logic & reasoning, and more. Because these are the skills the brain uses to think and learn, we figured the results would provide important clues, and they did.
We discovered that two of Kacie’s cognitive skills–short-term memory and overall processing speed–were really weak.
Well, that explained a lot. No wonder school felt pointless to her. She wasn’t tracking quickly in class, and she wasn’t hanging on to the stuff she did learn. In other words, when she said learning felt like a waste of time, the kid sort of had a point.
Relief for my weary mom-heart
I had no way of knowing if Kacie’s weak skills had led to school frustrations which led to acting out with drugs and alcohol, or if drugs and alcohol had hurt her cognitive performance. Or perhaps there was no connection at all. I didn’t know and didn’t care. What I knew for a fact was that two weak skills were making Kacie’s life harder than it needed to be–and those weak skills could be strengthened.
Guess what stirred in my wounded mom-heart for the first time in a very long time?
You know how amazing that feels?
Kacie did an interview about her experience at LearningRx, and you can scroll down and watch the video for her thoughts on what happened next. But what she doesn’t talk about (and may not even know about!) is the healing I began to experience in my own weary heart as I watched my struggling kid embrace a whole new perspective of what she could do with her life.
Just a coincidence? Ha!
Kacie didn’t even recognize her own transformation at first. I remember one afternoon she came home from brain training and spent the next twenty minutes telling me how awake her brain felt and how she had all these new thoughts and ideas.
“So brain training is really making a difference!” I said.
She shrugged. “Not really. I don’t think it’s doing anything.”
“So… everything you just described…just a coincidence?”
I just smiled. I looked calm on the outside, but inside my heart was bursting with song. I think it was Handel’s Hallelujah.
These days, my heart probably sounds like an entire orchestra. That’s because as I’ve watched my youngest bloom and thrive in ways I’d never imagined, I’ve gone from despair, to hope, to gratitude and delight.
Struggling kid transformed
Today, Kacie, 22, is finishing a college degree in early childhood development. Even better, this girl loves learning. She’s curious, she’s bright, she’s passionate, and she believes she can do pretty much anything she wants to do in life. (Oh, and did I mention that she also mentors junior high and high school girls, encouraging them to embrace big visions and passions for their own lives?)
Do you know what this kind of transformation means to a mom of a struggling kid? I can tell you first-hand what it means. It means you can breathe again. You can stop holding your breath because you’re longing so hard for good things for your hurting child that every cell in your body feels clenched and you literally. can’t. seem. to. breathe. normally. any. more.
This was a pivotal miracle in a series of miracles that took my daughter from dead-end-thinking into a world of opportunity, and enabled me to finally–finally!–take a deep, cleansing breath and begin to believe that things were actually going to turn out alright.
LearningRx has lots of studies showing how their programs improve cognition for kids and adults. They’ve got testimonials and videos from kids and adults raving about what life is like now that they can remember, focus, read, and learn better.
But as I was watching the video of Kacie and feeling oh-so-grateful, I found myself thinking about the mom-heart thing.
Because when you can provide relief to a hurting mom-heart … when you can give that wounded heart a reason to begin to heal … when you can move a mother’s heart from despair to gratitude, well… that’s a story worth telling, too.