This letter has been a long time coming, but I have to write it to get it out. I realize that most of what I write won't be anything you will care about or even pretend to. You are 21. You will be 22 in Feb. By this age in my own life, I was pregnant with you. I already had a daughter who was 2, almost 3 years old. I have to admit, finding myself in a position of being pregnant with a partner who had little to no interest in parenting along with me, I was angry. I was angry at myself. I often contemplated whether or not the high drama of my pregnancy with you somehow made you the way you are today. Like, could you feel that I wasn't happy? That I was scared of going through this AGAIN? That I had built a little life with my daughter that wasn't "great" but it was good. I finally had gotten a GOOD job with benefits and stability, and she and I were well on our way to being alright after struggling for the almost 3 years of her short life. The last baby I would ever have, because at 22 years old (I turned 22 the month before you arrived) I made the decision to have my tubes tied. See, I didn't want to find myself in this situation ever again. And so now we were a family of 3. Your diagnosis of ADHD came in 2nd grade. Nevermind the fact that in kindergarten and 1st grade, you had already been put off the bus, been 'expelled' for a period of time from after school care. This impeded on my job, as being put off the bus meant you had to be dropped off and picked up at school times, which were not my work times. Thankfully for us all, I was good at my job and had built the kind of work relationship with my boss that she was ok with me arriving late and leaving early during those times because I got my work done. Drama ensued in every grade. I eventually knew office staff by the sound of their voice even before they identified themselves to me. You didn't have it easy either- as you were very different from your sister who was 3 years older- and being in a small school district meant that by the time you got to a new grade, the teachers/staff knew your sister. I always knew that was hard for you- to have a well meaning teacher mention that you were certainly not easy child. I had to get to the point that I had to share on meet the teacher night to please not do that- that yes, you all were different children. Then we got to high school. I changed your high schools in 10th grade. For two reasons- 1) I put you in a high school who did admission by lottery - it was designed for kids who weren't likely to go to a traditional four year college. They had academies. Five of them. Those academies could give you dual credit at the local technical school and give you hands on instruction on things that would make you employable even if you didn't go the technical college route. The second reason was to give you an fresh start. Get from under your sister's shadow and to not have teachers pre-judge you on day one. You never knew that I cried all the way to work that first day of school, because I knew that while you were trying so hard to be brave and put on airs like it was fine- I knew that you were scared to death. I was scared for you. I wanted you to make friends. I wanted you to be interested in the new adventure. It was at the end of that first week that you, on the way to school, said you would jump out of the car and kill yourself. I drove you directly to the mental health facility in town and called inside as you raged in the backseat. You jumped out and ran, and two deputies had to chase you down. They kept you there for 6 days. They also diagnosed you as ODD. There is no amount of money on EARTH that would ever make me do those years again. None. Between bad grades, truancy, truancy court, in trouble ALL THE TIME, suspension, assignment to alternative school, outright blatant disrespect of the teachers and administrators. I was so humiliated by it all and at a loss. Here I was, doing the best I could by myself all these years. And I'm cringing when the phone rings and the caller ID is the school. I advocated for you as much as I could. I begged and pleaded and cried trying to get them to please give you another chance. I begged and pleaded and cried in truancy court. See, I was at risk of jail when you landed us there. I was *thisclose* to being COURT ORDERED to attend classes with you. What about my job? "Not our problem, you need to make sure he goes to school". The stealing, the lying, the holes in the walls. The threats. The yelling. The lamenting how you got nothing. No one did anything for you. Then you finally finished school. You finished all your credits early your 12th grade year, much to my surprise- because as I told you over and over and over again- you weren't dumb. You were smarter than you gave yourself credit for. But you didn't pass the state testing so you didn't graduate. That summer you started going to summer school for those classes for the restest in July. You told me you didn't want to be the only one in our family who didnt graduate. But you got put out because of your mouth. And while they let you take the test, you failed it because you didn't get the tutoring you needed. And so began our new venture together. A boy in a "man's" body- 18, legal age. I let you stay home and told you that as long as you either went to school (got a GED, went back to tutoring, then on to technical school) you could live with me rent free. Or, you had to work. You did nothing. You would get a job, keep it a couple of weeks and quit (or you would say you got fired "for no reason, I didn't even do anything", but I knew in my heart you quit). But you did get more defiant and meaner. You were like night and day. Some days, you loved me more than life itself. Others, "what kind of mother are you?" It all came to a head in February of this year. Just a week after your 21st birthday. I realized that you had stolen and sold all my handbags. You saw it as "Just purses". But after years (literally- 24 years) of robbing peter to pay paul, write bad checks on purpose for groceries, skipping the house payment every December to be able to provide some Christmas for y'all- I was FINALLY able to do something for MYSELF. My vice is handbags. Coach. Dooney. My one true vice. And you took them ALL and sold them. Sold them for nowhere close to their worth. When I realized they were gone, you were not home. I called you and you vehemently denied that you had taken them. Matter of fact, you came right home and proceeded to yell and scream at how angry you were that I even had the nerve to accuse YOU. Nevermind that you were the only other person with access to them. I filed a police report. I remember actually being off that day and had my laptop up and was emailing your sister that if I told her to call the police, for her to do so. You were so mad. I literally was afraid of you that day. In hindsight, it infuriates me that you had the unmitigated GALL to be angry when that entire time you KNEW you had done it. You punched a hole in the wall and talked about how you weren't going to be accused and treated differently for something you didn't do. I, along with my mother, decided that day that we would move all my things out of the house and put into storage and I would stay with her. We would sell the home. So that Thursday, just three days later, I was 'technically' homeless. At 43. No permanent home. I had not been in a position like that in 25 years. Why? Because I didn't know what you'd do next. You didn't tell the truth until the detective called you and told you that IF he pulled internet records and confirmed that yes, you did list my purses on a sell site on FB, you WOULD be arrested. Period. So you confessed. The detective called me and told me that he would give me a night to think on it. That family drama continues on- once charges were filed I couldn't change my mind. So I didn't file. So you stayed at the house for a month- then your sister felt sorry for you and let you move in with her. She's FT employed with her own little apartment, and she worried that you'd end up in your car, hurt, etc. You never appreciated that. You worked off and on...nothing more than 2 weeks. One lie after another. You had the nerve to get mad when she would tell you that it was time to do something- that she could not support you both on her income. Finally, in August, she had enough. You ran your mouth one last time and that was it. She made you leave. I told you that you could stay in the house temporarily, but that it was about to be listed and so you needed to get it together. It was time. Then you stole from my mother. You spend so much of your time talking about what no one does for you- but you forget or don't tell all the things YOU have done. But you don't tell the whole story. Lying. Stealing. You tell me that you don't respect anyone who doesn't respect you. What it really is - you don't respect YOURSELF. I can't live your life for you son. I sacrificed my own to give you all the most 'normal' upbringing I could. Never wanted either of my kids to be a victim of my circumstances. I'm sorry you have a deadbeat father that never took interest in you. I certainly didn't grow up with that plan in mind. But rather than go on and on about what you didn't have- try to think about what you DID. You had a parent who raised you, provided for you, and was always there. Focus on THAT. You have, through your own actions, pretty much burned all your family bridges. It makes me sad. I don't blame myself anymore- because I know and YOU know that I did not raise you to make the choices you are making. What you are doing is not what you saw growing up. You have decided the path you are on. Not me. Not your sister. YOU. And now it's time to deal with the consequences of those decisions.