Over the years I have had many many children in my home since I was usually the only stay at home Mom in the area. My kids friends, difficult child and easy child alike, hung out and slept over. Some more so than others........some it seemed never really wanted to go home. When they were here they followed the same house rules as my kids. If they were here often enough, they were mothered the same way my kids were. (I can't help mothering, it seems to be what I do) I am still in touch with most of them even though they've long since become adults and gone on to have their own families. Nichole's bff of so many years..........the girl who comes from the stereotypical white trash hillbilly family of lazy (seriously lazy) uneducated, alcoholic addicts..........who Nichole has been on the "outs" with time and time again due to frustration over bff's difficult child behavior and inability to see what she grew up with is NOT "normal" to the full extent.......the girl who lost her first born son to still birth thanks to her abusive now ex husband........the girl who has multiple serious birth defects due to her mothers drug use........ Well, Nance (I doesn't matter much if I use her real name) hung out at our home more so than any of Nichole's other friends. I can't begin to imagine how often she slept over during high school. She was here more often than not. Her parents didn't care as long as she kept her full time fast food job to support them and their drug habit. The full time job that made keeping up with school nearly impossible for a girl who had never been taught an education was important. It seems I did much more mothering with Nance than I ever realized. I just talked with her the same way I'd talk to my own kids. By staying with us so much she saw how "normal" families relate to each other, normal parent/child relationships (she had none) and things as basic as a house should be clean, decent meals are required, how to care for infants/children (once my grandkids came along). Despite the gfgness to Nance, I saw potential from the beginning. I saw who she really is, not who she appeared to be......which was pretty bad. I encouraged education, not college necessarily, but education in general as a means to success......to not having to work yourself to death in fast food for next to nothing. I also over the years helped her to see that her parents were using her and that parents or not, that it was NOT right for them to do so. Through all this, the successes and the thirty steps back into old behavior.......painful watching her make mistake after mistake. I came to love Nance as much as my own kids. So this past year or so has been painful to watch as she floundered and really kept screwing up her life and not doing any favors for her 2 little ones although she's a fantastic mom. After she finally realized that her now ex was a total loser/abuser and pushed him out the door she did a major crash and burn. Nichole backed off again in a huge way. I kept in touch but also didn't interfere very much, just helped where it didn't enable. Nichole was giving up and disappointed. But I had faith in what I see when I look into Nance's eyes. That girl has an amazing soul, and I don't know any other way to put it. She has a heart of pure gold. Still, I admit I was getting really worried that she might not find her way back from the edge of the abyss before plunging over. Nance gets on facebook yesterday and announces she is going to college in the next semester! She is reclaiming her life and pushing all the negative people aside. It will be her and her kids she focuses on. School for phlebotomy. Work to keep her apartment at the HUD housing. For a difficult child like Nance, this is enormous. Over the years I've watched this child be used/abused by her parents, her first love/now ex, lose her first child, give miraculous birth to 2 more, work herself nearly to death (with her disabilities this is literal) to keep food on the table, roof over their head because ex was an overgrown difficult child kid......have no self esteem whatsoever..........to grow into a super strong woman who realizes her self worth, her potential, her intelligence, her accomplishments...........A woman who now has the courage to take a chance on college. I was a bit stunned when she gave Nichole and I credit for the person she is today. But she tells me that because even though we would back off that we never stopped believing in her, never stopped loving her even though she is not really "related" to us. Made me cry the silly girl. I am soooooooooooo very very proud of Nance. Even on the slim chance she doesn't make it through the phlebotomy program I know she will do her utter best to succeed. But I have no doubt she will make it and she just may not stop there. I've been in a period of personal "self doubt" lately concerning my mothering thing and the "help" I give to others often without thinking........which often winds up getting me burned, especially lately. But this.........well, this makes it worth it. I needed that, needed to see that, even though I might get burned from time to time that there are those that it can make all the difference in the world for.