As a career professional, volunteer, mom, wife, and friend, I focus on the positive aspects of life, even when the road is rough getting there. Life is funny. How you treat others, how you handle situations, and how you live each day is your responsibility ... so are the outcomes.
There comes a time when you need to cut the apron strings with the kids, let them fall down & guide them through getting up, and have them take responsibility for their actions. I recently had a discussion with a Stepmom, who was wronged not only by her Stepdaughter, but also by the mother of the child, who helped her with the devilish act. The Stepmom and Stepdaughter had a special relationship, which the mom was jealous and envious of. They talked open and honestly. She could always tell when her Stepdaughter was not telling the whole story or was bothered by something by her voice tone on the phone or the expression on her face. They'd hang out and go "shopping" (most of the time window shopping.) They had common interests and family histories. The Stepmom was always encouraging her Stepdaughter to use her intelligence along with her God given talents to be successful and to never settle for less than she deserved.
As the Stepdaughter got older, she said their "open and honest" relationship started to get tainted from outside influences and the fact the Stepmother did not approve of some things she was doing with her life. The ironic part was the Stepdaughter would always call her (not her Dad or Mom) when she was in need of help for whatever reason. She and her husband found out the daughter was in a serious, one car accident due to her drinking and driving. She was okay, but the car was a mangled mess of junk. After seeing the pictures, the Stepmom could only think she had a guardian angel by her side.
Sure enough, the Stepdaughter called and wanted to know, if she and her husband (Dad) would pay for an attorney for her. For the first time, she told her to ask her Dad herself. She was not going to play the mediator to "soften the blow" anymore. I was thinking, as the Stepmom was telling me the story, was her Mom & Stepdad going to help, also? Just as I was thinking it, the words started to roll off her tongue. The Stepmother was told by the child, her Mom told her to go ask her Dad for the money, because he owed it to her to help her, and she was not going to help pay for anything. From previous conversations, I was not surprised.
The Stepmom and Dad had a lengthy discussion about the whole situation. The accident could have been avoided. There was a conscious decision to drink and drive. She needed to take responsibility for the consequences of her actions. The Stepmom had been putting money away for household wants and needs. Her "weasel sack" she called it. There was not a whole lot of "extra" funds to be had for either one of them, yet they decided to help and forego the "wants" for the time being. There was going to be a stipulation her Stepdaughter would have to agree with.
When the Stepmom was growing up, there were certain times she needed to borrow money from her parents. In each instance, depending on what the money was for, a decision was made as to whether or not it needed to be paid back and by when. She knew her Stepdaughter did not have a full-time, nor a steady job, so she wanted to make the payment terms reasonable to allow her to get her license back and get a steady job. She showed me the promissory note. She was borrowing her Stepdaughter $1,000 with payment terms of $10.00 per month, which in the event she could not pay, she needed to call her to make other arrangements. She gave her Stepdaughter two years to pay off the loan without any interest. If she missed a payment without making arrangements, or if she did not pay it off by the end of the two years, the loan would incur 18.99% interest from the original date of the loan to the current date. Another factor she told me, which was not communicated to her Stepdaughter, was she was going to give her the $1,000, if she abided by the promissory note. I thought it was a pretty sweet deal with an unexpected reward!
I could not believe my ears when the rest of the story unfolded. The Stepmom took a day of vacation to take her Stepdaughter to the FIRST lawyer, one of the best in dealing with O.W.I. offenses. Her Stepdaughter was disrespectful, sat slouched in a chair the entire time, repeatedly interrupted the lawyer (even after being asked not to), and had a punkish / snotty attitude when responding to questions asked of her. Yes, the lawyer kicked her out of his office! He told the Stepmother he felt sorry for her having to deal with such a b...., and she did not deserve her help. Never in her life did she shout at her Stepdaughter until that day.
The Stepmom had planned to spend the day with her Stepdaughter; lawyer, taking her dog to the vet, picking up belongings from the place she was moving out of, lunch, and whatever else they felt like doing. Well, believe it or not, she had made a promise to her Stepdaughter to take her to do those things, and she did. She also told her Stepdaughter she would still help her, but if there was a repeat with the new lawyer, there would be no financial help at all or ever again. The Dad, Stepmom, and Stepdaughter went to see another lawyer, who they hired. The Stepdaughter was presented with the Promissory Note for her and the parents to sign, plus the lawyer as a witness. She did sign it, which bound her to the terms and conditions discussed prior.
When it came time for the payments, the first two were made on time. Her Stepdaughter called to arrange to have the third sent with the forth payment. The next month, there was no payment or call. The Stepmom sent an E-mail to her Stepdaughter, because she was not responding to phone calls. She explained her disappointment and told her she needed to contact her to make good on her promise. Her Stepdaughter did not appreciate her honesty and told her Dad she was mean. Almost a year past before she made another payment. It was $100 and the last payment she would ever make. Her Stepdaughter grew even more distant, so the Stepmom sent one more E-mail. She again explained how disappointed she was for her lack of following through on a promise. She called her Dad and told him she wanted nothing to do with her Stepmom anymore.
Can you imagine what a blow to the heart that must have been for the Stepmom after always being there when her Stepdaughter needed her? For the Stepmom, it was never about the money.It was about the principle and keeping a promise. She wanted her Stepdaughter to know the debt was not going to go away, so she sent her an E-mail telling her she would take her to Small Claims Court, if she did not settle up. She shared the E-mail with me and gave me permission to share it with my readers.
"I borrowed the money to you in good faith and with the expectation you would hold up your promise. I can see I clearly made an incorrect decision. In accordance with the terms and conditions of the note, you are now responsible for principle plus interest. Your adult choices have given me no other option. The very sad part about the whole deal is, if you would have paid the loan off on time and in good faith, I was going to give the $1,000 to you, because you would have proved you're responsible and how important it was to you to take care of family obligations first."
According to the Stepmother, she received a phone call from the mom stating her Stepdaughter was not ready to speak to her yet, but wanted to get a copy of the Promissory Note, so she could make good on her debt. The Stepmom said she should have trusted her gut instinct and not given the information to her. She really wanted to give her Stepdaughter the benefit of the doubt and believe she finally "saw the light." She should have listened to her gut. The devilish deed was about to unfold.
Some time had passed. The Stepmother got her mail on the way in from work one day as she usually did. Imagine her shock and dismay to find a letter from the U.S. Bankruptcy Court stating there was an automatic stay filed against her for the loan her Stepdaughter owed to her. That's right, her mother helped her get the information from the Stepmom, so she could add it to her Chapter 7 bankruptcy already in process. What is wrong with parents these days!
After she told me the heartbreaking story, I had to ask her, if she had heard from her Stepdaughter and how she feels now. She told me it is unfortunate her Stepdaughter is not in their lives. She said her Stepdaughter will never be able to get back the days and years missed with her Dad or her. They never pushed her or forced her away, she ran away from them. She believes the reason her Stepdaughter stays away is, because she cannot comprehend unconditional love. Everyone makes mistakes and does things in times of desperation. The Stepmom and Dad are just taking one day at a time. They pray each day for her safety and wellbeing. If she reads this blog, the only other message they want to convey to her is they love her, miss her, and forgive her.