Gabby Douglas didn’t just make history as an amazing example of American training and athleticism when she brought home the gold from London; her story has attracted a lot of attention… the tale of how her parents had to let her go at a very young age for Gabby to pursue her dream. Maybe her parents took a lot of flack for sending their little girl to Iowa to train for such a long time. I, however, have a totally different perspective.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not comparing my life to that of a family whose has to center around the events of their child. I cannot begin to imagine what the Douglas family has gone through. I have my own unique story, though.
This week I posted a brief piece on my blog how pleased I was with the fact my kids are facing the realities of our decreased finances. After losing my wife, Andrea, in March of 2011, there were a myriad of problems that I would never have contended just a few months before. Part of that list of decisions was how to make sure my kids were cared for in the summer months. I had just taken a new job in order to better care for my kids. I lost my second income when Andrea passed away. It was very important to me that I let my oldest daughter, Abbi, be the 17-year-old girl that she is. I didn’t want her to have to spend every day of the summer taking care of her three siblings, Hannah, Noah, and Sam.
Enter the decision to send my children away for the summer. Many of my friends tried to say, “you get a much deserved break.” The thing with that is I didn’t want, or particularly think I needed, a break. But in order to give my kids a structured environment and my daughter the ability to be a teenager, it was the best decision. God bless my parents for being so willing to watch them and deal with four kids invading their home in Nebraska.
Yes, it’s a lot of support and love from my home. It’s also structure and example that my kids get to see every day. The downside is less on their part and more on mine. I spend 2 1/2 months without my kids, and after the last year, the connection between all of us is much stronger. My middle daughter, who was joined to my wife at the hip, is much closer to me.
Say what you want about Gabby Douglas and her family, I understand. Sometimes the best decisions are the hardest ones on the parents, not necessarily just the kids. Sending them away was one of the harder, and best decisions. I get to work, they get structure. My decision wasn’t as hard as it could have been because we follow a credo I’ve said before: we’re stronger together than when we’re apart . . . and even when we’re not in the same city, we’re always together.
Could you do this? Could you send your kids away for their own good? Can you let go because you should, or even because you have to?
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Dave Manoucheri is a writer and journalist based in Sacramento, California. A father of four, two daughters and twin sons, his blog, Our Story Begins, is a chronicle of their daily life after the loss of his wife Andrea, in March of 2011. Follow him on Twitter @InvProducerMan.