To the Girl Who Had to Grow Up Too Fast

By: Shyanne Dorrity

This is a letter to the girl who had to grow up too fast. To the girl who watched her mother fight mental health battles, wrestle with substance abuse, and raise children alone. To the girl with siblings she had to take care of. To the girl who had to pick her mother up from a party the
morning after, only to stop halfway home so she could throw up. This letter is to you.

I am a natural caretaker. I don’t know if it is a product of my childhood or how I’m wired, but I have always felt a compulsion to help where needed. I would make dinner for my brother and I as far back as elementary school. Granted, dinner at that age meant sandwiches. I did dishes, laundry, cleaning, and staying up until I knew my mom was home and safe from seeing friends or drinking. This continued throughout high school. There were some highs and lows. By the time I reached high school I was taking my brother to after-school practices, grocery shopping, cleaning, and cooking dinner. This was on top of a part-time job and finishing high

All this to say, it was hard. Not only was I taking over the responsibility of one parent, but two. If you can relate, I understand, and I’m sorry. I’m sorry you had to worry about younger siblings, when you were also a child. I’m sorry you had to clean and cook and shop for you and your family. I’m sorry you couldn’t be more involved in social groups because you had to take your siblings places and work after school. I’m sorry you had to make sure your mom got to bed safely after drinking too much or bringing home a strange man. I’m sorry she took out her frustration on you. Most of all, I’m sorry you couldn’t just be a kid.

I am lucky to say that I still have my mother. My husband and I see her often and enjoy spending time with her. It can be rocky sometimes, and past hurts and wounds are still there and open. I can’t imagine what she has been through. She has talked to me about some of her past trauma, but I believe it was just the surface. Even still, I see glimpses in my own mom of a girl that also had to grow up too fast

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