A Daughter, A Mom

First a daughter. Needing her to rub my head. The smell of her finger tips, cigarette smoke residue lingers to this day in my mind. The yellowing of her finger nails. Yet, the comfort they provided, the simple act of rubbing my head is not like any other. Resting on the floor or rather restless on the floor beside her bed full of panic and anxiety, her voice would soothe me. She would make it all okay. Running off the bus on school days, impatiently telling her about my day’s events. She was my go-to for it all. Sharing the excitement when I kissed a boy for the first time. Crying uncontrollably when I drank too much and forgot much of the night. She sat in the chair next to my bed and made me feel okay. My dependence on her became more of an enmeshment that I did not realize until my late thirties. And the hindsight I suddenly watched in high definition became uncomfortable. Facing the negativity, the toxic-ness of our relationship. Anger and sadness filled spaces that once held attachment. But…this is not the whole picture. She carried me when I would call incessantly from college crying, depressed, full of angst. With all her downfalls, like us all, she is my mom.

As a mom with a son about to embark on his college journey, I am faced with the challenges she must have faced with me. D and I share many qualities, some which include anxiety, stubbornness, and an underlying fear. Today, anxiety has all but left my being. But that was not always the case. In fact, when I was D’s age, my panic and anxiety was at its peak.  I am steadily preparing myself on many levels for what the near future is about to bring for D, for me. I’ve found openly talking about some of these college “struggles” has enlightened me in ways never expected.

A message from D the other night thanking me “for being one of the best parents” carried a weight, a much needed weight of hope. Being a Mom was, is, and always will be my dream job. My purpose. But oh so so very hard. At all stages. So I am grateful this Mother’s Day Weekend for my mom for doing the best she knew how to do for me and my brother. And I am grateful for the moments I have to be a mom myself. Everyday I work on being the best I know how to be.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms!

Advertisements

Could it be?

The other day while driving I had one of those ah-ha moments. It was about being happy. Some time ago I wrote about my mom always telling me I was unhappy when I was younger. To this day, she continues to reference me as an unhappy child and how she tried so hard to “help.” My initial emotional reaction to this is anger. Even thinking about it boils my blood. But I suddenly realized it was HER feeling that she was placing on me. Growing up I couldn’t’ see this. I only knew how jumbled I felt inside. Anxiety, stress, anger, frustration, a feeling of being trapped and wanting to escape. I remember these feelings quite well. In fact I remember very clearly my first panic attack at 10 years old. And I remember clearly how for the next nearly 30 years after, I was intertwined with my mother’s emotions. If she answered the phone upset when I called, that only played out for me personally the rest of the day. Her thoughts quite honestly became mine. Although I never saw this.

I.Never.Saw.This.

Until quite literally almost 6 years ago I woke up. That’s what it felt like – waking up. And suddenly I saw so much and thought HOLY SHIT! It was this time I separated from my now ex-husband while also distancing myself from my mother. And it was this time that my panic and anxiety all but disappeared. How ironic.

To only validate my recent ah-ha moment, my mom sent me a text a few days ago. It read:
“I really cannot wait for Prince Charming to walk into your life even tho it’s not of that much importance to you. If that day happens I’ll be beyond happy.”

So even though she acknowledges it’s not as important to me, it’s what she wants. It’s what will make HER happy. At 43 years old, she still tells me I need to wear my hair a certain way, to put more makeup on. She even told me recently she’ll pay for a make-over. These are things SHE wants me to do. And yet, I feel fine the way I am. I have worked so hard on my emotional, psychological, and physical state. And I am proud of this work. I think I do a pretty damn good job.

The smile I wear walking through the halls at work (that yes, realistically aren’t every day because nothing is perfect), the peace I feel while running, the positive energy I share at yoga, the laughs I have with friends, the excitement I feel when watching T play hockey, the proud feeling when D receives another college acceptance…all of this and then some is my happy.

MY happy.

Struggling With….

I love D, my 18 year old son, with all of my heart. But I am struggling. Actions he has made, comments he has stated, points of view he has expressed, and small mannerisms he has made are in direct conflict with how I felt I raised him. Is this because I faltered more than I thought? Is it his Dad in him? Is it immaturity? Is it him simply figuring himself out too?

It’s probably all of the above. When I see his Dad in him, the parts of his Dad that I, dare I say, despise, well I struggle with that the most. Because I just don’t respect it. At all. And with this, D has turned to his father a bit more these days. Ironically, this is what I have always wanted. However, it’s become a bit of opposing sides if that makes sense. His father has become the one who just makes things easy for D. No thought, no push back, no parenting really. And so I have become the bad cop. The one to avoid. The one who is left in the dark.

Is it my ego that wants so desperately to impart wisdom with my words creating a change in D’s actions that I perceive as positive? Is it my own insecurities of not being a “good enough” mom fueling disappointment? Or is just life? Just life playing out as it does. Guilty is how I feel. For having any disappointment. For wanting him to be better. Guilty.

Struggling with…it all.

13 Years Ago

It was just a short 13 years ago I was washing the kitchen floor, my belly uncomfortably big as it stretched to hold you, keeping you safe and warm and nestled. The phone rang. It was the doctor. “How do you feel about having the baby tomorrow morning?” You were a scheduled C-Section planned for October 10th. It would only be two days sooner, but it instantly became an overwhelming thought “No, I am not ready.” Having two days to finish cleaning, preparing mentally and physically seemed like a necessity. But, in the end the pros outweighed the cons. A few phone calls later, making plans for someone to watch your big brother, and the decision was made. I would be the first scheduled C-Section of the day. October 8, 2004.

I will admit when I learned I was pregnant for a second time, I was not overjoyed. I was scared. I felt guilty. Feeling as though I did not perfect being a mom to your big brother, I wondered how I could become a mom to two. I remember even apologizing to your big brother – he had no clue why – but in a weird, distorted way I felt like I was betraying him. I didn’t want to fail this mom gig.

You were here. And suddenly, I was a mom to two boys. You screamed as they quite literally opened up your world. I can imagine the bright lights of the operating room pierced your snug home. A beautiful, perfect baby boy. And how you looked so much like your dad. You had so many visitors, so many people who could not wait to hold you. A big brother who wore a baseball cap that proudly stated such looked at you admiringly. We brought you home a day early, ready to begin yet another chapter. I recovered much quicker and certainly much easier than with your brother. There were still challenging days and difficult moments, but it all fell into place.

You have been a miracle. A soul that is so full of love and kindness. A remarkable human being. I once thought how could my heart possibly have room for the love of another child. And yet, my heart does not remember how it felt without you in it. You and your brother together filled up my heart to completeness. You were given to me despite me not feeling ready or worthy. Someone or something obviously knew better than I. Thank you for being my son. Thank you for letting me be your mom. My world is so much brighter because of you. I love you my sweetest.

Messages

I once wrote about wishing I could go forward in time to see my boys okay – as a way of giving me peace today. Having a knowledge that in the end, it will all be okay. Lately, I have been having discussions with T, in response to his observations about his father, about life really and people. Truthfully, I have found it somewhat difficult walking a fine line between speaking negatively about his father’s actions/words and providing some clarification and lessons. As T gets older and starts to understand more I’d like to be able to offer positive words to ignite a knowingness in T that he does not have to follow his father’s path. And I speak specifically of T simply because of his recent conversations with me, but hope D hears me as well. At the moment D is muddled in between being a 17 year old, stubborn, on-the-verge-of-fleeing-the-nest-but-keeping-one-foot-cautiously-in-the-door, defiant, and yet loving and happy young man. He knows his father, but he so desperately wants his father – on the surface I don’t think D is even aware of this feeling – consciously anyway. I, as his mom, am left in a challenging corner that I have been arduously working to maneuver. Which leads me to the purpose of this post. There have been so many messages I have hoped my boys receive from me and understand and keep with them as they grow.

  1. Always hold the door open for others – not just women, but everyone. A small gesture of kindness truly can spark a light of hope in someone’s day.
  2. Be unselfish in your life. The world is bigger than you and I. Know when you do for others, you actually benefit just as much.
  3. But..remember to take care of your self. When you grow your being in a positive light, when you feed your own soul, when you treat your mind, body, and spirit as the temple it is, you will evoke happy energy.
  4. Your past does not define your future. Every single day you have a choice.
  5. Exercise. It not only strengthens your muscles, it strengthens your mind.
  6. Volunteer. Give to charity. Make a difference. And don’t forget the Starfish Story.
  7. Respect your partner. Take a deep breath and please think before you speak. Words can’t be taken back. YOU own your actions and your words.
  8. Family. Don’t ever give up on family.
  9. Truth. In your life, be truth. Speak it, show it, and model it.
  10. Be kind. Remember you have no idea what someone has gone through, what they have endured or experienced.
  11. Don’t forget to respect others and yourself. We are all human beings existing in a shared space.
  12. Don’t get caught up in the small details so much so that you lose sight of the bigger picture.
  13. Someday if you have you own children, relish in each moment, every stage of their life, plant seeds of confidence, and self-worth, and love in their hearts with your words and your actions.
  14. Go to bed every night saying “Good Night, I love You” to at least one person.

I am sure I could add more to this list and maybe someday I will. But know my beautiful boys, I love you with all my heart. Everything I am and everything I do, is because of both of you. You are my heart. You are my soul. You are my breath. Please forgive me for the mistakes I have made as your mom, but know I have tried and will always try to do and be my best for you. You are my reason.

A Better Mom?

Perspective. Divorce may, just may, have enabled ME to be a better mom. The mom I was meant to be. Not what I expected. But a sudden, rather clear thought that came to be. Well isn’t that ironic.

Grief Will Stay

“I don’t think you will ever get over the grief.” These are words spoken to me from my counselor a few weeks ago. Having a family, being a mom was my dream. And while I will forever and always be a mom, the dream of family has become fleeting. I will never have it now. One of the unfortunate consequences of divorce is along with dissolving all that is unhealthy, all that is good is gone as well. Try as I might to act like a sieve to catch the little shiny pieces, the holes are too big and all washes through. It has been so tiring on my soul.

My brother continues to tell me to lose all expectations to avoid continuous disappointment. But this is so hard. I have become a single parent in almost all aspects. Do you know how hard it is to parent a 17 year old boy? I envy those who can go to bed at night with someone alongside them. Someone to discuss the day, to problem solve, to truly be a partner in all of life’s challenges. I won’t use running solo as an excuse to be less of a mom. Trust me, I am doing all that I can to steer both of my boys in the right direction. But I confess there are moments I feel I teeter on completely breaking down.

As much as it hurts to continue to feel grief, it’s here to stay. Yes, grief won’t leave. But, it may be time for me to work on accepting the grief, letting it lay where it may fall. I can not change grief. I certainly can not go back in time and change my dream. But I can accept.

“Growth is uncomfortable because you’ve never been here before – you’ve never been this version of you. So give yourself a little grace and breathe through it.” – Kristin Lohr