One of the most vital parts of being a parent is making mistakes. Mistakes are what causes growth and results in lessons and ultimately change. On a daily basis I make mistakes and there are times I lay awake at night reviewing those, and how I made them, why I made them – and how to not make that same mistake again. Quite possibly I am about to give you more credit than deserved, because I am hopeful you lay awake at night and feel some sort of anything for the abandonment of your child. You do feel bad right? Maybe cry when no one is around because you make the same mistake day in and day out. You get angry at yourself for not calling, writing, asking for photographs, or knowing how his day is, right? You do realize the irreparable damage you have caused your child, right?
We have never been introduced, which is difficult, given the lack of involvement you have in your child’s life. I’ve seen you at one baseball game, when you moved back for a month, ten months ago, only to abandon your child, again. Since that time you called at Christmas, and not since. There are times; I desire nothing more than to shake some sense into you, and ask if you realize what you are doing, what you are losing? This is your child, my god! However, I feel as though that would fall upon deaf ears, and a cold heart. I’m not nice like everyone else, I don’t give you credit for being a good friend, or continue to bite my tongue for the sake of graciousness. You are messing up, you are wrong, and lack in any accountability what-so-over. But, my opinion won’t change you, will it?
Instead I want to let you know something’s you don’t know about your child, and his life. Since you left again, he had his first school dance, where he didn’t dance at all, but had a blast. He loves dress shirts and ties, and really wants a three piece suit. He played football, and basketball for the first time. The other day he started baseball; and is showing strength in pitching. At practice the other day, he got hit in the head with a ball; don’t worry though his dad was there. He is terrified of getting hit with the ball by the way. He is having a nerf birthday party, which he is very excited about. There will be a nerf battle, and we ordered this great nerf gun cake, and his friends and family will be there, all of his family but you of course. Do you even know that tomorrow is his birthday? That he is turning nine? Will you even call him? Well, in case you don’t we are taking him to see the Oregon Ducks play a baseball game, he has no idea – and will be ecstatic! He even gets to meet the players, how awesome is that?
See, I may be just dad’s girlfriend, but I have to wonder if I worry more about this little boy than you do. Sure, I have only been in his life for a year, the shortest amount of anyone but I can tell you this, in a years’ time he already asked me three times, if he can call me mom…because he doesn’t have one. In fact he is making this board for his room right now, one of those tri-fold poster boards that you use for science projects – you know? Any how, he is putting pictures of his family on it, and he said “I’m going to put my dad and you in the middle and then us kids under that and on both sides.” Doesn’t that break your heart? Where is he putting a picture of you? Or, did the role of mom – not create a picture of you in his mind? That breaks my heart as a parent. We share a home, a life, and are building a relationship every day, and there are hard days, mainly due to you. But, I don’t give up, and move away because when he moved into this home, he became my child too, and he moved into my heart. When he comes home from school, we help him with his spelling words, his multiplication facts – which he struggles with, and I try to show him I am woman he can trust, that won’t just leave one day. I grew up without a mother, and it something no child should experience.
Yes, he has constants in his life, Grandma, Aunts, and friends that have filled a void since you left fulfilling any piece of the role of mom – but you and I both know – no one can fill that role and void but you. He will always hold out hope that one day you will pull your head from wherever it is stuffed and realize the mistake you are making. Meanwhile, tomorrow I will spend the day with your child, and every time his fathers phone rings, I will hope that you are calling and that you don’t call at the same time. I hope you call because he so desires you to remember him, and what easier day for a parent to remember their child, then the day they were born. And, a part of me hopes you don’t call because in a sense it is easier for him to not be reminded that you exist, and get hopeful you’ll call again, or maybe come for a visit – only to be left sitting on the curb – with a broken heart.
He is a sweet boy, damn it! So naive in this world still; he is funny, extremely goofy and wants nothing more than to please. While snuggling with his dad last night, his dad said “You are almost too big to snuggle” and your child responded with, “I still fit in your lap” which was true. How long has it been, since he sat in yours? You never realize what you have until it’s gone, and you are losing a connection with your son. You already lost a wonderful man, a giving man, a man who selflessly busts his ass to provide for your son, without the help emotionally, financially, morally or otherwise from you. He nurses the scrapes, attends every practice, every game, school conferences, plans birthday parties, etc…because he takes his role as a parent, seriously. When are you going to? Because, honestly every day you don’t, is a day you will regret down the road – and when your child is grown that void, will fill with questions of self-worth for himself and distaste for the woman who gave birth to him.
Driving the other day I realized something that was almost hard to swallow. The only long term commitment I have stayed true to, is my children. The people who I could not live without, who I need by my side, to see, touch, everyday is my children. Other than them, my life has been filled with disposable items, disposable friendships, disposable relationships even. There is not one single item, that if I lost, would cause me to feel like I lost a piece of history or value. Could it be that the low sense of my own personal value – has contaminated everything else? Or could it be that I have lost so much in my life, that what’s the point of adding value to something deemed for destruction?
Committing, is obviously not impossible – as I am responsible enough, caring and loving enough to care for my children, to always do right by them. My love for them is an emotional connection, that feels as if my heart literally has a string connected to theirs. When they hurt, I feel it. When they are sad, I want to make it better. They are not disposable to me, and the feeling of losing them, letting them down, is the only thing that truly breaks my heart – to the point of where I don’t think I would come back from.
Friendships in my life have been conditional, based on trust, involvement and my desire for things to be right or fair. Although I know sometimes things simply are not fair. If I lose a friend for some reason or another, it hurts – but not from suffering the loss – usually its from feeling like I don’t understand why. The most hurtful loss, is the ones I don’t know what caused the demise in the first place, the ones where people turn away to never speak to you again. Mainly because, I would never do that.
If I do not like you, you will know. If I choose to stop being involved in your life, or allowing your involvement in mine – you will know. Not because I told someone else and they filled you in – because I will tell you myself. I have never been one that dislikes or likes someone because someone else does, or because they are around someone – its just not me. The person who is probably the closest person to me out of everyone had a best friend – and it took me years to finally see she was a pretty great person. Part of that I realize was jealousy on my part – the feeling that I was going to lose someone else, and my internal struggle with seeing myself as disposable. Today though, she and I are great friends. There are women in certain circles around me that I simply dislike – for what reason I don’t know – just don’t care to get invested or involved.
There has never been a moment in my life where my choices and convictions were not real or mine. Why would anyone choose to not live for themselves like that? Any failure, any blessing is on my shoulders – because of what I did in the process, somehow-somewhere. The ownership of that is most important. Maybe that’s why I handle loss better, because in a sense I can wrap it back to something that was my doing. OR because I truly believe that it needed to be this way. “Mistakes are like presents to me, the wrapping might be tattered and torn, the bow may have only a simple string hanging there, but inside under all the excess – is a gift.” Therefore – walking away from it – or being walked away from – makes sense.
This morning I woke up to a Facebook post from my little brother – saying how hard life can get sometimes and that he is blessed and continues to have trust and faith in his struggles and that he was thankful for his wife and his continuing closeness to me. It hurt me to read it – because there was a truth in that – We haven’t always been close. Being the oldest, my relationship with my two younger brothers has been – I don’t know – probably disconnected. I love my brothers, but I have also been able to exist without a relationship with them, and saying that makes me feel like a shitty sister. Truth is, I think I put my time and energy into those relationships in the moment. Maybe – I am a “moment” person – or just now realizing how truly messed up I am. While responding to my brother, I wanted him to know that I am blessed too in having a closer connection to him, that his heart is good, and I know great things are in store for him. In my head, I thought to myself he has to be pretty great , because both my mother and father loved him – he was the good son, and I was disposable. Maybe that is why I pulled away from my brother –
It was also the first real moment of dealing with the fact of apparently being hurt by my visit with my mom. I suppose it would be abnormal to truly not feel anything – so I am alright with it. The same I suppose goes with my father – he fought for me to only give up on me in the end. He has passed now, and that’s the final feeling I have. I’ve never said that before. He fought for me, to only give up on me in the end. Maybe that’s why I refuse to let my children down.
In relationships, I would get teased that I was in love with love, and when the going would get tough I would leave. Then, there was the time when the going got too tough and I wanted to prove I was going to stay – but in that instance it was okay to leave. My role in relationships ending has been on both sides, I’ve been wronged and hurt, and I have caused the hurt and left them. Love was always something I could find somewhere else, a connection that was never too deep enough to hurt, if the root was pulled from the ground. The whole would fill in eventually. Looking back, I can tell you that in the relationship with my children’s father – all in all – its a wash. If we had wanted it to work, we could have – we just simply didn’t and are better off. The next relationship – all my fault – all my doing – and something I carry around with me in this small town of everyone knowing – but also something I am okay with. I messed up – I messed up big BUT, I learned BIG too and yet again – we are better off. The next relationship was a year of hell – a year of proving I knew what I was doing – and although I can blame the demise on him rightfully so – it was my fault for being a dumb ass and getting involved in the first place. The odd part is, he is the only man I think I truly loved, the only relationship I really gave my all, and worked my ass off at – and the only relationship that has ever broke my heart.
Proving myself to people, prevailing, doing what others say I can’t, is the way I have lived my life. A get back of sorts – a proverbial fu&k you of sorts. You see, I am okay with who I am. Do I love who I am – no, but I am proud of who I am becoming. Not taking crap from people, or allowing their convoluted opinions of me break me down – is a blessing. Truth is I have prevailed in many ways, and I have been a good person, a caring person and I have loved immensely and truthfully. That is more than many have the privilege of. I’m thankful for that.
My marriage now is hard – its work – and that’s how I know its real. I have to let my husband in, forcing myself to trust him – which is a foreign concept. Trust is something I don’t understand. Why would I believe someone, and take the chance of being hurt? However, I trust my children – kind-of a funny concept, right? Maybe it’s because I have known them from the beginning? I know their ins and outs, the faces they make when they are fibbing or being truthful, and maybe its because I would love them either way. Maybe its because I know they will love me, either way as well. My life, is hard for even me to understand – I just have to keep at it, keep learning from my mistakes and at the end of day be thankful for the blessings I have.
Its incredible how the mind and heart can build up a moment before its about to happen. Its as if a protective shield starts to encase you, or reminders of what to say or not say, how to act, or not to act run wild in your brain. This didn’t happen with me, maybe I was too numb to feel it.
Climbing into the car my brother said “Moms waiting for us, she called while you were in the bank”. Swallowing hard, I responded with “Us? does she know I am here?” and he replied with yes, she is waiting to see us. Driving to where she lived, I was terrified – questions about where she lived, her lifestyle, what kind of people would be there, could I get shot?? These were all the crazy things running through my mind. The neighborhood where we were, was less than favorable, and not knowing which color clothes I should be wearing to ensure my safety – scared the shit our of me, I am not even going to try and lie and say other words.
You have to remember, I do not know this woman. What I know of her, is her name, and that I stopped seeing her after I was four following my parents divorce. In the following twenty-nine years, I have seen her maybe four times and the last one was fifteen years ago. So, this car ride – this visit was a BIG deal and ended up being a BIG nothing.
Pulling up to a rundown house, with about three different trailers, weeds, and piles of junk everywhere, out walked a woman about 5’9, with a purplish-pinkish-redish type color of short curly hair, wearing a mans flannel, dated jeans and slippers. Her face was swollen due to having Graves disease, something I learned that day, and her over all appearance was that she had obviously had a hard life. She walked up and hugged me, a hug that I am sure I dreamed of for years, a hug that now felt uncomfortable and empty.
Walking us into her backyard, she sat in a chair while my brother and I shared a porch swing. Swinging back and forth, I talked with my brother, but was finding difficulty in what to say to her, or even to look at her, because part of me wanted to study this woman. You know – like look at the details of her face, her eyes, her hands, were they mine? Listening to the way she talked, she sounded the same, her laugh was the same although it wasn’t mine. Nothing about her was me, and nothing about me is her – it was an odd feeling. It was as if, I was meeting a friends mom for the first time, there was that lack of knowledge between us – no bond at all.
Talking with my brother, she expressed concern over her grandsons moving here to Oregon, and teared up at the thought of not seeing them. She reminisced about my brother and it was obvious they had some sort of a relationship, even though my brother puts forth all the effort. When I would talk, she would study me, I felt her looking me over – maybe doing the same thing I was doing to her – I don’t know. She laughed when I would say something funny, and would talk to me in a round about manner.
When my brother would stop talking, it was quiet. When he left to pee behind a tree, it was silent until his return. This woman and I were strangers. There wasn’t anything we shared the same, except our blood, and for me that is not enough. I suppose I could have thanked her for giving birth to me, but I didn’t.
She didn’t ask how I was, or what I did for a living, or anything for that matter. She didn’t ask about my children, her grandchildren at all – it was if they didn’t exist. In a sense, I guess to her they don’t – she has never met any of them and most likely never will. Sitting there within arms reach of her, part of me want to scream at her – shake her even, anything to make her wake up. Questions that I had like, do you not love me, do you not care about me, or getting to know your grandchildren, does nothing exist beyond drugs, pool tables and the men in your life? Release my anger of the years of being let down, not important enough, of growing up without a mother – but looking at her – I realized something bigger. That didn’t matter anymore.
Growing up I always held out hope that my mom would come riding in on whatever moms ride in on, and play with my hair, talk to me about boys, teach me about the birds and the bees, to tell me I was beautiful or smart just once – just once I wanted to hear that from her. But, today that hope didn’t exist. Being angry with her would do no good, and hating her was pointless. I don’t hate her, in fact I honestly don’t feel anything for her oddly enough. Obviously, I am affected by the visit enough to write about it – but not out of heartache – more out of self-discovery.
She gave birth to me, but I am not her. My children are my world, their days, new skills, sports, hobbies, snuggling with them, the pride that fills me when they do anything they are excited about, that’s me. Being their mother is a privilege, and one I take seriously and with the highest regard. My daughter is me, her attitude, her humor and smart ass remarks. My son’s kind heart, his shy personality, his need to be loved and snuggled, that’s me. None of that is her, and I am far more blessed because of it.
I’m not going to say that the visit didn’t hurt somewhere inside of me, and maybe it won’t hit me till she dies or something tragic happens, I don’t know. What I can say though, is that I must have known the visit would go this way, because I had no expectations, I didn’t daydream up the possibilities of what may or may not happen. Which is not me, I over-think, and over-worry about anything – but for some thankful reason, I did not with her. If you don’t want to be let down, lower your expectations, I read that somewhere and it is true – it works.
Finishing up our twenty-five minute visit, she walked us out to my car, something of which she doesn’t have. She hugged my brother, and although I tried to avoid it, she hugged me. She kissed me on my cheek, and with her voice cracking she told me she loved me, without thinking I said it back – shocked at myself, and feeling like a fraud. Those words meant nothing to me, and towards her they were just an automated response, and nothing more. She teared up, and I got in the car with her standing there looking at us, I never looked at her again, just backed out of the driveway and out of her life.
Its natural I suppose to wonder what she was thinking of in that moment, what exactly it was she was crying about – Could it be that she had every opportunity to get to know me, and chose not to? Or, that she knew that she would never see me again? Who knows maybe she was crying because my brother was leaving – either way it doesn’t matter.
Driving away from her home made me love my children and my husband more. An overwhelming feeling of being blessed with our life came over me – truth is it doesn’t matter where I came from or whether they loved me or wanted me even – because today I am loved, today I am wanted and today I have broken the cycle my parents created.
Getting home that night, it was close to midnight, I had promised the kids I would come in to kiss them goodnight. My daughter laid in her bed with her beautiful long blond hair strewn on her pillow, eyes closed and sleeping peacefully. Kissing her cheek, part of me wanted to swoop her up in my arms and tell her a million times over that I loved her, was proud of her and that she is so beautiful and smart. Instead, I just turned out her light and moved on to the boys room. My oldest son slept among toys, I swear he can sleep on anything – he sat up in his sleep and gave me a hug, I removed the toys and covered him up with a blanket. The youngest was laying there with a big smile, sat up and was extra excited to see me, giving me hugs and kisses and telling me he missed me. Tucking them both in, I walked back to my room, where my husband was half asleep on my side of the bed, trying to wait up for me, and happy I was now home, so he could sleep. Crawling into to bed, I realized if I never did anything more in my life than just being a mom and a wife, then I had already made it big!
What matters to you most?
See you next blog ~ Jess