Posts Tagged With: unconditional love

my girls

After being here with me for nine days, Thing 1 left Thursday to return home to her sweet husband, N.
I woke Friday to an empty house.
Normally I’d love that, but after Thing 1 being here, I didn’t. I was sad. No, not really sad, more disappointed. Kind of empty feeling.
But it was fleeting.
I got to work. Only I was missing someone to talk with. Even missing her crazy habit of following me everywhere.
I’m feeling that nagging sense of missing out. I know they’re meant to grow up and leave home and all that jazz. But I’m selfish! I want to spend more time together.

The way I’m feeling reminds me of that Abba song Slipping Through My Fingers.

That’s what it feels like to have grown girls.
I miss them in ways that cause me physical pain.

I get my hackles all up and think, I shouldn’t have to miss them. Only that would be impinging their natural development. But it’s funny, it seems to me that in my natural development, they should still be mine and not yet their own.
Children grow at their own pace. Parents are left in the dust.
Logically, I get that. I understand that I did my job. That I gave them the best foundation I could and now it’s up to them to build upon it.
Emotionally, I want to still be active in their lives, I want to listen to troubles and joys and giggles and have great snuggle-fests in my bed.
Parents should evolve at the same rate their children do. That they don’t doesn’t seem quite equitable.
Alas, it was always thus. (or was it?)

Thing 1 is an amazing woman. I don’t say this because she’s my daughter. I am truly awestruck by her. She is smart and funny. She is more strong and capable than she actually realizes. She speaks of not feeling “adulty” enough and looking around for someone more “adulty” than her. But she’s got this. She’s absolutely “adulty” enough to successfully live her own life. And really, what more could a mom want for her child?
We had such wonderful conversations, some seriously examining our relationship and life, some just plain silly. We talked about raising children and healthy relationships. We talked about baseball. (She’s a convert! She decided to love baseball after her first trip to Nats Park!) Oh happy day!
Spending that time with my firstborn was precious to me. No, more than precious. Our time together was sacred.
At one point in our lives I wondered if we’d ever truly be a part of each other again. Yet, here we are.

At the ballpark, the couple behind us told us that we were a “precious family”. That we were “so blessed” and it was obvious that Thing 1 was “adored”.
That moved me so. I’m not sure Thing 1 believes she is adored. I hope she learns to remember that more each and every day.

Before Thing 1 came here, Thing 2 and her boyfriend J spent two weeks with Thing 1 and Husband N.
One thing that makes me happy is that the girls being together seems to have been especially good for Thing 2. Though, it was really good for Thing 1 too. And I enjoyed listening to her talk of their time together while she was here.
Thing 2 is dating a guy that Thing 1 absolutely adores! That’s a big deal for Thing 1. Those external relationships must function successfully within their internal sisterhood.
She’s said that if Thing 2 hadn’t liked Husband N, she never would have married him. She expressed that she’s closest to Thing 2 over anyone else in the world, and that is her most valued relationship. I know not with certainty if Thing 2 feels the same, but I sure hope she does.
It seems the time they spent together was healthy and positive for both of them.

Thing 2 is becoming so much more aware of herself. I love that for her!
She is a tricky sort of girl…filled with acute self-awareness, yet seemingly unable to put it into action. This causes her much trouble. To know, yet be unable to do much about it is a tricky place to be.
But, I think she’s making some positive changes for herself. I also believe the time with her sister was beneficial to reinforce that.

We had an interesting text conversation late last week.

Thing 2’s friend Anna was critically injured in a car accident last summer, in all honesty, we’re lucky that she’s still with us. She just had a follow-up surgery to assist in the healing of one of her legs that’s a bit shorter than the other from the accident.
Anna lives with Thing 2 at her father’s house. Thing 2 has been her primary care giver since the accident. It took a toll on their friendship, but it seems as though they’ve been able to come out the other side stronger.

This one came immediately after the first one, before I even had a chance to respond.

“I was full of shit.” Yes, my darling, you were. But, owning it is the first step to changing it.
I told her that communication is difficult, but becomes simpler with practice.
She wondered if it was “shitty to say I’m proud of me?”
I assured her it was not, that she should be proud of her accomplishments.
Then I told her ‘life = perpetually learning more about yourself’.

Y’all, I’m forty six years old and I do that every single day! My twenty year old daughter is wondering if she should be proud of learning more about her self.
Um, YES PLEASE!

Being a mom is the most gut-wrenchingly painful experience of my life.
Being a mom is the most joy-filled, awe-inspiring, rewarding experience of my life.
It’s no wonder I feel like I didn’t evolve at the same rate as my girls. How could I possibly?

I find it hard not to focus on “missing out” when they continue to become such unbelievably cool human women! But, I have their lifetime of love and joy and being together deep within me. It sustains my sadness at being apart from them. It keeps me from missing them more than I can bear.
But we’re lucky enough to have a love that is unshakable. We’re lucky enough to be able to call each other out on her shit. We’re lucky enough to carry on real conversations about important issues with love and compassion, and even a bit of understanding.
Communication. Who knew?

This is what Husband N had to say in response to me thanking him for helping celebrate Thing 2’s birthday. But more importantly, expressing to him how much it means to me that he loves both my girls.

Amen to that!

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

twenty years of muchness

Thing 2 is twenty today!
Twenty years of the muchiest muchness you ever saw!
That girl.
Sometimes she’s the most precious angel. Sometimes she’s the devil incarnate. I suspect that could be said about many girls on the planet, only this one is my girl.

At the Udvar-Hazy there, is a missile with Thing 2’s name on it. Whenever I see it, this is what I think, ‘Thing 2 missile, blowing shit up with sass!’
Because that’s kind of what she does. She just goes around blowing ship up with her sass. I actually love that about her.
She wears a bit of an armor, going around like a bad ass, but she’s got a kindness to her that she keeps close to the chest.
Like Veronica Mars, Thing 2 has a marshmallow center.

We’ve had a tricky time of late. She’s trying to figure out how to be a more grown version of herself. I’m trying to feel connected to her as she develops this new version of herself.
It’s easy to let miles and time create a hole in our relationship. We both do it.
The hole in our relationship doesn’t mean we don’t love each other, but it sure feels icky to have to traverse that hole to connect with each other.

Five years ago, she wrote this:

Truth is: You are the best mom I could ever ask for, even when I’m all messed up-you fix everything! Love you.

I want to be this mom still. Only that ship has sailed. I can’t fix everything for her anymore. I know that. Knowing it and accepting how that feels are two different things. I will always be her Momma. Only in an entirely new and less active way.

Last month she wrote this:

Oftentimes it feels like you’re reaching out to and calling for a Thing 2 that I’m just not anymore. Be it that you want different things for me, or just different things in general. I can’t be “your Thing 2” anymore. I have to be the person that I am, even if that’s still flaky right now.

You will always be my mom and I will always be your daughter. I need you to respect that your role in that isn’t going to be as active as it used to be. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need you, and it’s ridiculous that I don’t want you in my life–I just want you to let me go a little.

In my response I wrote the following:

As for being “my Thing 2”, well, you will always be “my Thing 2”, that’s just because I’m your Momma. The Thing 2 you are is a constantly growing and developing Thing 2, that’s natural. That’s how it’s supposed to be.

What you don’t know is that I don’t judge you. I believe you think I do. But in all honesty, I don’t. All I want is for you to get your muchness fired up and be the Thing 2 you want to be. That might look like something I never even expected. And that is OK! I know the Thing 2 you’ve been isn’t the Thing 2 you want to be, I know you want more for yourself. Only you can decide what that looks like.

We will always be connected because you are my daughter and I am your mother. I wouldn’t change that for anything in the world. I long to be connected to you as a human being. I want to know the Thing 2 you are now, the Thing 2 you are becoming. Not only because I’m your mom, but because I have a burning desire to know you as a human being.

Today, as we celebrate the twentieth anniversary of her birth. I’m reminded of the sick baby she was. I’m reminded of the precocious preschooler she was. I’m reminded of the sweet girl she was. I’m reminded of the sassy teenager filled with “wizard angst” she was. I’m reminded that through every illness, joy, sadness, laugh, tear, hair color, and fight, she is my baby.
She is the love I never even knew I needed.
She is my heart outside my body.
I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Woo Hoo! Birthday Birthday! Happiest day to you, Moo! I love you more than the moon and the stars.

Categories: on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

pinball machine thoughts

I’ve been sick since we got home from NYC. Is it allergies? Is it a virus? I don’t know, but there is enough mucus for several people sloshing around in my head.
The coughing is even worse. Because after two babies my pelvic floor isn’t what it used to be and I’ve had more “accidents” in the last two weeks than when I was a toddler.
TMI?
My apologies.
I’m just keeping it real here in my nest.

I still haven’t gone through the photos I took in New York. I mean I moved them from the camera to the computer, but there they sit. No edits. Nothing in my ‘to be printed’ folder. I’m either really taking my time or I’m just not up to it. Either way, I’m about to have loads of time on my hands. Only eight more days of school (including this day).

We did have a lovely time. We walked everywhere! All the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge, half-way across, and back.
We ate delicious food. Drank good wine and spirits. People watched in Washington Square Park. And even got shouted at by a creepy homeless guy.

Vintage shops were a disappointment.
But the bookshops were not!
At Strand (18 miles of books, don’tcha know) I found some very cool used books, a brand new one I’m pretty excited about, and bought my very first Moleskine notebook à la Dash and Lily. Only mine is navy instead of red.
At Books of Wonder I drooled over the books in the rare collection. (22K for a first ed. of Where the Wild Things Are signed by Maurice Sendak with a Wild Thing doodle.)
I spent a goodly bit of time choosing a couple books I couldn’t leave without. If I still had a preschool classroom I would have bought more. There were (are) so many books to use as the jumping off point for lesson plans!

I’ve been thinking a great deal about the Thing 2 situation. We still haven’t spoken, though we have exchanged texts. I’m not sure how I can help her in her journey. I’m not sure it’s my place to help her at this point. I do know that “getting yourself together” shouldn’t be a reason not to be together.
I wonder if children have any idea how hurtful the things they do really are. I believe they know instinctively that nothing will make a mother stop loving her child…but I wonder if they understand that one can only bend so long before there is irreparable damage. I wonder this because I don’t know the answers. I wonder this because I know I hurt my mother in my growing up.
It’s hard for an adult child to believe her mom is still protective of her “baby”. That makes sense to me. Only, Thing 1 and I have come to a new place in our relationship. One of mutual love and respect as adults, with a bit of “I need my Mommy” and “I want to protect my baby” sprinkled on top.
A mother’s love has many forms. Looks many ways. Is unpredictable yet constant. That will never change. But it doesn’t mean a child’s words and actions aren’t hurtful. I think even adult children don’t understand that their parents are just human and get their feelings hurt. That realization didn’t really resonate in me until I became a mother.
I don’t know. I love that little girl (yeah, she’s my “little girl” even though she’s about to celebrate her twentieth birthday) but I feel like this must be one of those times of ebb in the great ebb and flow of our love in this life. I hope the tide changes. It hurts more than I ever expected it would.

In the category of ‘getting yourself together’ I’m working on that too. Starting back to school after a three month term break.

Nah, it’s cool. Two more terms and I can wash my hands of this foolishness. Not that a degree is foolish…just I’m so over it. It’s taken much longer than I’d expected and I don’t want to be in this degree program anymore. Only it’s too late to switch to anything else without more courses…
I feel a bit like Marlon Brando in Guys and Dolls. “Stick with me baby I’m the fellow you came in with.” Only it’s not luck…it’s a degree plan.
Whatever. At this point it’s fulfilling a commitment to myself and a means to an end to move into a M.Ed or MSW program.

It seems my thoughts are bouncing around in my head like a pinball today.
You know what? That’s OK.
Let ’em bang around bouncing off each other for a little while.
It might be a great way to start the summer.

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twenty three years

Today is Thing 1’s birthday. She’s twenty three. Older than I was when she was born.
I find it hard to believe it’s been twenty three years since I first clapped eyes on her. The time has gone by in only a moment! Yet I feel like I’ve been her mom since the dawn of time. (in the best possible way)
We had some rough times. Times I never expected to recover from.
We had beautiful times that I wish I could somehow bottle, open up and swim around in once again.

She wrote to me earlier this week, “I miss us.” in response to the resurfacing of something her sister said years ago. A moment in time when the three of us were an unstoppable unit of girl power and giggles. A mom and her two girls just living and loving and laughing together.
I miss us too.
But even though I miss us, I know that I raised two very strong willed and independently minded young women. I know I did my job providing the best possible foundation for them to continue to build their lives. I know that power resides in them and they’re going to use it to the best of their abilities when they set themselves to it. I know the natural course of life is for them to create nests of their own. They don’t need to be in my nest anymore, they can create their own, and they can live and love and laugh as women.
I am proud of who they are.
I’m just a bit sad that we’re no longer “us”.
Both of these are OK.

Thing 1 was the human personification of every hope and dream I ever had. Yet she exceeds them. She challenged me every step of the way. But I realize now, she was meant to do. She is who she is to help me become who I am supposed to be.
She will call me to tell me to goofiest things. She will ask for advice. She was the one who most encouraged my decision to return to therapy. She reminds me that I wasn’t always “sick” and that I’ll get through this and will come out the other side better off.
There are times when I want to “kick her in the face”. There are times I want to hold her close and whisper sweet things to her. I think that’s only natural.

We’ve lived through twenty three years of some of the best and worst things I’ve ever experienced. But here’s the deal, they made us “us” and I choose to celebrate that.
She recently posted this photo on social media. I was moved to tears. All the hard work, and all the love, and all the laughter, and all the pain, and all the silliness created this Momma and this daughter. And it means something just as powerful to her.
daughter-crown
Woo Hoo! Birthday Birthday! Happiest day to you, Bear! I love you more than the whole wide world.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

feeling inspired

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Inspiration sometimes comes from the most surprising places. Thing 2 shared this old photo on facebook this morning. She has been uberpositive of late and it moves me greatly!

I took a screenshot to share.
It got me thinking:
Love the you that you are!
And love the you that you were. Sure, those you(s) need work…so do the work! But always love yourself unconditionally while you do the work.
Treat yourself with kindness!
You deserve to be treated with kindness. That starts in you, be kind to yourself. How else will others know to treat you with kindness?
Share your inspiration!
Stories of ‘failures’ are just as powerful as stories of ‘success’. We all “wore Crocs” at some point in our lives. That is both a good and perhaps a not so good thing. Embrace it. Let it be a source of hope and inspiration!

And in the words of my daughter: “Just freaking worship yourselves, okay?”
You deserve it!

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Santa bring my baby back to me.

I don’t think about it any more than I have to.
I’ve only written about it once.
I heard a song today that made it all come crashing back.

I realize I have only flashes. Only moments. I have no full memories of that time.
I remember Thing 1 begging for help.
I remember being in the ER at Richland.
I remember going to Palmetto Baptist and being separated from her.
I remember saying goodbye and leaving her there. I held her close and told her how brave she was.
I remember falling to my knees in tears on Taylor Street before I could even make it to my car.
I remember explaining to Thing 2 where her sister was.
I remember leaving work early every day to be home in time for Thing 2 to get off the bus so she wouldn’t come home to an empty house.
I remember how painful it was to visit the hospital or talk with Thing 1 on the phone.
I remember singing ‘All I Want for Christmas is You’ with Thing 2. So hopeful she’d be well enough to come home to us for Christmas.
I remember ‘Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me’ having an entirely new meaning that Christmas.

The pain of that time was excruciating. The healing process even more so.
I don’t intentionally ignore the fact of it. I just don’t choose to get up to my ass in it. Sometimes it sneaks up on me and I don’t have a choice but to feel it. Today was one of those days.
Leaving my suicidal first born in the mental health hospital was one of the absolute worst experiences for my family.
All I wanted for Christmas was my child to come home. And she did. And it was awful.
We lived through it.
We came out the other side irrevocably changed.

When I heard the My Chemical Romance version of All I Want for Christmas is You this afternoon, I was up to my ass in what it felt like that Christmas six years ago.

As I write this, I am filled with love. The love of a mother who nearly lost not just one, but both of her babies. That love is precious. That love is sacred. Those girls are my heart. And that means I have all I want for Christmas.

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“You were always a pretty badass mom.”

Sometimes when things are absolute shit, something lovely occurs to spark a little hope in your heart. This happened to me in the form of a text conversation with my own Thing 1.
We were talking about the little boy she nannys for after she sent me a snapchat of him dressed as Batman and generally being kind of adorable. He’ll be two in November.

Thing 1:
He has started holding actual conversations. It’s so cute.
Me:
Oh that’s the BEST!!
Thing 1:
It makes me want five kids.
(then we talked about education for a bit)
Thing 1: That’s cool. I’ll probably look into good schools before I make a final decision. I mean I have all the time in the world.
Me:
Either you’ll be a mom or you won’t. Either way as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters. And if you are a mom, you’ll be that much better at it than I was!!
Thing 1:
I doubt that. You were always a pretty badass mom.
(After everything we’ve been through, that made my heart take flight!)
Me:
Aww! Thanks, bear!! But I’m a better mom than Grandmommy was. You’ll be a better mom than I was. Your (maybe?) girl(s) will be better mom(s) than you…does that make sense kinda?
Thing 1:
Hahaha I don’t know how you think I could be better than you. That’s just crazy talk.
Me:
Thank you for saying I was a badass mom. I often times feel like I failed you. All I ever wanted to do was be your mom. I’m glad the bigger percentage was good for you.
Thing 1:
Hey, if anybody got failed parenting, it’s Thing 2, but I’ve kinda said that from the beginning. Ever since she almost died, I think you were afraid of her mortality and it made you really really soft on her. And of course, Dad was no help to either of us.
Me:
I’m sorry your dad isn’t a better parent. I do believe he loves you.
Thing 2 was an eyeopener for me. She deserves better, but I can’t fix what’s past and I can’t help her now. She’ll have to come out of it on her own with just our love to help her.
Thing 1:
I know he does in his own weird little way. I just have to make a serious effort to keep from getting irritated with him most of the time.
Yeah, pretty much. She’ll figure it out. Eventually.
Me:
I don’t know if you truly know how much it pleases my heart that you and I found our way back to each other. You, my very first girl. My own sweet love. You were always your daddy’s…but I got to love you too.
Thing 1:
I’m very glad we did too. It makes me so happy that I can talk to my mom without fighting with her.
Me:
Oh, me too Bea!! Me too!!
I know it was crap! In my defense, I was scared and miserable most of my adult life. I was raised by a woman who loved me but wasn’t real. I didn’t know how to do it…I just learned as I went. I wanted you to be strong and independent. And guess what!?! You ARE!! I’m proud of who you are.
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Me:
Shit, some days I’m like, am I even a real grown up? Seriously! Even after all this time and practice.
Thing 1:
I know. I just have to find that perfect balance between adult and kid at heart.
Me:
You will…you’ve only been an adult for a hot second.
(We talked a few more moments and then ended our conversation.)

That girl is the human embodiment of every hope and dream I’d had since I was a little girl.
We lost our way. Turned our backs on each other in the most cruel and horrific ways. But time heals all wounds. Time and distance. And perspective.
I think she understands that all I ever wanted for her was to have the best foundation upon which to build her life. Sure, I went about it poorly on occasion…but I didn’t know how to be a mom. Do any of us know how to be parents? We know we must keep our children healthy and safe from harm…that’s instinctual. And it’s the easy part! The tricky part is navigating everything else! Parents are bound to bugger it up…we have no choice. We’re flying by the seat of our pants trying to hold onto this kid while we’re doing it. It doesn’t matter how many parenting books you read, you’re never truly prepared. So you cross your fingers and follow your instincts and if you’re very lucky, you parent with another human being that thinks the way you do.
My girls didn’t always have the best grades.
Thing 1 dropped out of college.
Thing 2 left high school to get her GED and hasn’t yet gone to college.
But you know what? My girls are strong and capable young women who stand a real chance in this world. They’re not waiting around for some man to come take care of them. They’re going to make it their own way. The best they can.
That’s more than some parents can say about their kids.
Both my girls have discussed going back to school. This pleases me simply because they’ll have a better chance of being properly employed with degrees. They’ll make more money with degrees. Money isn’t everything…but it keeps you from being hungry, and homeless. And having a bit of extra money keeps books on your shelves and shoes on your feet. My girls need that.

My life has been a mess of hotness lately. Between my own personal struggles and the struggles in my relationship with YBW, I’ve been feeling awful about my life. About my ability to ‘adult’. About my ability to parent. About my ability to be in a relationship. About my ability to be a “stepmother” to two partially grown young men.
Thing 1 gave me hope this morning.
I am a badass mom! And, perhaps that means I’m kind of a badass woman. And if I’m a badass mom and a badass woman, perhaps I’ll be able to sort my struggles and come out the other side with my badassness intact and been able to learn another important lesson.
I’m crossing my fingers as I fly by the seat of my pants.

Categories: love, me, on being a mom, peace and wellbeing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

terrifying and strange and beautiful muchness

Thing 2 sent this via snapchat one day last week. It triggered in me a deeply buried memory of a poem I read or heard…before Warsan Shire’s words became the backbone of Beyonce’s Lemonade.
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Thing 2 is a curious beast. She struggles with her place in our family. She struggles with her place in the world. She is the kind of girl that defies labeling. Like Alice, her muchness is undefinable.
She is cursed with the kind of awareness that not many of us possess. The kind of awareness that sends one straight into one’s head with a great deal of difficulty to get back out again.
Thing 2 doesn’t really have enough life experience under her belt yet that these words ring true in the deepest levels of her soul. But they ring true on the surface.
She knows that even if she doesn’t completely understand it.
What she does know is that she’s a bit different from most people.
The Hatter said to Alice, “‎You’re not the same as you were before,” he said. You were much more… muchier… you’ve lost your muchness.” Thing 2 was muchier when she was a small girl…life has gotten in the way. Her muchness isn’t gone, she’s just kind of forgotten where it is inside of her.
She knows she’s meant to be more than she is now. She just doesn’t know quite what to do about it.

Here is “for women who are ‘difficult’ to love.” by Warsan Shire, for my Thing 2 and for all the women out there who are much more muchier than they realize.

you are a horse running alone
and he tries to tame you
compares you to an impossible highway
to a burning house
says you are blinding him
that he could never leave you
forget you
want anything but you
you dizzy him, you are unbearable
every woman before or after you
is doused in your name
you fill his mouth
his teeth ache with memory of taste
his body just a long shadow seeking yours
but you are always too intense
frightening in the way you want him
unashamed and sacrificial
he tells you that no man can live up to the one who
lives in your head
and you tried to change didn’t you?
closed your mouth more
tried to be softer
prettier
less volatile, less awake
but even when sleeping you could feel
him travelling away from you in his dreams
so what did you want to do love
split his head open?
you can’t make homes out of human beings
someone should have already told you that
and if he wants to leave
then let him leave
you are terrifying
and strange and beautiful
something not everyone knows how to love.

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

my defining moment as a frog in cold water

Acute stress feels like it will crush you where you stand.
I promise you it won’t. Your fight or flight instinct will kick in and save you. Acute stress feels overwhelming and most of us would do anything to get away from it. But, acute stress won’t kill, no matter how much you believe it might.
Chronic stress is what will kill you.
Chronic stress is like putting a frog in a pot of cold water and then slowly turning up the heat. The frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until it’s already boiling! That’s when one of two things happens. Fight or flight kicks in to save you, or you just die.

I’m an expert in chronic stress. I’m that frog in the pot of water. I was lucky enough that my instinct for flight is so strong. It saved my life.
I spent seventeen years with a man who emotionally abused me.
His sabotage so subtle, his manipulation so nuanced, it was poetry of pure unadulterated evil. He brought passive aggression to new and frightening depths. For the most part I was unaware on a conscious level. I went about my daily life feeling anxious without actually realizing it.
Sometimes I would wonder…Why did I require so much sleep? Why did I turn so much of my focus to my children? Why did I feel nauseous when he would come home? But never for long because there would be some sudden kindness and I would smile and believe him when he told me everything was lovely.

But on some level, I did know what was going on. I did know that something was amiss. I focused on my children to be a buffer between him and them so he couldn’t treat them the way he treated me. I presented the picture of the perfect little family to the rest of the world so no one would realize that he was not what he seemed.
I was scared of him. And scared isn’t a big enough word, but I’m honestly too lazy to thesaurus right now. He frightened every fiber of my being. Somehow I knew he’d never lay hands on me. I wasn’t worried about that. I didn’t realize the internal wounds could occasionally be worse.

He used to tell me that I was crazy. That I was certifiable. That they would put me in a straight jacket in the padded cell and that was where I belonged. He told me no judge in his right mind would give the girls to me. I had nothing and I was crazy. He told me that he would take the girls and I would never see them again.
I would have done and would still do anything for my girls. So I stayed with this man.
He read my journals. He read my email.
He even tried to sabotage my friendships…he had to do that carefully because he didn’t want to show his true colors. I was lucky that most of my friendships were strong enough to withstand his tricks.

I was trapped in a hell I helped create.
Every single day of my life I was scared.
Every single day of my life I was anxious.
Every single day of my life I was angry.
I was miserable. My girls were miserable. I was failing at being a mother. I was failing at being a person.
I was the frog in the pot of water suddenly aware that I was boiling!

This was the defining moment.
Would I die in that pot of boiling water?
No! I would save my own life!

The chronic stress was literally killing me. I was dying. I had to do something to preserve my own life.
I told him that I was done. I told him that I was empty and dead inside. I told him that I had nothing left to give. I told him I was leaving because I knew he would never leave.
When I finally left, he acted as though he was surprised. As though I’d never expressed any of my concerns. I didn’t even argue. I just walked away.
That’s when he turned on my girls. He manipulated them. He used them as weapons to hurt me.
That’s the only thing I regret about leaving him…what he did to my babies. You want to hurt me? Come at me directly.
My poor babies had to suffer for me to live.
That doesn’t seem right. But it was how it was.
A dying person is a desperate person.
I had to save my own life.
They’ve moved through that part of their lives. Will they ever heal? I honestly don’t know.
I know the only one who came out unscathed was their father. He has no clue what he’s done…or he doesn’t care. How’s that for crazy?

I was told by friends and family that I was strong. That I was brave. I felt neither. I felt as frightened as I’d ever been. I did what I had to do to stay alive.
It was the hardest thing I ever did, saving my own life. I only wish I’d been strong enough to do it sooner. Of course, the frog doesn’t realize what’s happening until the water comes to a boil…

I’m writing about this because of a conversation I had with my friend Nora last night, and a conversation I had with my sister in law today. Nora and I talked of relationships and life and celebs and sports stars we’d like to have our way with. We talked of previous lives and choices we make. We discussed “winning” at divorce. (When your life is better than it was before AND better than your ex’s current life.) We talked about being mothers. We ate pasta and drank a goodly bit of wine. We were “just girls” together, but we talked of important topics.
She’s actually the one who verbalized the frog in water analogy.

This afternoon I had a distressing conversation with my sister in law about her relationship with her children’s father. Apparently their state of chronic stress has escalated to acute and he’s announced he’s leaving. Knowing him as long as I have, I think he’s having a bit of a temper tantrum and it will blow over and they’ll go back to their life of chronic stress.
It is killing my sister in law. Now, there is a fairly decent amount of her stress that has little or nothing to do with him. She has some of her own shit to sort.
I told I knew what she was capable of. I suggested she tap into that deeply rooted power and make a better life for herself.
She expressed her fear.
Fear can ride shotgun, get it out of the driver’s seat. Fear will never drive me again. But it sure as hell likes to go along for the ride. I was scared half to death to make that huge change. Especially considering what impact it had on my children.
She’s not ready to do that hard work. She will eventually have to decide to save her own life or she will die.

I can’t run other people’s lives.
Some days I can barely run my own life. Seems that way lately.
I have stress in my life. But it’s acute stress. It causes an immediate reaction. And though my flight instinct is the strongest, I’m learning to fight. Fight the good fight. Fight for what’s right.

I fought the good fight by flying all those years ago. The fight to save my life. Because I tell you, I was dying. Not metaphorically dying. Actually. Physically. Emotionally. I was actively dying.
I learned the most important lesson about myself by saving my own life.
I learned that I can do anything.

Categories: divorce, loss, me, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

happy birthday to Thing 2

Today is Thing 2’s nineteenth birthday!
My sweet angel baby has been in the world for nineteen years.
She is a miracle. She almost died twice before she was eight weeks old. She’s a fighter. A survivor.
I went into the NICU to see her before she was even twelve hours old. I reached to touch her little hand and she grabbed my finger so tightly. In that moment my whole life changed. I fell in love in an entirely new way. In that moment I knew she was going to be fine. She was so strong, that tiny little girl.
She is my gift from God.
She is light and love and deep dark feelings. She of the waspish tongue and deliciously dry wit. She is hopes and dreams even though she’s forgotten how to hope and dream.
I love her more than the moon and the stars.

Categories: love, on being a mom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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