Mothering and Life in General
Dearest Lil Miss,
We have been on some rocky road lately, you seem to try out everything in your power to make my brain try to escape my skull. You have listened to my direction and done everything but. We have shared screaming matches, anger fits, and heartfelt tears. Yes, it’s been a rough road. Dreadful, actually. It was until yesterday, that we finally connected the way we used too. I want to document this moment to you, so we both don’t forget.
I was on the phone with a friend, we were discussing about the TIME cover and how her, not being a nursing mother, took it as they were mocking us mothers who nurse an older child. I explained to my friend, while I was actually nursing you, that I loved the picture. To me, every picture tells a story, and I have yet to find a nursing picture that I have not liked. It reminded me of the nursing acrobats that toddlers do. I just try really hard to not look past the picture, because the wording takes a cut to every mother, nursing or not. And how unnatural the poise was, but moving on.
Flashes of memories came back in my mind. So many that brings a smile to my face. Remembering them again, as you sat contentedly on my lap, soaking in every word – remembering too, as I retell the stories. The way you used to curl your legs around my neck so you upside down, times I woke up in the morning with you nursing the other way. That one priceless time when I was typing up a Daycare recipe and you snuck a chair behind mine, leaned over, pulled up my shirt and latched. All good memories.
After I hung up the phone you said to me, “Momma, I want to be a baby again”. It broke my heart, because now I heard what you meant. I have heard you many times in the past year on how you want to go back to being a baby, and I just thought that you just ‘wanted to go back to being a baby’ to do baby things. I never knew you felt what I was feeling.
With me being so stressed out and drained from life experiences and trying to get me back. I have lost so much of what my goal is with being a mother. I am constantly tied with feeling that I should not be mad at a child I was lucky to have, to teaching this child the basics to becoming better than me in adulthood. I pass through life with so much thought on what not to do, that I forget that you are the only person that just wants me. That in of itself is taxing, but it’s what I signed up for.
I usually replied to your statement with, “Well, babies don’t do this or that”. But yesterday I guess I was on the ball a bit more. I heard that you want us back, just like I do. That you feel lost, and that you miss how we connected and even though I try so hard everyday to give you and teach you that where we were a year ago is not normal, I lost my humor and my affection. I’ve put my attention to all the things you might have seen and heard and trying to undo them, that stopped what I started when you were born. Lil Miss, I heard you last night. And I feel the same way.
We both stared at the TIME cover and smiled as “Are you Mom enough?” glared at me on the side. I answered the question with, no I wasn’t. This time not out of guilt, but out of reality. I have not been Mom enough. By being Mom enough is not being the mom that everyone else thinks you should be, it’s about being enough Mom for your child. And I have not been.
I want you to know that I will always love your baby, toddler and preschooler days, but I will also love your school days too. They are not finished yet and sometimes I am grateful for it. I will reflect on our yesterdays, because back then I have all the answers now, today – not so much. I don’t want to do anything wrong emotionally to you, and I want to keep my promise to you. I will not intentionally make you feel the way I have felt growing up.
Just because I look back and sometimes I wish to rewind time. It’s not because today is a drag and I don’t want to continue, it’s because there are moments I should have lingered longer and I didn’t. Other times those moments also make me understand today and appreciate it more.
We continued to look at this cover, I think and feel the same as I always have. Nursing is the only way we could have bonded and maintained that bond for as long as we do. Nursing always makes us come back, whether it’s the act, memory, or looking at a picture and talking about it. We will always have that to remind us that its us in this world together, and I have your back. Nursing, even when we are not, will be our door to put down any hurt form the day and tie another rope around our hearts, just in case the last rope frayed a little bit.
I went into mothering remembering my first memory – of me and my cowgirl boots at 2. I don’t remember being happy, I just remember it. Nothing of the memory brings any feelings and the rest of my childhood, brings a lot of anxiety and rage. I wanted to give you something more. I knew in the NICU, nursing was the ONLY way to hold you, so it become important to me. When you arrived home nursing became the only thing that would make you stop crying, which became important to me. As you entered toddlerhood, it was a time where we would learn things together, new words or just be – together, so it became important to me. As you entered preschool it became the only time that you stop your fits, and that became important to me.
And now, you’re going to school. You are five. You can tell me stories of different times we nursed and where. You remember us sitting together on a park bench, counting the birds that flew by. You would see babies being nursed at the mall and smile. You will happily tell the nursing mom that you are nursed and you remember. You remembering being nursed, has always been important to me. You will be more “Mom Enough” than I would because you will remember nursing as you are nursing your own. The cycle will be fully complete than. The way that nature intended. And you will come to days and moments where you want to pull out your hair, then see something on a cover to ask you if you are “Mom enough” and you will get mad, because silently you will answer no.
But except for being alone, like me, you will have me to tell you that only you can define what is enough. You just have to be that, and if it’s guilt you feel, find out why and change what you can. What you can’t change in your life, support someone else who comes after you. Most importantly, always raise your children to be better than you ever were. Because that is the only feeling of ‘enough’ we will ever have.
And never forget, you are the best at everything you do, because only you can do it the way you do. Underneath all my worries and deep dark fears, I hope you will see I had and will always have the best of intentions.
I know it’s been a can of crickets around here. I took a break from a lot things. I felt I needed it. So much has happened over the last few months with moving then moving again, meeting other women and their children. Getting adjusted with not running a Home Daycare and with thinking of what really makes me tick.
The last one, which took most of my time while I was away, was mainly my fork in the road. Thinking about why and what is making me so angry and hurt for so long. Dwindling me down and sucking every ounce of life I had left inside. Why did I allow it to get this far and when did I give permission for it to even start. The thought of my being, being on the cusp of the rational and irrational, was I really loosing it, finally?
It was bothering me that even after so many years I was still angry and blamed so many elements on what I felt. I stood on the fence of “What is, just is” and “What if”. It’s been a dreaded haunt around here too. In all of my entries, one major suit is the fact I still felt pain about those 14 days and I just could not understand why. Why was I not happy about today, just because of yesterday? Why did I feel like I was always playing catch up, and why did I always feel like I was losing the race? All I knew was I didn’t want another to walk in my shoes, and that passion drove me through so many posts.
Finally, I felt it was time. I could not just stand beneath this world of a mountain alone and chip away from the bottom. I needed someone I could tell my story too, someone who would look me in the eye and see that there was more pain behind my words, then what this blog could ever do. I needed to tell someone I was drowning and did not want to burden my friends with this anymore.
This mountain was blocking my view from so many things, and weighing me down in life. I needed to give it to someone else for them to help make sense of this. So I made the call, I made the appointment, and with a deep breath I chipped away my mountain with someone I never laid eyes on before.
On the first appointment it was validated that I do show signs of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. As I went through the story over again, it did not a cure to me that I was speaking to another woman, who has yet to start her family. Most people would be leery of this, but in my case I think I needed it (see it does not matter how many children you have :P). Someone who has yet to have a child, can’t look back on mothering to say at least (insert something). It was almost like talking to myself, back in the day, before K2 was conceived.
We spoke about my dreams that I had still at the time, how real they felt, how I don’t think of my thinking as rational, and that sometimes I feel that this blade of grass I am holding is going to break. One day I will fall from this world, and that sometimes, I welcome it. I shared with her what I see in the mirror every single day, and that I fear my daughter sees it too. I fear what I have become, what I allowed myself to become and how that will affect my daughter in the future.
I explained I don’t understand my feelings, why they are so powerful. Sometimes I can’t find the words to give an honest painting about what it really feels like. That I tried to chip away a bit at a time, and how my Facebook Doula Friend was the first who helped me bring out the story. How it feels like such a large task that most often times I give up and walk away, in thoughts of it being just too big for me to deal with.
I felt weird, awkward, numb, dumb, stupid, ashamed, helpless, engulfed. I did not feel like me. I used to be powerful, I used to love life, I used to like to smile, I used to like what I saw in the mirror. I used to look alive in the mirror. I used to. Not anymore. I felt dead. I felt I have run through life with tasks and minor purposes to help me get up in the morning. I was acting out life not living it, and living life felt worlds away. I no longer knew how to be apart of it anymore. I was an outsider.
This all happened from the one selfish act of wanting and needing to be a mother. I could not understand how Postpartum and the relation to me, and where Postpartum stopped and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder started. Then you add in relationship issues. Everything was, just plainly, a messed up blob of muck that I could care not to sort through. However, the need to understand it all, overpowered all thinking.
It was then, at the end of the first session that most of my mountain came down. I don’t know why her words struck in deeper than those of my friends. I asked why I felt this way, and why can’t I just become rational again. Put this all behind me and move on. I have a beautiful daughter, who I love dearly. I am grateful for her, I love everything about her. Why can’t these feelings just go away.
She looked at me and said, “Maybe you have every right to be mad”. Something I often heard from beloved friends. But I was She-ra, hear me roar. I don’t get mad long, and I move mountains. I conquered life and fix problems, kiss boo-boos and nurse tears away. I am the first home of my child, I get the first smiles of the day. I am not supposed to feel this way. Then she said, “You were not asking for very much, you were just asking to have the rights that all other parents get. I never knew it might not be an option to feed my child first, and I would be mad had that not happened. Had I not been able to pick out my baby’s first clothes, or hold her or make any medical decisions for 11 days of their life, I would be mad too”.
Anyone in real life can tell you, I am pretty hard-headed. I am passionate in what I believe in and no body hurts those I love. I am a perfectionist, a motherly figure to most. I am the wing loved ones run too during a rain storm. I am the strong one, the one who has all the answers. And once I have something in my mind, it’s really hard to kick it out of me. I am the bull at heart – strong-willed, if you must. That is me. I will never know why it took a stranger to repeat the same message to me that I have heard from close friends to make me listen.
I left that first session feeling relieved. I called up a dear friend, who was looking after K2 for me. I thanked her in my own little way, because she’s said it too me so many times. I still don’t get why it’s okay for others to feel deep passionate feelings and I have this oxymoron image of the concrete, sensitive persona for me. I am glad I did finally listen, I heard the message, this time it was clear. I went home that night. For the first time in so many years – I did not fear sleep.
So it begins, another chapter in mending. I have a lot of people to thank, and this part of the story has just begun. Until next time, it might be a while. I have to get things done for our holidays, but I really want to share the beginning to closure for me. Deep down I wish it helps no one, but I would not be lucky to be the last to go through all of this.
To those in my life, thank you. Thank you so much for being the ear I used to be. You all know who you are.
When I say I love you, my breath catches, my eyes water, and my heart increases in size.
When I say I love you, I feel the need to express my feelings in which words often fail.
When I say I love you, I am saying I am honored to be apart of your life, and watch you grow up.
When I say I love you, I think about you, which reminds me that you are the only choice I’ve done right.
When I look into your blue eyes and whisper I love you, it means I will never do anything that would risk loosing you.
When I say I love you, it means that you can count on me when everyone checks out.
When I say I love you, it means in the creation of you your being also infused into every broken piece of my heart.
When I say I love you, there is not a moment in your day, that I would rather not be apart of.
When I say I love you, what I am really saying is, this world is a better place now that you’re in it; and I am a better person now, that I know you.
^ I know it’s not working, but after an hour of trying to fix the link it still wont play. Just click on the link and you can hear this great song.
Two months ago I had my life ripped away from me. I was healthy, my daughter was healthy. However my relationship, not surprising, wasn’t. It all started with a threat to watch a horror movie (Saw 3) in front of the girls, and it all went downhill from there. I saw the look in K1′s eyes with the threat that her only father, with whom she was supposed to be protected by, was in fact scaring her half to death. I had K2, coddled into my arms. I heard a tiny voice saying, “Mommy, Daddy is scaring me”. Then the Mother Bear came out.
A movie, a threat, a scare tactic, and then I let loose. I kicked DH out, not knowing I was not on the rental agreement as a tenant, just an occupant. Once finding that out, it was me that had to go.
With friends I did not want to burden, I turned to a Woman’s Abuse Shelter. With only 2 nights stay at a great friend’s house I was off with a suitcase and a diaper bag of belongings. With a shattered heart and an unseen future, I started to build my life again.
At first I entered the shelter, I felt like I had a house, but it was not a home. I felt there was nothing left for me to offer. I felt that I was the problem, and as a fixer what good was I? I started to really think I was the cancer ‘DH’ has called me many times before. I had hatred and pain for ‘DH’. I forbid myself to cry; to show how weak I really was. As I watched the friendly cab driver drive away I can remember thinking, “Is this right?”.
I went to my first group they offered there, it was Abuse Group. I remembered not saying anything or telling my story, I listened to the women who came before me, thinking I don’t belong here. I am taking someone else’s spot, how selfish of me to be here. I never had to go to an Embassy to return to my home land. I don’t fear for my life, I have never been threatened my daughter’s. I had never had my face bashed in, never was sent to the hospital. I never had to use make up to cover bruises. I just did not belong there.
That same day I asked to speak with my counsellor. I told her that I think I don’t belong here. I don’t think it was really that bad. I was only called a bitch, worthless, a cancer, and he only laid a hand on me once. I can think for myself, unlike another who was beaten so bad. I can just find a place and forget anything ever happened. What she said to me, is something I will never forget.
Just because I was not battered, does not mean I did not feel the same way as those who did. As I sat in that group, I thought about the physical being and not that words can make me feel just as the face, the scars, scrapes looks. Verbal abuse is a hidden injury to the depths of our soul. They don’t have groups to measure the amount of abuse we each have had, it’s not a competition. They have these groups because these are women who were strong enough to walk away… Just like I did.
There was nothing more to say to that. I guess I have issues with being a statistic. I am really no better than my mother, my family for that matter. I had not broken the cycle of abuse, and now I have to help K2 do it in her future. I walked away feeling no more hopeful than the moment I mouthed the words “GET THE FUCK OUT” a few weeks before. I felt empty, I felt like I just can’t be fixed, and I felt like I had made the biggest mistake for my daughter – I picked the wrong man.
How do you look into your child’s eyes and admit that you’ve done something wrong? When you, yourself is a perfectionist with every level of your life. With being a protectionist you are choosy with every person you fall in love with and have in your world. How do you try to get your child to trust you, when you don’t even trust yourself?
At the end of the week I vowed not to make friends, not to get my hopes up and be out in two weeks. I will go to groups with an open mind, I will enjoy my Vacation – it’s been so long since I’ve had one. Then my first Thursday came. And I was dreading it with every beat of my heart. It was Parenting Group. Now, I know an Abuse Shelter would not have a group where the instructor is saying I am doing everything wrong, but my mental being was not up for being rational.
I almost felt sick Wednesday night, I could not sleep, I was not hungry. Hell, this was worse than being at home drifting into Facebook because I just want to escape from DH. I smoked so much that my throat hurt, and because I made no friends yet, there was no one I could ask about the group’s motives.
You see, my parenting was the one of the main focuses of the abuse. DH did not agree with the way I did things, but he was never around to do anything anyways. Just like him being ‘picky’ with his environment, he likes things in a certain way but ask only that others do it for him. It’s like he’s the king and everyone is the servants.
That is what Parenting was like in my home. Even though that is what he expected, I don’t comply very much with forbidden things. I ask questions, bend rules and I am known of sanding against the grain in shop class. If it does not make sense then I follow my gut, because I am not a sheep. Just because it was done before, does not make it right for my child that I solely raised since she came home from the hospital. In short, I have learned a long time ago to think for myself. All this clashes with abusive people.
I did finally go to sleep that night, but I was not rested in the morning. As I awoke to hear the Good Morning call, my heart sunk more than it ever did before. I remember thinking, as I was leaving my unit, that I will never find my heart again. It has sunk so far within me that it will only beat, but never feel. I will remain living in total numbness. I walked down the hall to Child Care and I said, “Have fun” to my daughter. As I turned to the door where the group was starting, I remember thinking, “Being numb is not so bad”.
We did Effective Communication that day, and the instructor was great. Deep down inside I knew they would not have a group to tell you more of how bad you are, but when you live with the fight of someone calling you useless and you saying back “NO I AM NOT”. You tend to think that everyone else feels the same way. You tend to shut people out in fear they will feel the same way and with every ‘same way’ feeling someone has, is calling you a liar. I don’t believe I am useless, I am good at many things. However, I grew to understand, some feel differently.
I was the last to leave the group, for the first time I was the LAST one in and the last one out. As the instructor was packing her stuff, she looked up from her bag with questioning eyes. Only one thing I said, which did leave her puzzled about why anyone would ever wait around so long to say it, was “Thank you” and I turned to leave the room.
As my second week approached, we began to have morning rituals. We would go to the kitchen to say thank you and good morning, we would also add in “Without them we would not eat”. We would go to the Front Desk, the Children’s Councillor, the Common areas and greet people in the same way. Every day we were there, K2 and I did this. Without even knowing that slowly we were making a start of a brand new life, with appreciation.
We built our new life on appreciation. We built it and it will sustain.
After finding a source of income, I was looking at places every day. By bus, K2 and I were viewing two places a day for 2 full weeks straight. The Housing Worker seen us leave one day and had quickly spoken to my counselor. Upon my return, I had a letter that they both wanted to meet with me immediately in the morning.
The following morning I met with the two, to find out they fear that I am running my energy into the ground. They said it’s great how proactive I was, however they requested, that I give myself two days rest. I miserably agreed, thinking that these two days would be the days that I would have found our place. I did not view places, nor called, but I did write some more numbers to call after the two days were over. Again, finding loops into what people say.
After those two days, I understood where they were coming from. I was over working myself again. Something that is very common for me to do. When I am put into action I don’t sleep, eat, or care about my needs. Everything becomes actions and procedures. Life slowly moves away. I had never been good at balancing things out, to say stop and let things slide a bit. I will not lie, taking time off is not my nature so it bugged me every moment in those 48 hours. I hate waiting on people, but I also found out I really hate waiting on myself to recover moreso.
I watched K2 play at the park, I checked in with some friends. I watched a bird fly over head without the thought of it may poop on me – for the first time. I let myself enjoy something out of life, which is unusual for me when there is a list of To Do’s. Every time I thought about finding a place, I would call out for K2 and ask her to come sniff a flower. As I would sniff the flower I would close my eyes and say, “I deserve this time, and thank you for allowing me to have it”.
I wont say I was rested, but I was clear-headed. I started becoming my own cheerleader, just like I am for everyone else. I would talk with K2 about the sort of place we would both like, only asking for things in reason. “We want a 2 bedroom basement, with Laundry, Cable and large-for-basement windows. We want pets to be welcomed. We want it clean and well maintained. We want a window in both bedrooms with enough space for all our things. We want Landlords to understand that not all children are loud and crazy, and to do any work on the place with pleasure when requested. Our place will be all this and more.”
Every time afterwards, we would chant this back to each other, remembering the things we liked in previous places, wishing it will mingle all into ours. After another two days and 4 places looked at, we finally found our home. We could have our cat, Meekah, they fell in love with my daughter, they were ok with payment arrangements and they seemed like great people. We walked into this home, K2 claimed her room, there was no guessing, I knew it was our new home.
My tiny world that I have held on my shoulders for so long was coming together to maintain its own weight, and to carry me for once. Things were looking up, I started to appreciate my small time of eight weeks at the Shelter. To some a shelter is the last place they would ever think to go to. I do know there are some that are like how TV presents to you. Our shelter was like an apartment. Some units have kitchens, a few do not. Those few have the common kitchen cook for them, the others gets our groceries and we cook ourselves. We had one large room, a full bath, a living room with basic cable TV. We had a table with chairs to eat at. It was nice and it was cute. Our unit locked when we left, and we had the key to enter in again. It was ours, and our responsibility to keep it clean and maintained.
After a while we did make friends and we started noticing that the children were calling this their ‘safe home’ others were told it was a hotel. In all, the children became adjusted to their new life there, and loved each other. They had become extended family to us, where we wanted to know their ups and downs. We began supporting each other, giving leads on places or stating which ones were a waste of time.
One day as five other women were out in the backyard park, I realized something.
All throughout motherhood, we hear a quote stating it takes a village to raise a child. I finally found my village. This place, when the doors open up, your last piece of your old self dies. There is no one to call you names or hit you. You are hugged and loved. You are forced to groups to reflect and focus on your healing while your children are having a grand time in child care. This place, with great people, help you build yourself back up again. They give you resources you never knew were available to you. You do things that you never knew you could do or knew that could happen. These strangers were the people who all the women leaned on, and these people gave endless love back. For the first time, I asked for help and I received help, in the way I would help another.
There was a time when I walked through the Shelter’s front doors and thought it was a mistake. Now, I walk in and out of my own front door and I am glad I did not do it any other way.
I was graced with reading a post on MomSquawk’s Facebook Page written by Sharon Nezer called “The Mother I never Thought I Would Become”. It’s a short post, but a true one. As I was reading I wondered what would my past me would think, feel or say about me.
If she were to get a glimpse of her future self, would it scare her out of her wits? The person who never left the house without make up, or sporting a nice get-up? Would she scream in anger to her future self about how she let herself go? The puffy eyes, the endless nights, no reading, writing or TV watching. No sleep in Sundays, or mournful Mondays, no days off and most certainly no vacations.
Would she see how lonely she would become, and how resentful she would be? Would she see that the only thing left in her relationship; is a shell that looks like the man she now loves? Would she look into my eyes and judge me for bothering, for trying, for being so empty so long? Would she say, “No, not her” and run cowering away, afraid for the things to come?
Would she wait long enough to see why her future self would do it all over again? The expired makeup, the missed meals, the sweats, and the permanent pony-tail? Would she see the reason for the troubles, and that this family is worth fighting for? Would she see it’s not wrinkles, but laugh lines, and that there is something bigger than herself?
Would she see that although it was hard to create the career, that this is where she was meant to be? Could she understand enough about the growth in life and how differently we live our lives? Would she see the body, that not only birthed a child, but was that very child’s first home? Would she see herself in the same light as before?
Would she take my hand and look into my eyes and know what needed to be done? Would she live out her life, knowing, wanting and waiting for this great change in her life to come? Would she see herself inside this much different looking woman before her? Would she dread the day that gray hair became to time-consuming to matter?
As she looked at me, would she take enough time to see her daughter, hiding behind my leg? Would she see her own eyes staring back at her? Would her heart melt during that moment? Would she then see that this is what truly matters? Would this daughter to come, give her hope and some purpose for her near future?
Would she nod her head and smile at me, and know this is all worth it? Sure she might not look the same, and it’s not everything she dreamed, but would she do it? Would she continue life as it is and have that child she always dreamed of? Would she be more excepting than I am now, that with this child, she will lose her partner in life?
I hope she would, because even though I continue to hurt everyday. Sometimes, things in life, there is more than the picture you try to paint. I know her future self would do it all over again. She may wished she chose different people or things at times. But this child is more worth it, then she could ever imagine. And I would most certainly do it over again.
Would she see that, think that and know that, just by looking at her future self?