Our Sentiments

Mothering and Life in General

Tag Archives: Looking Back

A Letter To My Daughter,

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.

The Link Between My Mother and Hers

My mother’s mother, the person who would normally be called my Grandma, has been gone for a few years. I could not tell you for how long, nor do I care to count.

As you can tell I don’t think very highly of this woman, there is no other feelings but estrangement when her ‘stories’ come up. I never had a relationship with her growing up, and she never knew my name.

This woman, my ‘Grandmother’, lived in a totally different province and only came by every 4-5 years. She would bring up her trusty Scope, and everyone in the family would have to hide the booze away. I knew alcoholism before I knew the word.

When I was younger I thought this woman had been really keeping up with her oral health. Man did she ever smell like Scope. It was not until I was older that I put two and two together, by reading the percentage of alcohol on the bottle.

I remember this woman, drunker than skunk, calling on my birthday – during my birthday party. My mother got all in a hype and flipped out for the rest of my family and friends to see. I remember Mom crying and saying her mother needed to get out and come back home.

Needless to say my party was over, and I was sent off with my sister to go play in our room, while Mom sat crying in the livingroom. It was then that I never liked this woman, and I felt uncomfortable for her to have my pictures and updates on my life.

My mother’s, mother lived one Province away, hardly called, unless she was drunk and being beaten from her ‘spouse’. When she did come, she came with mindless gifts for ages way younger than what we were and she called me by my male cousin’s name. You can see how that won my heart over.

She did not even know which one of her daughter’s child I came from, most often times, she did not even know that I was a part of her dysfunctional blood line. The last time she came by, I was in my teens and I started to sharpen my tongue. I don’t feel bad for telling her, “My Grandmother is dead” as I walked outside. How dare she think that I have to drop my life to have ‘family time’ with a ‘member’ who did not deserve my time.

Of course that ended with a ‘talking too’ about respecting my elders and that I should not judge her, bla bla bla bla. Respect is earned not given, and I could not hold this woman up, in or even around the same class as my Gramms. Just was not going to happen – nope.

In my early 20’s I received a call from my mother. The woman wanted to come home. She was asking for the family members to help pitch in for her and her things to travel back home. What a bunch of hisses that was.

This is how I saw it. A woman, who did not care whether I was dead or alive, wanted me to give a few bucks that I worked hard for and earned. So she could spend on a plane/train/truck to bring her back ‘home’. A place she left on her own free will. AND she did not even know my name yet! Yeah, my money was going elsewhere, thank you very much.

In my eyes this woman helped to break my mother, and I resented her for the life that I had. I could never look at her with respect, I could not even respect her for any mother role. I knew she had issues, but to turn your child away after you find out your husband had his way with your daughters? It does not fly with me sorry.

I felt it to be a slap in the face when she asked us Grandchildren to fork out some costs to help her out, when she never did anything, she wasn’t even in our lives! It felt fake to ignore my own mother’s pain from her past and befriend this tormented soul.

It was not until I found out the real reason this woman wanted to come home is when I got really angry with her. She came home to die. So not only did we not deserve to be in her life and get to know, we had to get caught up with the mixed feelings of ‘she’s our grandmother, yet we don’t like her and now she’s dying – so we have to be nice’.

I don’t care what my, now religious, mother says. There are just some things you can’t forgive in the way my mother asks for. I could not ‘befriend’ her and ‘forgive’ her for her misdoings. My families forgiveness is forgetting, or putting a blind eye to it, ignoring it totally like it never happened. I just don’t work that way. You also can’t ask me to make the first step at a connection when all my memories are that of pain and unneeded craziness from her behalf.

So I am not the bigger person, and you know what? The only thing I resent is the fact I really did not tell her what I really felt about her and her fakeness. She would say she loved me? Really? What’s my name then and which one out of your daughters did I come from? Tell me what you love about me. Love is not a word that you just say, it is supposed to have meaning and feelings behind it.

When it came time when she died, everyone was in a state of shock. It was hard to hear stories of a person I never knew. When people would say how good she was and how giving, I could not see beyond my own experiences. This person they spoke about was not the woman who showed her face at her every-five-years-visit. I just wanted to borrow someone’s pocket to puke in it.

I was left with more hate, then I had before. I wanted to respect her death, go to the viewing and get on with my life. But then the others stated all these stories about how I missed out, by not at least trying to have some form of relationship with her. Let the past be the past and move forward in life. To me my mother’s past effected me and my sister’s future. It was a vicious web of lies and deceit, that I could not be apart of any longer.

I had to be firm and clear that my feelings were not this way, and I did not, for one minute, feel sorry for her. Nor do I feel bad about the time I supposedly lost with her. How about the time she lost with me, or is that question too selfish?

I still had to work through my own issues, and my own mother’s, plus deal with faking my way through this ‘travesty’. My mother would call me heartless, and deny my feelings because, in our family you don’t speak ill of the dead. So I told my mother to not ever bring her up, because I have nothing good to say.

For some reason, I have yet to figure out, my mother has this need to tell me that I was being too hard on this woman. I guess it’s easier to be hard on someone you don’t really know. It might have been different, had the past had been too. I felt that being civil to her while she was in my home, was much more than she deserved.

I write these thoughts out because every mother gives a promise to their child when they first hold them, that goes beyond I love you and I will keep you safe. My promise was ‘I will never make you feel the same way I have felt all these years’. This promise I will die keeping.

I see how my mother is similar to her own mother. There are differences, like my mom is not an alcoholic, lives in the same city as us, but the similarities are many. Especially being in a physically abusive relationship wit hsomeone with a substance abuse. I know how I felt unworthy of my ‘Grandmother’s’ hopes, affection or time. I know how the pain dwells to create resentment, and I know how this can affect so many aspects of life.

As much as I hate the plain fact that my daughter will not have a healthy relationship with my mother. I detest it even more that K2 will only create an understanding of my mother’s actions like I did. When a child does not understand fully, they internalize it. They reflect it as something wrong with them. They can only come up with a solution that they can deal with and comprehend. Like a child blaming themselves for a divorce.

I don’t see any other way to end this confusion and showing K2 that she is worthy, that it’s others that may not be worthwhile. I can’t understand how anyone would choose to have the same relationship that I had with my mother’s mother.

I would walk or crawl too and from, just to see a glimpse of K2’s smile, to hear her words come directly from her own mouth, see how she has become a beautiful Pre-schooler and to watch her play. She deserves that and she is worth the time and effort. This is not because she is my child, but because she is the greatest gift I have ever seen grow. K2 deserves to know nothing less.

The end is now, the boundaries are high. She chose the life she lives, and I have tried to help her out of it. She keeps going back, I can’t do anymore. Is she in or is she out? It’s been awhile since her last contact, in which she blamed me for everything, so I will take it as she is not ready to have another miracle in her life.

Goodbye Mother. You’ve had 3.5 years to make your claim, and you’ve only choosen 3 times a year to fit the role. Don’t let the door hit you on your way out. In other words stay gone.

I Fight!

I fight for the child who once had a mother. A child with fond memories of what a family was supposed to be like, how a mother was supposed to love and how the family fit their world around hers.

I fight for the being who seen it fall apart, and was left no other option to either fix it or blame herself. Where innocent eyes saw anger and her ears heard crashing of breaking glass. Where her beloved parents ripped each other and tore every resemblance of the people they once were.

I fight for the school-aged child who knew what depression looked like, but it had no name. Who hated Mom always sleeping, but thought it was because Mom did not love her, and there was something wrong about her. A child becoming an adult overnight and raising a sibling 4 years her youth.

I fight for the preteen, who resented not having a normal life, with normal friends, with a normal home, with normal parents, and with normal sibling rivalry. Just once she wished the weight of the world was not on her. Just once she wished she was not parenting her parent.

I fight for the teen who felt awkward with new men in the picture, that had other fantasies other than her mother. The mother who would not hear of it and the sister who said she was out to cause problems. Guess Mom just did not deserve to be happy…

I fight for the anger of the person who gave her mother a glass of cold water and told her not to choke on the pills she endlessly threatened to take. The months spent not eating in her own home because her mother threatened to kill her too. The helplessness, when the courts would not allow her to take her younger sister with her when she left.

I fight for the young adult, who tries to settle down, but can’t without the failure of her own family jabbing in her brain. How can you tell a story of your past without seeming ungrateful or ashamed of where she came from? That just because that was her past does not make her equal to it.

I fight for the adult who had been chosen over, yet again, another man, who had to return home from a hospital visit with their mother’s battered face burnt in her thoughts. With shielding anger of defense over her loved ones, who really never deserved the time of day.

I fight for a woman in her middle years, who has a child of her own, who is now asking where Nan is. “How come Nan does not come to play with me?” repeats over and over, while all the energy is used to keep from wanting to go over to ‘Nan’ and slap her in the face.

I fight for the boundaries for this new offspring to be safe while knowing who her blood relatives are. For this offspring to not know the dreadful details of why she can’t and will not be going to Nan’s house, and the real reason why Nan does not come very often.

I fight for the person who was not good enough at any age, throughout her life and now, neither is her offspring. To have those first 4 years back. To have a mother who was there, and not put a man before her own children. To never get the call that her mom was moving away  to start a new and better family.

I fight the memories of stepping up to the plate when there was no one else who was going to. The fight to not belittle every mindless choice that was made. To not have her offspring have any taste of the real truths and ask for forgiveness when she beats around the bush and cleans-up the real picture.

My mother asks me why I have become a judgmental bitch, and bring up the past that she could not do anything about now. How she made mistakes and she learned by them (although she routinely does the same things over and over again). How I was raised as a Christian, but grew up unlike one.

Well mother, I fight for my growing child, and I also fight for the child I once was. Because when I was a child, there was no one there to fight for me. I fight and I will continue to do so. I fight to not become you, I fight to not have the life I had, for my own daughter, and I fight, because that is what I have been doing all these years.

I will fight.

So I Am A Statistic…

This a warning of physical abuse and violence is the topic of this entry. This might be a trigger for some readers, so feel free and use your discretion. As with everything I write, it’s not the entire story, it would be way too long. So I tell what I can and what I feel is important and respect your reading eyes as much as I can.

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To shed a bit of light on a bit of who ‘Our Sentiments’ is, I would like to open you up to something that has eaten me for more than 10 years. What haunts and frustrates me the most in my adult life is the fact that I am just another number, just another damn statistic. Now, I don’t know if one would include me among the 360,000 ‘children’ who witnesses abuse, since it was not my father and I did not grow up in a physically abusive home like these children. But I know that I am included somewhere in this fact.

My mother stays with and loves a man who I have seen the after maths of his handy work, twice. I have been on the other end of the phone talking to a broken down women, who once was my mother. I don’t know her now, nor do I understand her. I try, but I can’t, maybe it’s more like I wont? It’s not just the, ‘Why don’t you just leave?’ even though that is on my mind and the first thing I think of when I hear stories of the abuse. But I can’t understand her, because she raised us differently; NO person has the right to touch another in a violent way, no excuse and absolutely no forgiveness.

For well over 10 years and counting she has not only been with this man, but have put herself into harm. She has done things I know in a normal mind frame she would be ashamed of. But what I want to blow of steam about is my choice to put boundaries up and have her excluded from my life in a great deal. Some might think, “Well, Our Sentiments, it’s your mother and you need to help her, she needs it!” I have, but I can only do so much.

The breaking point was when my grown adult mother lied to us, received shelter for abused women, had a restraining order, was charged for defending herself, had us (my sister, DH and myself) over anytime she needed, had my sister and I feared for our lives, and to find out she was still seeing him! He stalked her, stalked me, and ended up waiting for me in the parking lot of my place of work. Do you know how embarrassed I was to tell my boss about what was really happening? He, of course, drove me home and I was safe. But it should not have been like this.

It began when I was 19… 19 and I was scared, I could not imagine how a child living in that environment would feel. At least I was lucky because I did not live with them. They were on their own, but hearing the stories, seeing her at the hospital and feeling helpless, is something I can never forget. It was like I was in a twilight zone, that this is not real, that I will wake up and everything will be our dysfunctional norm again. I still wait…

It was a year before I  became pregnant that I found out about my mother’s lies; that he was not gone. That he was coming in after we left, it was a joke, or at least seemed to be. Now he has it all, a one bedroom apartment and a shell of woman to control. Of course I am still, to him, spoiled rotten child who is ungrateful. She knew damn well that if the courts found out she breached the mutual restraining order that she could be jailed (again). But she loves him, people make mistakes, he says he will change, how dare I judge and you don’t know until you walk the walk.

I felt stupid, helpless, and betrayed. I helped this woman, who was my mother. Took days off of work because she had to be chaperoned, and almost loosing my job, my sister almost got kicked out of school for the same reason. We stopped living our lives, dropped everything to be at her needs, when she needed it. And she goes behind our back and sees him all this time saying she needs the help and still knowing very well we lived in fear. This knife dug a little deeper, this knife will stay.

It’s been over five years since I have been at her home. She can come here without him, with boundaries like not saying his name or looking like she is abused (marks, bruises, cuts…). Not because I think it should be hidden, I don’t; but because I don’t want our daughter to witness this, she is only 3, she deserves more and I don’t want her to think this is okay. What bothers me is the periodic phone calls that, years ago would leave me guilty, that now leaves me with the “how dare you” disgust.

It’s these calls that she states that I created this distance and the time can never be taken back. That if she had us girls that she would not have gone back with him. She hates the fact she can’t see our daughter, which is farther from the truth, and our daughter will never see her home. She will state clearly to me that I lack the daughter role and I am a disappointment to her. But what inferiorates me, is I don’t give a shit. I turned hard and cold. To be quite frank, for more than 10 years I have waited for that call. The call that states she is in a bag and that I have to try to identify her.

I have tried so many things with no avail. I feel it’s a loosing battle if she just can’t help herself. I know that people is these situations need their family, but what if you have a young family of your own that needs you more? I have listened to her as my heart pounds, I have helped move her into the home she was safe in. I did errands so she would not worry about bumping into him. I have even tried to commit her. You might have thought something not listed, believe I’ve done it or tried. You can’t lock up a free will. She can choose to go back or in her case never really leave.

It gets me mad that I could not save her. That I was not more to her. That she is no longer my mother. I get envious of friends who have mothers they can turn too, that can help them. I have no mother, I am a motherless child, my mother is gone and all that is left is a hollow eyed look-alike. I fear that I will be or do the same to our daughter. I fear so much. But I also hate even more.

I can’t imagine how children feel growing up in a home with abuse happening around them. Where they hear cracking of skin and the gurgles of someone being choked. It happens every minute, where a child sees this, and they feel powerless too. I am adult looking from the outside, but I am also her child seeing this for the first time. It’s my mom and I am just as weak as a child to help, to fight off and defend. I seen where her head met the bricks and the welts and bruises but it can not be fixed. A hug can not fix, and being around becomes enabling.

I am the adult, but I am also a child. It’s said that 36,840 children seek refuge of our Canadian Shelters, but there is no shelter for us, the adult children, who are forced to look from the sidelines. All we can do is hope for the best, protect our own children, be ‘there’ but put barriers up, stand our ground, and pray we don’t get the call. Because you just know you will get that call. It’s just a matter of time.

Without You

I think about my first Mother’s Day in 2007, you where only 23 days old. You were just discharged from the hospital 6 days earlier. We had close friends, to come and welcome you home. I think about my second Mother’s Day in 2008, you just turned one, and I mindlessly scheduled your birthday party for that day. I think about my third Mother’s day in 2009, where really nothing happened but just us together.

As I think about what the fourth would be like, I also think about the time when Mother’s Day wasn’t for me. A time where I was selfish; as selfish as selfish comes. I was ignorant that there was more to life than what I had.

I am lucky for Mother’s Day, not because they are supposed to be a day for mothers, but because it reminds me where I have come from, and how much I’ve grown. It does not matter of the gifts, or if I get nothing at all. A silent moment is all I need, so I can remember that without you there would be no Mother’s Day.

Without You

Without you there would be no late nights and early mornings, or tired afternoons. Without you there would be no pitter-patters down our halls, and no I love yous. Without you there would be empty, uncomfortable silences. Without you there would be no toys, baths, or mountains of clothes to wash.

Without you I would not appreciate, the luxury of long showers or shaving my legs. Without you I would not perfect multitasking and type as you play. Without you I would not understand how I under-estimated myself and patience. Without you I would not hear sighs in the night or talking in sleep.

Without you I would not know the other side of tantrums or the passion that it creates. Without you I would not hear “Mommy, watch this” or smile at your jokes. Without you I would not know the difference between a need or a want. Without you I would not remember what it meant to be a child.

Without you I would not know that new things does not make the person. Without you I would not value the concept of time. Without you I would not know what it means to witness life. Without you I would not know what tired really means. Without you I would not notice the ants in the sand.

Without you I would not have seen planes, birds and clouds in the sky. Without you I would not know how treasured it is to get dandelions and grass. Without you I would not know how much fun it is to play in mud. Without you I would not know that enough is better than trying to be perfect.

Without you, I would have never seen how the world really works. Without you, there would be no reason to get up. Without you, there would be no Mother’s Day. Most of all, without you, there would be no mother and my new reason for life.

Thank you for making this and every other Mother’s Day special.