Tuesday, December 2, 2014

"I want to be just like you Mom"

I still can't believe it when I hear those words come out of the mouth of my 20 year old daughter. You want to me like me? 48 years old, living away from family, unemployed, looking back on the train wreck of my life? Why? "No Mom, I want to be like you - you got us through, you took care of us, you did everything you could to  make a new life for us. I want to be like you." Wow, thanks baby!

I guess it is easy to dwell on the negative or focus on what we did wrong as parents, but when you have a child who has been to hell and back and whose parents didn't always keep her safe and she can say that? It kind of humbles me and at the same time allows me to learn to forgive myself. 

None of us know what life will send our way. We think, when we meet that person we fall in love with, that life will be rosy and we will have our dreams come true. Unfortunately sometimes we don't see the nightmare we are stuck in or the crazy reality that we have created. When I look back now, I wonder how I let it all happen? How was it OK for my little girl, at 3 and 4 and 5 years old to hide or hope there was no shouting or fighting today? How was it OK that she had to stay quiet and invisible  to help maintain the illusion we were living in? How did it become acceptable that "This is just for our house, we don't tell other people." No wonder my child was shy, introverted, uncertain. When I look back, I think how could she want to be like me?

Fighting - literally to escape to safety with my girls and not making it. Having to pick up the pieces after the world fell out from under us - trying to explain "Why Daddy was like this." Wondering if they would ever trust relationships or men again? Hoping that in some way, some day they would discover that sometimes, losing someone you love is better than keeping them in your life. Allowing them to hold onto the good memories - yes, there were many - while recognizing that it couldn't be sugar coated and the facts had to be made known  - a little at at time - as they could handle it. Starting over - truly as a single parent - no back up, no weekend breaks, just me - alone.

She tells me that when she thinks of the things I did to try to make it better, that is where she sees strength. When she remembers how we had nothing, no money, little food, scraping by - how we still carried on like we would get through. One year she wanted a sleep over, there was no money for pizza or chips or pop but we got a cheap turkey and made the full dinner with the trimmings - it didn't cost much, tasted better and the kids enjoyed it. (Until the food fight that is, not such an impressed Mom then. I suppose she was testing me and how safe it was to make mistakes.)

She remembers the family getting together for holidays; the times spent with Aunty Sharon and Uncle Paul; hours with Grandma and Grandpa; the epic birthday parties; having Friday night family time - pizza and a movie. These are the foundation that she can build her life on. 

For me it is those mornings of getting up at 4:30AM to get ready for work, dropping the kids off at the neighbours at 5AM then off to catch the van pool to drive 2.5-3 hours to work, depending on traffic. The never seeing daylight between the van pool commute and 8 hours in the office in the center of the building with no light. Getting home between 6:30 and 7PM at night, picking up the kids, feeding them because the caregiver didn't. - scrounging out money to pay rent,  the van pool, caregiver and basic living. Then getting robbed for almost $2,000 by the caregiver and freaking out due to finding out that she had barely taken care of my girls. 

Falling asleep at midnight - trying to calm down my manic 4 year old who had night terrors, anger management and pain issues. Attempting to calm my 11 year old who cried and ranted about how unfair life was. This is what you admire? I think you are crazy little girl, your mama barely made it.

Finally having to leave a good paying government job to survive and then barely coping, unable to sleep at night, get up in the daytime, remember to cook - just get through those menial functions. Why do you want to be like me? "Because you loved us, you made us safe, you gave us a life." These words make me cry, make me sad, but allow me some relief at the same time. Life sucked, life sent us a lot of hard knocks but now, watching my girls grow, seeing their strength and watching them come out of their shells, they made it.

I am so grateful that I have begun my life over. My life between 20 and 40 years old, feels like it belonged to someone else. I wouldn't give up those years - I would never have given birth to the beautiful, amazing girls that I have - admittedly if I could change the years and still have my girls, I would. One daughter who has become my best friend as she walked into woman hood and the other who will always be my baby girl - who at 13 still hugs and kisses me and says "I love you SO much Mom." Those moments - I would never give up.

The fact that I have a strong , healthy marital relationship - fills my heart. Not only does it make me strong but makes me appreciative that my children can see what love looks like. It is not possessive - in a controlling way - it is possessive in the manner that it is for two people to care and support each other. We complement each other and we compliment each other. We build each other up and express our love daily. These are the memories I want my girls to have. 

You want to be like me? Oh baby girl, you are and so much more! You are strong, a fighter and you have overcome so much. You have lost a parent, had to regain a parent that was only barely there; you had to leave everything you knew to move somewhere new; you had to fight to try to be accepted and you had to leave to create your own world. You , my girl, are stronger! You already know more at 20 than I ever did.

And so, as I start to put my life down, on paper, typing away in my "manuscript" - the support of my family and the courage we all had - that builds me up. "I want to be just like you Mom." No more beautiful words were ever spoken.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Just so beautiful....thank you for sharing your journey...Merci!