I remember being a little girl with adorable little clothes, matching ribbons in my perfectly braided hair, and colored socks to go with every outfit I owned. I remember Friday night pizza and movies in the living room floor. I remember Sunday trips to Kmart for a new Barbie doll. I remember dinner at McDonalds on Halloween before trick-or-treating every year. Those are the things I think about when I reminisce on my childhood. Most of everything after that was just kinda “blah”!
See, like most kids in my time (and now for that matter), I grew up with divorced parents. I was raised by a single mom, living on welfare, and only saw my dad 2 weekends out of the month. My mom was a great mom growing up. We had home cooked dinners every night, except for those nights mentioned above, and even some of those pizza nights were frozen pizzas because we didn’t always have the money for Papa John’s. My mom was there to cook breakfast every morning, even if sometimes it was just a quick bowl of oatmeal, and she was there to pick me up after school everyday. I never had to ride the bus, or go home alone, or go to daycare like many of my friends. She was ALWAYS at my school volunteering and went on every field trip! My mom was a really good mom…until one day she wasn’t!
I’m not really sure what happened or when it happened. I just remember realizing one day that although she looked like my mom and sounded like my mom, she wasn’t my mom. I’m not sure if it was due to the years of physical abuse that she suffered at the hands of her long-term boyfriend, or post-partum depression after the birth of my brother and sister, or my grandfather’s illness….I honestly don’t know, and I may never know, but I do know that one day something in my mom snapped and she was never the same!
She became mean, hateful, and negative all the time! She was distant from everyone. She yelled…A LOT!!!! And she became selfish! She seemed to hate life, had no ambition, and just quit being there for me! I was a teenage girl who needed her mother, and she wasn’t there for me…EVER!! So I turned to other things to comfort me….cigarettes, boys, skipping school, and hanging out with some rough people throughout my high school years. I was so blessed that during my junior year of high school, I was saved by a great friend, who I eventually ended up dating! His family was wonderful to me! His mom invited me to dinner every night so that I didn’t have to go home and deal with that storm that was always there waiting. They, along with my dad, encouraged me to buckle down and finish school, and I did it with little to no encouragement from my mother, who I might add, was actually late to my graduation.
After several years of being miserable, I physically couldn’t take anymore so the day I turned 18, I moved out! I just had to get away! I hated leaving my brother and sister behind to deal with it, but at the time, I had to! I moved out, got married, had kids, and yet still my mother hasn’t snapped out of it! She is still to this day, never there! She doesn’t come to my kids’ birthday parties, has never been to a Grandparent’s Day at school, doesn’t call to check on them, and we typically only hear from her when she wants something! I owe a lot to my dad and my step-mom. They have been there for me and the girls since day one and I don’t always give them the gratitude they deserve!
You don’t just get to decide you’re done being a parent! You don’t just get to walk away from your kids when they need you! You don’t just get to “check out”!
I honestly believe that my mother suffers from some serious mental illness, and my greatest fear is that she passed it on to me. So I have made it a goal of mine to make sure that my kids never know that pain…that they never know what it feels like to have a parent “check out” of your life. And that I can rise above the ashes of my seriously screwed up relationship with my mother. As for the possibility of this passing down to me, it is a huge possibility! Mental illness is something that can 100% be passed down to your children! The odds are most definitely not in my favor….but I’m a fighter and I’m stronger than those odds and I will beat it one way or another! My kids mean more to me than those odds! I wish that my mom had thought the same thing!
So supermoms, here is my thought for the day! Parenting is hard…..it is hard as shit! And I know that there are some days when we think “what in the hell am I doing?” But you can’t give up. You can’t just decide to quit being a parent. You may not be perfect and that’s ok! But seriously if you feel yourself losing it, get help…talk to someone, anyone! It doesn’t have to be a doctor…call up a friend and say “Life sucks and I need someone to talk to, bring wine and come over”. Just don’t “check out”! Your kids deserve their whole mom, not just part of her! You don’t have to be perfect…God knows I’m far from it. I cuss entirely way too much, I’m unorganized as shit, and we eat a lot of crockpot meals and frozen pizza because I hate cooking, but I’m there and my kids know it!
As for my mom, I hope one day she gets the help she needs and decides to be actively involved in our lives, but until then…I’m going to keep doing my thing and beat the odds! I refuse to “check out”!!