I Forgive Me

me-and-mom-header-2

I never used to hate my mom. 37 years later, I finally forgive my mom for leaving. Every time she got sick and had to go away, she came back. The last time, mom never came back home. That was when my childhood ended. I was 10 years old.

From the first slap and the first verbal assault from him, my anger grew in the pit of my soul. For years I began to believe it was my fault that she left. He blamed me for anything and everything. He would hold me responsible for things when I wasn’t even there.  I turned to food to try and numb the pain. I turned to books to escape reality. Many times, I wished it was him who died, and not her. Often, I thought about joining her. He remarried two years after my mom died. My life became so wrong.  I only spoke when needed to.

Then my life was going to change again. I broke down during high school acting class and told my truth to my teacher. A few months later, dad and stepmom sent me to a psychologist. When the doctor stated that whatever I said to him was only between us by law, I spilled the six years of pain and grief that I endured in silence. After the psychologist confirmed my age, he delivered a big surprise like a magic wand… I legally didn’t have to live at home. The darkness dissolved away and I got to be behind the wheel of my life for the first time.

Fairy dust landed on me with one phone call. My mom’s best friend, and my Godmother, offered a place of solace. My childhood was able to begin again. Yet, the pain of the life I was cheated out of lingered for years. Mother’s Day, her Birthday, and her death anniversary were the hardest days to get through.

Then, I became a mom. I had always recognized the mums in my life before, but it hurt. When I had my first Mother’s Day while I was pregnant, I was working. Despite feeling being displaced, I felt more like a fraud. I never planned to be a mom. I only had her parenting lessons for the first ten years of my life. All of my past baggage was forgotten when I gave birth to the sun in my universe. When we brought our baby home, we had no clue what to do. No grandmother to tell us how to do this parenting thing. We just winged it.

Once we found our footing, we had another baby. Surprise. I felt flooded in the world that other people wanted to be in.  I desperately needed my mom to guide me. What did I do to be abused by a parent that should have been protecting me? Why did the one parent that loved me leave me?

When my kids were babies, I used to write stories of our oldest cat. When my youngest was eight months, I began to write about being motherless. The grief lessened by connecting to others who understood. My articles and blogs began to be published, it was a haven for a deep wound. Something amazing began to happen, readers sent me emails, DM‘s, and personal messages. I stumbled into worldwide grief. All of a sudden, I didn’t feel so alone or isolated.

My children carry a part of my mom’s name. When I watch them sleep, I can’t help wonder that if my mom were alive, would my miracle babies be here? I know it’s not her fault. I know I need to focus on my own health. As I write this, it has been two months since I went through colon surgery, and a Stage Two tumour was removed. Thankfully, they got it all out during the surgery. I joined the Cancer Club. This time.

For once having a crappy family history made me a medical priority. I will always be grateful for my Rockstar medical team. I am still here to watch my children grow up. My mom never got that chance. I will not take that for granted.

I’m so sorry, mom.

I forgive you, and I forgive myself.

I Like Being Motherless

me-and-mom-header-2

 

Unbelievable. I discover myself standing in the kitchen not being able to move. I came back from serving my girls their breakfast. We are having a great chat when I went to put the milk away. The fridge handle feels hot under my right hand and my left is cold by the half-full milk jug. My heart is still. The calendar is at eye-level glaring today’s date. I have always known this day comes every year. I began today feeling perfectly okay for the first time before I knew what today really was. Stunned, I can’t believe it has been 30 years ago today that my mom died. For the first time in all those anniversaries, today is the first time I didn’t spend the morning crying.

I always hated the term ‘motherless’ ever since I saw Bambi’s mother got shot in the first minutes of the film. You knew it happened, but it still tore the heart. It reminds me of what I’ve been missing since I was 10 years old. My mom died of breast cancer at the age of 38 years old. My sister was only eight years old. My childhood ended that day.

Two weeks after she died, school started. As we walked to class it felt like there was an arrow sign above our heads announcing ‘Motherless Kids Coming Through.’ Kids would stop talking when I went to the gym or step up to wait my turn on the swings. I felt like a circus act when I would get to my desk, to the library and to play at recess. The only time I felt normal was when I was the first one home after school. My sister would come home a bit later, after she finished her fourth grade after school activities. I had a brief precious half hour to myself. I could pretend that life was okay for that short time. I walked through every room remembering mom in the living room or eating breakfast at the kitchen table. I never went to her bedroom. It is too hard to remember her there. Her stuff cleaned out days after she died. The only smell my nose recalls is her perfume, Chanel Number 5. The magic spell ended the minute I heard the front door open.

Friends would corner me in the playground by the hopscotch over the next month to tell me how they found out about the news my mom died. They would go on and on about how they felt and how they would hate to lose their moms.

Over the next few years were dark, going through the beginning of teenage hood without my mom was very hard. Sure, there were nannies and the stepmother, but it wasn’t the same. No matter what others told me, I always wondered what mom would have said.

When I got married, being motherless had grown into a thorn in my heart. After all the heartbreak, I don’t want to have kids. I can’t do that my potential children. Cancer took a lot of family from us too early. I also had endometriosis, which meant I couldn’t have conceived naturally. I was okay with that. There are many childless parents out there who deserve to find their children. My two girls changed that plan.

The minute the doctor confirm my pregnancy, my first, I was wrapped in fear. I took all the recommended precautions to make sure I would give birth to a very healthy baby. I took my grief it became motivated to be the best mom I could for my child, like mom did for me. I didn’t know what else to do to care for my baby, other than the books I devoured. When my first baby arrived the motherless grief return instantly. I had trouble breast-feeding. The baby would cry and cry. I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t hear my mother’s voice anymore.

I became what is known as a helicopter parent before it was a label. I began to focus every ounce of energy for my baby. Every cry, every request and every wail, I am there at all hours of the day and night, whatever she needed. I know every breath, every giggle and every precious moment. I am all too aware how painful it is to want your mom, I will never let my child know that heartache.

On the good days, I do not hate being motherless anymore, I am going to do what Bambi did and move forward. But if I had that other life, one with her in it, would have I have met my children, I wonder. I might not have my stories, but I am making my own daughters by being here to live them together.

“MOM!!!” My thoughts are interrupted by my seven-year-old beauty is yelling from the kitchen table.

I jumped out of my thoughts and answered, “What is up?” My heart starts beating again. The feeling of my legs and voice returns.

She is looking at me with a look of curiosity in her smile. “Close the fridge. You are wasting energy, remember?” I nod as I close the door with a smile on my face, heart and soul. I am able to be the mom that my girls need me to be. I know that my mom was that for me for as long as she could. There is one exemption; I haven’t let my kids see Bambi, yet.

For the three decades that have passed since that ill-fateful day, this is the first time I don’t miss her madly. It occurs to me that she has always been here for every step of the way. All this time I worried about being a mom when the whole time I already had the best mom to model by. She wasn’t the best cook, me either. She wasn’t the best homemaker, ditto. My mom is always there for me, even in death. She is there in my parenting her grandchildren, with unconditional love.

I hug my girls with the familiar arms that I once craved after school or skating practices. I will always miss my mom. I now know that she will always be here. The best way to honor her is by being the mom she was to me. And that sounds like medicine to my healing heart. I didn’t need a parenting book to rely on, I just have my children’s hugs to remind me of what I need.

Being motherless does suck and that is okay to say. Motherless may be what got me here now, but it doesn’t define who I am today.

 

Grief is like Another Child

20130205-092247.jpgHearing the cars outside just highlights that I need to get to sleep. The moonlight peeks through the blinds in our bedroom. I need to sleep. I do not know when she will wake me up. My four-year-old has a horrible sleep track record. Most nights I take the midnight shifts to let my hubby be rested for work.

Today was one of the bad days in our world of autism. She did not sleep last night so the morning ABA session did not go well. She screamed to leave. When I took her to preschool, I did not expect it to go well. An hour later I had got the call from her aide that she was inconsolable. I went to get her early. For the rest of the afternoon and into the evening she wailed. I had no idea how to help her. She does not speak so it makes it even more heart breaking. I hate myself for saying how much Autism can suck.

At that moment I said it in my head, the tears rolled fast. I turned away from my husband to try not to wake him. I balled my fist into my mouth to muffle my sobs. It took several minutes for the tears to stop. It is like I lost someone I never knew. Only we do not have a funeral. Grieving about it gives power to the feeling that it is like another child. She is my daughter and I will do anything for her. Right now I accepted the grief so I can move forward and be the mom she needs in me.

Grief with Children

As posted this week at amotherworld.com

The tears race down my cheeks uncensored. The shock allows the floodgates to open before I realize my 4 year old is watching me.

I warble out to my husband who is steps away, “He died.” I feel paralyzed in the living room chair.

My husband comes over to me. I am staring at my iPad going through Facebook where the announcement that our friend’s 13 day old newborn had passed the night before. Baby was waiting for a new heart which never came. Being under constant hospital supervision since birth, he never got to go home to where his older siblings were waiting.

My husband holds my hand as we explain to our older daughter why I am sad. Her friend’s youngest brother passed away. I tell her that it is not fair.

“Oh, he went to heaven to see Harley?” she asks. Harley is our cat who passed away when she was fifteen months old. I wrote 2 books about him. The last one was about how he was sick, went to the hospital and passed away. Harley became an angel where he felt better and still watched over us. The books are read frequently in our home.

She looked at his picture on the screen. Never have met, she nods and says okay. I watch her go back to playing her dolls. I try to shelter some feelings from my kids. After dealing with my mom’s illness and subsequent passing, I never had a true childhood. That motivates me to allow them to be innocent and enjoy their rightful time in their young lives. I do believe in being honest with them.

Having my eldest girl appreciate and understand my sadness because of the Harley story validated that I am doing something right as a mom. As my 2 & 4 year old grow up and have their tween dramas, I hope that by allowing myself to show emotion they will be open and free with themselves. Also, to know that I am here for them any time as my mom would have for me had she lived.

I wipe my tears and close the iPad feeling a little less sad by letting myself be open in my feelings. Holding it in does not help. Despite my overwhelming need to go back to bed and stay there all day, I have to take care of my kids. One step and one day at a time is a good place to start.

9 lessons and fun I learned this Summer 2010

 I look at the calendar, it shocks me that next week my darling older daughter will start her second year in pre-school. It has been a mild summer filled with many lessons and milestones.

1. It was brave of me to thing I can work-at-home with my two young daughters.

2.My three-year-old (almost 4) loves chocolate now and real life trains.

3. My 22 month old got her big girl bed and started to feed herself breakfast all in one day. For the girl who crawled at 13 months this leap is huge. She just needed to do it on her time.

4. Date nights with hubby is now on the couch watching a half of a movie before we fall asleep. Something cozy about being in your pjs at 9pm while the sun is still out.

5. Twitter remains rocking. the prizes and jobs that I have earned from Twitter keeps me still working from home ( as hard as that is.)

6.I guess I do not need an iPad.

7.Printed books still are necessary. Easy to take with me to the water parks and backyard.

8. By keeping writing about how I miss my mom makes me more present for my girls.

9. Typos will happen and grammar will be hit and miss. It is okay. I am not a professor.

I watch my young girls hoping to freeze frame this moment. The fall comes pre-school, both daughters birthdays, Halloween and Christmas.

Being a parent keeps taking me on a wild ride. Every day is school day for this mom.

What was your favorite moment this summer?

Letters To My Dead Mother: The First Christmas

December 25th, 1984

Mommy,

It’s our first Christmas without you. There are little decorations up. Dad told me last week that you left a lot of bills so I could only pick one present. I had to help him pick a few things for my baby sister because she still believes in Santa Claus. I have not believed since last year so I really didn’t care. I just don’t care to celebrate anymore. On top of it all, we are at your parents’ house for Christmas because Dad had to work or he did not want us home. I don’t know what else to say so I will say Merry Christmas. I have to help set up for the big dinner tonight.

Love,

Nicole

Letters To My Dead Mother: Sept 1984

September 7th, 1984

To Mom,

School started now. On the second day I was sent to the library for a special project. I sensed why I was sent away. They gathered everyone in the pod of the entire Grade sixes and told everyone about you and how they should treat me. My friend, Carolyn, told me at recess. I felt like such an outsider. I was doing great in Grade five. I had good grades and lots of friends. I got cornered a lot by kids in school telling me that they are sorry about my mom and ask what it like is to not have a mom. Like I am some circus freak! Why did you have to die? Katie acts like everything is ok. Maybe she is too young to understand? I don’t know. She doesn’t ask for you anymore. Michel keeps looking for someone to pet him and let him outside to go to the bathroom. Dad complains about everything all the time. Was he always this grumpy? He gets angry sometimes and then stomps off, like when Katie was four. He gets angry and stomps off and slams his bedroom door. There is no laughter and no happy dinners and no movie nights. I do not want to cry because it upsets my sister too much.

Grandma said that God needed you up in heaven. That is not fair! We needed you more but don’t count I guess. It is so hard for me to go to friend’s houses, to see their full family homes. Even the ones who have divorced parents, at least they still see both parents. Not right and not fair! Sorry, I have to go again and set the table. I am not hungry but I can’t tell him that. I don’t want to make him upset again.

Bye.

Nicole

September 22, 1984

Mom,

For whatever reasons dad hired a nanny while we were away at his parents. We got home and there was this lady named Charlotte there. She was living in your room. Dad moved in Katie’s old room and we had to share. It was not like Mary Poppins! At least she cooks something other than the fatty meat that he likes to cook. I do not recognize this house anymore. She added some stuff of her own, put a lot of our toys away and put some of your pics in our room and out of the living room.

Last night she was washing dishes, dad and I were arguing as usual, I asked her why he hates me so much. She said that he told her that I was an accident. How is that possible? It felt like you planned me. But why would dad say that if it wasn’t true? I can’t think of anytingelse why he would be so upset all the time. He is not upset with Katie like with me. I don’t get it.

Nicole

Letters To My Dead Mother: Back To School

August 31, 1984

Dear Mom,

It has been a couple of weeks since your funeral and things are very different here. School is about to start. I wish you were here to help pick out my school clothes. Dad just told us to get what we need. You always got us the pretty stuff. Today I have to go to the orthodontist to get braces. I do not want them! They are ugly. I will be called Metal Mouth and other bad names. I have to wear them for two years!! I won’t be able to eat what I want for that long. Last night Dad took us out for dessert. I got the stickiest, gooeyest dessert there. It was good. I feel like I am going through slow motion. So much is happening so fast. I wish I could really talk to you like we used to. I write these letters hoping you might read them but I don’t know where to send them.

I got to go.

Love you,

Nicole

Letters To My Dead Mother: after death

August 20th, 1984

Dear Mommy,

It’s been five days since you went to heaven. Very weird to think last week you were having lunch with us in your hospital room. Tonight we had to pick out our outfits to wear at your funeral tomorrow. You are supposed to wear black but you never bought us black dresses. So we were in the kitchen and Daddy was helping us iron the outfits. He looked at our doorway to the dining room and said “Mom’s here.” We looked where he was looking and there was a ball of light floating there. It did not look like it was a reflection off anything. All three of us saw it. Katie said hi. I said hi too. Was it you? Did you hear us? I don’t like this dying thing. Dad says I can talk to you all I want but you can’t talk back. Anyway, I hope you are happy wherever you are.

From,

Nicole

Letters To My Dead Mother: the day

August 15th, 1984

Dear Mommy,

When we were watching the Facts Of Life Daddy showed up at Grandma and Grandpa’s. He was supposed to be at work. He sat us on the couch and said you died and went to heaven. Katie asked what that meant and he said that you died like our dog Fosh did. He gave us a choice to stay there or come home. We both wanted to go home. When we got there everything looked the same. The bag of chips you like was half opened. Your chair in the living room had your black sweater lying on it. The one you used when you got cold. On your dresser in the bedroom was your half empty Channel #5 perfume bottle. Katie said you were still coming home cause everything was the same. The house was so quiet. We unpacked and went to bed. Katie kept crying. I could not sleep. Something felt very different. I hope you are not in pain and are happy. I miss you so much.

                            I love you.

                                        Nicole