Ahh, Mother’s Day. What a day. Some people really relish in the day and get spoiled. Others are aching extra hard today because their mom is either passed on or not part of their life for various reasons. Some feel like it’s just another “hallmark holiday”. I have three amazing children and an incredible mom who is very much a part of my life. So why the complicated relationship? Well, let me tell you.
NEWS FLASH!!! Being a mom is hard. Heart breaking. Stressful. Complicated. Confusing. Did I say hard?
The Single Mom Life
I had my first child when I was 20. She wasn’t planned at all. I was born in a Catholic home and we were raised to believe that you don’t have sex, therefore children, until you’re married. Well, I was the first (and so far only) child of my parent’s kids (they have seven) who got pregnant out of wed-lock. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the man I got pregnant with was not a good man. I won’t go into those details but lets just say my entire family knew he was no good for me, let alone a child too. Therefore, it wasn’t a happy pregnancy. Full of guilt. So much guilt. Full of sadness. And so much fear. There wasn’t any baby bump photos. There wasn’t any comparing my fetus size to a fruit each month. Although this pregnancy wasn’t planned, and this child was going to be born into an unhealthy relationship, I still wanted her. Abortion was never an option. Neither was adoption. She was meant to be mine. That was 13 years ago. And it’s been a hard 13 years. When my oldest was born, I left her “dad” when she was only three months old. Once I had another life to take care of, I saw what everyone else saw – he wasn’t just no good for me – he wasn’t good for her either. He wasn’t going to help give her the best life she deserved. So, I choose to be a single parent. Since the day I left, my ex proved that I made the right choice.
I was a single mom for 7 years. Just me and Ciara. I had to deal with all the challenges that come with parenthood by myself. My ex was not supportive in any way. But I made sure she felt loved. Every day. Even on the bad days when I had no idea what I was doing. I know I did good. How? She tells me. She loves her life now, but she mentions sometimes how she misses the days when it was just her and I. We did everything together. I remember booking her first day of kindergarten off work so I could just sit and cry after dropping her off. How did my baby grow up so fast? Don’t even get me started on how she’s almost done grade 7 already…
I didn’t feel like I was a good mom. I made mistakes. Many. Too many. I doubted everything I did. And although I’ve now given her the family she so badly deserves, I still feel like I haven’t done good enough. She deserves the world. All my kids do. My husband legally adopted her. Her “real dad” is more of a distant uncle to her. My husband, her REAL DAD, shows her every day what a dad is supposed to be like. But some days, I still worry that I haven’t done enough for her.
Step-mom to a child with special needs
When I met my husband, he was a single dad to a 1 year old boy. He had his son most of the time. His mom was in and out. And now, she’s mostly out. He lives with us full-time and sees his real mom a couple times a year. I treat Paxton no different than if I gave birth to him myself. I’ve been in his life since he was one, and I’ve been his mom since he was three. I don’t feel like I’m enough for him. Although his real mom isn’t really around, I see the pain he feels everyday, missing her. I know he loves me. He calls me mom. He respects me as his mom. But I’m not his real mom. He aches for her all the time. That makes me ache for a few reasons: 1. He’s hurting. Which in turn makes me hurt for him. 2. I know I’ll never have that motherly bond with him that most moms get when they carry their child in their womb for nine months. 3. I know that no matter what I do, I’ll never be his “real” mom, even though I consider him my real son.
I don’t try and “compete” with his birth mom. I know I’ll never replace her, and I don’t want to. I know he loves me like a mom. But I so badly just want his pain to end. My son, has had a rough life…and he’s only nine. When he was five, he was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and Opposition Defiant Disorder (ODD). I knew when he was three that something wasn’t quite right. He struggled daily. He would have meltdowns that would last for HOURS. During these meltdowns, he’d get almost like a super-human strength. He’d hurt anyone who was in the line of fire. And it seemed he didn’t care who he hurt or how badly. But he did care eventually. He has the biggest heart of any little boy I know – and when he lets that show, he is so loving. He just didn’t know how to handle what was going on in his brain. He still doesn’t. Maybe he never will. He’s scared, lonely and in pain every day. I hold him when he’s crying. I try and be as patient as I can be when he’s having a melt down. But I fail at that too. Having a child with ADHD and ODD is HARD. Challenging. Exhausting. That combined with not being his real mom, makes parenting him extra hard. Extra heart breaking when he has bad days. More tears flow from my eyes and heart for him than I ever imagined possible. I just want him to be happy. To feel loved. And even though I do everything I can to make him feel this way, sometimes I really feel like I’m not doing enough. His heart has been broken since he was a baby. And I’m doing everything I can to mend it for him.
Having a child in the NICU
My husband and I got married in 2012. My daughter and his son (now they’re both OURS) were our flower girl and ring bearer. It was a perfect day. Immediately after our honeymoon, we started trying for one together. We both wanted to have a child “the proper way”. A child that was planned. We finally got pregnant in 2014. We were overjoyed. It was a rough pregnancy though. I had gestational diabetes and everything swelled up and hurt. It was a long nine months. I was so happy to be having this child with my husband; but I felt like I was already letting my unborn child down – although I did everything to take care of myself during the pregnancy, it wasn’t good enough. The odds seemed stacked up against me; and therefore our child.
Our daughter came into the world exactly 10 years and 2 min to the day of our first daughter (just a little fun fact). I’d given birth once already so I knew how it goes. But when Sahtaysha came into the world, instead of them handing her directly to me like they had with Ciara, she was taken away from me. Because of my gestational diabetes, she was having a hard time breathing on her own. My husband and doctor tried to distract me but I could see the nurses putting a little oxygen mask on my baby. I kept asking what was wrong but no one would tell me. Soon, they took her out of the room. I didn’t even get to see her. My husband, torn with the decision to stay with me or go with our baby girl, was scared but being so strong for me. I told him to go with her. When it was decided that she needed to go to the NICU for treatment and to be monitored, he begged them to let me at least see her. They brought her into my room and I was able to finally lay my eyes on this new human who I already loved with every bone in my body. It would be another four hours before I’d be able to go up to the NICU and hold her.
She spent five days in the NICU. Nothing compared to most of the babies in there. She was the healthiest baby in there at the time. One baby passed away in another pod during our stay. It was the longest five days of my life. I’d rather go through my accident all over again than have to sit in a NICU, feeling completely helpless and scared.
I want a crystal ball
I worry about my kids Every. Single. Day. All day long. I worry that they’re getting bullied at school, or that they might be the bully. I worry that they’ll fall into the wrong crowd and get into drugs, sex and alcohol. I worry that they won’t follow their dreams. I worry that they won’t have a dream at all. I worry that because of mistakes I’ve made being their parent, that I will have screwed them up. I worry that all the times I’ve yelled at them or screwed up some other way that I’ve imprinted a permanent scar on their hearts.
If I could have a crystal ball, not to see the winning lotto numbers (that’d be cool too though) but just to see if they’re going to be OK when they’re adults. Will they be kind, caring, professional adults? Will they be good parents one day? Or will they be sitting on a therapist’s couch talking about me? I think I could relax a bit more, and just enjoy each day with them to the absolute fullest, without any guilt or fear, if I could know that they will be OK.
For so long I felt like I was a bad mom. Sometimes, I still do. I know that I am the best mom I can be and I am learning more every day on how to be better. They are loved, so much. I tell them that every day. And they tell me the same. Sometimes multiple times a day.
So why the love/hate relationship with Mother’s Day?
My husband and kids always go out of their way to make me feel like mom of the year on mother’s day. Although I have my doubts on if I’m doing everything I possibly can for my kids, the love they shower me with removes those doubts for a little while at least.
From the day I first became a mom over 13 years ago, I’ve always felt that it’s the most painful (and rewarding) experience a person can go thru. Sending my kids out into the world means I’m sending my heart out there too. It’s been trampled as they’ve experienced unpleasant things in life. And it’ll continue to be trampled and broken as they get older, until the day I die. There’s nothing I can do about it. I just love them so darn much. I suppose all I can do is be sure they know I’ll always be there to mend their hearts back together.
Now to the hard part. Mother’s Day is impossible to forget. It’s plastered all over the tv, social media, and in every store for weeks leading up to the day. What about those who have lost their moms? What about those whose mom chooses to not be in their lives? What about those who so badly want to be a mom, but can’t for whatever reason? What about those who have lost a child or children? What does Mother’s Day mean to them? I ache for these people.
I lost one child, before I even knew I was pregnant. I didn’t really grieve as most do when they miscarry – I was sad of course, but I didn’t even know I was pregnant so I didn’t bond or fall in love with the child who died. I can’t even begin to imagine how painful it is to lose a child in any stage – whether it’s before they are born or after. Whether they pass on when they’re children or adults. The pain of losing a child is one I hope I never have to endure – but my heart still hurts for those who have. Especially on Mother’s Day.
So, the day after Mother’s Day, I’d like to say this to anyone who hurts on Mother’s Day for whatever reason – you are loved. Your pain is recognized. Your loss is recognized. Your loneliness is recognized. I wish for you, a crystal ball too. So you can see that you too will be OK. For whatever loss you are feeling every day but especially on Mother’s Day, I am so sorry. If I could give you all a hug, even though I may not know you, I would.