As I got older, my favorite thing was to escape to a friend’s home and get caught up in their family chaos. Sit at their dinner table. Bake biscuits with their mom. Listen to their mom’s laughter, as the sounds from my home were my mom’s cries and my dad’s loud television. When I was in high school, I began dating this boy and I wanted so badly for his parents to love me, especially his mom. He had what I thought was a typical family. They cooked dinner together. They played card games, dice, or table tennis. They shot baskets and played HORSE. They went camping and took family vacations. They did what I always imagined a family would do. His mom, though, didn’t particularly like me. I was from the wrong side of the tracks – Detroit. She tolerated me, though, and showed me how to cut up a pepper. How to put on mascara. How to properly set a table, and so on. Then the day came when her son asked me to marry him and I said ‘Yes’. We went over to his parent’s house to give them the news, and instead of the happy response my parents gave to us, his mom ran into her room and locked the door behind. “She’ll get over it,” my to-be-dad-in-law offered me with an apologetic smile. It really wasn’t until several years later when I handed her my first child when she somewhat “got over it”. When I filed for divorce from her son, the sadness that set deep within wasn’t as much the marriage, but the loss of his family. No more family dinners together. No more holidays together. No more ping pong games. “That divorce paperwork divorces you from our son but it doesn’t divorce you from us,” she said to me one day when I picked up the kids after a day of her babysitting.
When I met Chuck’s mom, she said to me she knew right then that I was her son’s soulmate. “Just a feeling,” she would giggle. And once again, I wanted so badly for her to love me. And I believe she did. Until the year before her passing when her dementia robbed us all. She blamed me for everything under the sun. I was outside the courtroom as Chuck tried to get Guardianship when the attorney handed us paperwork.
“It’s the questions the court asked her,” the attorney told us. “Don’t take anything personal,” he said looking me in the eyes.
He apparently didn’t know me, because after reading it I felt like I was going to throw up. I attempted to gulp back my tears unsuccessfully and instead ran for the bathroom, begging that it was unlocked and open. Gratefully it was. In the paperwork she spoke of how evil I was. How I took her son from her. How I stole <stamps> from her. How she hated me.
“Don’t be silly,” Chuck said, when I came out still wiping my tears, “You know she’s not in her right mind. It’s why we’re here.”
Last July, I held her hand, and told her I loved her as she took her last breath. “I love you too, Kristy,” she whispered. It had been the first time in a week since she remembered who I was.
Some people have daddy issue, I have mom issues. This is Chuck and my first year without his mom and I’d be lying to say we aren’t sad. This is the 14th year without my mom, and I’m still sad. But I have to say that even through the relationship with my mom and the different mom-figures I’ve had in my life, I am grateful for each one of them – the good, bad, and the ugly. I learned many lessons, including what kind of mom I wanted to be, and didn’t want to be. Life is like a stained-glass window. You can focus on not seeing straight through it on the cloudy days, or revel in the rainbows on the sunshiny ones. I choose to just love the stained glass window. It’s a choice.
Mother’s Day can be painful for many. It’s a painful reminder to those who don’t have their mom in the physical. It’s a painful reminder for those who tried to become a mom, or who wanted to become a mom but didn’t have the partner or right partner for it. It’s a painful reminder for those moms who have a child or children on the Other Side. It’s a painful reminder for those who might have children away, or have kids who aren’t speaking to them. It’s a painful reminder for those who didn’t/don’t have the mom they so yearned to have.
This weekend I’m sending extra love and healing to all of those experiencing pain and heartache on this Mother’s Day or any day. And Happy Mother’s Day to all who are a mom, were a mom, the mom of a fur baby, and single dad’s who are mom and dad. I believe in you.