My Karmic Retribution (what did I ever do to you, karma?)

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When I was 15 I left my mother. Packed a couple of my things and left.

Now my 13 year old daughter is doing the same thing to me.

I suppose it is the most basic and direct form of karma the world has ever seen.

In hind sight, my mother was not BAD to me. She was not abusive or negligent. She was a tired, over worked single parent and she leaned on me for a lot because I was all she had. My older brother was in the Marines and then working in New York City. She was trying to keep a house hold and two young daughters afloat with very little help and even less sleep.

But I was selfish, as young girls are. I was thinking of myself. How my social life was suffering because I had to come home directly from school and baby sit for my little sister as my mother went from her first job to her second. I felt alone because she worked so much and no one else was really around to tell me otherwise. And I was angry because I saw my friends with regular, fully staffed house holds who were allowed to go to the mall and to the movies and didn’t have to check to make sure they weren’t on little sister duty that night.

So, in looking back, she was actually a super mom. A mother who still found time to make dinner (sometimes four at a time) and stick them in the refrigerator so I could warm them up for myself and my little sister Sam. On the days when she had off, although I’m sure she was beat from her 70 hour work week, she brought us to do things so we could still have family time. She made us cookies in the shapes of Christmas trees and hearts for holidays, she made sure I had hand sewn Halloween outfits and that we always had everything we needed, even though money was tight and time was even tighter.

But I left her anyways, in pursuit of more freedom and less responsibility. Funny thing is, I ended up crashing at my boyfriends house, becoming pregnant, and found myself with LESS freedom and MORE responsibility.

So now, fast forward almost 14 years later, and I finally feel like all my hard work has paid off. The many years of moving myself and my daughter from apartment to apartment, job to job, searching for the right place and time, we have arrived. I’m married, have a good job and we just bought our dream house. I was able to rest easy for once knowing that I was going to move Nev into this house and it would be her HOME from then on. Even when she went to college, she would always have her room to come back to in that house. And when she got married and had kids of her own, she would bring them to that house and they would walk around the same floors she walked around when she was a kid.

As I was breathing easy, she had plans of her own. Plans of maybe going to live with her father, because living with us has become a stressful place to live, and she isn’t happy.

This obviously hit me like a blow to my stomach. All the years that I had worked two jobs while going to school and still doing the best I could for her just so I could one day give her the life she deserved. The youth that I had sacrificed so I could be the kind of mother she deserved. How could all of that not mean anything to her at all? How was she so ready to turn her back on me when I had spent the better part of my life NOT turning my back on her.

So we fought. I took my hurt and frustration out on her with my words; biting, cruel words.

I don’t think that her logic is right or good or that it makes any sense at all, but it is her logic. My reasoning for leaving my mother when she had done so much for me was not sturdy. But when I left I wasn’t thinking about what she’d done for me, I was thinking of what she wasn’t doing for me. I was thinking of my friends who had mothers that seemed to constantly be around, interested in what they were doing in school, waving from the side lines at the soccer game. I was too young to grasp that she wasn’t at the soccer game because she was at work so we could have food that week.

And I almost have to laugh through my tears now. Your mother always tells you, “just wait till you have kids, I hope they give it back to you as good as you gave to me”, almost like a curse.

I’m getting it almost exactly as I gave it. And it hurts. Imagining that little baby girl who I held in my arms when she was born, knowing I would never be able to do anything less than give her the world. This is the type of hurt that I can imagine will never go away. The kind you have to get medicated for in order to not have it creep into your brain while you’re falling asleep.

Maybe I should let her go… I just always figured it was the two of us. No matter who came and went, it was us. We had been the original two, living together and creating our own routines and dynamics. Like a modern day Gilmore Girls, we did our own thing and it really didn’t matter what anyone else thought about it. I guess I felt that even if the dynamics changed, she would still have my back, she would still stand beside me, she would know the ways that I had sacrificed and loved her since the moment she was born.

So… maybe I should let her go. This is my current problem. Finding a way to let go of person who has always been my motivation and drive for everything I do. If she feels like she needs to be somewhere else, for her own best interests, how can I argue with that. Lock her up, throw away the key… sure. I’m thinking of it.

But, maybe I just need to let her go.

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If I Didn’t Have Kids

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Every so often, as parents and adults, we will ship our children off to their grandparents (or another responsible party) for the night so we can as romantic partners and adults go to dinner and maybe a movie.

There have been a couple of those nights for us recently.

The first night that both children were away for home, we came home and kicked off our shoes. There was no little bodies to bathe or get into pajamas, the only person I had to worry about getting into pajamas was myself. There were no bed time stories to read or songs to sing, no last minute glasses of water or lunch money to lay out for the next day. I took a shower, got right into bed and watched THREE episodes of Orange Is The New Black in bed with my husband, alone, for the first time in a long time.

We looked at each other and laughed because we had both had the same thought. Is this what it would be like if we didn’t have kids?

Tonight we both had a work event so the kids were spending the night elsewhere, and I walked into my house after a long day of work and craziness expecting to feel a relief that I had no one but myself to worry about. I did not feel that relief.

The house was dark and quiet. There was a plate of chocolate chip muffins on the counter that Nev had made when she got home from school because she knows their my favorite. And I wanted to go up to her room to kiss her forehead and tell her thank you, but she wasn’t there of course.

I did not hear the pounding of little feet running towards me, or feel a little toddler body throw himself into my arms because he could not contain his happiness that I was once again within his reach. No, “I love you mama, I missed you mama”, just myself to worry about.

There was no bedtime stories to read with a curly little head still damp from his bath tucked under my arm. No songs to sing while I cradled a creature who holds more value to me than everything else in this world. No pajamas to put on while he tells me a story about a dragon and a princess with wide, expressive eyes. Those kind of eyes you find only on very young children who haven’t seen the worst the world has to offer yet.

And when I got into bed there were not two mini human beings clamoring to find a space near me just to have one more song, one more story, one more glass of water which really means one more minute together.

THIS is what it would be like if I didn’t have kids. I would only have myself to think about, but thinking about yourself doesn’t take a whole lot of time out of your day.

I have so much more to think about while raising children. Does she have lunch money? Did she do her homework? Is he making friends at school? Do they need new socks/underwear/toothbrushes? My days are filled with an infinite amount of questions swirling through my head that I am responsible for answering and acting on.

And while I’m thinking of them, they are thinking of me.

Nev bakes brownies and muffins when she gets home from school and leaves them for me. Aidan tells me one hundred times a day that he loves me. I am not being neglected, I am not sacrificing myself to care for others. I am very, very well cared for. I am very loved.

A true love story…

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I’m not a gusher…

I’m not someone who would ever say “my kids are my life”. I would never say anything was my sole reason for living. I am a multifaceted human being with many interests and motivations. 

But my kids are pretty awesome.

Nevaeh:

12 year old little ball of sass. This girl is a good foot shorter than every other girl in her class, but what she lacks in height she makes up for in mental capacity. I love her for so many reasons, but more importantly, I relate to her. I can’t regret that I had her when I was young because it strengthens me as a parent to a preteen girl. It wasn’t all that long ago that I was a ball of sass (and angst) and I remember all too well the constant roller coaster of emotions that I was on, and that I put everyone else on. 

She grounds me on a regular basis. More than anyone in my life, she knows how to call me on my bullshit and I can see myself through the eyes of someone who has nothing to gain from my fall from grace. I don’t think anyone could ever know the amount of love I have for her, the kind of love that goes beyond the normal unconditional kind a parent has for their child. For a long time it was just me and her, and I will always credit her for saving my life and giving me something to hold on to in a time when everything else was in flux. No matter how many times in the past twelve years I’ve wanted to drop everything and run without looking back, she kept me steady. 

A couple paragraphs could never do this beautiful human being justice. I am beyond proud of the kind hearted person she has already grown into, and it gives me so much anticipation to find out what she can achieve in her life. There are no boundaries or barriers, no glass ceilings or steel walls that she cannot knock down. And if she can’t, I will. 

 

Aidan:

When I found out I was pregnant again, I really wanted a girl. As you can see, I’ve had good luck with girls. Nev was such an amazing, intelligent baby, I wanted a repeat.

Boys are completely different, and he is completely lovable. No one in my life has ever made me feel more important than I feel when he reaches out to me with his chubby arms. At two and a half he has manipulated me more than any man ever has or ever will. I was always told that the relationship between a mother and her son was something that couldn’t be explained or replaced, and I am here to confirm this. 

I feel a lot of pressure… he is so important to me, and I to him. It’s up to me to teach him what it takes to really be a man. His father can teach him how to pee standing up, how to throw a football, how to tie a tie. I have to teach him how to make a girl feel beyond special (though I’m beginning to suspect he was born with that skill). I want him to know that it’s okay to be different, and to let others be the same. It’s my job to teach him to be gentle and sweet, to have a sense of humor in the face of trouble, how to be happy. He’s got a pretty awesome big sister to help him with that stuff, too.

He loves to snuggle and wrestle, most of the time simultaneously. He is a monster, and I can never remain angry with him for more than 12 seconds. 

He’s got a head of curls that Shirley Temple would have envied. And although he is often mistaken for a little girl, I can’t bring myself to cut it. If God plucked his most beautiful cherub off the harps, that would be Aidan. Every morning when I hear him wake up and I go into his room his face lights up and he says, “I love you, Mama”. I grab his rosy, chubby cheeks and I kiss him right on his lips. These moments are the most precious, these moments I see when I close my eyes.

A true love story. Two flawed, cherished, amazing creatures that are here on this Earth because of me. They share my imperfections, and seeing my own faults in such innocence allows me to go easier on myself.

They depend on me, but I depend on them even more. ImageImage