Mamma Mia

I was 13 and totally rockin' the mullet!

I was 14 and totally rockin’ the mullet!

That’s my mom and I. I was 14 years old. It was about a year after my dad died. We were still having lots of struggles in our relationship. When Dad was alive he was the calming influence between us. I’ve mentioned before that I was totally a daddy’s girl. When he died there was no longer anyone there to calm things down between us. We had lots and lots of struggles. I’m sorry Mom! I get it now!

I am the youngest of 5. My oldest sister has kids older than me. The next to the youngest was 12 when I was born. I was basically like a second family for my parents and when I was younger it was almost like being an only child. Well, until my sister and my niece moved in with us. My niece is 6 months (and 4 days!) older than me and we fought like sisters. We lived in a 2 story house and she and I shared a bedroom upstairs. We were always falling down the stairs. One particular morning we were both coming down for breakfast and each had a glass of water in hand. She went first and fell and didn’t spill a drop. I wasn’t so lucky. By the time I hit the bottom my glass was empty and I was soaked. One year I got a Slinky for Christmas. We were trying to get it to work like the commercials said it did when Mom/Grandma decided to come show us. Mom became a human Slinky. 😦 Of course at the time we thought it was super funny because we did it all the time. Now that I’m about the age she was when that happened, I’m so very sorry we laughed. I’ve fallen down a couple of stairs recently and it’s not funny anymore.

Shortly before we moved from my little hometown to the county where I currently live, Mom had surgery. It was a huge change for all of us and Mom couldn’t do much at all. When we got here she was stuck in bed for weeks. Not the easiest way to start our new life but she did what she had to do and we all survived. When my dad died we were all thrown into grief, heartache and chaos. I can’t imagine how difficult things were for her. She showed amazing amounts of strength and kept our family together during the most difficult time of our lives.

During my teenage years we had daily struggles. Now that I have teenagers myself, I don’t think I can ever apologize enough to my amazing mother. I love you mom! I moved out when I was 19 and now that I have a 19-year-old myself, I understand how scared my mom must have been for me. But she always let me know that she loved me and was there for me even if she didn’t agree with my choices. I learned a lot from her.

Now that Mom is older and her health is failing, I realize how grateful I am to still have her in my life. We may not always agree on things but I know that she loves me unconditionally and I am so glad God chose her to be my mom.

I love you Mom and I hope your day is amazing!

Mom and I 2013

Mom and I 2013

But you’re so strong!

Recently someone told me that they thought I am a very strong person. Not the “I can lift a car” kind of strong either. That made me think. Am I really strong? Honestly, I don’t think so. I just do what has to be done. I don’t have a lot of time to sit and cry about things and wait for someone to come rescue me. You see, I’ve been a single mother for 19 years. I know that might night make sense to you given that I have 2 children and the oldest one is the 19 yr old.

Lets see if I can help make some sense of that statement.

When Beauty was born, her father and I had been together for about 2 years. When she was about 3 months old, he left. His loss. He lost out on the most amazing thing I have ever experienced. When Beauty was 5 I met someone and ended up getting pregnant. We weren’t “together” when I was pregnant but after she was born I decided to give it a chance with him. It lasted less than 6 months. To be fair, that wasn’t all his fault. I just didn’t love him the way I thought I should love the person I was planning to spend the rest of my life with. So I broke off the relationship and took my own path. I knew it would be hard but I had to do what I believed was the right thing for myself and my children.

So that’s the cliff notes version. Hope it helps.

Was it my strength that made that decision? I don’t think so. I just knew that I couldn’t live the rest of my life feeling the way that I did. MiniMe’s father now has a baby with another woman and I’m happy for them. I wish them all the best and we love that baby because she is part of our family too.

My amazing brothers have tried to be positive male role models for my girls. For this, I can never thank them enough. When the girls were little they would make “Uncle’s Day” cards for my oldest brother because for all intents and purposes, he was the main father figure in their lives. I don’t know what I would do without my family. They may not agree with all of my choices but they still give me love and support no matter what.

When I was 12, my dad died. I’ve posted about that before. I survived because I didn’t have a choice. I just did what came next. I could have chosen to spend the rest of my life making a long string of dangerous choices and using that as an excuse. I chose not to. I may not be proud of all of the things I’ve done but I like to think that my dad would be proud of who I am today. Does that make me strong? Maybe. Or maybe I just did what came next.

Six years ago I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. I had no idea what was going on with my body. I could hardly move most days and was in so much pain that I would just lay in my bed and cry. I started doing some research online and reading stories of other people who had RA and ended up in the worst depression of my life. Seriously, 90% of the stories I read were about how debilitating this disease was and long lists of things these people couldn’t do anymore! I ended up quitting my job and spent weeks crying over my sad life and the supposed death sentence I had just been handed. But I had one person in my corner rooting for me. Some of you will know who he is but Mister J probably saved my life. I know for certain he saved my sanity! Mister J is someone I’ve known more than half my life. We went to high school together. He’s a great friend, an amazing dad to his 2 girls and a great man. He pretty much told me that I needed to stop crying, get out of bed, go to the doctor, and do what comes next. And stop reading those people’s stories! He was right! I went back to the doctor and insisted on more bloodwork and a referral to a specialist. I got them. Six years later, I still have pain but through some amazing people who I will never meet in person, I am functioning and living my life! Since that time I have graduated from college and landed an amazing job! Does that make me strong? Again, I don’t think so. I had a great friend in my corner who helped me more than he will ever know. I just did what came next.

I could spend my days wallowing in self-pity for all the things I don’t have but where would that get me?

I chose to live each day as best I can and just do what comes next.

Reflection

I haven’t posted anything for a few days because I’ve been leading up to this one.

On this day 27 years ago, my life irrevocably changed. I was a child and I watched my dad die.

That’s not something any child should ever have to experience. Death of a parent is hard any time it happens, whether it is natural causes, accidental or illness. Going to bed, falling asleep thinking about tomorrow but getting woke up in the middle of the night because there’s something really bad happening… sucks. When you’re a child, you think your parents are going to live forever. When something happens and you lose one of them, it changes everything you ever thought you knew about life.

I wonder how different things would have been for all of us if he had lived. There are 15 of his grandkids and great-grandkids that he never got to know. Home much would my life be different if he hadn’t died that night? Would I have made the choice to start a relationship with an older man simply because I was lacking that love in my life? I have to believe that I would still have ended up there because if I hadn’t, I wouldn’t have my children who mean everything to me. Would he be disappointed in some of the major life decisions I’ve made or would he be proud of the woman I’ve become? Would he look at my oldest daughter and see how much like him she is? Would he see the similarities between my youngest daughter and myself?

Things would be very different in my brother’s life. The reason he met his wife is because my mom belonged to a support group and met a man. We had a BBQ and met his 2 daughters. One of them ended up becoming my sister-in-law. If my brother had not met her, he would not have the 2 children he does.

My mom would not have met and married the man who became my step-dad. He is a good man and he loves my mom. Both he and my mom are aging and have some of the health problems that come with that. How much different would our lives be if he had not come into her life?

Would I have gone on to have the singing career I dreamed about? My dad is the one who gave me my love of music and the joy of singing. I remember every time we got in the car for long drives my dad and I would sing. My mom wold just listen because she couldn’t carry a tune but my dad just had an amazing voice that I loved to sing with. He taught me lots of songs, including the one that got me 1st place in a talent show! Would he have encouraged me and pushed me in a ways that no one else did?

This morning one of my daughters friends gave birth to a baby girl. As I mourn the loss of what could have been, I rejoice in the new life that begins today.