My Mother and I, and The Ways We See Parenting

Inspired by Mama Kat’s Writer’s Workshop.

2.) Not your mother’s daughter…how do you parent differently than your mother did? Is it a good thing or a bad thing?

When I saw this prompt, an overwhelming sense of dread came over me.  I do not want to write it, I do not want to think about it, and I know I will cry as I write it. But yet it finally must be said.

I credit one of my best friends for saying, “Once you become a mother, your have the right to judge your own, and a lot of issues come up.”

Ain’t that the truth!

Growing up, my mother would say, “We should have named her Joy because that’s what she is to us.”  I was beautiful, talented, smart, and a good kid.  I graduated college with honors and went on to have an eight year career as an on-air radio personality.  I changed careers and became a recruiter for eight years.  I was good at everything I tried.  I became more beautiful. My mother was so proud of me.

And then, I got sick.  Starting from being diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis in 2003, fast forwarding to me now with Lupus and a dozen other things wrong with me, including Mental Illnesses.  Now I am the child who has not worked for over three years, the child who lives under the poverty line waiting for her disability, the child who, if she doesn’t have to go out, spends most of her time on her lap-top in bed. The child with a beautiful little boy of her own who has to stay in day care because she cannot take care of him full-time.

And now, the woman today is a far cry from the child who was her mother’s joy.  I KNOW it, I FEEL it, it just IS.

But she did her job, she parented me well, I am well over the age of 18.  She does not owe me anything, she does not have to take care of me, support me or help me.

Except that, now that I am a mother, I think she still should.  And I know that, God forbid, should anything of this nature happen to my child, I know I WOULD.

Because for me parenting does NOT end when one’s child is 18, and love is NOT based on what one’s child looks like, what they are capable of, or whether or not they can do fun things like go to a museum or travel or walk without a cane or a wheelchair around a pretty town.  It is unconditional and it is forever.

My son is four-and-a-half years old now.  He has Tourette’s Syndrome, OCD, Anxiety and maybe even more.  When I look at him all I see is how beautiful he is, inside and out, how talented he is and how smart he is.  I can’t go into the ocean with him, or the pool, and a dog cannot be near us, but he is still lots of fun. He coughs, his shoulders jerk, he has to walk a certain way around our home, he has to touch things, and he has to move back and forth while we walk, but he still makes me laugh and still fills my heart with joy.

Maybe my son will be one of the lucky ones.  Maybe he will grow out of his Tourette’s and eccentricities.  Or maybe he won’t.  It doesn’t matter, because he will always be my perfect son, and if he needs me I will be there for him, even if he is 50 and I am 86.  He will always be my child, the unborn baby that I fell in love with, the preschooler that I am still in love with.

One of my son’s fears is that when he becomes a “big boy” or a man, that he will have to leave our home.  He gets scared that if he learns to dress himself, that it is one step closer to us pushing him out the door.  One day he asked me if he ever smoked a cigarette, would I make him leave?

He asks if he can always live with my husband and I, over and over again.  And the answer is always, “Yes, honey, yes, you can live with us forever, you never have to leave us.”

Of course I know that one day he will leave me, and most likely will marry and become a father.  One day he might be yelling at me, and running out of my home with my car keys.

But do you have to leave me, baby?  No never.  And can you come back to us?  Yes always.

For I am your mother and you are my son.  My love for you will only grow stronger.  And I will take care of you always, and help you as much as I can.

Because parenting doesn’t end when you turn 18, my angel. Parenting is forever, until I die, and even after that, know that I will still be watching out for you.  Our parent/child bond will always be.  I am willing, for as long as you are, and for as long as you need me.

I will ALWAYS be your mother.

“Grown don’t mean nothing to a mother.  A child is a child.  They get bigger, older, but grown?  What’s that suppose to mean?  In my heart it don’t mean a thing.”  ~Toni Morrison, Beloved, 1987

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About mamasick

Emily Cullen is a pen-name. I suffer from chronic illnesses and diseases which include Bipolar Disorder, Asthma, Diabetes and Fibromyalgia. I had battled Lupus and Rheumatoid Arthritis but there is no longer evidence of me having these diseases and my Rheumatologist has declared them to be "burnt out" of my system. I am separated from my husband, “Grant”. Our son, “Tyler” was born in September of 2006 and suffers from tics and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and is delayed in fine and gross motor skills. In my blog I seek to let sick moms know that they are not the only ones going through this, and to educate people about what can happens when one becomes catastrophically ill. I also strive to break down stereotypes of what a “Welfare Mom” is like. Anything that I have gone through due to being sick, is written on the pages of Mama Sick.
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12 Responses to My Mother and I, and The Ways We See Parenting

  1. Beautiful post. My heart aches for you, but it sounds like you are a wonderful mother, no matter what life throws at you. And your mother would be proud,and your son is so lucky to have you.

  2. Alex says:

    Your son is very lucky to have a mom like you.. we are all blessed in different ways and he is your blessing.

    Great post!

  3. I SO agree! I think as our children get older our relationship changes from being a parent in the same way we are when they are little, to more of a friend as they get older. BUT, if my child, no matter the age, was in need of care, help, whatever.. it would be no burden, but my pleasure to be apart of helping in their life.. it’s part of what I signed up for when I gave birth! I will never be beyond willing to give care!

    You sound like an awesome Mom and the image you have of your Son is beautiful!

  4. My parents were much the same way. They care a lot about looks, and I was always overweight, so that was a big disappointment to them. Now that I’ve lost weight, they treat me better, and that makes me sad.
    They also are very overly concerned with what other people think. I know they are the most proud of my brother because he graduated college and owns a nice home and cars. My sister and I struggle but we both have wonderful families and lives, and we’re happy.

  5. Michelle says:

    Oh that is so sad, and I am so sorry you feel this way about your mom. I get it though… Interestingly, I was just at a conference session talking about the fears many special needs kids have about learning to do things thinking their impacts are for more reaching than they actually are. I have a post coming on it soon – lots and lots of stuff for everyone, in fact!

  6. My dad was always the kind of person you could never be good enough for, and so he ended up with 4 depressed under-achievers. A therapist once told me that most parents do the best they can, the best they know how, and that really helped me to let it go an move on from him, emotionally. I’ll never be good enough for him, but his opinion and approval no longer matter to me. My parents were kind of terrible, from a psychological standpoint, but they did the best they were able, even if heir best was f*cked up. So I can love them and see them at family functions and let go of the bitterness. But the best part is that I can be better. I can learn from their mistakes.

  7. I’m so sorry that your life has taken such a turn. I agree completely that being a mother to your child doesn’t stop at age 18. I can’t imagine ever turning my back on them… no matter what.
    I hope that you can be to your little boy what you wish for from your mother. It sounds like your love for him is deep and unconditional.
    **Visiting from Mama Kats 🙂

  8. Crystal says:

    Beautiful and moving!

    Visiting back from Mama Kats (and Phases of Me).

  9. That is an amazing, thought-provoking post. I am blessed with good health and healthy kids, but I think I would find it hard not to love a kid with problems MORE than the others.

    It would be an opportunity to continue nurturing more than what is usual. If mothering was an important part of my identity, I could “mother” some more.

  10. Mrs4444 says:

    I don’t feel like my mom would have any obligation to help take care of me if I needed help. That said, I would hope that she would want to; I know that my MIL certainly would (take care of me). Similarly, I don’t believe that adult children are obligated to take care of their parents in a certain manner, though I would hope that they would do it out of pure love. Not sure what caused me to feel this way; I realize many people would disagree, but it is what it is.

  11. admin says:

    For Mrs. 4444, I think I know you well enough by now that if your child was suffering with many chronic illnesses, some of which are life threatening, and had an equally sick spouse that you would indeed take care of your him or her. I read your blog enough to know how family-oriented you are, believe me, you sure would:-)

  12. I am sorry your mother treats you this way. I found your blog in doing a search about mental illness stigma. It’s a funny thing I do the writing prompts too but I stopped putting them in the links because I figured no-one wants to read what a weirdo like me has to say. Maybe normal people scare me anyway–ha!
    I have bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder and OCD which manifests as hoarding disorder. So I will never win a good housekeeping award!
    Physically I also have fibromyalgia, and I have sciatica. But that isn’t nearly as much of a challenge as RA.
    I put your blog URL in my feed. I hope you will not mind if I comment sometimes. I always feel like something of a pariah.

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