This post was originally written in May of last year. I am rolling out the cast of characters for you, post by post.
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