I have two moms, well I kinda have three. One who gave me life and one who gave me a life and a sister who was thrown into the role of caring for me like a mom when my mom wasn’t able to (which was a lot of the time) and she did a wonderful job. In others words I am an adopted child. I am blessed, to have a relationship with all of these beautiful, strong women who have helped me become the person I am at this moment.
This subject makes me tear up when I think of these 3 women and how grateful I am to have had their influences in my life. Although I don’t see my birth mom or my sister often and our relationship is sometimes close and sometimes distant, I know they are there and I feel their love and support.
I am not grateful I was placed for adoption, but I am thankful a family loved me enough to adopt me…
This post is a time to chat about my adoptive mom and what is going on with us…
My relationship with her had many ups and downs. She worked a lot during my childhood. If she wasn’t working, my memories are visiting her in the hospital after she had yet another surgery, or the doctor coming to our house (they did house-calls back then) to give her another shot for one of her many migraines. Nothing ever seemed to be happy and pleasant for mom. My dad was ill a lot also. It was almost like a competition, who could be the sickest or have the most surgeries.
I spent a lot of time alone as my parents were pretty stressed out trying to make ends meet during all this illness. Sometimes I did hang out with my dad while he worked his TV repair business when he was healthy, or with my older sister and her new family, those are happy memories and I cherish them.
My dad finally died of heart failure the Christmas I was 15. Literally Christmas. He was hospitalized with a heart attack on Christmas eve and died on boxing day. I hate Christmas.
I actually hated a lot and had so much anger. I was a difficult teenager before he died and became a horrible one after he died.
I needed my mother so much but now she was an single parent, she was older and was trying to rebuild her life and didn’t have time, energy or the understanding to be the woman I needed her to be. And I didn’t have the desire to stop being a selfish asshole to care about her needs. It was a rocky, rocky, rocky relationship.
Until I quit drinking, I had a lot of negative emotions about her, taking up space in my mind and soul. Once I stopped numbing all those emotions and memories and let them come up, I could view her and our relationship in a different light.
Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” —Maya Angelou.
After letting go of the heartbreaking feelings I had been carrying around with me for, well all my life, I started to see things differently. This realization didn’t just happen overnight but I learned that even though she couldn’t be who I needed her to be most of my life, she had done the best she knew how to do. She loved me and cared for me to the best of her ability and isn’t that what we all try to do.
My mom is “set in her ways”, meaning all her life she has been sick and negative, and that will never change. Seriously, if I pop by unannounced for a visit, she automatically assumes that someone has died and I was coming to tell her. I can watch the anxiety rise when I walk in her home and relief wash over her when I assure her everyone is fine….
To spend a few hours with her can be draining as she points out everything that is “wrong”, that negative spin on any possible situation. How did I live with this negativity during my informative/learning years and still be the positive person I am? There is an argument for genetics vs. environment…
I held a lot of anger in my heart towards her most of my life. Perhaps because I felt I was robbed of a happy, carefree childhood because of my upbringing I had to fight harder to stay happy. Maybe it is because when I left my childhood I left it with a degree of trauma, inadequacy and worthlessness. Or is it because I had no one to protect me from the monsters that were in my closet, when I needed that protection the most. I could go on and on placing blame and being the victim, but I am not being a victim anymore and I don’t want to do my mother a disservice by talking her down because as I stated she did the best she could.
One of the hardest things you will ever have to do, is to grieve the loss of a person who is still alive…
Sadly, at about the same time I could look at her through different eyes and feel love and empathy for her. When I could finally understand what she was going through and felt ready to build a mother-daughter relationship, she has been diagnosed with dementia and I now, along with my sister, have started to take on the parent role and she has become the child. But thinking about it, I believe mom has, to some extent always been in the child role, wanting be taken care of. Perhaps this was something she was missing in her childhood?
Isn’t it funny how life throws those curve balls at you? Just when you think you’ve got it together and your going in one direction, the universe says “nope, you have this lesson to learn now” Damn. So I am new to this world of dementia. I know people who have gone through it and it’s fucking sad.
I know the day is coming when she won’t know me and that is a hurtful, scary knowledge to have…
When I was told about her diagnoses, it was days before I was going on stage for my first bikini fitness competition and I was in the middle of keeping my emotions calm and chill. Ugh. So I had a big cry. I cried and I processed this while walking my dogs in the woods. (that is where I process a lot of stuff) I cried because I would not get to have the relationship I was working towards with her. I cried for selfish reasons and then I cried because I realized I was going to lose her so many times, in so many ways over the next several years. She will never be the person I needed her to be.
She will never again be capable of taking her medications properly without having them sorted into days and times and my phone calls 3 times a day to remind her. She will never be capable of paying her cable bill, using her debit card at the grocery store or even finding her way around the grocery store without someone by her side. She can’t quite remember that I work from 4-8. At least 3 times a week I receive a phone call that starts with “oh damn, I forgot what I wanted to ask you” or maybe this is call was just an excuse to hear my voice, one will never know.
However, she does remember the strangest things. She remembers my first daughter’s (who is 28) outfit she wore on her third birthday. She remembers 26 1/2 years ago when my son’s toe was caught cross way in his shoe making him cry for 2 hours until we figured it out. It’s fascinating, the mind and how it works. What memories we can reach and what is blocked.
I now have come to accept the switch of our relationship roles and I can move forward with this. Now that I am clean and sober, I have empathy and patience for her. I can be the woman she needs me to to be now. I can sit there and hold her hand because she knows something is going on with her mind and sometimes she is scared to death. I can let her cry on my shoulder and get her emotions out. I can make the time to spend with this woman who is slowly slipping through my fingers and finally after all these years I am enjoying my time with her (most of it, sometimes she is hard on my head lol) and I am learning the lessons she has to offer me.
I don’t expect this to be an easy, delightful journey. I don’t know what her personality will be like in 6 weeks, 6 months or in 6 years, I do plan to journal this journey here with you and have these pages to always look back on and remember the frustrations, the trauma and drama, the laughter, the shit my mom says that makes me giggle or cry.
In just writing and sharing this, helps me to get through this and rise up when needed. Perhaps someone else is going through this or has gone through this and we can support each other. Together people can get through anything. That is my goal in this chapter of my life…