Storm Of Your Decisions


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Through this transitional phase of my life and a change in a friendship, I have been thinking about what we owe our children. When we make a conscious decision (or even if we don’t) to bring these other human beings into this world (or adopt them), so starts a chain of responsibility on our parts–or so it should.

But where do the boundaries start and where do they end? When do ‘our’ lives take precedent over theirs and when (if ever) can we ‘be selfish’ and do things that maybe in the long run could hurt them emotionally?

These are questions I’ve had to ask myself many times over the years as I made the choice for a divorce and then tried multiple times for a relationship to replace my failed marriage. I justified each and every man who passed through my home to myself saying that it was my time to be happy. Surely I considered my children as best I could, or so I thought, but in the end I’m not sure I did a very good job.

They certainly were hurt by my decisions (and told me eventually as older people) and I ended up not finding anyone anyway. I’ve even looked at the reason for my divorce and wondered about that and considered if that was the right thing for us all in the end anyway.

Each of my children suffered in their own way, and of course, maybe they would have had their own demons regardless. They are all OK now thank goodness. And we can never know how the paths would have been different had I truly put them first instead of my needs.

Where do we draw the line–at what age, at what need, at what emotional tugging? I had very little guidance when it came to these questions. Therapists aren’t my thing sorry to say, and most friends don’t really want to tell you what you need to hear. So you bumble along while the kids get lost in the storm of your decisions.

Looking back, I would do it differently, but we can’t take stuff back. Resentment still hangs in the air with one of my daughters, but we are slowly mending. It could have been much worse with her–we almost lost her altogether. And I would have certainly blamed myself partly for that if we did. But she healed and we are healing.

So when I see others and their children, I want to grab them and say: please, make some sacrifices in the short-term because it’ll be worth it for the long-term! What’s a few years of not getting everything you want in exchange for the trust and love from your kid? Because really, that’s truly the most beautiful gift any person/parent really can have, regardless of what you may think in the moment you are reaching for something else.

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Time Marches On


How many times have you thought time is just whipping by at lightening speed? The years are rushing by and you’re aging before your very eyes. As I look in the mirror now, sometimes I am horror-struck by the person that looks back at me! No longer the young woman I used to see, but rather someone with major wrinkles and salt and pepper hair.

Oh sure, there are moments in time that drag by: when the dentist is drilling a tooth and you were too tough to ask for Novocaine, or you’re new in love and the special person is away for the weekend or you’re running a race with a pebble in your running shoe. Yup, those are time that don’t seem to end, but for the most part, life is rushing forward like a conveyor belt on steroids.

It’s such a terrifying feeling some days. I think: my goodness, all the things I’ve yet to do! And all the dumb things I’ve done and can’t fix. I’m starting to feel all the aches and pains and see the real changes in my body. But when I think things like: I’m almost the age my grandmother was when I thought she was so darn old, that’s when I’m stopped cold.

This is when I have to take a deep breath and think, OK, just how many years might I have left? And how to slow down those years so they don’t feel as fast and furious as the first 60. It might be a magic trick I have to pull off, but in order to not go off the deep end and simply be depressed by it all–this is what I must do.

So I figure, since I’ve tried to maintain a fairly healthy lifestyle…maybe I’ll be lucky and have 20 or 30 more years. Realizing they won’t all be as chipper as the first half of my life, they may still be reasonable and quality years. Hopefully I’ll either have great kids (or grandkids) and not get stuck in a nursing home. Or maybe by then we will have wised up and have done away with them! (Fat chance).

Or maybe we’ll be even smarter and Dr. assisted suicide will be legal by then for those of us that believe no-one should suffer. We all should have the right to end our own lives when we know the time is right. So quality of life goes on until it’s not quality any longer.

I’m hoping that I actually have some time in my later years to relax and chill. To really just do some things that I want to do–or should I say, just not do anything I don’t want to do. Just do less and less, have less and less. Maybe it’s the stress that ages us, the worries we have and the financial burdens. I’m hoping some day to be lifted of some of these black clouds and just be.

But for now, as I see the person in the mirror looking back at me, I’m continually shocked. Where did all the time go? All the things I had hoped and dreamed to do? How did I get to be this old? When I see my daughter now, I see me. That’s who I’m suppose to be! There I am!

That’s what it’s all about I suppose…handing the baton to the next generation. As for us, well, we just end up entwined in their genes and hopefully their hearts and minds.

Healing


Sometimes in my job as a paramedic we have very tragic moments. But sometimes these tragic moments also have attached to them rays of hope and resilience.

As some of you may have read, last week I responded with my crew to a very bad call that ended with the fatality of a driver of a motor vehicle. She was a young mother. Her teenage daughter was also in the car and we transported her with serious injuries.

Today that young girl walked into our fire station–halo attached to her head and all! She was supposed to be in a wheel chair, but she opted out (still being a teenager afterall!). She went to school for the first time today, for part of the day, and was apparently met with a huge reception! I can just imagine.

I, too, saw her with joy filled in my heart and soul. The last time I saw her she looked nothing like the normal (well fairly normal) kid I saw standing before me today. Oh sure, she was minus some hair and had a huge scar on the top of her head, plus a crazy contraption screwed in also, but that wasn’t stopping her at all. Because it was her light and smile that showed me she will be OK.

We talked about the accident a little and about her mother. It amazed me that she could! But I realized just as we on the call need to talk and heal, so does she. Talking about her mom those moments before we got there were important to her. She needed to share those minutes with us. And I needed to hear them. It’s part of the healing process for us all. I believe she needed to know about what happened in the ambulance to help piece together the blank moments she doesn’t recall.

This dark time in her life will be heavy in her heart always, but shedding some light on it can only help her to move forward. And sharing it with the people who were caring for her during the time of the crisis is critical to healing. At least in the early part of the healing process. We as providers ease our pain also, instead of letting it build up, when a patient like this comes back to us after the call.

The whole town in which the family lives has poured their love onto this family. Gifts, money, offers of baby-sitting. I said to this young girl that now she has taken the role of mother in her family with her two younger siblings. She said she already has done just that. She told me she was very close to her mother, so I know this job will be one in which she will excel. She is now channeling her mom.

We can’t change what happened. But I know any mother out there, if fate had it that one was to die, would want their child to live. And live she does: with strength, happiness, resilience, love, memories and faith. We could all take a lesson.

Do You Know Me?


Yesterday my youngest daughter, now almost 20 came over to visit me. She has recently started college close by. Her boyfriend came over a bit after she did. It was an interesting and informative visit–as are many visits with young adults. This time she had some homework to do and parts of papers she had written that she wanted me to read. The contents of these papers are the subject of my blog tonight, as well as some behaviors exhibited by these two.

Apparently she had to write a bio explaining her growing up, her future desires etc. I was pretty shocked when she read to me her first line that stated that she was a product of a divorce! The fact that this was important enough to have started her bio was amazing to me. I would never have guessed that she considered this a defining factor in her life. Knowing her, there are so many other fabulous things to say about her (which she did go on to say), but this just hit me right in the face.

I too grew up from divorced parents, but don’t feel like it defines me. Or at least, it wouldn’t be the first thing I would say about myself anyway. But I suppose, we are each different and entitled to our self assessment.

It went on to compare the attributes she gained from her father and from me: Dad was self-discipline and responsibility and I gave her a free spirit and spontaneity. Here I was surprised how someone could know me for so long and be so wrong! Or maybe her definitions are just misplaced.

I am actually not spontaneous at all! I’m incredibly OCD and need a routine. It makes me crazy to just do something that isn’t planned honestly. I’m extremely self-disciplined having been a vegetarian for 36 years and an avid athlete for that long too. When I say I’m going to do something, I do it! I’m responsible to a fault also. I’m not saying her Dad isn’t, but he has been the one to be much more a slacker about things interestingly. As for being a free-spirit, well I suppose I march to a different drummer. I’m more a non-conformist I would say.

The point is, I’m not sure if my daughter was using poetic license or if she just has me pegged all wrong? Is that possible? I often think my kids have no idea who I really am deep down even though they are now young adults. We sadly don’t spend much time together, I often feel like they don’t want to bother to know who I really am either.

And the other thing I observed is that this American generation seems so whiny. I made a simple comment about what the two of them were eating–yes it was slightly sarcastic, and bam, they were up and leaving because I hurt their feelings. Sheesh! Of course, when they made fun of all the ‘raw vegetables’ in my fridge that they didn’t want to eat when I offered to make them dinner, they make no connection to that being commentary also.

Adults now are supposed to constantly praise and can never speak any kind of negative truth for fear someone’s boo-boo feelings will be hurt. But one’s kids can continually say rude things, only call when they need something, never come around or be sullen when they are around and those behaviors are supposed to be accepted without comment!

Well, I’ve decided my time of being OK with this sort of stuff has come to an end! My ‘free-spirit’ nature has taken flight and my sense of responsibility tells me they need be taught that everyone has feelings, not just them. It  may mean a few difficult words or some days of silence, but hopefully in the long run, something sinks in.

My Mom always said by the time they’re 30 or so they will figure it out! Oh goodness….I’ll be in the nursing home by then! With any luck, they’ll figure it out sooner!

Letter To My Daughters


Hi Girls,
So I was walking the dogs today and I had a feeling of contentment wash over me. It was a feeling that I hadn’t felt in many, many years. The last time I had felt that was years ago in Tully. I was pregnant with Brenna. I was sitting on a lawn chair outside, Hannah and Melissa were playing outside while Dad was working on the house. I remember thinking: life doesn’t get any better than this…and this amazing sense of peace washed over me. Well, today I felt it again….so very many years later.
But the difference I realized today was, that the sense of peace I feel today vs. then was that it comes from within. Back in those days, it was all of you that gave me my joy! You were all so amazingly wonderful creatures. Sweet, innocent and loving. I loved being around you guys all the time (well most the time!). Those were great times in my life.
Of course now is very different and two of you are barely speaking to me, and one of you is so busy, we hardly get a chance to talk. Times have changed. And now David and I are entangled in a pretty strange situation where we just can’t seem to communicate with each other any longer. It’s all pretty sad.
And yet, I’m OK. Even though all this is going on around me, life still feels really good to me. Of course I surely wish some things were different, but I no longer long for things that I now know I can’t have. I used to cry myself to sleep feeling bad about the past and wishing today could somehow be a new picture, but little by little, I’ve let go. It’s been a hard battle to fight and maybe I’ve lost some things along the way, but in the end I have myself.
You all have your lives to live and I’ve wanted nothing more for you to live them well. I’ve done the best I could to set you on your paths. You will take what you need from what I have shown you and leave the rest behind. Some things your father did better, some things I did better. Maybe some things we both did badly. And when you all are parents some day you might see what a crazy hard job it is! It’s not always fun, often thankless and hopefully someday with a great pay-day.
So whatever you may think about me now,just realize: there is more about me than you may know. At almost 57 years old, you guys really can’t begin to imagine what my life has been, what goes on in my mind, what I feel in my heart, what hurts me, what moves me or what I really want for my life. You can only guess. I know who I was at 20 and I was only beginning.
Remember this too: at any moment someone can be gone. From a car accident, heart attack, stroke….whatever. Don’t ever live with a regret that you didn’t spend more time, talk more or whatever with someone you cared about. Don’t let stubbornness or anger or busyness get in the way. You may wish you hadn’t….
I love you all
Mom

Unfinished Resentment


A couple of pretty sad things happened to me over the weekend and I’m not sure quite how to absorb them. They are related I suppose, so maybe it’s really only one thing. I was speaking with my ex-husband about our middle daughter taking an LNA class and the possibility of him helping her pay for it. He has been more than generous contributing to our other two kids and their schools, ventures, life etc. It’s a long story but suffice to say before I knew it the conversation became about how he felt I haven’t been a good mother.

While I was unprepared for this statement during this particular conversation, I had known deep down he had felt this way for some time. While he masquerades with proper manners most times and a controlled temper, underneath I know has been an unfinished resentment and unforgiving heart. Sometimes words are said that make it known how he truly feels and his anger bubbles to the top.

It’s been over a decade since our divorce, and even though I wanted it, it seems to me plenty of time for us both to have moved on. He has since remarried (I have not), has a lovely huge home (I do not), a job where he makes large amounts of money (I do not), a partner that is extremely devoted to him (I do not) and pretty much everything going his way (often I do not). I have never once resented anything he has, and in fact, been happy that he is happy. Or at least thought he was so.

But the huge, burning disdain for me and my ability to care for our children, made it clear to me that either he isn’t happy with his life now or he is simply someone who can just never move on and live in the present. I personally cannot live being that way. Letting something like this eat you up inside. It’s self destructive.

I’ve never claimed to be mother of the year–and I’ve apologized for the mistakes I’ve made to him and for hurting him. But he never accepted it. What more could I do? I was not happy and we weren’t right for each other. I see that more than ever now! We have two very different hearts. But what really saddens me is that my oldest daughter seems to be rather like him and feel the same way about me as he does.

Whether she has come to this conclusion on her own or was influenced by what he feels, I do not know. But words that were said to me yesterday were some of the most hurtful words that I have heard in my lifetime. It’s hard to believe that one we raise from a tiny baby could utter things so cruel and not understand how deeply they cut.

But apparently they both feel the need to place blame and I am the focal point. I have thought about it all day. It makes one feel very lonely indeed. A family is a place where one is supposed to feel safe, accepted for who we are, where we can make mistakes and not have them thrown in our faces for the rest of our lives. And when these things don’t happen we feel shame, depression, isolation and even self-loathing at times.

Luckily I have two other daughters that are mostly OK with me. They know I’m not perfect and that maybe we don’t have the greatest relationship in the world. But they accept I did and am doing the best I can. And I have friends that are helping me through this too. They are giving me perspective. And luckily I’m pretty strong and in a time in my life where I am feeling OK about who I am. I understand that our past shapes who we are and how we may handle our lives.

Maybe my mothering style was poor. Maybe I made a lousy wife. I own both those things. But they are both mostly in the past. My kids are young adults now. They don’t need as much mothering. And I wasn’t such a bad mother as I know are out there. I had my faults like any, but I wasn’t nearly as crazy as my daughter made me sound! And as for my ex, well, they both have selective remembering. It is very interesting what I recall about the past and the things he did ‘wrong’ while we were divorced. Or what he is still continuing to do wrong now! But we pick our battles. And I look at the overall. I would never say he is a bad father because he is not. Is he perfect? No. But who is? The kids love him and he’s there for them. And I would never turn them against him.

I have no idea how I will get those words out of my head: I am bad mother. It haunts me because I have always felt like I could have done better. It was my Achilles heel and he shot an arrow right into it. And then my daughter put salt into it. I will keep trying to breathe, stay calm and do the best I can. For now I can avoid speaking with my ex. And hope one day my daughter has children of her own so she may understand what I am feeling after all this. Should that day ever come, I pray they only say kind words to her.

 

 

National Adoption Month: Post 6–The Invisible Mother


Being adopted I could imagine anyone as my birth mother. I’ve always had an obsession with Marilyn Monroe and her story, partly because she was from such a torn background herself. It was easy to picture her as my mother, even though the math didn’t work out right.  But it was fun to dream and I often felt like my oldest daughter even looked like her. Recently I read that she even had a baby that was given away and I quickly started doing calculations in my head wondering if maybe she was really my grandmother….

These are the sorts of things adoptees do. They are always trying to tie back to the invisible one. The one that links to their genes, their looks, their mannerisms, their issues. One can have a most wonderful upbringing, but these questions still run through our veins no matter what, no matter how much love is wrapped around us. The two stand alone and are mutually exclusive.  This is something people don’t seem to understand.

And it’s odd that I never much thought of my birth father. I’m not sure why. He never seemed to play a big role in my psyche. When I did searches (which I did) it was always for her. I have paid lots of money and have come up fairly empty. I did find a birth name, but it didn’t tie me back to much given the story my adopted mother gave me. Back in the days I was adopted, records were slammed shut. And there is no opening them unless birth parents want them opened. Which, apparently, mine do not.

So all is left to my imagination. And a vivid one I have…do I get that from her? Through the years I have come to a huge place of acceptance. I have even come to a place of gratitude. I’ve accepted her decision that she did what she had to do in a time where single women could not raise a baby well. And she was in a ‘career’ shall we say and needed out. I just hope the story I was told is true and that she did what she planned to do.

My gratitude is vast. Mostly for doing the hardest thing a mother had to do and that is to let go. It couldn’t have been easy to walk away. I was eighteen months old. She had been my mother for eighteen months! The day I got my birth name from a private detective it was quite a moment to realize I had a different identity for the first part of my life. But one day, one moment she said some words (what were they?), maybe hugged/kissed me and then….turned around for the last time and walked away. I was too young to know she would never come back. That never coming back has left a deep and lasting impression on me and has affected me throughout my life.

I also am grateful for all the things she gave me just by being my birth mother: the genes I inherited and have passed to my two wonderful daughters. We are all wonderful dancers and have a great sense of rhythm and love of music. Was this from her? I say this not egotistically, but humbly, we are attractive and men like us…that’s from her and in our genes for sure given the nature of the business she was in. Sadly it may have been her demise, but hopefully she got out in time to carve out a decent life for herself. I’m sure there are other of our positive traits too that come from her.

But, of course, the leaving left a hole that has never quite been filled. And I imagine never will be. As an adult I’ve come to accept this part of me. I carry it around and wear it like I do my blue eyes. It doesn’t hurt anymore, it’s just there. It doesn’t hinder me these days, it’s just part of who I am. It’s because I know now we all just do what’s best at the time. And sometimes that doing may hurt other people. I know this because I have done it. I have seen my children hurt by decisions of mine. This comes only with age and living.

So I forgive my invisible mother. She did the best she could at the time. I wished when I was young that I could meet her someday. But I’ve come to grips now that I never will. She would be 77 years old now. I know this from the non-identifying information I got from New York state. Do I have siblings? Ah, that would be so cool. Maybe I can go on Oprah and find out! Every adoptee loves those stories of long-lost siblings finding each other. But some of us aren’t so lucky and we just go through life by ourselves never finding birth family members.

I’ve learned then to just love myself for who I am. And be grateful for the family that I had and thankful to a birth mother that had the courage to walk away because she thought it was best. She’s out there somewhere maybe and every birthday of mine I think of her and wonder if she’s thinking of me.