Motherhood in all it’s shapes and forms…

by Our Little Pickle on December 23, 2009 · 4 comments

I wasn’t sure how well I was going to “do” motherhood after not having a mother for too much of my life. When I was 8 years old, my mom began to loose her battle with multiple addictions. She eventually left our family for the streets, binge drinking and illicit drug use. She has been in and out of my life since. She has had lucid years and terrible years; she has times where she is doing really well and we think she has won the battle and then THUD she falls hard, worse than the time before and our disappointment follows. I learned young that this was the way it was going to be and that I had two choices: hate her or accept her for who she is. Initially I went the anger route. It was easier than to try to understand where she was coming from.

As a child all I could understand was that she left me and that was worth getting angry about. I would see my friends with their mothers and feel this huge sense of grief and shame about my own mother. I would imagine scenes where she died and I was relieved because I didn’t have to worry about her anymore; I didn’t have to wonder where she was sleeping and if she was hungry. I would imagine scenes where she came back to our family and was “better” and felt terrible for leaving and made it all up to us by being the mother that I always wanted- the mother I remembered somewhere deep in my heart and bones from when I was really little, before she started having troubles.

As I got older and developed a better understanding of what makes a person who they are and the world in general, I began to experience a shift in my feelings towards my mother. My family opened up about things that had happened to my mom when she was younger, my mom shared secrets with me too- I guess being older they/she felt I was ready to handle it. My anger turned to sadness and then hope. I thought well, if she could be healthy and happy at one point in her life why couldn’t she again. I am not sure which was more difficult to carry- the anger or the hope.

With the anger I could tell myself that I hated her and she didn’t matter, with the hope I was vulnerable. Every time she was clean and doing great I would cling like a barnacle to the thought that this time she would stay clean for good. I would begin to get to know her again and she would get to know me again and we would rebuild a relationship. Then, just when I could start to trust her and rely on her she would be gone, leaving me in her dust once more. I came back to her each time she cleaned up, I would open my heart again and again and hope.

After this happened about 8 to 10 times I realized that I had to do something to protect myself because it wasn’t healthy for me to continually be let down and to continually be loosing my mother. I decided to take things one day at a time with her and I tried to not hope so much. I choose to accept her for who she was in the moment. I didn’t trust her and I didn’t rely on her, but we still had open communication and love. I have told myself that this might be it, this might be the best I can expect from her and that if I choose to accept her for who she is one day at a time I can’t complain. It was suggested to me by multiple people (with my best interests at heart) to just cut ties with her completely, but I could never bring myself to do it, especially after she was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and HIV; I didn’t know how much time we were going to have together so I had to take what I could get.

When Everly was born I experienced another shift, one of protectiveness. While I was pregnant my mom was doing really well. She was clean and sober and living with my grandparents. She was involved with my pregnancy and was full of joy and excitement along with the rest of us. I thought that maybe Everly would be the reason for her to continue on the healthy path that she had made for herself. However, history had taught me a few lessons and I was quick to tell my  mom that the minute she used, she was not going to see Everly. I told my mom that Everly was not going to grow up the way I did. Everly would not sit on the front steps waiting for grandma to come visit, only to wait and wait and wait with grandma never arriving. I don’t want Everly to ever wonder why her grandma doesn’t love her enough to show up, or to wonder what she did wrong last time she saw grandma that would make grandma not come back. My mom understood.

In July, when Everly was 2 months old my mom moved out on her own and so began her decline (as usual). It wasn’t long before she was meeting me for coffee and asking to borrow money. She started to look tired and skinny again and was forgetful. I knew what was going on and I stopped making plans with her, she helped to make that easier by not calling me (another tell tale sign that she has begun using again). Then she vanished from my life again. I received reports from my grandparents about what was going on, none of it surprised me. I was eventually told that she was headed for treatment… again- only this time she was headed somewhere different, a program that actually deals with the issue of addiction, not just detoxing (what a novel idea that is!).

On Sunday, Everly and I visited my mom in the treatment facility where she is currently living. I had mixed feelings about bringing Everly and thought maybe I would go by myself at first first. Then I decided that with this being Everly’s first Christmas and my mom missing it because she is trying to get healthy I should bring the baby! My mom nearly passed out when she saw us, she had no idea we were coming, we decided to make it a surprise. We had such a great visit. Everly opened her first Christmas gift ever while she was there and loved the blocks the found inside- great choice mom.

I got a great gift too, seeing my mom lucid and happy. It’s so weird for me when she has all her wits about her. It’s kind of like when you run into an old friend you haven’t seen in a while and their personality is just as it was last time you saw them. On Sunday I saw my real mom, the mom I want to have, not my mom washed in the murky water of substance abuse. I am not holding my breath, and I am resisting hope. I am still taking things one day at a time, but I have to admit that these days look a lot better than days of the past and I hope we have more of them!

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Motherhood In All It’s Shapes And Forms… « Our Little Pickle
December 23, 2009 at 11:02 pm

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

G'ma December 24, 2009 at 8:21 am

I love you Jess. More than you know.

Alison December 24, 2009 at 11:45 am

I understand this post more then I want to… as I experience(d) the very same things with my own father (he has the same lifestyle back East) who I pretty much cut ties with when I was seventeen… He knows I love him and that I wish him well, but that due to his lifestyle its unhealthy for me to have any more contact with him then I do, and because he loves me – he has never been bitter about it. Its almost as though he has resigned himself to it and given over to his sickness.
I visit him about once a year if that and usually at a public spot. Its a hard thing… but since becoming a Mom its been the best thing for me.

Merry Christmas to you and yours – I wish you nothing but best and hope dearly that your mother will have the strength to beat it this time for good. She is so lucky to have you for a daughter.

Our Little Pickle December 24, 2009 at 1:34 pm

Thanks Alison, your comment means a lot to me and as good as it feels to not be alone on this one it is also sad that someone else knows how it feels. Merry Christmas to you and your family also 🙂

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