In the Mother “Hood”

Originally, I started this on Mother’s Day 2021, but didn’t publish it because I was too overcome with sadness. I just recently finished it and published it. Trying to get better at becoming regular with my publishing.

I am at a weird, awkward place as a mother. I survived domestic abuse, but also shielded my kids from as much abuse as I could and am having to help them heal from it also. I love them implicitly and would die for them. However, they’re either already adults or on the cusp.

My Mother’s Day was bittersweet…my Mom, who is fighting cancer, is 350 miles away and still fighting cancer. I called her and talked to her for a bit. She’s been in and out of the hospital. She sounded good, but I could tell she was not feeling good. I would get a call a few days after that we might lose her and my daughter and I rushed to Tennessee from Indiana. She was my rock and my guide to motherhood. I so wished to be as partially good a mother as she is. I’ve always felt like a disappointment as a parental-unit, but I couldn’t lose her!

I was a good Mom. I could’ve been a great Mom, but I had to be a Mom under pressure. I was enduring abuse in all forms from the time my first child was eighteen months old to 2017. That was 22 years and two more children later! I was a Mom earlier than I wanted, but a Mom nonetheless and took that job very seriously.

I made sure my children were always cared for: picked the best daycares I could afford, worked multiple jobs to make sure we had money for food and clothing and toys. We did day trips, a few vacations, and I was always involved in their activities and sports. I was a coach, a scout leader, a room parent. I had to meet and know their friends and parents. I looked like the perfect mother. It was a nightmare keeping that facade up, but I was always truly there for my children. So much so, in fact that I felt guilty that I was using them as my crutch, as my saving grace from abuse. I was trying to shield them for that, but in the unlikely event I had to be away from home or involved with another child, my abuser would eventually abuse them too. I feel like a bad Mom for not knowing and realizing…how could I have not?

At the time, I didn’t want my children to be from a broken home. I thought the abuse just extended to me because I was not the perfect wife. I tried super hard in that realm too, but never was good enough. I know part of the damage to my children was me staying. I didn’t realize that we could’ve divorced and been okay. My children deserved to see a safe and happy mother, then feeling happy and safe themselves. I wish my future self could’ve told me that! I own that, but still feel much guilt and shame because of it.

My fear now is how much did the abuse harm them and their mental health? My oldest is a transgender adult. That in itself is not bad, although I will admit that it has taken me some time to wrap my mind around. It’s difficult for a parent to raised a son, who up until two years ago was male. Now she is going through transition. I accept her for who she is, because I want her to be happy. I secretly wonder if their Dad’s abusive tendencies turned her off to being male — because I am not exactly a girly-girl. I am very proud of her making her own way. My middle child is an adult exhibiting narcissistic traits, which troubles me greatly. She cannot seem to stay in a relationship and has had several “friends with benefits” situations. I fear for her, either STDs or an unplanned pregnancy. However, she has moved out on her own and I have to love her from a distance. My youngest child is on the autism spectrum. Was that due to his Dad’s alcohol and drug addiction, his c-section birth or from growing up in a war zone? Autism and teenage angst is not a good combination, so pray for me!

“Mom-guilt” is real. It’s like walking in town, from the nice suburb, to the seedy part of town; some days you are in the nicer part of town, but once you cross the railroad tracks, LOOK OUT! You might have to dive behind a car on cinderblocks to survive some turmoil, but if you wait it out, it should be okay to go ahead and start walking again, to get to that nice department store you like so much. It really is crazy like that, in the mother “hood.”

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