Welcome, Mamma Crew, to another chaotic, exciting, but always beautiful day of an older mom like you!
Today let’s begin this podcast by thanking our sponsor, Syrtenty. Their reusable replacement electro patches help you live pain-free. Check them out at Syrtenty.com. If you use the code OMB15OFF, you will get an additional 15% off your purchase. Okay, let’s dig in!
I know I keep saying that this month is all about moms. But again and again, I hope you had a wonderful mother’s day, and your family has continued to celebrate your contributions this month!
As you’ve heard in one of this month’s episodes, my father was in a mining accident when he was fifteen years old. Consequently, he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder. At that time, no one understood what the problem was at all. To be honest with you, they thought that he should be celebrating he was alive. The reality was that the situation got worse over time. He started self-medicating. By the time he was in his early twenties, he was already an alcoholic. And, of course, over time, the situation became worse.
I’m not sure why my mother married him, other than to tell you that theirs was a true love story. She was actually engaged to be married to another man. She had her date. She had her wedding gown. And her boyfriend had actually gotten a permit to come work in the United States to make enough money to build her a home. Around this time, she met my father—tall, dark, and handsome with hair so black that it was bluish in the light. She fell in love with him. She wrote her boyfriend a dear John letter, broke up with him. Her family was against my father. It was obvious early on that my father had a drinking problem, but she was in love. They struggle to conceive me. At that time, when women gave birth approximately nine months after getting married, it took my mother two years to conceive me.
And then, around the time I was four, she decided that perhaps she had made a mistake and should leave my father. He had become increasingly verbally abusive. But just as she was getting ready to leave him, she found out that she was pregnant. While she thought she could handle one kid on her own, she didn’t believe she could handle two, so she decided to stay. By the time I was six, my father was spanking my sister almost every day. Every day! Now that I think about it, she probably had ADHD. She’s a very hyper kid. Soon after, he switched from my sister to me.
By the teenage years, my father had this incredible love-hate relationship with me. He was proud of how intelligent I was, how determined I was. But he hated me for the very same reasons. He could go from being this wonderful father that would hug me and kiss me, quote poetry, and discuss literature with me to a violent man. He could come in at three in the morning, pick me up while I was sleeping, and throw me against the wall. I never knew what to expect from my father. Never.
But one thing was clear when it came to my father. I loved him. My father loved me. And maybe he couldn’t love me in a healthy way, but at least I knew he loved me. I adored my father when I was a kid. I adored my father when I was a teenager. I love my father now. And I have to be honest with you and tell you I have never had a problem understanding why my father was abusive. I don’t excuse it, but I understand it. And that allowed me to forgive him. I made peace with my father a long time ago. It doesn’t mean that my father doesn’t fight with me. It just means internally, I’ve made peace with my father. I love my father. But I did have to ask myself for a long time, “Why is it that with all the abuse I suffered at the hands of my father, I could love him and forgive him? But I could not forgive my mother.”
I could not forgive my mother. All I could see for decades, and I mean decades, was that my mother failed us. Her mothering ability was spotty at best. She never protected us from my dad. Never. She tried to force me to live her dreams.
One of the biggest fights I had was dating this guy that my mother really loved, and I broke up with him. Here I was in my mid-twenties, and I was like, there’s just something off here. I can’t do this. This is moving too fast. There’s just something not right. And my mother was livid! She was telling me I was so stupid, I was worthless, what was wrong with me. I’ve always struggled to trust my instincts because my mother always told me I was wrong. And by the way, I was not wrong about this guy. I was not wrong about this guy! He regularly beat his future wife. He would physically harm her.
My mother also thought I was stupid to go to college. And she would say these things to me. Here I was struggling to work full time to help her support my two sisters because she had gotten a divorce. And I was going to school at night. And the whole time she was telling me I was stupid! And then, one day, I found out that she was saving money to help one of my sisters pay for her tuition, and I had to ask, “Mom, why are you going to help her, but you wouldn’t help me?”
And she said, “Well. I’m going, to be honest with you. She’s far more intelligent than you are.”
My sister is twenty points higher on the I.Q scale than I am, even though we are both in the gifted range. But we’re different people. I did go to college. I did graduate. She did not. That was not something she desired.
My mother also hated the way I looked. As I sit here today, talking to you, I know that wherever she is, she’s criticizing my hair. She always hated it when I put my hair up.
When I was pregnant with the twins, she walked in through the door the day I hit twenty-eight weeks of pregnancy. She told me, “I got to put on some black clothes because I’m going to a friend’s daughter’s kid’s funeral.”
I’m looking at her, going, “What?”
She says, “Oh, yes. She lost her babies at twenty-eight weeks, and she’s losing her mind, and I need to go spend some time with her.”
I’m thinking to myself. I’ve been in the hospital. I’ve almost lost these babies. I don’t know the countless number of times. My husband rushed me to the hospital at least six times. I had to have a cerclage. If you don’t know what that is, don’t bother to look it up. It’s horrible! I mean, this was the pregnancy from hell, and my mother comes, and she tells me that she’s going to this thing. She could have done it without telling me. When I got upset because I was on all kinds of medication, hormones, all of these things to try to help me retain this pregnancy, she says, “You’re being an idiot—this has nothing to do with you. You’re such a selfish ass, and you need to understand what I’m going through helping my friend and her daughter.”
That was my mother for you. After giving birth, my aunt came for a visit and was shocked when she saw me. When I got pregnant, I had been on this horrible thing for endometriosis called Lupron, and I have blown up from 135 pounds to 170. So, when I was pregnant, I was 170. After I gave birth, with twins, mind you, I was 115 pounds. I was a walking stick. I had been on bed rest for almost twenty-one weeks of my thirty-two-week pregnancy. I had no muscle tone. My husband was working nights. So, I had the babies during the day, during the night, and I was finishing my Ph.D. program. My aunt sees me and says to my mom, “You need to give her a hand.”
My mother’s idea of giving me a hand was coming into my bedroom and saying to me, “What is wrong with you? You need to eat more. You need to rest more. What am I supposed to do with your kids if you die?”
I was like, “Mom, if I die, my husband gets the kids.”
“No. He doesn’t. They’re mine. You need to take better care of yourself, so you can take care of the kids.”
And I said, “Mom. I love my kids. I’m doing the best that I can given the situation.”
Her response was, “I love those children more than you ever will. You need to get your shit together.”
I have to be honest with you. I loved my mother. I loved her. My mothering definition aside, our problems aside, how could I not love her? She was so beautiful. So beautiful. She was this Hispanic woman who was 5’8 incredibly tall when the average woman was 4’8. She was whiter than white, just alabaster gorgeous skin. She never had an acne problem in her life. She had the most beautiful body type, the most perfect posture. Like most children, I wanted to be her, and I looked nothing like her. And she was so freaking vain, oh my God, she knew how beautiful she was. You know, even when she had dementia, the worst of the worst, she remembered she was beautiful.
We could have a lot of fun together. When I was still single, we went on this cross southwest trip. We went to California, and Texas, and Colorado, and Utah. We had a blast! We had this amazing trip to San Francisco once, actually not once, several times because we enjoyed ourselves so much! We both love shopping and movies. And a shout out to Keanu Reeves because let me tell you when he came out with this movie called A Walk in the Clouds, my mother and I watched it in the movie theaters twenty-three times! It was both of our favorite movies of all time. Twenty-three times, that’s before we bought the cassette because this was back when they had the VCR things. And yes, mom, now that it was available on Vudu, I got it there too. Love the movie. We had great times together.
And let me tell you, my mother was the most stubborn human being I’ve ever met! Stubborn! If she got an idea in her head, she would pound on it until things went her way. I inherited that stubbornness from her. And boy, let me tell you, it has served me well in life. When I couldn’t get pregnant, when I was losing my babies constantly, when I had newborn twins, I was finishing the Ph.D. program, finding a job, and moving cross country. I mean, her stubbornness has helped me do amazing things. Thank you for that, mom!
The other thing was my mother was decisive. She decided she’s going to do something; this lady was going to do it. She hated that trait in me, but I got it from her. I got it from her. Every single thing that my parents accomplished in their 23rd years of marriage was because of her. They bought their first home because she insisted on it. They sold that home because she wanted to be a legal citizen of the United States. She sold that house for forty-two thousand dollars, all of which she sunk in going through the legalization process for herself, my dad, me, and my other sister. My youngest sibling was born in the United States.
And boy, let me tell you, that woman pushed and pushed and pushed and pushed and worked so hard to become a citizen. She had to learn English. English was so hard for her. She had come to the United States late in life, and it was really hard for her to learn that language, but she had to learn it to become a US citizen, and she did it! She learned enough English to become a US citizen. That was one of the proudest days in her life. The other home we had in the United States? We got it because she was determined to get it. We lost it because of my dad’s drinking problems.
So, why can’t I forgive her? She wasn’t perfect, but I had been telling you for a long time, you don’t need to be a perfect mother to be a great mom. But the reality is that I wasn’t fair to my mother. I wasn’t fair to her because I expected more from her than I expected from anyone else, more than I expected from my father. I expected unconditional love from her, and she never gave it to me. I expected her to protect me from my father, but all she ever said to me was, “Your father never laid a hand on me.”
My mother broke my heart when she said that. If I were in the same situation, I would have done anything to protect my children first, then myself. She never accepted me. She never accepted that I’m dark-skinned, that I have curly crazy hair, had different dreams than what she had for me, that I wasn’t her. She never accepted me!
My mother never even said she loved me. Not once. Not once. I’m turning fifty-five this year, and it wasn’t until this year that I realized why I had not been able to forgive her for all those years that I finally forgave her. That’s when I finally forgave her for not being the mother I needed. I realized that she gave me the best of herself, given her background, experiences, and knowledge. I accepted that though the love that she gave me was not enough for me, she gave me everything she had to give me. She gave all of that she had to give me, all she was capable of giving.
And in doing that, I felt healed from all the hurt I had been holding on to. And admitting it here is a way for me to say, “We’re cool, mom. I love you. Thank you for trying your best. I understand. I really do. And I love you, mom. I’m sorry I couldn’t come to terms with things sooner. I wish I had. Now, wherever you are. I’ll see you soon. Not too soon. I have children to bring up, okay? Don’t rush me, lady. Thirty years. I’ll see you in thirty years. I miss you, mom.”
If you enjoy the honesty of this show because I tried to be as honest as I possibly can be, please take the time to rate and review the show or share a link to the YouTube channel, the blog, or the podcast. All three, if you have time! For links and resources, please visit our website.
If you share an imperfect journey to motherhood, welcome to the crew! Till next time! Embrace the joys of imperfection. Toodles!
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