Twenty-five years ago today I gave birth to my first child; I, myself, was only 25 that beautiful day. The day that I found out I was pregnant with him was such a shock and a blessing all in one since previously a doctor had told me I would never be able to carry a child to term due to problems that I did not even comprehend at that time. However, the further I became in my pregnancy, I gained more hope that I would prove the medical doctors wrong and be able to have my beautiful child.
Six months into my pregnancy, I developed preeclampsia, which is a condition that is discovered due to high blood pressure and proteins in the urine. I was told I needed bed rest for the next few months. I followed every order the doctor gave me because delivering my son meant the world to me regardless of the stress going on around me. I actually went through 48 hours of hard labor before they discovered that he was crooked and his head was too big to fit into the birth canal; the doctor said that if I kept on trying to deliver him naturally that his neck could be broken and that it was time to perform a C-section. I remember how terrified I was, but once I saw my gorgeous, blonde headed son, I fell in love with him instantly and the ordeals of the months before became a distant memory.
I am so aware of the mistakes I made along the way, but I was not that woman that I have become today. I was a scared 25-year old, learning how to be a wife, learning how to be a mom, and learning how to navigate the world for the first time as an adult. Every decision I made from there on was based on what I thought would be best for him. Did I make mistakes? Of course I did, who hasn’t, but no one ever told me that the day you become a mom, no matter how young, naïve, or inexperienced you are, everything you do from the day forward – good or bad – will be used as a blueprint to praise or crucify you.
In the news, it doesn’t matter how old a person is – the press, commentators, talk shows, and so on, will always ask about the person’s mom – not the person’s parents or the person’s dad, but what was wrong with the mother. Everything that is wrong in the world can be traced back to what the mother did wrong. This was something I was never, or will ever, be prepared for. Even when my husband deserted me and my three kids, I heard the whispers and the gossip, what did she do to drive him away? I didn’t even handle that correctly; I did the best to grasp together what pieces of a family that I had left and be both mother and father to my children. However, I was also judged for that. What people, and even my own children, forget is that my husband had not just deserted his kids, he had walked out on me. I am the one who fell in love with him twenty-years prior and chose him to be the father of my children. That first year as a single-mother my life felt like I was walking through a fog. I remember some things people said, but even when I try to recollect that first year alone, it feels like a dream sequence that I can only pull bits and pieces from.
Yet, even that year has been held against me. As mothers, we are expected to respond perfectly to everything that is thrown at us. Others forget that we are human beings too – we experience fear, we feel pain, and we, too, bleed. My son, who turns 25 today, holds me up to those inhuman standards. He keeps a score card of everything I have ever done wrong; yet, I have never heard about what I did right. He has never been willing to calmly sit down and ask me questions on why I did certain things. Maybe I will have a good explanation or maybe I won’t, but at least I would have the chance to a trial before my conviction.
Maybe giving birth and loving your child isn’t enough to base a relationship on, but I believe it has earned me the right to not be wrongly convicted. One thing I have learned along the way, is that people who want to be judge and jury and quickly toss you out of their life are hiding from their own skeletons, their own issues, their own ghosts. If they allow a healthy conversation to pursue, then they may have to take some accountability for their own pain or even hold others that were involved in their life accountable as well. Doing so would stir up memories and emotions they would rather keep buried, so it is much easier to blame someone who will love you despite the hate and anger you throw their way. They are a safe scape goat for every wrong that has happened in their life. But maybe, just maybe, that person could become the entry way into a world that could be lived without anger and hate. My son has told me that he has let go of the past and that is why he chooses to have his father in his life and not me. If this was true, then he would have also let go of the fear, the hate, and the anger
Fear is debilitating; it can take years from each and every one of us if we let it. Does it pain me that another year is passing without my son being a part of it? Yes it does. What pains me the most is what he has let fear do to him. He has let it stand between us, he has let it stand between him and his sister and brother, but most importantly, he has let it stand in between him and the incredible future I imagined for him. However, despite what the rest of the world believes, mothers are not to blame for everything that has gone wrong, and as long as my son wants to blame me for everything, then I will choose to love him from afar. Not because I want to, but because I believe it is the safest choice for me and his siblings.
I will continue to live my life the best way I can and continue to have healthy relationships with his brother and sister. He may have cast me out, but he cannot take away the incredible childhood memories I have of him, or the undying love I will always have for him. The only gift I have for him this 25th anniversary day of his cherished beginning is my love for him and the fact that I will wait the rest of my life if I have to, for him to let go of his fears and let me in – one day at a time. Change does not come easy, but in the end it will be so worth it.