So, in the past - as I’ve read through my posts - I’ve talked about needing change, wanting change, feeling stagnant. Since those posts, nothing has changed. Okay, some things have - just not the things I needed or wanted to change. I have felt the need for change for several years, not just the past few.
How many times have many of us stay at homes sat in wonder thinking is this all my life is? Is being a mom and wife everything I’m ever supposed to be? I can tell you that when I was young, this wasn’t what I imagined for my life. I can honestly say, I don’t remember what I wanted to do besides write or counsel. Yes, I did want kids & yes, I did want to be married and I am very happy that I am fortunate enough to have all of this. I’m not knocking it, not at all. I just can’t shake the feeling that there is more to me.
I am not the greatest mom in the world. I am not the greatest wife in the world. I have too many faults to list here, not because there really are that many (and there are), but because I don’t want to put myself out there that much. Well, maybe I do…a little.
I don’t want to fall asleep at the end of my life knowing that there was so much more to me than anyone ever knew. I want my kids to grow up knowing that I gave everything I have to life, so that they will, too. I am the quintessential underachiever. I have been for as long as I can remember. I like to blame fear of failure. I like to blame it, though I know it’s much more the fear of success that is the driving force behind why I am not more than me. Why would I be afraid of success? Lots of reasons. I am afraid of it mostly because I don’t honestly believe that I have what it takes to be successful at anything more than what I’ve already done. I have to ask, too, how is my success gauged? Who says what I‘ve done so far is successful? I don’t honestly believe I deserve it.
While raising kids has its successes, it has its failures, too. I’m learning this with my 2 older children right now. I am to blame for their woes, for now. I can sit & believe that eventually, they will overcome. My second oldest has told me, several times via hand written note, that I have done right by him. He tells me that he knows I do more for him than anyone else & that I’m the one who taught him certain things & read with him & spent the time. When I read that, I really want to be encouraged and feel good about myself. I can’t though, because I only read the words I’ve said to him when I was angry at him for acting out. Those are things I’ve said to him. My little mockingbird, how I love you. I really want you to find your own voice. I really want you to achieve greater than I ever have & I really want you to do that for YOU! Not for me, not for your dad, not for anyone but yourself. If ever your eyes come across this post, then you will know that I don’t want you to end up feeling like I do at 40. I want you to know that you’ve done everything you wanted to do for the rest of your life. Not because of anything I ever did, but because you CAN. As we’ve all heard time & again, life is what you make it.
My oldest. I truly want to feel what you feel. I want to go through what you are going through so that I can better understand why. From my perspective, these are my failures:
I had you for your first 2 years in my young life. In those first 2 years I was an irresponsible kid. In the very beginning, I bonded with you, I didn’t want to be away from you & I took the responsibility to heart for a while. Since I was so young & my parents were so willing to allow me to get away with doing much less, I did less. & that less became less & less. One day, it hit me that I wasn‘t doing enough. When I was 17 and not getting along with my own parents, I decided to make changes. For a while, it was working. I was doing most everything for you. I was going to school, working & doing my best to take care of you - with a LOT of help from your grandma. That kind of sounds like an oxymoron, but when I was with you, the responsibility was mine. Your grandma gave me that - it was a gift. I have to mention - a lot of my memories from around those years of my life, say up to age 20 or so, are very cloudy. I only have bits & pieces & those pieces are big things, really, really big things. Maybe it’s because I don’t want to remember how stupid I was back then, nor the things that helped mold me. Deep down, I know, but even deeper I understand why. I would never be able to explain it. I just know it all makes me what I am today.
Miraculously, I was given a door to open (this is one of those things I remember quite clearly - it was one of those really, really big things). A door, seemingly without negative consequence. I struggled to get myself to reach for that handle. At first, I didn’t think I could open it. I didn’t know if it would be the right thing to do. I felt it might be for the best. Then I fought with the ideal that it would always be okay, but never really knowing it would be. Hindsight, if I knew then what I now know…I don’t know that I would have opened the door. On that very same token, what would I have become? What would I have put you through? Because after that, my life is a whirlwind of shit decisions & dumb behavior - and I don‘t remember anything really good, just bad. The door was supposed to help me get myself to a better place, eventually, it did. It took a long time & honestly, at first, it wasn’t all that good. I didn’t use the opportunity to my benefit, or yours. I didn’t go to school, I didn’t try to make my life what I know I was fully capable of making it. I partied, I dated, I partied some more, I met someone who I thought would change my life. And he did. For the better? In some ways. Even since then, my life has changed immensely.
I openly admit, and I always have, that I didn’t spend nearly enough time with you after I opened that door. I lived in the same state with you for almost 2 more years. In that 2 year period, I rarely spent time with you - see above (partied, dated, partied some more). Then I moved to Illinois. One night, while I was in Chicago with the man who changed my life, I broke down. In his arms, I told him my sob story. We were a fresh couple. Everything was new. I told him all about you & how much of a failure I felt I was. He didn’t disagree, but he told me that I could have you back in my life. After we were together for a while longer & I was able to visit you on my trips back home, sometimes only once a year, sometimes twice. Eventually, we had our own place & it felt right then, I started taking steps to get you back with me. Was this my greatest mistake? I don’t want to believe it was. I want to believe that I was finally doing right by you. That this was the way it was finally supposed to be. Never did I think about the consequences - to me or to you. Hindsight comes into play again. I know how much of a tug-of-war it was for me, so what does that mean it was for you? & I know your grandma suffered in the same way I did, again - what exactly does that mean for you or, even better, what you feel it did to you NOW? We gave you lengths of rope. You towed both ends and we should never have given you that rope.
If I am trying to convey that I should have just let you stay there & not wanted anything else, not wanted to try to finally build our relationship, not wanted to love you completely because I thought I needed you with me to be able to love you completely, then that is what hurts me the most. I can see, now, how much hurt that caused. Unconditional love would mean that I let you stay & live your life the way you knew it. That means I let you grow under the support of the loving family that you had & that I don’t get to have any part of that. Struggling to see that, maybe, leaving you alone was the best thing I could have done for you is excruciating because I can’t take it back and even more so because I don‘t want to. I can’t take back the years I was allowed to love you & watch you grow & see you through some of the things you had to go through. I wouldn’t have had the many times we laughed & cried. I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to get your “Dear Mom” letter. I wouldn’t have had the chance to lose you several times to know what it meant to have you in my life. I also wouldn’t have had to suffer those losses so many times. I know I would regret not having the moments that we had, not having the time we had together. I still don’t think that time was enough, sometimes envying all that your grandma has. Because she has you, I never did. I apologize for all the things I can’t take back & I apologize for all the things I couldn’t do for you on my own, from the beginning, because I missed you, all of you - even having the time we did have.
Now that that’s out, maybe I can move a little forward. The purpose of this, what I’m doing here, is to try to make my life what I want it to be, because it isn’t. I’m not saying that I’m not content, because I am. For me, I want more. I want to be more for my family. If I put this out here, will it force me to do more? I hope so because, even writing this much has me feeling a little empowered, just a smidge. I have to decide what my first step is. What do I need to do? Stop making excuses. That’s my step 1. My most common excuse is “I don’t feel like it.” I’ve never been made to feel like it. It’s not up to anyone but me to make me feel like it. So that’s where it starts, as with everyone else - it starts with me. & I have to say, I’m so glad I don’t have the readers I had before. I’d be ashamed that I am not more than what I was before. I’ve always had promise, I just don’t make promises to myself - until now.
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