Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Quick! Don't look so broken!

"What are you afraid of?"
Dig really deep, ignore the first response. Ignore the deep response. Now ignore the one that comes next. Answer with the simplest one. The one that can't possibly be the right answer because it's too simplistic.
Got it? Okay, now guess what? That too simple, so obvious answer? That's the one that is the answer to the question. Know how I know? It's because I had someone point that out to me.

So the question posed to me was "What are you afraid of?"
My first answer was "Having Nixon look at me the way I looked at my dad....full of fear."
"Wrong, go one step back." ummm....okay
Second attempt, "I'm afraid I'll lose my temper and hurt him (Nixon)."
"Wrong again...don't think so much. Stop going so deep, no need to rip the band-aid off so quickly."
Third attempt "I'm afraid I'm going to screw him up."
"And that is the rawest, purest answer you can give here."

The guy who told me that, further went on to tell me you can't screw a child up. Well, you can, but you have to REALLY work at it.
Enter, ripping off the band-aid. Followed by tears. Lots and lots of tears.

See, you can ruin and screw up a child. I'm living, breathing proof of that. But it took a lot of effort or actually a total lack of effort and general lack of parenting skills. Really a lack of coping skills by them overall. But, shockingly enough to me, I'm still here and I have amazing coping skills....apparently. See, I cried and then when I thought I was going too deep and losing too much emotional control of myself, I switched to humor. And it was seamless! Like it usually is when I do it. I don't even think about doing it, I just do. So once again, I was complimented on my ability to stop going to deep and used humor to do it. Its something some people have to learn how to do and it takes time to do it effectively. Well, I've had lots of time to perfect it so I'm pretty good at it now.

The hardest thing about talking to an impartial professional when seeking help for issues you have, issues I have right now, is trying to contain the crazy. I brought up things I knew were affecting me but that were not a cause for my current (broken) mental state. Turns out, every fear I have as a mother, is directly affected by my shitty childhood. I couldn't discuss my fears as a mother without getting into where they stemmed from. So no matter how hard I tried to keep all those deep, dark, ugly scars hidden behind a smile and a few tears, they needed to be noticed and acknowledged because without all the facts I was just screwed up. But when he caught a glimpse of the bigger picture, I'm not so screwed up. I'm damaged and scarred but not beyond help. I already had one big, fat, amazing coping skill known as humor so it helps. I also admitted I needed help. Another big fat plus. I'm not an alcoholic and I show no signs of becoming one. Plus again. I know where my parents went wrong, I don't think their marriage is a healthy one, I strive to better myself, I know my limits and I've rebuilt my family from the outside in. I went outside of my family and rebuilt it. I have brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, a husband, my son (OUR son) and even adults close enough to be parental figures to me.

So while I can't change my past and I'm not going to embrace it, I can rally the troops and rise above it!

The saddest part of all this, my new self-worth and acceptance, is in a pure raw moment of brutal honesty, I allowed myself to admit I'm indifferent towards my parents. I don't love them but I can't hate them. They were much younger than I was when they first became parents. They were unprepared for what parenthood entailed and quickly did what was expected of them after my birth....the conceived another child. They weren't driven enough to be good parents and they just kind of stumbled into the realm of failure parents. Even now, all these years later, when the roles they take on next is that of grandparents, they're still really really bad at it. And this I cannot blame on age or inexperience or being overwhelmed because they had wonderful examples of how to be a good grandparent, set by their parents to my sister and I.
I suppose, when you're damaged at a young age you either let the damage consume you or you refuse to let it identify you as a person.

I bare scars from my childhood. I'm candid about the damage I've overcome. I can't change the past so why try to deny it happened. But, it does not change who I am today. It does not control me. I don't use it as a crutch or a reason to not be the very best person I can be. And, it will not be the reason I slip in to the failure parent zone. Because I will not take that road. Come hell or high water, I am not going to ruin Nixon the way my parents (could have) ruined me. Sure I'm damaged and scarred, but I'm still here and I'm not repeating history. Their cycle of violence and alcohol issues and all other shortcomings ended when I moved out of their home.

And this is only the beginning of me becoming a whole and healthy, well adjusted mommy.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A brief story of what will never be between Percy and me

NO, I'm not considering an affair. I'd never cheat on Mac. Having seen what an affair does to a family firsthand, as a child, I could never do that to him or Nixon.

Percy is a 5-year old chocolate lab that a friend back in Florida is helping to find a home for. It's not going so well and he may end up in a shelter if a new home is not found soon. Normally, I wouldn't be affected. I can't save every animal that needs a home and normally I just try not to think about what could be.

But for some reason Percy has been on my mind for a couple weeks now, since I first read about his situation on facebook. I've always wanted a lab. A chocolate lab has been a dream pet for years, but since I've always worked too much and lived in a small apartment it's never been ideal. There have been dogs, but they've been epically disappointed by a life with me. But now, with Nixon and life almost stable, a 5-year old lab wouldn't be a horrible fit.

Well, it could be perfect, if we weren't the entire world away from him for another year. Reality is, he needs a home now and I (WE) can't do that.

I have a spot in my heart for a dog I will never meet. I've even offered a suggestion to find him a home by looking for a Labrador rescue organization or foundation to take him instead of a shelter. It's the best I can think of for him.

Here's to you, Percy. A dog I'll never meet who has a piece of my heart and a hope for a good, loving home to care for him.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

social media and holidays

Technology and the internet have really made life easier as it improves. I'm in Japan and as long my internet connection is working and I can send an email, I can have a conversation with my family and friends back home. It's made being here a little easier at times.

Holidays and social network sites, like facebook.com, are overwhelming at times. This month it's been Mother's Day since the beginning of the month. Of course, everyone wants to post a photo of them and their mom to show they love her. And then you have to copy and paste the same message of "i'm changing my profile picture to me and my mom because my mom is an amazing woman.....blah, blah, blah".

I switched it up. I posted a photo take moments after I gave birth to Nixon, thus becoming a mom.

My mom and I have a strained relationship at best. My childhood was far from the best and I have very few good memories of my mom being a mom. I don't ever remember her reading a bedtime story to me or my sister. I don't remember her kissing me good night or tucking me in a night.

I don't say this to make people feel sorry for me, but I can't help feel cheated in the parents part of life. I still send my mom a card but only because I'd feel guilty if I didn't, not because I want to. I happily send my grandmother, sister and mother-in-law a card though.

I wish I could say I've gotten over the past and moved on, which is mostly true, except for certain times of year. Like when my mother forgets my wedding anniversary but guilts me because I didn't send my dad a birthday card. So I send her a birthday card and she forgets my husband's birthday. And our anniversary. So I send her a mother's day card but ignore their wedding anniversary. And so the cycle continues. The biggest kicker is when she forgets Nixon. I could careless about ignoring my birthday or my anniversary or even my husband's birthday, but to ignore my child, her GRANDchild's birthday just seems a far bigger crime to me.

Both of my grandmothers were amazing to my sister and I when we were growing up. As crazy as my grandmother drives me with her Christianity pushing, backhanded complimenting ways I'm still grateful she's in my life and I love the memories she created for me during my childhood. Granted, not all of them are great, but I have plenty of good ones to shrink down the bad ones.
I want Nixon to have the with his grandmothers. I know my mother-in-law will be wonderful about that when we're home in the states again and I also know my mom will not make any effort. I shouldn't be shocked or surprised, but I'm a little sad to know he'll miss that.

So my Mother's Day is all about me and MY journey as a mother. NOT my mother's journey as a mom, she clearly closed that door years ago.