I think, sometimes, of the things we carry. The experiences we had in our childhood live on like scars and not all scars are the result of negative things. Fond memories we carry we try to relive with our children, family traditions move from one generation to the next, even the storybooks we had read to us as children are the ones we seek out for our grandchildren.
These things matter. And yes, there are scars that come from the painful experiences, the hurts and even betrayals. It’s probably easiest to learn from the unintentional suffering and I can say with full assurance that my mother did not want me to be unhappy. Head over heels as she was, it was hard to see how I might be feeling and the things I was experiencing.
But those experiences were my lessons. I tried to make my children a priority when they were young even though I understood how hard it was for my mother to balance being a single mother, working to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table, with furthering herself and her own life. She put herself through nursing school even as she paid for me to be in nursery school. And she did all of this at a time when being a single parent, an unmarried woman, was shameful in the eyes of society. Her own father had disowned her for having a bastard and still she persevered.
I wasn’t the only one experiencing feelings of loss and abandonment.
Early in our relationship, Rob confronted me with how he felt unappreciated, like he wasn’t a priority in my life and I snapped. I told him that he wasn’t a priority in my life, my children were. “And when they no longer need me to make them my priority, you still won’t be the center of my universe because I’ll by the center of it. If you’re lucky, I’ll let you orbit around me.”
Yep. In the heat of the moment and my unforgiving anger, I was actually that eloquent. Go figure.
And that was the truth of it. For me, nothing would be or could be as important as my children. I tried to keep it that way although I knew I had to start letting them go. If I couldn’t provide them a stable home (and how stable can a home with an alcoholic be?), I tried to create stability through rituals and traditions. From my relationship with my mother, I knew that giving them a foundation was as important as giving them love. If we moved from place to place, even state to state, they had to know I would be there every step of the way. Especially when their father started going to jail, and they would wake up without him, and I couldn’t tell them when or even if he would be home. Nothing was stable and it felt like a fight, trying to hold our fragile family together.
So when you read in my blog about all of the little things we do for birthdays and the holidays, it’s mostly because I made some really stupid choices when it came to falling in love. No wonder I don’t begrudge my mother her choices. How could I? Such hypocrisy could not hold and some things, like blame, I choose not to carry.