Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Thankful #13 - My Mom

I don't understand to this day how my mom can love me and how she's forgiven me. But when I look back, I see that she's taught me how to be the mom I am today. She's taught me how to love through the hard times. Love them even when I don't like them. Forgive the hurtful "I hate you's." Be their rock. Be strong. Be caring. Be there for them through thick and thin. I owe her a lot . . . and probably not the least of which is an apology.

Over the years, I've shared bits and pieces of my high school years. I've shared with you how my stepdad sent flowers on Valentine's Day. You may have heard me say I was a trouble kid. You've probably heard bits and pieces but today, let me confess what an awful teenager I was. . . 

This story starts with a boy (so cliche!). . . The story starts on Valentines Day my sophomore year.

Him: "T" had been in my chemistry class all year. He wasn't as good looking as say Vince Neil or Bret Michaels but he was still very cute. And he was (can you guess....) a bad boy. He got kicked out of class for being a smart ass. He made jokes that my naive self didn't understand. He made me giggle uncomfortably. He was dangerous. He was sarcastic. As the year went on, he sat closer to me. And closer. And soon, was writing me notes. 

Me: I was the good girl. The straight A student. The nerd. The teacher's pet. The girl who had never been grounded. I'd been in trouble once in 5th grade that I could remember. I was naive. And interested in the boy who was so unlike me. 

On Valentine's Day, I received a balloon, flowers, and chocolate covered cherries with a note asking if I'd "go out" with him. Of course, my answer was yes. For a month, "T" and I "went out." Except we didn't. He'd occasionally invite me and my girlfriends to the deli across the road where he'd mostly ignore me. A month into our relationship, I broke up with him. 

If only it ended there. 

About a week after I broke up with him, "T" got expelled for selling acid at school. I was shocked. A little sad. Even though I'd broken up with him, I appreciated his attention in chemistry class. Three days after his expulsion, "T" sent me the first letter via our good mutual friend. I sent one back. Then I got another. And I replied. And before I knew it, we were "going out" again. Although he was on house arrest, doing community service, and so couldn't really "go out." 

And there's where I made my first of a long list of bad decisions. I snuck out and over to his house. Crawled through his bedroom window. He played a song just for me (You Really Got a Hold On Me by Smokey Robinson) and we danced in his bedroom, quietly while his parents slept. I should have known that night that "T" was going to be bad news. I'll spare you all the details but "T" had some hangups. I should save myself for him till marriage. He proposed my sophomore year with a ring he'd stolen from work. We dated until my April my senior year - you'll learn more about that in a few.  Enough about "T" - he's a troubled soul. 

Let's get to my mom and I. Mom tried to break us up. She failed miserably. "T" threatened to hurt my family. And I of course thought he'd change because I loved him. Mom grounded me. Took away my phone privileges. Busted me sneaking out. Busted me sneaking in. She talked to me. She cried. She screamed. She sat on me once and refused to let me leave. 

So I ran away. And then ran away again. And when the cops made me go back, I did it again. My mom called my dad who flew to Oregon to take me back with him. I called abuse and said my dad was an alcoholic. I went to a foster home (funny thing, until this moment, I'd forgotten about the foster home). The foster home was awful. The other girls were mean. I missed my parents. I missed T. I hated it. I went home and ran away again. 

That time, my mom didn't fight. For the next year, I ignored my mom. If I saw her at the store, I'd pretend she was a stranger. I said horrible awful things about her. 

She moved to a different town and I stayed put. I made more (and worse) decisions than sneaking out to meet T. I didn't call her. I didn't speak to her. It was as if I was an orphan. 

And then my relationship with T got worse. I wanted to leave but I was afraid. I didn't know how to get out. I didn't have any family around me. I panicked and did the only thing I could think of. I went to the police and confessed all my sins (and in the process all of T's). Some of you may call me a rat and I'd agree. But remember I was a scared 17 year old girl who didn't see any other options. 

From the police station, I picked up the phone to call the woman I'd hurt. My mom that I had ignored. My mom that I had blamed. The mom that I was trying to protect. I didn't know if she'd answer. I wasn't sure she'd be there to rescue me. I hated myself for betraying my mom. I hated myself for betraying T. I wanted to curl up in a ball and die. I contemplated suicide as the phone rang. I was afraid if I didn't do it first, T would do it for me. 

And mom answered. And in just a couple of hours, I was on my way to my mom's house. Safe. Unsure. Afraid. Hating myself. Hiding. 

As graduation approached, I went to my senior prom with Forrest. Forrest and I dated for about two months. He was a good guy. And then I got the phone call. It was "T" and he was willing to forgive me. I graduated and then drove hours to be with him. I drove hours back home and left for my graduation trip with my dad. When it was over, I went back to "T." 

This time, I didn't completely ignore my mom. She was there. Ready in the wings to pick up the pieces of me when I fell apart.  As a mom now, I can imagine the pain and worry I put her through. 

T and I tried to make it work for a few months. Then one night, with too much to drink, too many other substances, and I was slapped around. I called mom and dad, my head hanging with shame. Afraid that this time, they surely would refuse to help me. I was embarrassed that I couldn't make it work. I was ashamed I'd let it get out of hand. I hated that they were right. I hated myself. 

T and I were over. And mom and I ignored the elephant in the room. Mom would call me and we'd chat about nothing important. I hated answering the phone when she called....not because of her, but because of me. I'd hurt her. I'd betrayed her. I put her through the worst hell a kid could put a mom. 

And then I was pregnant. I called my mom to tell her and to say she was angry and hurt is an understatement. She told me I'd be on welfare. She cried that I'd ruined my life. And then she began sending gifts. Diapers, maternity clothes, toys, baby clothes. 

And then Marc was born. And my mom came running to spend a week with me. I looked at my newborn son and cried my heart out for all the hurt I'd caused my mom. I looked at him and prayed he'd never ever do what I'd done. I was terrified I'd be cursed. 

And I called to apologize. 

Now you know the back story.

Here's the important part. My mom's love has never failed me. She's loved me when I couldn't love myself. She believed in my strength and resiliency even in times I didn't. She's dropped everything to come to me when I need her. She supports me even when I make bad decisions. She forgave me. Whether I was in Texas, Idaho, New Mexico, or right next door, my mom will be there. 

My mom is generous and kind, not just to me but to anyone in need. She's everyone's friend. She makes you laugh. She dances. She giggles. She gives gifts from her heart. She's also incredibly strong and resilient. She's an optimist. She's a romantic. She's intelligent. She's tough. 

And she gave me the greatest gift she could have given me. . . she taught me how to be a mom - one that I can be proud of. Today and every day I'm thankful for my mom. 

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