Looking back, my hopes and dreams for my baby girl were so big and bright and beautiful. I wanted to give her everything, dress her like a little princess, sprinkle her daily with mommy fairy dust. And in the beginning, it was like that somewhat. I was just SO HAPPY to be a mommy, I even loved changing her diaper. Seriously. I held her constantly and rubbed the top of her soft little head with my chin until her hair fell out (sorry, Bug!). Sang to her, rocked her, whispered in her ear, kissed her soft little cheeks, recorded all her little baby noises, talked baby talk to her to watch her wiggle with joy, loved, loved, LOVED her so much it hurt (in a good way).
When she was born, her father (EH1) and I had been married ten years. He had been putting me off forever about getting pregnant. And I finally talked him into it. I was ready to have my baby, his or someone else's. He agreed, certain that we could never get pregnant the first time. He was so wrong.
He was also deep in the throes of mental illness. I just didn't recognize it for what it was at the time. Among other things, this meant that he never really held a job. Always seeking some get-rich-quick scheme or trying unsuccessfully to build his own business. And completely frying my credit..and any feelings I had for him other than anger and frustration. Living hand to mouth in practically poverty sometimes not knowing if I would have gas money to get to work.
When our daughter was born, he seemed to take a turn for the better. He absolutely adored her. And he seemed determined to help me provide for her. But by the time she was almost two, his mental state was deteriorating rapidly. He became extremely withdrawn even from her. He would come home from "work" and go straight to the bedroom and turn on the tv. I wasn't allowed to ask him if he wanted dinner or even say hello, but he always made time for our daughter at her bedtime. I will never forget the first night he didn't want to cuddle with her and tell her goodnight. I could see the bewilderment and hurt in her eyes, even as young as she was. And that was the beginning of the end for him.
After he left, she and I began to have a much better life. There was LIGHT and laughter and good times. Stereo loud dancing through the house and cleaning together. Cooking and singing together (she has been singing since she was born.) She was my whole heart. I had a little extra money to spend and her first Christmas without him was ridiculous. The entire living room floor was covered in toys and presents. It took her almost 4 hours to discover everything and open presents. I was in heaven. I had never been able to give her anything before.
But with no child support and a mortgage, things were really tight. She lived in hand-me-downs from her cousin. No shame in that at all, it just wasn't what I had planned for her. No washer and dryer either, so every Saturday night I would hand wash her things in the kitchen sink, spread them out to dry on a rack, and spend Sunday mornings ironing everything so all her clothes (undies and socks, too) would be soft. And I loved every minute of it.
When she was four, I decided to go to night school. I don't know how I did it. Working full time, shuffling her between preschool and different baby-sitters three nights a week. But I was determined to make a better life for her.
And then I met my son's father. And got pregnant. At 39. On birth control. And freaked the freak out. And then was overjoyed because I knew I was having the baby boy I secretly wanted and thought I would never have. Since I was divorced. And 39. (Oh, boy, be careful what you wish for!)
And then we were three. I was so happy to have my babies and me. Ecstatic to have another little person to love and cherish and my daughter was thrilled to have a baby brother. Had to quit night school because my body just wouldn't let me live on 4 hours of sleep a night (the boy didn't sleep through the night till he was 4 months old). But ok. I can make it work.
I didn't want to ever get married again. But then baby boy started growing up. I worried about him growing up without his father. So we got married. I thought it would be good for my daughter to have a positive male role model in her life, too. By that time, she was seeing her father every other weekend, and she still loves him with all her heart, but I wanted her to see what "normal" was like. Then we were six, because EH2 was a package deal which included EMIL (Evil Mother-In-Law) and his granddaughter who was two. Things were tense at first but seemed to be ok for the first year until we bought our house. That was the beginning of the end, I think mostly because EMIL thought I was only temporary until that point and after that, she set about to completely destroy our relationship and our family. And, oh, boy, did she ever do an outstanding job of it.
Whatever the reason, EH2 became someone else entirely, escalating after his decision to become a Jehovah's Witness. I seriously never saw that coming. He had already become controlling and possessive, but then became abusive as well (verbally, emotionally and at the end, physically). I did my best to make it work thinking I was doing the right thing for my son. Until he started having anger issues from all the fighting and tension created by EMIL and the fights between his father and me, which prompted me to get him counseling. And then I knew it was time to go. Because I had given EH2 three years to stop the bullshit. It was only getting worse. I knew it would never change.
So, here we are now, just the three of us again. Peacefully, blissfully happy and healing. I found out after the fact that EMIL had been extremely abusive to my daughter and not always so nice to my son, her own grandson. Really, the things that can happen right under your nose are disturbing.
I know I have done the right things and chosen the right path for me and my kids. But there are days when I remember the hopes and dreams I had for my babies in the beginning and I find myself mourning the loss of those dreams. Wishing, hoping, praying that all these scars they have will fade away and not be remembered some day.
Remembering too, my fervent promise to myself to never behave the way my mother did, and feeling the shame and self-disgust at knowing without a doubt that I have done so. Ah, but now at least I have some insight into why she behaved the way she did. Being unhappy with your life on a daily basis distracts you from taking care of other people sometimes. Letting the worries and the stress of life get in the way of nurturing those two precious little souls I am so grateful to have in my life.
That's when I get the Mommyaches deep down in my heart.
And every time they ask for something I can't give them. Thankfully, it's only things I can't always provide. One day they will understand that. Right now, though, it's devastating to see disappointment on those little faces. It's hard for me to know I've gone from super hero to mere mortal in their eyes.