Years ago when I lost my mother I was just a teenager. I promised myself I would never have children. I did not want another human being enduring the sheer pain and emptiness I felt.
I lied to myself. Because here I am years later with children of my own. Girls.
One of them just started middle school. She is excited. Loving life. Completely unaware of the hard truth that one day everything might change. I try and keep it that way.
Unfortunately her starting middle school has stirred some unsettled emotions within me. I was in 7th grade when I noticed something...well...off with my own mother. I was in 8th grade when she told me she had cancer. I already knew that the fact she was telling me was a bad sign. She was a very private person and fought all her battles alone. If she was telling you something was wrong..something was really wrong.
That day...my entire childhood went down the toilet, in one single violent flush. I didn’t know it then, but I was only going to have about 4 more years with her. That was it. Our journey together was cut short. It took me years to accept it.
I look at my own children and wonder...how much time do we have left.
It terrifies me to think that this time next year I could be flushing their childhoods down the toilet as well. Or maybe I will lose one of them? Or...we may have a long happy life together. No one knows and it’s the NOT knowing that sometimes makes it hard to function.
I go from happy go lucky...to terrified within an instant. Everything is fine...to a full blown panic attack. A smile on my face...to being doubled over with stomach pain. This has been what my days have been like since she started middle school, just a couple weeks ago. She’s now encroaching upon the age where I myself lost so much. I am encroaching upon the age that my mom lost everything...her life.
This is a time that SHOULD be full of a bit of uncertainty...but not to the point of making mom physically ill. I did not have a mother past this particular point in my life. I became a caretaker (and gladly so), but then lost her. I honestly don’t know if I know HOW to be a mother past this stage of her life. I had no one to learn from...because by 9th grade I was on my own.
I wish I could walk the walk of a “normal person”. Someone who hasn’t had so many brushes with sadness...sickness and death. To constantly worry when it’s my time or when will it be theirs absolutely sucks the joy out of being. Im afraid all the time.
The hardest part? Not showing it.
Being a parent carrying grief...PTSD...and anxiety is quite simply...hard. One of my biggest fears is passing on these traits to my children. So far I believe I’m doing ok. They are confident...happy...intelligent little beings. Little does anyone know the strength and strain it takes to get them to that point day after day. My love for them outweighs my personal pain on so many levels. But a part of me does wonder...by not showing it...or talking about it...am I setting them up for an even bigger wake-up call in the future?
A simple yet effective technique I learned while in therapy was to stop expecting the worse and truly hope for the best. It’s this little trick I use to get through rough times. It’s definitely easier said than done...but it does stop me in my tracks when I hit a spiral of negativity. This more than likely is a phase. I went through a similar downward spiral shortly after my 1st born was born. I go through these rougher than normal patches here and there...and with hard work I come out on the other side unscathed.
Another technique I use is to take a brief moment of silence every single night. Just to be thankful. We made it. One more day. Together. In my current state I think I may also add morning meditation or a morning minute of gratitude as well.
No one can promise or guarantee us time...but having pure appreciation for the moments we’ve had does bring the heart relief and gives us strength to face yet another day.
Here’s to making it just one more day...