Letting Go

Parenting is a full-time job of love and patience, teaching and learning, guiding and directing. A full-time job of trial and errors, pacing the floor . . . and letting go.

From the time a mother holds her infant in her arms and holds it to her breast, the natural process of letting go begins to unfold.

At first, we don’t see it. We’re way too busy changing diapers, filling bottles, and trying to catch a few hours sleep. The mere thought of him starting first grade is a trillion miles down the road.

Suddenly, it happens. You’re not the love of his life anymore. He’s dating. He gets married. He has kids. His kids have kids. They all have lives of their own to live and enjoy and to follow the star of freedom and independence. No one has the right to interfere with that.

Unfortunately, my mother didn’t get that. To her, letting go was like cutting off her arms. I guess through her abusive childhood and failed marriages she had lost so much already that she felt she couldn’t survive losing her kids too.

So she clung to me like clinging to the edge of a cliff.

I could write a book about the emotional damage she caused, the conflicting battles and severed relationship we had and the effect it still has on me. Maybe one day my life will be what it is was meant to be, but it may never happen on this side of heaven.

That’s why I’ve worked so hard through my fears and insecurities to set my son free. Why my heart gave him permission to spread his wings and become the strong and independent man he is today. He will not be controlled, and I will never impose my will on him; to manipulate and toy with his tender emotions. To me, that is the most deadly form of child abuse. It’s emotional rape and almost impossible to recover from. I love him way too much to slaughter his spirit.

Through a river of blood, sweat, and tears of letting go, I am reaping a bountiful harvest of joy and happiness through my son, his kids, and his grandkids. And when he takes me out, which isn’t very often due to his busy and exhausting schedule, he treats me like a queen. He warms my heart and makes every moment we spend together priceless treasures that no one can take away.

For me and my twisted emotions, letting go is not easy. But I’d rather die than sacrifice my son’s emotional well-being for my own selfish desires; to try to put him in a tiny box with no room to grow. His wings are way too big and strong for that.

 

 

 

A House Without a Dog is Not a Home

When Rascal, our handsome, Australian Shepard mix of eight years died, he took part of us with him. The grief was so unbearable that I never wanted another dog to wrap my heart around only to have it ripped apart.

But hubby couldn’t stop grieving and I couldn’t stand seeing him suffer. So, for his birthday, we paid a visit to the animal shelter, and there she was, curled up in a big cage on a skimpy blanket on that cold cement floor frightened and all alone.

Hubby fell in love.

I didn’t. She wasn’t Rascal.

So we kept looking.

No Rascal anywhere.

But hubby wasn’t looking for Rascal and kept dragging me back to that pitiful, scrawny, long-legged Greyhound mix curled up in that dreary cage. I guess I’m a sucker for pitiful, so we adopted her.

That was three years ago. Yep! Three years of wanting to wring her neck for chewing up her bed, and my pillows, and my couch; things Rascal NEVER did. Three years of her hyperactive personality, her jumping and jerking around when we tried petting her. Three years of trying to stop comparing her to Rascal.

Then a year ago Pepper came into our lives. Sweet, dainty, loving little Pepper. She was more dead than alive after being abandoned along with fifteen other dogs. She was so skinny I could barely feel her when she jumped on my lap. Then she licked my face, pierced my soul with those big brown eyes, and that did it. We bundled her up and took her home, hoping and praying Bella would approve.

It was love at first sight. Kindred spirits.

Having two dogs at one time in the house is more than challenging. It’s insane! Pepper loves jumping on the table, and countertops. Heck, she just loves jumping! The higher the better. Now Bella thinks she can jump that high, too. And Pepper is a chewer. Bella stopped until Pepper came along. And she was potty trained till Pepper came along. She was getting more settled till Pepper came along. We had to potty train her all over again. And Bella poops and pees like a cow. So yeah. I was tempted to haul them both off to the animal shelter. But, you already know what a sucker I am for pitiful.

In spite of all their frustrating antics, they are beautiful, loving dogs. They love each other and can hardly stand to be apart. And they love us and children and whoever comes to visit. Most of all, they bring us joy and happiness and a ton of laughter. And when I think where they might be today had we not rescued them, I want to cry

Letter to Mom

Hi mom,

Been thinking a lot about you lately. And because I’m much older now, I have a better understanding of the sacrifices you made for me; the hours you poured into making my pretty dresses, cooking my favourite meals, and buying my first accordion. When you bought me a brand new one several years later, I never realized the real price you paid. How you hated that job. But for three long years, you worked scrubbing and cleaning that dreary hotel to pay for my brand new Pearl White, 120 Base accordion. And by often reminding me of that, you must have thought I was a selfish, ungrateful brat.

The truth is I appreciated everything you did for me; I just didn’t know how to say it. It seems I was dumb-struck when it came to communicating my feelings. And when I tried, you judged and criticized me and we’d end up fighting and I’d run to my room bawling and slamming the door shut. So to keep from being hurt, I stuffed my feelings deep inside. And you have to admit, that you didn’t know how to communicate either. But I don’t blame you considering the horrible, abusive childhood you had. It’s a wonder you even survived let alone become a nurturing mother when all you ever received was abuse.

Though my communication skills seemed to be paralyzed, my intuitive brain told me, even at a very young age, that you couldn’t help your sudden outbursts of anger and rage. That you couldn’t stop the tears; the screaming and yelling at me. Something was broken inside you and I was determined to fix it.

You and I both know how that turned out. I ended up more broken than you were; hating myself for being such a failure; punishing myself for fighting against you so hard, feeling guilty that I was not everything you wanted me to be. I just got so tangled up in your pain and sadness that I got lost and angry and bitter and confused. And yes, I blamed you. I blamed you for not getting help. I blamed you for using me as your scapegoat. I blamed you for turning me against daddy. I was so blinded by your suffering and my determination to protect you that I blamed him for everything that was wrong at home. Between the two of us, he didn’t stand a chance, so he became distant and no help to anyone.

Still, you taught me many good things. Every time I hung clothes on the line I remembered to hang the towels together and the underwear, and sheets and pillowcases because you said it looked neater. I remember you teaching me to clean the windows with vinegar and newspaper to keep the windows from streaking, and taking down the blinds and soaking them in the bathtub for easier cleaning. And remember suggesting that, when I can’t iron them right away, to sprinkle the clothes, roll them up in a towel and put them in the refrigerator? Well, one time I left them in there so long they got mildewed and I had to wash them again!

And you encouraged me to draw and paint by supplying me with paper and charcoal pencils and number paints. You encouraged me to learn to play the accordion, organ and piano, which I did. And since you couldn’t afford lessons for me, I taught myself. But you taught me how to sing. You had the most beautiful voice in the world!  My favourite part of the day was sitting beside you at the sewing machine and hearing you sing. I believe the angels listened in awe too.

And you taught me about Jesus and living a truthful, honest life and staying out of trouble. You taught me to pray and read my Bible. You taught me to respect my elders. But when it came to boys and dating, you forgot to teach me to relax. I was so bashful about eating in front of a guy that I’d rather starve than let him know I was hungry. But they knew to keep their wandering hands to themselves!

Oh, and before I forget, when you saw how much I loved to roller-skate you made sure I had a pair of skates. I didn’t care that they weren’t brand new. They fit and they rolled and that’s all that mattered to me. I have to confess something, though. I snuck my little skating skirt in my skate case and changed into it in the dressing room at the roller rink. Sorry. But you were so strict about some things!

So, mom, even though our relationship was never what we both longed for, I’ve always loved you, it just wasn’t the way you wanted me to love you. But I couldn’t fill the holes in your soul. I couldn’t be the loving mom and dad you deserved as a child. I couldn’t be the supportive husband, the perfect child; everything you needed to make you whole. I just wish you could have understood that and not leaned on me so hard and expected me to make up for everyone else’s failures.

Though it took a long time for my recovery from such a hurtful and confusing relationship, I forgive you and I forgive myself. Many times I wished God had given me a different family, one that wasn’t so messed up. More than anything I wish you and me were more loving and understanding toward one another. I especially wish I hadn’t lashed out so angrily at you and I can’t think of one good excuse why I did. I can only say, with tears streaming down my face, I am so very sorry.

I miss you so much, mom. I wish I could hear your laughter, your silly jokes, and your happy whistle. I wish we could go out for breakfast and then do a little shopping like we used to do each week. I wish I could eat one more of your delicious meals and your homemade bread and sticky buns. I wish I could see your face, your busy hands, your peppy walk just one more time.

It doesn’t seem fair, does it mom that we were both victims of your abusive childhood. That we both became painfully and emotionally handicapped. But I got my strength and determination from you. Though our wings were broken, we flew as high as we could and never gave up.

So, I’ll close by saying, thank you, mom, for doing your best to raise me right in spite of the many boulders across the path. Thank you for being faithful, honest and true. Thank you for the only love you knew how to give. I guess, without my realizing it, God thought it was enough because He’s been supplying the rest.

Good-bye, mom. I’ll see you in heaven one day.

Your loving daughter,
Sandi