moth·er — /ˈməT͟Hər/
noun 1. a woman in relation to her child or children
verb 1. bring up (a child) with care and affection 2. give birth to
From the time I can remember, I wanted to be a mother. From cradling baby dolls, to mothering my siblings, to watching my mother and mimicking her. I’d like to say that my thoughts were preoccupied with deeper thoughts on women empowerment or following dreams of being a successful and independent woman. But no. I was the little girl that dreamt of finding the dashing and charismatic love of her life, getting married and moving into our quaint little home on a sweet little street in a lovely neighborhood with the wooden shutters and flower boxes, and raising our adorable children that would have my blue eyes and his thick hair.
I had a happy childhood. Two wonderful, God-fearing, giving, intelligent, loving parents. Two obnoxious, annoying, silly, fun, loving sisters. One sweet pup. One cuddly cat. We went to church every Sunday. And Sunday night. And Wednesday. And probably more. My mother was a teacher. My father an engineer. Comfortably set up as middle class all-Americans. We wanted for nothing but didn’t have everything. Best of all, we were loved. Fully. Completely. No matter what. And so, we were happy.
I was a goody two shoes. Loved theatre and music and books. Had my best friend and then many others. I was smart and did well in school. I was kind and did well in society. I was oblivious and talented and hard working and funny and again, happy.
Not to say there were not hiccups in the road or we were without difficult happenings. But we always trusted God and forged together as a family. No matter what.
I pursued the things I loved, I had confidence even when I struggled with weight or not being the most popular because I didn’t drink or party or cuss or have sex, I made great grades, I performed, I accomplished, and I did everything that the world expected of me. I never looked right or left but kept my eyes straight ahead. I never questioned if I was following the path I truly wanted because it just made sense to follow it.
I graduated high school as third in my class (that damn math from keeping me from number two). I graduated college with all A’s and B’s and a certificate to be a teacher. I began my career at the highest ranked and best paying school anywhere in the area. I said “yes” to the love of my life and we were married a year later. I became an insta-mom to a beautiful little girl who, at the age of 3, looked straight at me and said “You’re my mother” and I smiled and nodded and hugged her close. Nine months after we said “I do”, I gave birth to a beautiful little boy with a head full of curly hair and a birthmark under his chin. 15 months later, I gave birth to an equally beautiful little boy with the same curly hair and lips for days.
A mother. I was a mother. A wife. A mother. A homeowner. A teacher. A friend. A daughter. A sister. All the labels I had ever wanted. My heart was full but there was a darkness looming. One that I constantly pushed away. One I refused to acknowledge. One that stole in quietly and wore me down and wreaked havoc on my lifelong confidence and lead me into the far corners of insanity. Of chaos. Of loss. Heartache. Destruction.
Today I write this with the loss of many of those labels. I’m no longer a wife. I’m no longer a teacher. I was not a homeowner for quite some time. I lost many friends. But there are labels that remain, the most important one being mother.
I have not seen my daughter since October of 2017. Nearly 70 weeks without my little girl. It is a loss that has become a giant hole within me. One that has come with many tears. One that no one can ever fathom unless they have experienced the same. But I am still her mother. No matter what.
And I have my two sons. 15 months apart. Ornery. Head strong. Intelligent. Silly. Annoying. Defiant. Hilarious. Independent. Sad. Joyful. Depressed. Insightful. Hurting. Confused. Loving. Handsome. Unsafe. Funny. And I have formed my new world, post the world shattering, to revolve around being the best mother to them that I can possibly be. We have been through some of the worst. We have been separated. We have been lied to. We have been abused. We have been hurt. Someday, when they are ready, I have horrible things to share with them not only about their father but also about me. And all I can hope for is that they see a woman who was beaten down so far but never gave up. Never stopped loving them. Never stopped fighting for them. A woman that has been relentless in making sure they have anything and everything they need to grow up to be healthy and whole adults with sound minds. Adults that know they are loved unconditionally. Because I am, after all, their mother. No matter what.