Parenting Parents: The life of many children

I cant help but have tears in my eyes as I write this. Today I am not talking about me parenting my kids.

Today I am talking about me parenting a parent. My mom.

It’s not like one would think,  when they are in their late 80’s early 90’s, and having the normal aging. Or in the nursing home. It’s not like I am having to take care of her because of a tragic accident, or unforeseen circumstance.  I am talking about parenting parents due to their choices. The wrong choices. DRUGS.

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Me and my mom on my wedding day. This is one of my favorite pictures of the two of us.

When I was 9 years old I was found at home alone. No one knows for sure how many days. Possibly a few. I got myself ready for school and I was able to feed myself in those few days.  I don’t remember feeling scared. Just remember feeling alone. This is when I first learned something was not right, when my uncle came and got me, packed my bags and while doing so, found needles in the house. He broke them and threw them in the trash. I knew he was not happy, and something was wrong.  He took me to our grandparents, with whom my sister and I stayed a year.  In the mean time, I never got to see my mom, or my dad.

I lived a life with a mom who struggled with drug/prescription/alcohol addiction MOST. of. HER. life.  ALL MY LIFE! My father died when I was eleven from overdose of Heroin. I was embarrassed. I remember I would lie and say he died from a heart attack.  I only told my close friends the truth. On my 17th birthday,  my mother along with step father were arrested and our house was torn apart by the FBI. I just couldn’t live a “normal life”.  I struggled with a lot of pain, hurt, lies, embarrassment due to the life style my mom lived.

The stories go on: My mom stole my best friends car one time.  (Thank God she is still my best friend, love you Desi). I was not to hang out with the “good kids” because their parents didn’t want their kids to be influenced by me. I carried shame. However I will never forget my locker partner who always remembered my birthday and I believe deep down her parents knew what was going on behind the scene, yet wanted her to share love towards me, at least I would like to believe that, thanks Sherry. My mother has stolen thousands of dollars for her drug addiction from us kids. It hurts. Yet, there is this love I have for her. I can’t deny her. I still help her, I do not enable her. It’s been a tough love. But it’s Love.

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My Mother In law today Karen. She is a God send. Honest, humbling, loving. She is a phone call away. I know if we lived closer…We would be inseparable.

Fast forward. Now I am a mom. I have chosen to break the cycle or patterns that have caused pain in our family. There are times I cant help but think why? Why?  Why cant I have “that” mom. The mom I could rely on, instead of her relying on me. One who could be here for her grandchildren, and bear the mommy struggles with me. One that I could call and say “parenting is rough today”.  I can’t. Instead, I am comforting her. Helping her. I call and ask her how she is doing. I call to make sure that she knows I love her. Most people choose to not have a relationship with her. She can be toxic with her words, and boundaries need to be kept. I am her power of attorney, I pay her bills and give her the rest. She has accused me of stealing from her. I disregard those accusations, knowing that the addiction stole her senses. I give her grace, and have to forgive over and over again. Its hard, but it brings more peace this way and teaches my kids what forgiveness is, and grace.

Why am I telling you my story? Because I have learned I am not alone. There are many  who struggle with the consequences of our parents choices. And I want to encourage others who share a similar story. Something struck me the other day.  I read  on Memphis moms blog by Karena Hardaway  “We may be from one of the most blighted neighborhoods in town, but I am a firm believer that you do not have to be a product of your environment, and that if you work hard and pray harder you can and will get to what God has for you.”

Those words are a great reminder to me. I’m able to reflect and be reminded that I am an example of that person who is not a product of her environment growing up.  I have worked hard to fight the battle of “I am not good enough” “shame” to know in Christ I am good enough for all things and all things are possible through Him. I have a choice. I choose to live a good life through Him.  I am very blessed to be where I am today, my identity is not from how I was raised nor a product of my environment.

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My Mother-in-law Gerda. She passed away a few years ago. She was always helping out with baths, cooking, and my favorite~ laundry. I am blessed to have learned from her, to have loved her, and call her my mother in law.

God gave me two mother-in-laws and father-in-laws to be blessed and led by.  God has given me a pastors wife, church moms, many elder woman in my life who I consider as friends, but could be like mothers. God has given me grandparents, a sister, brothers, in-laws who show love.  It doesn’t fix the void/pain I have in my mother-daughter relationship. But it’s nice to have all these people God placed in my life to love and be loved by.

This Sunday I will wish my mom a happy Mother’s Day because I love her. There is not a hallmark card that explains my love for her. I will have to make my own along with sending her flowers.

This Mother’s Day I wish all the woman in my life Happy Mothers Day!

 

Note: During the process of writing this story, many series of events have happen with my mom. My mom has  been admitted into a rehabilitation, due to being found almost on her death bed from over medication. I can only hope and pray that maybe this might be it. Maybe this time it will be different. I am hopeful, I am encouraging. Our phone calls are actually nice and she can remember them. I love her, not her addiction.

 

 

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3 Responses to Parenting Parents: The life of many children

  1. Al May 5, 2016 at 12:41 pm #

    This is really amazing and the lessons of forgiveness and grace will touch a lot of people. I know they have me. Thank you

  2. Jillian May 13, 2016 at 2:11 pm #

    I was relieved to read this story, especially after the exhaustive holiday known as Mother’s Day. I have no contact with my mother, a cycle we have gone through since I was a teenager due to her addictions and decisions. It’s hard being a mom and not having a mom. I sometimes want to call her for a recipe or advice, but I know the boundaries I have set are for my own protection and that of my children must stay in place. Like you, I choose to break the cycle with my own children. I have hope that one day she will be healed from addiction. It’s a very lonely club being the daughter of lost mothers. But it’s a strong, brave and incredibly empathetic club. Wish you all the best.

    • Rochelle
      Rochelle May 16, 2016 at 11:15 am #

      Jillian,
      I am so thankful to read your words. It helps us know we are not alone. I understand the boundaries and importance of our children protection. I have to do the same in many situation. You sound like you have a strong, brave soul and know the sacrifices that need to be in place to break the cycle. I am in the lonely, strong, brave empathetic club with you!