There are days when performing the most basic tasks of motherhood is all the strength that I can muster up. Sometimes I take the “easy way out” even though I know I shouldn’t; like giving my daughter chocolate milk for bed, or letting her watch a little bit too much tv…
At the age of 7, my sister and I were removed from our home with our mother because she had substance abuse issues and an addiction to methamphetamine. I remember the mother before DCFS came in and changed what I thought I knew forever. I remember soft cuddles on the couch. And every week we would get out our TV dinner trays and sit on the floor to watch the newest episode of Fear Factor. I remember a blissful and loving childhood when I reminisce on the years I remember with my mother. I don’t remember a ton, maybe more than most (perhaps it’s made-up in my head), but I do remember that she was always there. The memories of that period of my life that I cherish the most are the ones I remember being curled up with her, tickle fights, doing crafts, spending time in the kitchen.
It was 2003. I didn’t know it then, but the day I left our home with DCFS was the closest I would ever be to my mother again.
All throughout adolescence, I had my bouts of extreme anger, pure hopelessness, and resentment towards my mom; and this was all well-masked by my focus on being a hardworking multi-sport athlete, straight-A student, and an active role model in the community. I felt put-together and distracted from the “loss” of my mother by becoming someone with the morals, work ethic, and dedication of the strong leaders, teachers, coaches, and friends that I was surrounded by. I feel very blessed for their contributions to who I am, but I would be lying if I said there could ever be anyone to replace my Mom.
As the years went by and I grew into a young adult, my mother was in and out of prison several times. We had very little communication all throughout my middle school years, until I was in high school and able to make an effort on my own accord. I scanned the stands of every game I ever played in, hoping to see her there. She never was. I wrote letters to her in prison using a friend’s home address instead of mine. I was brokenhearted and didn’t know the right ways to cope. I begged and pleaded to God, asking him what I did to make her not want me. Our relationship could never be completely restored, even if I wanted it to be. The pain of not having a mother still fills me with astounding anguish at times; it’s usually short-lived, but every day I wish I could call my mom for advice. I had my children without my mother. This fall, I will get married and she will not be there. This is a pain that I feel constantly.
I promise you, your presence in your child’s life is enough. Even if you don’t have a clean house today. Even if you let them skip brushing their teeth for one night. Even if you don’t love all of the parts of motherhood. Even if you question if you are truly a “good mom.” Stressing over these minute instances just proves that you are the best mother for your child.
I am speaking from the perspective of someone who both treasures the memories I have with a loving and kind mother, and also as someone who daily mourns a lost relationship with their mother: You, most definitely, are enough. Even if you feel like you could have been better. Even if you made a mistake and it’s eating at you. Even if you feel like the biggest failure on your bad days.
You’re human, you’re trying; but most importantly, you are present.
Every day, you wake up and commit your life to your child. Being there matters. Children may not remember everything you do together, but even when you are being hard on yourself, I hope you take comfort in the thought that they will always know that their mama was there.
Because there is one helluva hole left behind when they aren’t.