Monday, 2 October 2017

Becoming a mother without a mother.

Sorry in advance if you cry.
Grab a tea, & grab some tissues just in case?

My mum was the kind of mother that everyone wanted. She was immense fun and our house was filled with laughter, kids, animals (gerbils, cats, fish). She never asked people to take their shoes off and always treated each of our friends as her own. As the youngest of out of my brother & I, there was always plenty of our friends around. 
She wasn’t big on routine or rules and she didn’t sit down and spend hours playing with us. She was too busy working full time to keep a roof over our heads. She was our mum and we were #1 priority. Although, work came first because it put food on the table, kept the roof over our heads and when she would have time off, she would watch her game shows and soap operas. (Price Is Right, Young & The Restless) As a result of mum working full time, we learned from our own mistakes and to trust our own judgments, took care of ourselves as much as we could while being young. It was not easy growing up because my father was in & out of the picture constantly. Cheating on my mother & then up and left office when I was 10 or so. Leaving my mom completely heartbroken. My brother & father never got along because of their attitudes clashing and.. well, now that I'm becoming a parent and seeing other father figures treat their sons.. I don't think he really knew how to raise a son who has learning disabilities and not the common knowledge we would normally have. My brother suffers from something called Fetal Alcohol Effects. Impairment in behavioral and cognitive function.
As I am now 24, my brother is 27. He has a beautiful son and his life is on track. However, that wasn't the case growing up without a father and with our mum constantly working. Long story short, I was adopted by my grandparents when I was 12 or 13 and lived with them until I was 18. I then moved off to college. My mum and I always stayed connected and would phone each other every day after school, after work. I still remember her voice "Hi boo boo" or calling my "boob" or our "huggy huggy kiss kiss" at the end of each phone call. Prior to being adopted by my grandparents, I would sleep at friends houses on school nights so I could get to school on time, or get a good nights rest. My brother dropped out in grade 10 and would constantly have friends over and be irresponsible... I wanted to make sure I kept my life on track. Even at such a young age I had to grow up very quickly and look after myself. I didnt have time to be a child. I had to mature rather quickly but that doesn't mean I didn't make bad choices in my adolecent years!

Fast forward,
She died, it happened very quickly. When I was 21 and she was just 61. The months that followed was rather bleak and, when I look back, something of a blur. 2015 was rough. My mother passed away from multiple cancers due to her breast cancer from 2011 metastasizing to her lungs, which then spread to her vulnerable organs. Liver & Kidney. My mums lifestyle was full of chain smoking & drinking heavily ever since she was 16. Don't let her habits hinder her loving, protective side. She was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2010 and I remember my world just crumbling as I fell to the ground at school when my brother called me to tell me.. My mum didn't have the strength to tell me.. I don't blame her.
Back to 2015... My mum and I talked every day after I got off work. I was working three jobs at the time and would bounce from one to the other. I was on my way to the gym one day after work and my mum calls me crying because she is in so much pain, it was her back, near her kidney. I knew something was wrong. I asked about any other symptoms and my mum being the stubborn woman she was told me she had been urinating blood, could barely eat or even pick up a peanut butter jar because she was so weak. I would have never thought. As soon as she told me she was urinating blood, Spencer and I picked her up and brought her to the hospital. We spent 6 hours in the ER.. After Xrays, scans. It was determined she has spots on her lungs. We knew she suffered from COPD already. We went to the lung specialist the next week. He told us the bad news.. We weren't very shocked we took in the news.. I would be with her every day except on the weekends after work as much as I could.
She called me one afternoon while I was grocery shopping of urinating blood still, but it had gotten worse. I brought her to the ER once again, she needed a transfusion. We also found out she has liquid around her heart in the same visit. It wasn't looking good. This all began in March, ended June 23rd or 22nd..., 2015. I could go on and on about the day to day struggles we faced in the hospital Especially after her liver biopsy but it would be very long. I remember every detail.

From her death came a lot of responsibility. I had to take care of all the legal documentation, make sure things were in order, go to the funeral home, gut out her apartment, you name it.. At 21 years old, I felt like it was a new job. My body was in complete shock. I didn't absorb it all until weeks or months later. I had to get her Will in order, thankfully super simple, I had to make sure loose ends were tied. I didn't have time to grieve it felt. Although, I felt like I grieved properly after the fact. I didn't realize the stress my body was under until 6 months after the fact. I gained 25 pounds, was having digestive issues and had severe health anxiety for a good year and a half. I am assuming this all happened because of the stress my body was under but I was to busy to notice. It was the worst part to it all. I felt responsible for staying in my brothers life and being involved even though thats, not the type of family we were. We had our own lives and if we saw each other every now and then great! I felt a lot of pressure. 

Fast forward to 2017. 
I was totally awestruck and overcome with the responsibility that comes with having a baby, the love, sweat and tears that come with bringing a human being into the world. Now I have a baby on the way, and find myself navigating the extreme and crazy world of motherhood without her. Not a day goes by where I don’t think about her. I can still hear her voice and her beautiful laugh so clearly. But the searing sense of loss has subsided to a dull and (mostly) manageable ache. I cry often because I miss her so much, being pregnant with these hormones too. They don't help.
There are still so many little questions, however, that crop up on a daily basis that I would like to ask her: When did I start walking and talking? Did I use to scream and shout? Is it normal to feel such extreme frustration, boredom and overwhelming love that makes me want to burst in the space of five minutes? Is it really meant to be this hard or, on a good day, this easy? How long is it okay to keep chicken curry in the fridge for before it goes off?
I also miss having someone that puts me first in the way that only a mother can. As much as I love and adore my spouse it does sometimes feel as it's all given. I miss being her child and all the privileges that came with that although she was mostly busy and had other things going on... Having someone to come in and take over when I’m feeling lost. I will never forget when she was in the hospital and I was getting an ultrasound done on my ovaries because of excruciating pain. I was so scared. I went up to her room after my exam was done and cried... She held me in her frail arms and said: "It's my turn to take care of you again, and comfort you."
Being a mum without a mum will not be easy.  I mostly just have to trust my instincts and go with what feels right and, fortunately, I am able to do that because that’s how I was brought up. As a child of the 90’s there was none of this helicopter, totally child-centered parenting and we were more or less left to our own devices. I have adopted a slightly more hands-on, structured approach in keeping with today’s attitudes and expectations. My upbringing was good training for me now though in that I know the buck stops with me, as it were, and I am so grateful to my mum for that. I just wish I didn’t miss her quite so much and that my son had got to meet their other amazing grandmother. 

I'm not totally mum-less but of course, no one can ever replace my own blood mother. Spencer's mum, my mother in law, is one of the most amazing women I have in my life. From day one of Spencer and I being friends than dating she has fed me delicious meals. I'll never forget the first time I had dinner with his family. Homemade chicken pot pie. Mmm! She helped me with the legal side including getting the papers for a Will for my mum. I was very fortunate that Julie got to meet my mum before she passed away. I will always cherish these two women in my life. I also know that Julie will be a big helping hand where ever I need. I am so grateful for my friends that are mums too for the support. <3 It means the world to me.


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