I remember all of the things that I thought I wanted to be
So desperate to find a way out of my world and finally breathe
Right before my eyes I saw, my heart it came to life
This ain’t easy it’s not meant to be
Every story has its scars
When the pain cuts you deep
When the night keeps you from sleeping
Just look and you will see
That I will be your remedy
When the world seems so cruel
And your heart makes you feel like a fool
I promise you will see
That I will be, I will be your remedy
This post has been a long time coming…for Eenee, and for other ‘half-mothers’ who have no idea what they are doing.
Dearest ‘Big Brother’
I remember being fifteen, sixteen, and all of those remaining teenage years. I remember my world being grey. The colour that childhood brought me had long since been snatched away from me, and I remember feeling as though it would never return. My world was two- dimensional, and I was convinced that everyone else had access to a 3-D world, and I just wasn’t given those opportunities. I searched for escape in movies, books, and in dancing, and I imagined how some day I would be happy when I was rich and free. I felt young, sheltered, and inexperienced. I felt that I would never measure up. I held a secret list deep inside my heart, things I thought I had to accomplish for the world to take me seriously. I’m ashamed, now, to think of some of those things I held up as valuable. I felt as though the world had been cruel to me, and in hindsight, I realize that I wasn’t necessarily wrong. My parents couldn’t be together, my family was not average, and my father and I had a distant, lonely relationship. I felt as though my mother loved me, but didn’t understand me. I felt as though there would never be anyone who was going to take care of my heart, and really get me. I was hiding beneath the hurt of betrayal and sexual assault. It was a lot for my immature self to deal with. And now? I know we all have scars. I know they help to create our story. They give us strength. They serve to restore the colour in our lives, when we come out the other side. You will come out the other side.
It was you.
Please don’t misunderstand me. Your father is my rock, and I love him deeply, but there is part of us that believes that we didn’t find each other, just for each other. I can see, now, that you and I were meant to walk this road together, and that is why I think of you as my half-son, and not my ‘step child’. But I don’t want to add a magical twist to something that was actually quite difficult for both of us. It has taken work for us to get here.
Having a teenage son is tricky business, as any mother can attest to. Having a teenage son who has been entrusted into your care, but is not technically “yours”, adds a whole new level of trickery. How much can I love you without you silently pushing me away? How much is mine to teach you? How do I love you maternally without moving into the your mother’s special territory? How do I not hurt her? How do I create a safe space in our home for you, one where you feel loved and special and included, without walking there? How do I comfort you when you are sad without holding you in my arms? How do I help you fall asleep when I can’t rub your hair while you lay in bed? How can you let me love you without hurting your own mother? It’s a difficult road to navigate for both of us, and I know having me around hasn’t always been easy for you.
I’ve never wanted you be anything but yourself, whomever that will be. Somedays you may know exactly who that is, and others, you may feel as though you could never be proud of yourself, but I know you. Whether you think I do or not. I know how your freckles stand out in the sun. I know how you can’t remember that ‘igh’ makes the sound ‘i”. I know that you hate to do chores, but you find value in helping other people. I know that you long for adventure but are afraid to leave the safe space that you call home. I know that you resent this small, quiet town, but someday it will bring you great comfort. I know that you have to see the world for yourself to understand how wonderful your life is.
Please remember this… YOU DON’T HAVE TO FIND YOURSELF, YOU ARE NOT LOST. But you must create yourself. You are a work of art. You must create a person who feels authentic. You must live with integrity. These are the riches that will take you places.This work won’t be easy, and most importantly, it will never be finished.
When you were 7, and I was 24, I bought a crappily written book. Something along the lines of ‘201 great things about being a stepmother’. I was struggling, and I didn’t know my place. It listed things such as ” you have a free baby sitter when he’s visiting his mom”, and “you can blame his parents for the things that drive you nuts about him, while taking responsibility for the good things” (okay so I may have done this once or twice). Well, I’d like to leave one here that I’d add to the book. You get to create your own roles in each other’s lives. There is no set job list for a half mother and son relationship. It’s flexible and open for alterations, and if there is one thing you and I both have in common, besides being disorganized, artistic, and sensitive day dreamers with horrible memories, it’s that we can’t follow a plan worth shit. So I think, we’ve got this one.
you and me circa 2008
One last thing before I go… I need to squeeze in a word about Love. Love doesn’t mean always agreeing with each other. Love doesn’t always mean that we’ll even like each other. It doesn’t mean I’ll read your mind or always do the right thing. Love is the lasting decision to care for and respect someone. It means that whatever happens, we’ll work it out.
It means I’ve got your back.
I love you.
“Come whatever, I’ll be the shelter that won’t let the rain come through”
˜ Remedy˜ Adele & Ryan Tedder
and yes, for the record, he does like to jump off of things.
I couldn’t be more pleased to be finished with November. It seems that every year, I expect it to be much more exciting than it ends up being. I expect a glorious seasonal shift, but instead there is generally just brown. (Don’t get me wrong. I’m the kinda girl who, when given the choice of pink and brown, would choose brown, but when you shove it in my face waving it to and fro, being all “brown is great!”, I’m no longer interested.) In November, I, generally, expect festive holiday preparation, and instead I carefully tip toe around those who may accuse me of prematurely spreading holiday cheer ( gasp!). There is nothing like the first of December– a day which allows those eager holiday beavers to shout to the world “it’s here!” I can wave my sparkle-Yuletide-creativity freak flag in the air without apology, and in about a week’s time, I can begin wishing folks a Merry Christmas….and don’t think that I won’t. November is the transitional season, where we move from outdoors to in, where we move from outside ourselves to inside, where we reflect on the bits that have served us, and we sort out the changes we’d like to implement with the coming light of the solstice. It seems that every year, I glorify this process, as I so often do, adding bits of golden glimmer to the memories, and then with the coming of brown, I remember that it’s just…hard. Both the physical and emotional work of November is exhausting. We’re down to the end of our fire-burning- wood- work for the year. We’re just schlepping the last of it into the woodshed, a task that is tedious,back breaking, but ever important, as we prepare to avoid digging our wood from the snow banks in January, as Papa Bear so vividly explains it. On an inner level, we’re also tossing boxes into heaps. They’re all marked in bold with sharpie…some in colourful rainbow and others marked in big angry strokes .. ‘things I’ll actually never accomplish’, ‘things about me that are super annoying’, and at the same time, we’re making peace with the ones labelled ‘things I haven’t quite finished sorting through yet’…or at least we’re trying. We have lots of winter left to work through those.Where are we now that it’s December? Well, we’ve officially begun to pay for our home (yay?), I’m sewing like a mad woman, we’re planning our baking schedule, we’re decorating with grapevines, grapevines, grapevines, and trying to reignite the creative spirit in everyone…it always comes after the work is done….