Growing up, I was a skinny runt with buck teeth. The kids at school called me “Bugs” for Bugs Bunny, and “toothpick” for toothpick legs. In high school, I had a uni-brow and tons of blemishes. I was painfully shy. Skinny, long dark hair, zits, uni-brow, full head gear attached to ugly metal braces, and knock knees. What could be better?
In college , something happened. I was asked to be a participant by my school in the Miss Texas USA Pageant of 1981. I was still waif thin, long dark hair, uni-brown had been plucked, and for some reason, for the first time in my life, thought to be extremely attractive.
I was treated differently by everyone I knew. It almost happened overnight. Talk about an adjustment. Did I believe I was pretty? Nope.
I didn’t make sound choices. Thought I had to pursue my first husband. Didn’t believe in myself and was unsure of most things. Didn’t even believe I could be a good mother. I gave it my best though. I had a ton of things to overcome…without going into a lot of detail, life as a child was fairly rough. My brothers and I really had to “toe the mark.” If we didn’t, there were dire consequences.
I finally felt free in college and had a great time. I almost flunked out my second semester of my sophomore year. That’s how much fun I had. I decided I wanted to make school fun for kids, so I became a teacher. I had a gift with kids. They loved me and I was good at instructing and teaching. I had found my niche.
The birth was horrific. All because my “dodo ex” wanted to save money. The birth cost him a total of 800 dollars. It cost me two years of my life. She didn’t begin breathing at first. The cord was around her neck twice. I was in labor over 24 hours. A few hours after she was born, we went home. To save money. I became a mother. I loved her more than life itself. So much so, that I knelt by her crib, was so afraid she would stop breathing, and watched her like a hawk. I failed to sleep for 2 weeks.
I suffered a full blown nightmare. I was literally in a coma and don’t remember too much. I couldn’t take care of my new child, or myself so I was in the hospital for 35 days. The meds they gave me made me a zombie. I fought to be “me” again. Miss Texas was literally reduced to a slug. It took me two years to really be vibrant and whole. I promised I’d be the best mother I could be to my daughter. I gave her my whole heart and soul. I vowed to always be strong and healthy from that point.
I learned that things aren’t always in our control. There were many times as a teacher that I caught what the kids at school had, and became very ill. Since I was married at that time to a #1 fruitcake, I normally suffered alone.
I was over joyed when my daughter went to college and received her advanced degree. Despite our being neglected in the household, she rose above and flourished. I am so proud of her.
During her years in school, I taught, cared for her, sang professionally, held art classes for children, did home health care, tutored children in English after school, taught religious education, and drove my daughter to every lesson and creative venture she wanted to pursue. We went to church every Sunday and I led mass as a cantor. She loved her doggies, rabbits and kitties. I bought her a horse and she was a horseback riding instructor with me after school as well. We did so much together and it was wonderful being her Mom.
Being a mother to me means being there for her WHENEVER she needs me. Not just on one specified day of the year called, “Mother’s Day.” I’ve learn to let her contact me now. I do not bother her. I want her to know I’m here for her when SHE wants. I am not a pest. I might have been at one point, but I learned that wasn’t the way to go. Being a mother certainly means knowing when to “let go.”
I’m re-married to the best guy in the world. My life is wonderful and I only wish to give back now. To anyone who needs me. I’ve chosen the art world and to assist artists in this area. They truly need low booth fees and more fairs to showcase their art. I’m out to help them anyway I can. Art is a very sensitive, out-pouring of one’s soul as a creation. It needs to be cherished and admired. When an artist chooses to put their work out there, they are vulnerable. It is a part of them. They want what they’ve made to be valued and sold.
Life isn’t easy…for anyone. We make choices that can affect our entire lives–for good or for bad. I’ve shared this because I would love it if someone learned from me. Choosing the wrong person to spend 20 years of your life with is dumb. Celebrating a mother one day a year is dumb too.
Our lives are all intertwined and enmeshed. We are a part of a very large pond. When one of us does something, the ripples affect us all. Unless someone craps on you intentionally, we all owe each other respect and kindness. Going to church, keeping a religious journal, then not sending your own father a father’s day or birthday card, doesn’t make you kind. With holding grandchildren from loving grandparents is appalling, yes, but it also makes you dumb. Think about it.
Being dumb about interpersonal relationships makes you small. We can all offer each other special things because we are all so different, and offer perspectives and talents apart from one another. When we cut ourselves off from people, we lose the opportunity to influence and enrich their lives. Being present, and offering ourselves—Now that’s a great thing.