From the time I was 16 until I was 19, my mother's life was plagued with soul searching. I battled depression which also helped her face some of her own issues with sadness, I went off to college which made her face even more about her life, I returned home and announced that I was not going back but instead going to a Community College near home because I was thinking of changing my major to film and theatre leaving my business degree intentions in the wind, and the biggest test of all ... I was in a relationship with a boy. This was the juggernaut that would send my mother over her sanity edge. By this time, she was so turned off by men and what relationships represented, that she was unable to understand why I would want to embark on such a serious courtship. She was loosing me to another person, worse a man!, and she really was not handling it very well. There were heated arguments, words said in anger, words said in haste, snide remarks and the thing I hated the most: the silent treatment. She was the best at just not talking, keeping everything to herself only to build into an explosion of sorts. This was her downfall: me. I was not trying to hurt her, but I was really in love with Nick, my first real boyfriend who made me feel loved. But just having those feelings were the problem. She knew that I was old enough to decide for myself what I wanted in life. She knew that I was not one to just jump into a relationship without allowing myself to be sure of how I felt. She knew that I was getting older and would soon be leaving to start my own life. This was what scared her, she was afraid of loosing me ... kind of the way Gertie felt about my father. That scared her even more because she knew how hard she fell for my dad.
Needless to say, my relationship was beginning to unravel with Nick so that left me to not only pick up the pieces with my heart, but also pick up the pieces with my mother. I was walking on eggshells with her because I know she was mad that I was suffering from heartache caused by a man. She felt what I felt, yet she was also feeling her own past. We worked hard to readjust to our new dynamic and as always, she taught me so much in the way she listened, the way she opened herself up to make me more comfortable. We were mending our whole mother-daughter relationship when I learned that I was pregnant. Now, hearing that I was pregnant did not scare me at all. The thought of telling my mother that I was pregnant was something different. I knew that she would not be mad, that was not the way she was, not at all. But I knew that she would be disappointed in me. I knew she would be worried about me and what I was going to face being unwed and pregnant. I knew that she would just be concerned for me and my well being. I knew that I wanted to consider adoption and I had spoken to my doctor about that very subject when I was in his office after I learned of my prenatal condition. He knew my mother and asked how I was going to tell her. I told him I did not know. He then told me that she might surprise me, he thought she was much more compassionate than I gave her credit for. I am glad he said that because it changed how I told her.
Anticipation, anxiety and feeling sick. That was me at dinner that night. After eating, I told her that I was going to get some dessert, buying more time and trying to gain confidence before I shattered her world...yet again. I went to Dairy Queen and got her a Banana Split and myself a Peanut Buster Parfait. What the heck, I could use some chocolate. I drove the longest way home I could find without melting the ice cream. When I arrived back home, I gave her the treat and I then found her purse. I looked for and found the Xanax bottle, opened it and gave one to her. She looked at me, opened her mouth and just before she could ask I said..."Just take it. Trust me." Most parents would refuse, but she knew when I was serious. She took it and then enjoyed her ice cream. "Mom, I need to talk to you and it is pretty serious." I was having trouble getting the words out because my tongue was a little cold from the frosty treat. "All right. What is it?" she asked putting down her feet to sit up in her chair. "Well, I went to Dr. B today." She immediately asked "Are you okay? I something wrong?" "No, I am fine, no worries there." I looked at her and took a deep breath. "Mom, I am pregnant. I am not very far along, about two months and so far we are both very healthy." She was looking at me. She did not say anything for a few seconds, the longest seconds in my life. I was worried that she might have just had enough with me and say..."Get out!" I am not sure why I thought that, it was not at all like her. My head was running endless thoughts and I was trying to read what she was thinking but that is like trying to understand why there are always missing socks when you do the laundry: no clue. I waited another few seconds, it was torture. She then very calmly said, "Well, what are we going to do?" I was not only relieved, but I was taken back. She did not ask 'What are you going to do?' She asked 'What are we going to do?' She was telling me that not only was she not going to yell "Get out!' but that she would again be on my side. She was telling me that she was going to support me just like she had been doing all her life. She did not judge me, she did not give me a lecture about how this could have all been avoided. She was concerned. She was loving. She was compassionate, just like Dr. B told me she would be.
Once I told her that I was considering adoption she did nothing but listen. I told her my reasons, that I was going to talk to Nick and get his thoughts, that I was not going to force him to do something he did not want to do but explain to him that this is what I felt would be best. I did not really have to tell her all of this, she lived life with me. She understood why I was thinking adoption and she commended me for considering it. It turned out to be one of the most thought provoking, interesting and longest conversation we had ever had about anything. We were up until 1 am and we had finished our ice cream around 6:30 pm. She was understanding. She threw out scenarios and asked my thoughts. She told me about people that she knew who were adopted and what their lives were like. She told me that to have the maturity that I had at my age was remarkable and she was proud that I was not considering abortion. She also talked a lot about her faith, my faith and that we should just ask God for guidance and he would lead us to the right path. She was so fantastic about it and I really was overwhelmed by her nurturing. It was this unconditional love that would help keep me healthy in the landmine field of adoption. There were some roadblocks for sure. The State of Missouri, social workers, ignorant people willingly spewing their disgust at me for no other reason than to make themselves feel better about being scared to ask questions and find answers. She was there through it all, with a strong hand at my back to hold me up when I felt the need to back down, to run away from it all. She got me through it with immense understanding and comforting words.
When I went into labor with my daughter, I wasn't sure if I was feeling labor or just some pains. Once I got out of bed and there was water everywhere well then I knew that it was time. But, instead of waking her up I took the car and headed to my favorite bakery, McCarthurs. I picked up a stolen with cheese, cinnamon and apples, a half gallon of chocolate milk and I headed home. I sat at the table stuffing my face with the deliciousness of the baked goods when my mother came into the kitchen. She asked why I was up and I told her that I thought I was in labor. It did not register with her right then, but about a minute later she came back in all frantic. 'It's time?" "Yeah, but I want to finish this first. Do you want some?" I asked offering her the apple stolen. "No, I am going to get in the shower." And that she did. We left for the hospital and her driving was a little erratic. We arrived safely and my doctor had called ahead and told them to give me a private birthing room, which was very sweet of him. We settled in and figured that it would not be long because my water was already broken and the contractions were pretty steady. But, once the water was all gone, the contractions slowed and we were told that a long night was ahead of us. Boy, was I glad that I ate those yummy stolens!
Next time...the deliveries of my children and how my mother lived life away from her grandchildren.