originally composed 2.8.15
When you lose your mom and become a mom in a single day, it changes everything… eh what a cliché, but it changed everything for and about me. A tidal wave of competing emotions swept thru me the morning I learned of my mother’s death while waiting in the hospital parking lot to meet my adoptive son. And like a tidal wave – a new path is carved… the path of least resistance. There are things and relationships in my life I’ve had to give up – there simply is not enough emotional capital left to spend. The regret, resentment, and guilt I feel about some of those things only make it difficult to reach back to them. It’s as though the destruction has been too great, too chaotic for me to be strong enough to walk back to and rebuild.
Unconsciously, I spent a considerable effort to place the tiger of my mom’s death in a cage so I could focus on being Tripp’s mommy. While we were actively pursuing adoption, it all happened very fast and we weren’t entirely ready. Thank God for good friends and family who jumped in with both feet to help us. I still don’t feel I’ve adequately thanked everyone or even given back to a level that comes close to what has been given to us. I’m not sure if I ever can – which is a lot of what this writing is about. I haven’t had it in me.
My mom committed suicide. With little time and energy to face or deal with the tragedy, I put all the hurt, guilt, trauma, regrets, anger, and despair away. It’s as though I locked up a tiger in a cage in my head. It’s a dangerous, but living breathing being I feel compelled to visit and care for.
The dichotomy of losing a mother and becoming a mother is vexing. My mom is not here to ask questions… doesn’t everyone wonder back to when did they first walk, how did they sleep or not sleep at night, just what was I like as a baby? Those memories are gone. I’ll not get them from my father. Knowing how greatly she wanted to be a granny – and how she just missed that opportunity – by mere hours… it’s hard to choke back the tears when that thought comes to me. I mourn for Tripp’s loss of his granny; one that he will never know. There is a photo of my mom and I on our fridge. Tripp points to it often and says 'mama' and I always add "and Granny Rita."
Then consider all these feelings, as I was juggling the reality of being a mommy to a newborn. It’s scary – we couldn’t believe the nurses and doctors let us drive 5 hours home with this tiny 5 lb bundle of amazing gift of life. His birth mom hugged us, said thank you, even, and signed the paperwork that would all but seal the adoption. Now my husband and I were solely in charge of this tiny little life in my arms. He doesn’t sleep well, never has. The reflux is still here after 17 months and about 18 pounds. I had no idea what I was doing – and all my energy was focused on him. My miracle son, with red hair! Red!? If I wasn’t certain God was involved in this, the red hair only served to add an exclamation point to His declaration.
There has been little time to grieve my mom’s suicide. I haven’t allowed it, and I don’t feel like now, more than a year and a half later that others would allow it. My old normal is gone. One day, I was focused on my career, my husband, our dogs, and growing our family… the next day was tragic and euphoric, and the next several months were pure survival and no sleep. Now, that there’s a rhythm and a new normal, I lift my head to see some of the destruction and just do not think I have the strength to overcome it. Where would the time and energy come from to give back to others like they gave to us, to resurrect those friendships, to even perform as well at work?
I won’t even mention the mommy guilt of going to work vs staying home. (oh wait, I just did). I prayed and asked and worked hard for this little miracle that calls me mommy and then I leave him in someone else’s care so I can sit at a desk in a corporation all day….? Just where are my priorities?!
I’m most worried about how I have not cared for myself. Not just my health, but the tiger locked in my head that I only visit once in a while. He will either need to die or be let out --- and since I feed him every so often I doubt he will die before me. Letting him out will be so painful, he will bite and claw his way to freedom. I don’t have that gap in time and responsibilities or in remaining support system to sustain letting the tiger out. I’ve cashed in all my chips. I’m on my own.