This is a story of strength, courage, and love. I wanted to share this because I feel my oldest child may need to see these words. This is a part of her story. Where these life moments do not define her as a whole, I am hoping it helps heal her if she is feeling pain; helps answer questions she may have; or that it may fill a void. More importantly, I am hoping it shows her that she is loved…. that she always has been….and always will be.
Dear First Born,
I am a mom. One of many, in a world which is continuously moving and forever changing.
Each of my children are individuals, with personalities that shine through to my heart. I cherish how each one has helped shape me into the person I am today.
The day my oldest daughter was born is etched into my soul. As I held this small, 7 lb. 1 oz. little girl, I was amazed that she was all mine. I created something so perfect. So fragile. I realized that the past was not important.
It was the future that mattered.
It was HER future that mattered. Sadly, I was too young to fully understand this profound epiphany.
Your first child is your “guinea pig”, so to speak. You learn with mistakes. You struggle to make ends meet and to buy diapers, formula, and clothes. Constantly fighting to find your youth and patience . You don't handle failures as a parent well. There are not celebratory dinners to mark your accomplishments when you are young and naïve.
Being a teenage mom was not a choice I ever saw myself making. It wasn't easy and definitely a life unlike I experienced growing up. I was living in a alternate universe. I no longer existed in a home filled with love and happiness.
Lost and Found
I was 19, married, and miserable. My old delusions of marriage gave way to despair while I continued living with only the false sense of hope. A hope that I could fix my broken family.
When my daughter was around 2 years old, I had that moment when I had reached the end, no longer willing to accept less that I was worth.
Details of the argument between her father and I escape me, but I do remember when my daughter walked into the room.
Her small arms reached for me and I lifted her to me. Her love engulfed me. It comforted me. It strengthened me. As I shifted small body until she rested against my hip. The sweet smell of childhood filled the air as she looked her father in the eye and spoke the words I never had the strength to say. “You do not talk to my mommy that way!”
Her words, her protection, woke me from a restless sleep.
She deserved better. SHE deserved to be protected.
A New Strength
My daughter became a child of divorce.
A child with 2 homes.
Two versions of life to be lived and tolerated. A witness to angry parents trying to survive and cope.
There is more to this chapter of my story, but that is for another time.
My daughter depended on me. She trusted I would scare her monsters away. Throughout this time, her small hand clung to mine and we taught each other to walk through our new life.
One step at a time, we survived.
Hiding from Myself
I doubted my abilities to be a good mother.
Every day, I attempted to parent. To love. To provide. But I felt like a failure; an impostor in my own life.
As I watched her play, her innocence and smiles circled me. I'd rock her to sleep at night to songs of twinkling stars I would tuck her in and recite the childhood prayer my dad always said to me….
While we recited the prayer from my youth, a cocoon of peace and safety enveloped. Her sweet voice would whisper, along with mine, echoing the belief that tomorrow would be okay.
The safety I prayed for shattered as I left her room. Tears fell.
At those moments, I gave into my feelings of helplessness of living in my own chaos. A place so foreign, where an eternal war raged.
Each day was a new battle. It was just her and I against the world. How would we get out unscathed?
A Parent's Love Never Ends.
Without my own mother's conditional love, devotion and stubbornness my daughter and I may have remained broken.
She knew that I was struggling as a parent. Yet, she never saw me as weak or a failure. She loved without asking questions or for anything in return - except our safety and happiness. My mother's selflessness allowed me to learn and slowly become the mother/woman/person my daughter needed.
With time, I learned and grew. I hardened against the world living outside my door, feeling older beyond my actual years. The time between the age or eighteen and 21 are a blur to me. I remember stumbling, falling flat on my face and drowning in despair during moments of loneliness and defeat.
I faltered and thought of giving up.
Yet, I forced myself try again. For my daughter. Her small voice spoke for me and I owed her my life.
There wasn't another chapter for me. I was a Mom. This was it. My chances at marriage or love had expired. I was in a different realm than most of my friends. I couldn't go out at a moments notice. There was no sleeping in or sleeping off nights of fun.
Meeting someone was not realistic. No one wanted a single mom. How could I think of introducing another into our lives when the fear of failure consumed me?
Let Go & Live
Life just happens whether you feel ready or not. Life is unstoppable.
My daughter was prideful, stubborn and so unlike me. She welcomed anyone and everyone into her heart. One memory is still vivid today.
She sat in the front of a shopping cart at HEB. Hazel eyes soaked up everything around us. Her short blonde hair brushed the flower-dotted straps of her blue jean overalls. We'd enter an aisle (any & all) and if there were other shoppers, she'd act as the greeting committee.
“Hi! I’m Kayla! What’s your name?”
Some adults would be intimidated that a tiny child would speak boldly, while others would introduce themselves and hold a conversation.
With her acceptance of the world, her small voice helped me let go of my fears. I lived.
My daughter was 4 when I remarried and 5 years old when we welcomed her baby brother into the family. At 10 years old, her wish for a sister was granted. We were now the proud, chaotic family of five. I was now raising my children in a loving, nurturing home like the one my parents created for me.
Fast Forward, but not The End.
Even today, I worry that my past decisions affect her...that my own painful memories aren't tattooed deep within her heart...like mine.
My first born is now eighteen. I reach for hope that having sixteen years of stability and love from two devoted parents would make up for the wrongs my choices caused.
Her senior pictures sat next to her baby pictures. Small glimpses of her adult life peek through those same hazel eyes.
From a young age, she never failed to ask “Why?” She wanted to know more. Never quite satisfied with “Because I said so…”. Vagueness never suited her and I know her independence and curiosity for life would lead her.
This was my first born. A beginning, but not an end.