I can’t remember the first time my mom got high. Maybe that’s because it’s some of the only memories I have of her.
For a while, she was fantastic. She did the room-mother thing and the field trip things and the cheerleading coach things. She was there for me and was always a part of my life. I never had to wonder where she was or if she loved me or if she cared what my brother and I had going on. She was a good mom.
And then life happened.
A tragedy; my grandmother, her mother, died. And with her, in a way, so did my mom.
First, my mom was popping pills to help her manage the feelings she couldn’t (or maybe just wouldn’t) get a hold of on her own. It was understandable. In my 17-year-old mind, I couldn’t even begin to comprehend how I would come to terms with my mom’s death. But it got worse. The doctors prescribed pills for her to help her sleep, because she wasn’t. And then those pills started to react with the pills she was taking for her nerves. And then she started to act crazy and do crazy things.
She was hallucinating and saying things that didn’t make any kind of sense. She would see things and people and talk to herself. The scary part was, she didn’t even realize she had done it or was doing it.
She’d take her medicine and one of two things would happen:
- She would sleep and sleep and sleep and then wake up, pop more pills and sleep again.
- Or, she would get really emotional; angry, or so depressed she would become suicidal.
For a long time, these have been the only memories of my mother I can conjure. The mother that gets high to escape life and make herself feel better. The mother that is so unhappy with her life that she allows her own self-loathing to ruin everything good in her life. Like her relationship with me and my brother. And with her grandchildren. And with her husband. And her health. And her overall quality of life.
Gone is the happy-go-lucky mom who laughed and played and joked with everyone about life; the mom who had a love for existence in this world and who pushed for greatness over mediocrity; the woman who wanted nothing more for her children than happiness and excitement and adventure and travel and goodness and greatness and joy. That mom doesn’t exist anymore.
My children have never known that woman, that grandmother. They know the one who lacks enough energy to climb out of bed. Or enough energy to laugh at the chaos of life and the humor in the mistakes of others. They now the one who yells about everything and is so bitter with the world she seems she would more or less be happiest if she just wasn’t around anymore. They know the grandmother that is overweight and battling a magnitude of health issues because she just has no desire to live; despite still having plenty to live for.
And as sad as it is, I’m afraid that they see in me - their mother - a woman who has lost all hope in her mother; lost hope in any kind of relationship with her; lost hope in the idea that she will ever live to be more than 60 years old - because she doesn’t want to and doesn’t care to. I’ve lost hope in hope that any aspect her life will or can ever change.
But what they also see, is a woman [me] who prays wholeheartedly and fervently on her knees for her own mother day in and day out. They see their mother crying out to God for mercy on her and for healing of her heart.
They see their mother praying over Psalm 27:14:
Wait on the LORD;
be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart:
wait, I say, on the Lord.
God promises to meet me where I am.
He promises restoration and hope and goodness and mercy. And while my timing isn’t always his timing, I am comforted in knowing that, in due time, all things shall come to pass; that in the eternal, there will be a time in which there will be no more tears and no more arguing and no more feuding and no more sadness.
Until then, I use this battle she faces to drive me, encourage me, push me to be the best mom I can be for my own children. Taking lessons on how I don’t want to parent and the things that I don’t want to be or become. It’s not a dream I had for myself: to not want to be like my mother.
Most little girls dream of growing up to be just like their mom. I didn’t. I don't want to be my mother. I want to be nothing like my mother. And it's her greatest gift to me: showing me what not to do and who not to be. Grace is funny like that.
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