My girl came and got in bed with me at 230 this morning to snuggle. I was in the bathroom and she came looking for me. We grasped hands and got in bed. She wiggled her little 7 ½ year body to mine and I wrapped my arms around her and all was well.
Abigail and I are connected in a way that is hard to explain in words. She is 100% my mini me, so on one hand that is fun, beautiful and hilarious to watch as she grows up. On the opposite side of the spectrum that makes our relationship hard because she knows when I am off kilter even before I do.
Our spirits are so connected, so intertwined with one another that we are connected with invisible, stretchy cords of true love.
(Abigail’s 6th birthday party. I cannot help but love this picture)
Life as a mom and daughter has not been like this; I always knew that the deep feelings were there. She’s my daughter. She was/is the catalyst for my life moving forward and its abrupt redirection.
Yet I did not become a mother the day she was born.
It took 6 years for me to really feel like I am a mother; that we are a complete, whole family.
My life is a series of anniversaries and February is another one of those months. I left her “donor” (I don’t call him her dad or her father because he does not deserve nor has he earned to be called either of those titles.) on February 2, 2006. I was four months pregnant, had zero money, nowhere to go and zero support.
I left with my phone and my purse and the thought that I’d be sleeping in my van that night.
I left anyways. The time had come and I was done with his abuse. He did not want to be a dad and his choices let me know that it was time for me to fly.
God in His irony and His sheer ability to mark line and courses still astounds me. I was taken care of, WE were taken care of. I moved into a house for girls in crisis pregnancy’s that was run by a mega church in south Florida and am grateful for the willingness they took in extending their rules for me.
However it was a bubble, there was zero parenting; I mean actual parenting skills taught. It was all “fit this mold or your children will go to hell” teaching.
My idea’s and reflections of parenting were terrible. I grew up in an extremely abusive and neglectful environment so I had no idea what being a mom meant. I just did not know this at the time.
I knew that having Abigail was going to change my life. I was certain her inevitable arrival was going to be a life altering experience. It was the shock my life needed to stop doing drugs, to walk in a different direction, and to start a movement of change within my heart.
Giving birth was tough. I was induced and that alone took 36 hours before I even went into labor. I labored for five hours. A FAST and furious five hours; I was so exhausted that I was falling asleep in between contractions.
When my bebe entered this world she was things were not how I had planned. I did not get to hold her right away. Because of the extended induction she had meconium and had most likely swallowed it. I only remember looking over and watching the NICU team poking and prodding this miracle I had just delivered.
I wasn’t the first one to hold her.
The first words I remember hearing were from my mom.
“Damn she looks just like Jeffrey.”
NOT what I wanted to hear after almost two full days of trying to get this new life out into the world.
When they finally placed her in my arms I kept waiting for that rush of joy, that overwhelming “look at my baby” then the rush of tears. Honestly I was so tired I kept wishing that one of the nurses would take her so I could sleep.
(This says July 26th but the date was off. Baby Abigail born July 27th 2006 at 710am weighing 7 lbs 10 oz)
And I did.
There were moments when we were alone in the hospital that I would just be so overwhelmed with emotion that it was hard to process. I kept her with me, and in the bed with me most of the time because I just wanted to hold her. I didn’t want to let her go. I needed her with me, to feel her baby body on mine, to smell her head; breathe her in and see that I had in fact done it.
But that was just the beginning.
That sense of “I wish they would take her, I’m so tired” carried over into my parenting. I was tired. I did not know what I was doing, I would reach out for help and no one would respond. I am 100% positive that I had PPD that went undiagnosed. I had weaned off of my medications so that I could breastfeed because I was highly uninformed and truthfully bullied by several different people about meds and breastfeeding.
When that bubble I spoke about above popped that’s when the 900 pound monster attempted to rear its ugly head. We moved back to Colorado when Abigail was three months old and were living with my parents, I had no car and was scrutinized for every.single.choice I made.
Again I would reach out for help and be told I was fine, or it was sin and I needed to confess and repent. I tried bible studies, conferences and retreats so that I could change my heart and my behavior from within because that’s obviously what God wanted me to do.
Or so I was told.
I was angry and irritable all the time.
As Abigail got older and I couldn’t control what she did all the time it just became a mess. I was someone I was always afraid of being.
I was making choices that were devastating our relationship and when I would always get the same, repetitive answers; repent, its sin, you’re obviously NOT giving this to God so try harder. I would go forward at church and be prayed over and anointed. I was told that I obviously needed parenting classes or that Abigail just needed a good spanking because she is a strong willed child.
I would go to therapy and be told I had ADHD and that’s why I was so reactive.
In 2011 I had finally had enough of the way I was feeling. I had a terrible experience with a therapist and decided it was time to find a new one. Abigail was already in therapy for something that had occurred with her and we were doing therapy together as well.
Making that choice was the best thing I could have done.
I have spoken about this in many blog posts and the reason why it is so important is because it links to so many different changes in my life. Beginning the hard work with the therapist I have been seeing for the last 2 ½ years has shown me SO many different things that I never would have seen. Changed my perspective on sin, faith, and parenting and radically altered my ability to accept my trauma and its effects on every area of my life.
Including my parenting.
It’s brutal to write here that I was an abusive parent because I always swore I would not be anything like my parents. It’s tough to say that today I go to court for a choice I made in a triggered moment between Abigail and I and some bad shit went down and I was charged with child abuse because I reported myself on the advice of my therapist. I was cleared on abuse charges by the Department of Human Services and the District Attorney has been amazing.
It was a poor choice. I am not going to explain or defend myself here. I don’t have too. I know who I am before Christ and that I am in fact a GOOD mom. Abigail tells me all the time “you’re the best mom ever”
The snuggling this morning shows me that she feels safe with me. The things that she is able to talk to me about show me she feels safe with me and the way she plays in therapy (she actually sees my therapist now and we do family therapy) shows that she is making incredible progress. Her transformation, our transformation and redemption as a family has been beautiful.
That’s part of the reason why I say that I didn’t feel like I mother until the last year, why I didn’t feel like we were a family until things started to change. The last year and a half was really hard for both of us and there were so many changes and my being sick was really difficult for her.
We are a family.
I am a mother.
I am her mother. I was chosen by God, at a time in my life when everything was headed towards me dying and He gave me life. I don’t depend on Abigail to save me, she can’t. She’s my friend second and I am her mother first.
There are days I shake my fist at the sky and say “Dammit God why did you give me, of ALL freakin people a child?”
Then there are days when I watch her sleep, even curl up next to her because I am so in awe that He DID think that Abigail and I would work in tandem with one another. I am in still in awe that He CHOSE me to be this wild, spirited, creative, passionate little fire balls mama.
(Just because GOSH the cuteness. I think she was three. I love this picture)
January 30, 2014 at 10:12 am
Melting over those precious pictures. LOVE. But girl, I do not need anymore babies. Stop it with the smelling sweet heads and the curls and the, gah! (No, don’t really stop. I love it.) You are covered, held, loved. I have already lit your candle. I am getting a head start on the business of petitioning heaven. Steady on. You are strong! I love you. ❤
January 30, 2014 at 11:46 am
Bethany, this piece made me cry, it made me hope, it made me feel awe all over again in this incredible journey that is motherhood. Beautiful post, my friend.
January 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm
Bethany, your love for Abigail shows so clearly. All the love to you and her as you work to reclaim the darkness in the past and brighten the future together.