I have alluded to my horrid family of origin a few times but never really given a lot of detail. I don’t feel the need to dwell on the past because honestly, who would it help?
There is something to be said for telling it like it is, and working through your stuff with a professional and I have definitely spent time doing that.
However, a fellow Toastmaster gave me a note recently about a speech I gave that made me reconsider. “I love hearing about how you overcame your childhood and more of your personal story”– Since my goal is to always speak/write from the heart. I feel compelled to share a little more than I normally do. So here goes.. (deep breath)
When your mother sends you to live with her secretary at the age of 17 (citing the betterment of her 4th marriage as the reason you are being kicked out of the house) and leaves you to fend for yourself, you think twice about having kids and whether you yourself are fit to be a parent.
When your father tells you that he chooses his younger child over you over and over again with his actions, and isn’t present at your high school graduation and chooses to not be part of you life, voluntarily it makes it easy to see why I might be scared even a little bit of that is in me.
When one of your uncles promises to put you through your first year of college on the condition that you NOT have a job (because he will pay expenses and school costs) and then disappears 6 months into that agreement, you kind of start to doubt people will be there for you.
I must mention the good with the bad however, My Aunt Nancy, who has several children of her own, NEVER missed a birthday or a Christmas, and for our wedding, she not only came in to help us plan, she was here and Cousin Eileen took our pictures as the wedding gift. My Aunt Peggy has supported my acting/directing career by always sending a thoughtful gift that pertains to whatever show I am currently in/doing. She always takes care to send presents and cards and doesn’t miss special occasions.
Onto the family of choice- I am grateful every day that I met Joan Ellen Young who is my mother of choice, it took a while for me to grasp, she will ALWAYS be there for me, whether it’s holding my feet to the fire on something I don’t want to face, or listening to me cry or vent and then offering advice (I pretty much know what she is going to say now) — but still want to hear her say it.. ALWAYS. Alan, who has been my best friend since 1997, and is always full of wise and sage advice as well as many “no taboo” moments of truth (this would involve saying something you may not want to hear) but have previously been given permission to say or ask anyway. I have a multitude of friends who are more like sisters and brothers (you know who you are) and they all help to form my family of choice. I would be remiss if I did not mention my husband. I really changed my mind about having kids when we got married..He is a wonderfully caring man and I have NO DOUBT whatsoever he will be an amazing Dad. It was in seeing that unconditional love and support from my spouse and partner (real partner, not just a label) that made a “never, ever” to “maybe” and then “someday” then to a “yes”.
I am so excited for our daughter to have him as her dad. Watching him paint her room and put up her clothes and toys and watching his unabashed glee as he talks about her future and what lessons she might take and I get so caught up the in excitement and it washes so many of my fears away.
It was a slow evolution to be sure.. to go from “I AM NEVER HAVING KIDS”…. to “I want to be a mom” took many, many, years and conversations and experiences with other people’s kids to show me that I could possibly do this mom thing. The miscarriage we had last year was awful but a silver lining to me (if there can ever be one from something like that) was the realization that made it all the more clear how much I wanted to be a mother.
My sweet friend, Rachel has a lovely daughter, Quinn Meissner, who will always hold a special place in my heart because while she is special to me for so many reasons the biggest one is this. It was in babysitting her and getting to know her her that I got to see what it might be like to be a mom. I got to see the good (those smiles she gives when she is really happy which doesn’t take much) and the bad (the crying that wouldn’t stop) and the ugly (the first time I had to send her to bed without a story because she was having a tantrum).. so I feel like it was realistic not idealistic but I guess time will tell on that one.
Impending motherhood, the thoughts range from stark fear that I will drop the kid, damage the kid and kill the kid to well, there are lots of irrational fears that we can entertain or we can focus on the span of control we do have which is our own mindset.
I am doing several things to prepare for being a mom, (eating better mostly, exercising to be in good shape, avoiding foods and drinks that are possibly harmful to the little one) and of course, working so hard on getting our money cleaned up (debt free and saving for retirement) but at the end of the day, I have no idea what to expect, how I will feel, if I will love it or if I will hate it.. or a strange combination of both. So many people have been so supportive about my abilities as a mother that haven’t even been tested yet. They say, “you are going to be an amazing mom” .. which is so sweet and certainly I appreciate it, but I have my own doubts.
I do my best to be “real” on this blog and with you, my readers… I am equal parts excited and terrified. I can’t wait to hold our little girl and am terrified about all the ways we can screw her up or not be good parents.
Granted with the family of origin, the bar has been set pretty low, but I don’t want my parenting to be on par with anything that would be part of a conversation about that past or that “lack of care” — I guess what I am trying to say is I want to be perfect at something I have never done. YEAH, good luck with that. I do know that I have a fabulous village (also known as family of choice) waiting to help to support us and I need only ask to have help given. It is so hard to admit that you need help.. even when you are new at something. Seems silly, I would tell anyone asking that if you don’t know something, ask.. perhaps I will take my own advice. So in answer to this question. “mom. who me?” I say “yes, that is me.”
As my mom likes to say,
Think about it…
3 thoughts on “Mom…. (who me?)”
Oh, Jennifer. I really love this! And everyone is right…you WILL be an amazing mom!
You will *always* be there for her–I have no doubt of that whatsoever. All of us parents have days where we’re rock stars and days when all we can say is, “Tomorrow I will do better for her.” And those low days don’t define who you are as a parent as long as you’re willing to adapt in a positive way. And you are the queen of that. My friend Heidi shared with me that you lose yourself in the process of becoming a mother and rediscover yourself along the way. It couldn’t be more true, and I look forward to seeing you and the bebe grow and change together. Much love, Mama!
I have watched you grow as a woman since I met you and I never knew any of this (not that I needed to to know you are wonderful!), and I already knew you and Jeremy are going to be terrific parents without a doubt! I see the love and the humor in each of you that I saw in my parents which allowed them to weather the years. I see how much you love each other, and that while you love each other greatly, you want each other to stand on your own feet–not lean. You want each other to be the best you can be, but you love.each other enough to help where needed and where you can–and that includes being parents! Encourage love and humor–they both go a long way when done in a warm, loving environment and not in a cutting, sarcastic way. You NEVER, EVER want to put each other or your children (or grandchildren or nieces or nephews) down. I’ve never seen you act that way toward anyone. I would be surprised if I did! I think you are a terrific person! I am so glad you married Jeremy, and I think you will be an awesome Mother!