To The Mom I Was
This Mother’s Day, I’m writing a letter to the mom I used to be. I’m still a mom. Obviously! But, I wanted to take some time this Mother’s Day to write a letter to my past self, to the mom I was when I was raising my kids.
This is partly therapeutic and partly because I want all the moms out there who are struggling to know that kids don’t need a perfect mom; they need a mom who shows up. And while outside influences can make you second guess yourself, just know that you are enough.
Being a mom can be hard at times. But you step up and do it! You don’t even think about it. You do it because you can’t imagine not doing it. Becoming a mom and raising my kids is the best thing I have ever done. It was my most important job and I LOVED every minute of it. I seriously had THE best kids ever. I love them more than life itself.
This is a LONG blog post. But, being a mom is still the most important thing in my life. My children always did and always will come first. I brought them into this world, and it is my job to make sure they have the best life possible. And I did that. 100% did it.
I want my past self to know that even though she wasn’t sure she was doing the right things, she was doing just fine. She was and still is an amazing mom, even on the days she struggles and doesn’t always do everything right.
Here’s My Letter:
I know you are struggling. You have hard choices ahead of you. I wish I could tell you that you are doing amazing. If only I could tell you that you are doing the right things, even if you have doubts. I know that after you put your children to bed, you cry yourself to sleep at night wondering why you have to live this way. The constant cycle repeats itself over and over. I know it feels hopeless and you feel like you are doing it all wrong. Let me tell you this:
I AM SO DANG PROUD OF YOU!
YOU ARE AN AMAZING MOM!
YOUR CHILDREN WILL BE WELL-ADJUSTED IN SPITE OF
YOU PROTECTED THEM THE BEST YOU COULD
GOD IS PROTECTING YOU AND GUIDING YOU EVEN IF IT SEEMS SO WRONG
HE CHOSE YOU BECAUSE HE KNEW YOU WERE STRONG ENOUGH, SMART ENOUGH, AND CAPABLE OF HANDLING WHAT WAS HAPPENING
GOD HAS BIG PLANS FOR YOU
How do I know all this? Because I have already made it through what you think you can’t.
Let me tell you what I know in 2020:
I know it destroys your heart that your husband tells you that you need to find a hobby because he can’t be the center of your happiness. I’m sorry you have to hear that. That isn’t a reflection of who you are as a wife: It reflects what a shitty father and husband he is. Most people want their family to be the center of their happiness and to experience life together and you aren’t wrong for wanting the same.
I want you to know that you step up and gave your children so much happiness and joy. You shelter them from it by saying Daddy’s at work instead of the bar. So they don’t see him passed out on the floor, you get him to the bedroom. You shelter them by saying he is overtired when really, he is just extremely hungover.
While it is painful and gut-wrenching to feel he chose alcohol over you and his family for all those years, your children don’t feel it.
Instead, they loved jumping around and dancing to music. You took them on walks and for bike rides to get away from it all. You took them to visit their cousins to play and have fun. All their school events? You took them. In the stands, you cheered them on alone. You watched their heart drop when their dad would leave instead of staying to spend time together. You made it work! All of this, you did with a broken heart.
You, Michelle, are the strongest, most loving woman I know.
I watch you pack up the kids many times and leave after a weekend of all-nighters. And then go back because you can’t stand the thought of your husband parenting alone without you protecting your children. I watch you selflessly put your family before your own needs.
I know it’s difficult to socialize with his drinking buddies and their significant others. No one understands that you are embarrassed when your husband pulls his pants down in the bar. They think it’s funny. You find it disrespectful and it is, Michelle. What you are feeling is valid.
I know it is even more difficult to watch him get touchy-feely with the women in the bar and he acts like you have no right to feel how you do. You are seeing it with your own eyes and yet he tells you that you are crazy. You are not.
I know you want to get home because the kids will be up early, and you will be the one to take care of them. So, you get angry and frustrated because he always says just one more and that last beer takes longer than the eight he had before that. And then he just has a couple more shots because it’s never enough. You have every right to feel the way you do and so you stop doing things with him when drinking is involved.
How about the nights you have to go pick him up? Packing up the kids to pick his drunk ass up at the bar because there is no one to give him a ride and your kids can’t stay home alone. When you watch him sitting over there unable to hold his head up and the snot is running out of his nose because he is numb. How the smell of Jägermeister is triggering and the smell of stale beer the next day turns your stomach. People don’t understand. So, to them, you are just a bitch and no fun. Well, trust me, taking care of a selfish drunk doesn’t ever become fun.
I’m so proud of you for choosing your children and choosing to remain strong and present for them. I know you have hope that he will grow out of this, but he clings to the destructive behavior because it’s easier than looking in the mirror. One day, you will learn that it had everything to do with his demons and nothing to do with you. I know it is hard right now. But it gets better. Trust me.
I see you breaking inside and still helping your husband to work through it. As he lays in the lawn at 3 am because he is too drunk to get inside the house or laying on the floor inside the door because he can’t make it any farther and begging you to let him die. How easy it would be to let him drown himself but instead you help him.
I see you leave the kids at their grandparent’s house because it’s Christmas Eve and your husband is puking his guts out on Main Street and can’t get back in the vehicle. So you go pick him up and rescue him out of his mess.
I see you, Michelle.
Your unconditional love is unbending. You do all this so that your kids don’t see their father this way. You do this believing it’s what a good wife does and above all, you want to believe he loves you and you hope that he will get better.
Michelle, I see you trying so hard to make things work. I see you trying to make good times happen. I watch you push those ugly memories back for your children. You get up every day and do what is best for your family. You forgive until you have nothing left inside you anymore. I see you pray every night for help and guidance.
I know that a couple of good days don’t make up for all the bad ones. But you are strong and you will get through this.
I see you walking on eggshells, hoping he won’t lose his temper. I see you try to get everything done so he has nothing to worry about when he gets home. You’re constantly on edge and wondering what will set him off this time. I know that this all feels completely unfair. And you are right, it isn’t fair. But your heart doesn’t keep score.
Do you know what else I see? I see you working your tail off to support your husband’s dream. It certainly isn’t your dream business, but you do it because you think that if he has something that truly makes him happy, he will appreciate life and you and the kids more.
I’m so sorry that he disappoints you over and over again. His excuse: He works hard so he deserves to play hard. WOW… I know right??? Amazing how he thinks he is the only one who works hard. You get the kids ready for school, take them to school, work all day, pick them up from school, help with homework, go to all their activities, cook supper (that he didn’t bother to come home for) and put them to bed. What does their dad do? He goes to the bar after work many nights and does not come home until bar time.
He doesn’t even bother to call and tell you because he knows you won’t be happy. I see you calling around to find him because you are worried; the kids are so young. As the kids get older, you just give up. You answer shop phones during the day, at night, and on the weekends when he is off doing whatever he wants to do. You don’t know this right now, but it’s in the kids’ best interest. The least amount of interaction with their dad ensures they don’t turn out like him and believe that is what a father or husband does or suffer from his selfishness as you do. You do your best to protect them from all of it.
I see the devastation in your eyes when he screams at you. I see your shoulders shake when he calls you a stupid c*nt. He knows how much you hate that word and he says it louder just so you hear. I see your heart rip in two. You twitch every time he throws something in your direction.
Your load is heavy. I see you carry it every day.
I see the look of fear in your eyes when he is behind the wheel and angry. You grab the armrest and pray to God the entire time for Him to protect your children. He slams on the gas, squeals the tires, and rides too close to the cars ahead with inches to spare. I watch your heart fall to your stomach as he weaves in front of on-coming traffic just to intimidate you. He never apologizes for saying or doing any of those things. Just says it wasn’t meant for you. Well, guess what? It doesn’t matter. I wish I could tell you it’s his reflection of himself onto you.
What I wouldn’t give to tell you that, right now, to ease your pain. I know you know you don’t deserve it, but it destroys your confidence all the same.
I can see that you don’t love yourself right now. But you will again. I know you are embarrassed and struggling to save face with what you are up against. It’s hard to hate someone and love them at the same time. I watch you fall and get back up more times than I can count.
I wish I could tell you that you won’t have to be this strong forever. When the madness ends, you will see your true self again.
I see you struggle with decisions. Should you stay? Should you go? What if you choose to divorce him now, while you raise the children? Can you imagine your children having to spend 50% of their time alone with him?
Even though right now it doesn’t seem like you are making the right decisions, you are making the best ones you can.
I know you feel like you just keep making mistakes. You feel like you are worthless and invisible. I know you feel like you are never good enough. No one is perfect. But I want you to know that there is no way for you to be the best you in this environment. You hold everything together the best you can.
I know you believe you are meant for better and you are! You are meant for bigger things! But right now, your number one job is to create the best environment for your children to grow and learn.
I know you use a lot of what they see as an example of what not to do. I’m so proud of you for not disparaging their father. I know you make excuses for him. I know you think that is what is best and it helps you get through what is happening. Make no mistake, you are the best mom you can be.
I see you puking in the toilet after he touches you because you know he has been sleeping around with other women. People tell you. The text messages? I know you read them. You receive phone calls from the other women. You overhear people talking about him at strip clubs with the guys. He tells you that everyone is lying. That they are just jealous of your relationship.
When you won’t believe him, he turns it around and says that if you are going to accuse him of cheating then he may as well just go and do it. Of course, that isn’t what you want, so you drop it knowing full well, just because you don’t have proof doesn’t mean it isn’t true. God knows you can’t handle the truth at this point, so He protects you.
The final straw is getting pictures and messages from some random person that your husband was sending to his mistress of the month. He certainly can’t deny that one, now can he. God knows when you are ready to handle the truth and there is your proof. He can no longer deny it and manipulate you.
Now you know you aren’t crazy because the women and his friends come forward to tell you the truth and how sorry they are. Sure, they can remove their guilt, but you will feel betrayed forever. I want you to know that your life begins when you are ready to end the abuse and toxic behaviors you endure. You will heal, you will learn, and you will grow. Sure, you are not perfect. You make mistakes. But guess what, you are human.
I want you to know that your children are successful and well-adjusted in 2020 because you put their needs in front of yours. I want you to know that they have loving partners who encourage them and respect them.
Why you ask? Because they watch you do it for them.
They will tell you that as much as you thought you were protecting them from it all, they saw it and heard it. They watched you endure it all and rise above and become an amazing mom and woman who helps others learn that they can do it too!
I want you to know that you will be happier than you have ever been. It won’t be perfect. You will struggle at times and you will feel hurt. In the end, when the truth comes out and all the lies and betrayal are exposed, you will know you did your best. I’m proud of the mom I was.
I know you make mistakes and keep beating yourself up about it. I know you say and do things out of anger and hurt. But guess what, you earn those mistakes after what you go through. But it won’t change anything because you now know that you are amazing, intelligent, confident, beautiful, and above all, a survivor!
Michelle, if there is just one thing, I can get through to you, it is to keep that flame going inside you. Don’t let it go out. Protect it with everything you have left. When the time is right, your fire will ignite, and you will be the person you always knew you were. You will go on to do amazing and great things.
I love you! I really do.