Mothers, the Good, the Bad and the Ones That Would Never Be

The weeks and months bled into one another, as I continued to seek the very things that eluded me, a baby, a full term pregnancy, and motherhood. Everywhere I turned, someone was pregnant, they glowed with the excitement, they radiated in the bask of what was to come. “Wonder how they would feel if they had to feel how I feel each time I get pregnant, I wonder if they would glow then?” It was more than the pain of the losses, although they took the brunt of the blame. I hated the fact that I couldn’t even find joy when I found out I had become pregnant! Stolen was the gift of the glow other mothers had, for they did not share my fate. Envy pierced my eyes as I looked upon their ripening belly, their body preparing to give them the miracle of life; while my body was soiling the life that formed in my womb and then doing the unthinkable….it was expelling it. If I could have killed out my body, and lived to replace it with one that wasn’t broken, I would have. Even the sight of my flat stomach sickened me, for I knew there should be a blossoming bump, to represent a fluttering of life it held there…..instead it lay there empty. The dates of each due date approached and passed, leaving behind a birthday that I would never celebrate, a gift I would never give to a face I would never see. I lost three more pregnancies during this time, within a year……and my body’s lack of completing the task I had sat out to accomplish filtered into every aspect of my life!

I was repulsed at my reactions to the things that once brought me such joy. The me, the one who had no idea that motherhood may never be her’s, the one who had been naive enough to assume that pregnancy and birth would come so easily, she had dissolved, leaving behind the childless UnMother. I remember the enchantment when I would witness a tummy heavy with life, as a woman would pass me by. Back when magic still existed I would find my way to her, sharing her excitement, asking questions about the gender, her due date, and name choices. Imagining the day when I would share in her destiny. The wonderment of creating a life was something so magical…..but I wouldn’t be granted that joy. Instead I would fall pregnant, dream of the day I would bring forth life, but even that dream was stolen from me. I found with each pregnancy, I became more skeptical, unable to even allow myself to hope. I had no room for hope, because if I did the disappointment that would soon follow, would rip me from the tiny bit of sanity that I had left. And so, the UnMother, she avoided baby aisles at all costs, she scampered away from anyone visibly pregnant…..because each reminder brought with it a deep rooted sadness.

Babies, toddlers, children, had always drawn me in. I loved to look upon the face of a newborn baby, so innocent, so pure, and so perfectly miraculous. I relished in the way toddlers were seeking out to discover the boundaries of their worlds, the sweet way they toddled as they learned to use their legs, and their angelic faces. Children with their silly antics, their new found independence, and their developing personalities. I was mystified by them….until the losses, also took that with it. I would watch as new moms cooed at their infants….but the thing is the way their baby looked back at her, is what hurt me the most. Would I ever see that look? Would I ever see my baby stare at me that way? The exhausted mom at the grocery chasing after her toddler brought on a new form of pain. Who could envy that lady? You know the one with this tiny person who was so unpredictable, so energetic, and prone to throw a tantrum over a piece of candy at the drop of a hat? Those moms, looked utterly deflated, as if the tiny vacuum of the human they had created, had sucked all the life force out of her.  The tiny tornado left in it’s wake a woman dressed in yoga pants, a shirt soiled by some sticky residue, a makeupless face, bags of sleepless nights, hair disheveled and thrown into a sloppy pony tail. She looked tattered, worn out, barely holding it together, but yet I envied her. Her job was important, balancing her little one’s safety and also allowing her child to explore. Spending her nights bribing her energetic toddler to go to sleep so she could as well. She had the job that I wanted, and even in the moments that  tiny people fell into the floor of grocery store, I didn’t pity her……I was jealous. Because even then the love between them was apparent, and that was something I had no knowledge of. So, I avoided situations where I would be forced to acknowledge them, instead choosing a different aisle to venture down, as my heart tried to steady itself and finish the grocery shopping.

Social media was a constant reminder. The children, the ones starting school, they were reminders of my first loss. Posts on facebook of “first days of school” were quickly scrolled by, or “_____ said the cutest thing today….” I didn’t want to hear about it, didn’t want to see their children in their frilly and fancy clothes, because my angels would never see their first day, and I would never be able to share pictures of them as I meticulously dressed them.

But the very worst, was those moms, who had this amazing gift, and discarded it like it was nothing. I would see her screaming at her toddler in the store, see the defeated look upon her child’s face as she dismissed them. This mother was the worst of all. Her children were a burden to her……a burden I wanted more than anything else. She pawned them off on whoever would take them, and make comments like, “I don’t know why I had children!” I remember one instance when I overheard a woman discussing how “inconvenient children were, and how much easier it was before them,”  all the while berating her son who couldn’t have been more than three. Telling him how he was such a brat, and he never listened, amongst other things I cannot bring myself to type. She was sick of him she had said……and then i saw that little boy’s eyes, pooled with tears, and she was breaking his spirit, making him feeI unloved. I was sickened by the sight, so I spun around at the pharmacy, where I was picking up more infertility medications, and I challenged her…..”Well, maybe you should not have had them? I mean there are people, people like me who would give anything for the minor “inconveniences” your child brings. Do you know what I would do to have a child? One just like this perfect little boy by your side who you are insulting in the middle of this line? Your son who as far as I can see, is healthy, beautiful, and has done nothing deserving of your harsh words. If you don’t want him, I would have gladly taken him. I have been through things no one should to be given the right to be a mother……a job you are clearly unworthy of. YOU are sick of him?????? Well, I am sick of parents like you who get this beautiful gift and are so unworthy.” People were staring, but I didn’t care! I knelt down to the little boy who’s brown eyes were searching mine, “You are a good boy, and don’t you ever forget that.” The mother’s face was red from embarrassment, she yanked her child’s arm and whisked him to another check out.

I know I sounded like a crazy woman…..after all it was no business of mine, right? WRONG! I didn’t care if others thought, save only one…..that tiny broken boy that she didn’t deserve. Amazingly, the other people in the aisle did something amazing……they applauded me, told me that I had said all they wanted to say, but my only hope is that she took some piece of that vulnerable part of my hurt and found a way to love that little boy the way he deserved. His eyes, they still haunt me.

I became consumed with the undeserving mothers……they were every where that I looked. They got the gift that I desired and yet they discarded them, for men, drugs, and freedom. To them their child was a burden, and that broke me in a whole new way. All around me there was this woman who “accidentally” fell pregnant only to abort their child, because they didn’t want the responsibility…….why????? I would have loved that child, I would have taken that child, and so many others would love nothing more than to be that child’s parent. Then their were the moms so addicted to drugs and men that their child was left to his/her own devices. Those were the saddest, they were often filthy, unkempt, and their eyes were so lonely. I wanted to save them all. How cruel was this world that these children desperately needed a mother, and I needed a child and yet, they had been gifted to someone unworthy?

I craved the child they despised, and in return I resented them……so deep that resentment ran that it bordered on hate. I still wish I could save them all, but at the time, I couldn’t even save myself. I think of them often, those unwanted babies, the unworthy mother, and me…….the mother that would never be able to be one……

Motherhood Wisdom

Motherhood thought for the day: Remember to listen to your children and try to remind yourself that you once were a child too! Today, started out low key; me and the girls and a few cartoons….then as each day does it seemed everything started getting discombobulated and I found myself in a rush. Scrambling for outfits for the girls, getting them in the car and ready to go! It all gets to be a bit much and at times I grow impatient with the girls as one is always lagging behind and Braelyn was lagging behind, and I said “Hurry up, Braelyn! We have to go!” She had stopped by the step…I tapped my foot on the ground as I watched her squat and wait…just as I was about to yell at her I saw Hank (our old black lab) hobbling up the drive. She leaned in and kissed him whispered “Good morn’n, Hank!” I got a lump in my throat as I watched Hank nuzzle her before finding his place on the porch.
After her quest was fulfilled she said, “I coming, Mommy! I had to give Hank dem kisses and tell him morn’n!” Hank looked on as if he was grateful for the act of kindness! Just melted my heart…while I was busy hurrying along because this world teaches us to HURRY UP!!! My beautiful, sweet daughter was taking a moment to kiss an old friend on the head and let him know that he matters! I felt my eyes mist over and I strapped her in the booster before I looked in her eyes, “Brae Brae, Mommy is sorry to rush you! You never hesitate to stop and take a moment for the things that are important to you! Never forget to let a friend know that you love them!” She looked at me, and said, “Hank needs kisses so he don’t get sad!”
I looked on the porch at the now elderly Hank and wondered how many times I pass him on the step and don’t stop to pat his head!? And still he will follow me around the yard in hopes I will stop to love him! Braelyn saw it…his need for affection, appreciation, compassion in exchange for his loyalty! Lord, let me see things through my daughters’ eyes; things are much slower, kinder and more beautiful lying in their depths!

Teaching Me

Motherhood teachings by my daughters: Today was a good day…as a day can go when you have kiddos. There were a few snags, fights, and quarrels but overall everything was smooth sailing….until around 11 this morning when Brynlee was playing with her doll and Braelyn decided that she wanted it….well, both my girls are strong willed and so the fighting ensued…in which Braelyn punched Brynlee! Well, I discourage violence but kids will be kids. So, I kissed Brynlee’s boo boo and told her she would be okay and then put Braelyn in her room to “think about her behavior then she could apologize to her sister!”
Braelyn was raising a commotion and screaming…and then silence..Hmmm…I thought I am brilliant; all this time out stuff is finally working. So after a few minutes I walked down the hall and heard the soft sound of Brynlee’s voice, “It okay, Sissy….shhhh” Braelyn was crying, “Mommy, make me go to da time out! I not want to go to dat time out!” Brynlee was consoling her and said, “You get up in just a minute, baby. It okay, honey! Here Sisser, you hab it! Don’t cry..” Both girls were oblivious as I stepped into the room and witnessed one of the sweetest things I have ever seen. Brynlee was stroking Braelyn’s back, and was snuggled up to her attempting to rock her…and there in Braelyn’s lap was the baby doll she had wanted. The very same doll that Braelyn had wanted so badly…Brynlee’s favorite baby doll…the doll that had caused all the chaos and the reason Braelyn had hit Brynlee! Yet, not even five minutes later, the fact that her sister had hit her, and tried to take her toy…it was all forgotten. In that moment all that mattered was her sister was crying and she wanted to fix it. Already, she had not only forgiven her but had gifted her with her favorite toy! That is the beauty of babies….no grudges, no hatred, no bitterness, just love and forgiveness! As adults, we hold tight to grudges of those who have wronged us, when we see them hurting we often think, “That is what you get for hurting me!” But in the pure heart of a child when someone they love hurts them, they forgive, and when someone is in need of comfort they give it to them….today that need was a baby doll with wild hair, a kind word, and a comforting hug from her sister! Be slow to anger, and quick to forgive, that is the lesson they taught me today!

Brynlee’s Third Birthday

Today 3 years ago at around 5 am my gorgeous little girl was born! Brynlee Jean Mangrum weighing in at a whooping 5 lbs 9 oz! It would be 3 days before I would be able to hold her in my arms……longest 3 days of my life! I have made up for lost time with lots of cuddles every since because she is definitely Mommy’s snuggle bug! She is my bit of sass, touch of sweetness, prettiest smile, plain mischievous and the most loving little girl! This day 3 years ago was my second baby….the second child the doctors said I would never had! After 8 miscarriages and a little guardian angel, my sweet Braelyn…I carried her and she is the perfect fit for this family! Cannot imagine a day without her! She is that hug when your heart is aching, the kiss for no reason, my little nasty nice, girly girl, and baby doll wagger! She is such a proud little sister and loves her sister more than anything! She has her heart! And though she may be small she is fierce…so much personality and the biggest heart is bottled up in her tinsy little self! Thank you, God for giving me the gift of motherhood to this beautiful little girl and her big sister! God gifted me today with a second daughter and gave Braelyn a sister….which is the greatest gift that I ever got as a little girl! I waited a LONG time, shed a LOT of tears and hit my knees in prayer and God answered!!!!!!! He handcrafted these babies for me…I know this because their heartbeat matches my own, they fit perfectly in my arms and flood my heart with love each and everyday! PRAISE GOD for gifting me with the best babies ever!!!!!! Happy birthday, my lovely, my precious, my dinky do, my sweet Brynlee Jean…MOMMY ADORES YOU!

Hide and Say You’re Sorry

Braelyn was hiding from Brynlee…and she was being REALLY quiet behind the couch for like thirty minutes! Brynlee kept coming in the living room asking me where Braelyn was; I told her she ran away. Brynlee got really serious and said, “I want her to come back!” I said, “Nope, she’s gone forever because you two can’t stop fighting so she ran away!” Brynlee gets tears in her eyes and says, “I not fightin’ with her!” I reply, “you were before she ran away!” She looks down at the floor then back up at me with HUGE crocodile tears and whispers, “Mommy, can you go and find her?” So I ask her why I should find her….she mutters, “Cause I miss her and I want to kiss her face!!!!!!” Gosh, I love these kids even when they drive me crazy!

I Can’t See You

Brynlee usually HATES when I wear glasses so I usually wear contacts. She asked yesterday, “Why you wear dem glasses for?” I said, “So I can see!” Brynlee looks puzzled, “So, you can see me, Mommy?” I nod….thinking she got the concept…Today I took my glasses off to rest my eyes…she says, “Mommy, put your glasses back on, PUT YOUR GLASSES BACK ON!” I tell her I would she says, “HURRY MOMMY I CAN’T SEE YOU!” ROFL

From the Mouths of Babes

Motherhood wisdom (warning long post): I am learning as I go…being a mom is a never ending process of learning! There are days, chaos consumes my house, the noise level often breaks the sound barrier, and meltdowns happen more frequently than I prefer…the truth is there are so many days I literally pray for bedtime….I count the hours until I can retreat into peace, tranquility, work on art, or like tonight I get the urge to write! This post is mostly for me but maybe it will resignate with some others. I write on here to keep a timeline of tidbits of the days, moments, so I can reflect and one day recall these days that I just cannot wait for the days to be over….I am guilty of that. Often I rush bedtime, a quick prayer, a kiss and hug before sighing and breathing a sigh of relief as I close their bedroom doors…relief that I made it through one more day. There are nights my girls refuse to go to bed and it tests my patience but usually they go to bed quietly. Tonight after placing my youngest darling to bed a half hour later she was still awake…….I went into check on her and she had redressed herself into a princess sleeper. I told her it was bedtime and mommy was tired. She is a sensitive soul and wise beyond her years…she said, “You tired, Mommy?” I nod. “You can sleep with me…” I explain I cannot fit (at least not comfortably in her bed). So she tells me she will hold me and lays my head into her lap and plays with my hair. It is such a tender moment my eyes mist over, “You sad, Mommy.” I shake my head no, she says, “when I am sad i need my mommy…do you need your mommy?” I decide to tap into this moment to connect and listen, “I always need’ my mommy.” Her eyes soften and replies, “You Mommy not here she don’t live here, I be your mommy tonight!” I linger in the moment, the feel of her tiny hands in my hair, her soft hair falling in my face as she rests her head on mine. Then she welcomes me into her world, a world of princesses, stories, a glimpse into childhood. I love hearing her stories they are filled with beautiful things. Softly she whispers, “mommy, you get your glasses at walmart?” (I wear my glasses at night instead of contacts) she says, “I can’t see walmart mommy so I need glasses like you!” I chuckle then she raises my glasses up says, “Mommy, your eyes are pretty!” I smile all the way from my heart…then she asks me to shut my eyes and asks me if I got makeup on and that she wants to wear my makeup. I respond that she is beautiful and she doesn’t need makeup to be pretty and Mommy does. She places one tiny hand on each cheek (my favorite thing ever) and looks me in my eyes before breathlessly whispering, “But Mommy YOU are SO pretty!” There was such sincerity, adoration, and truth in her voice that I let the tears fall, never fell more loved than the love from my girls! I am so grateful I took the few minutes to kneel by her bed and just be with her. Slow down, the most precious moments come in the most unexpected times, moments that can’t be rushed, that could be missed if I had rushed her off to bed. Tonight I go to sleep knowing a love that only a child and mother can share….thankful for the quiet moments where these precious beings allow me into their souls, moments of connection…….for it is those moments that make all the tough ones worthwhile! Oh, I so love my girls and their beautiful hearts!

Braelyn’s Eyes

Walking down the hall with my tiny Braelyn, she’s dragging her iv pole with her, smiling at everyone she meets, we pass an old man who looks disheartened and before I knew what she was doing she softly pats him on the shoulder, “I hope you won’t be sad.” The old man was sitting outside a room and I didn’t ask his story but he patted Braelyn on the head and responded, “you are a wise little one, life is too short to be sad.” He smiled a weary smile and his eyes went some place I couldn’t see…then she stopped to hand a fussy infant a toy she dropped from her stroller, she holds a door for a lady as we walk through…on the elevator a very sick elderly patient seems to struggle to stand…I look at Braelyn as she has a tendency to say whatever comes to mind which makes me nervous, then she reaches over and touches the ladies hand, it was old, fragile, wrinkled from years of which I know nothing about, her nails even in her frail state are long and manicured with a beautiful shade of red…then the words…”your hands are beautiful, you are beautiful!” The lady looks up tears rimming her already cloudy eyes, “what a sweet girl you are, and you are beautiful!” At this point I feel tears roll silently down my cheeks. As we step off the elevator I watch the lady make her way towards her empty room but before she leaves she touches Braelyn’s hair, “you made this old lady’s night!” She looked at me and I impulsively hug the lady, she hugged me back like a thirsty man drinks water. No words were exchanged between us but as I sit here watching braelyn sleep, I think of that old man who may have lost or may be facing losing a loved one, with a single gesture she comforted him, the toddler who had dropped her toy and Braelyn simply extended a helping hand, but the one that sticks out the most is the lady…mostly her hands…hands that adults would see as weathered…but my sweet girl saw beauty…those hands had undoubtedly rocked a sick baby, nursed a boo boo, cooked and cleaned after little ones much like I do now, and yet her room was empty (we walked by) everyone needs love, comfort, encouragement, and compliments…and my child is a gift, a terrific gift that sees things the way God sees us…I’m still choked up, thank you, God for Braelyn…She’s exceptional, extraordinary, special….I wouldn’t change a thing about her, but God if you get a chance could you let me see things through Braelyns eyes

May the Day Come When Every Child is loved

As a writer often I get caught up in my own story…..and then something enchanting happens….someone shares their story with me. I am not only a writer; I am a storyteller. But some days a storyteller needs a story, a glimpse into someone else’s book. To connect, to feel but for a moment that person’s pain. To embrace it, to lift it but for a second, and take it as your own. Just like delving into the nostalgic pages of a long forgotten book, you are reminded every single soul has a story. Not all stories are painted with beautiful things, flowers, and rainbows……no the best stories are the ones that leave a little mystery. If but a moment we would just stop writing, open our ears and quiet our tedious pecking against a keyboard, or tracing letters upon parchment paper, we will hear it. The sound of someone’s heart breaking, the audible cracking as the ice shatters shreds of their pain sending fragments of pain strong enough to debilitate them. We have all had a broken heart, it is more real than any physical pain I have ever endured. No pain reliever can dull it, no remedy to subdue it, so it racks through us like waves of hurt. The ache, it can cripple the strongest person, silence the most outspoken, and break the unbreakable….There are so many causes for a broken heart, some for choosing to love, some for choosing not to, some for having no choice at all. So, my question, if we have all felt it, how can we not offer some insight to those we see hurting? Because just like love, that type of pain is truly indescribable. Childhood is supposed to be about building you up. Learning to spread your wings, helping you build your dreams, preparing you for the future by equipping you with tools you will need, protecting us from the evil so that we can see through pure eyes. What if that gift is stolen? What if you don’t get the choice to see the world how you want to but instead the window to your world is controlled by someone tortured by demons? It happens every single day…abuse. With that abuse a child’s world can be demolished, taking with it their future. They will carry that baggage for the rest of their days, it will follow them into future relationships, tarnish that vulnerable place that is capable of opening up, and you can break a child. Not all children survive their form of abuse, some succumb to the pain and lock themselves away….and they spend their lives broken. The ones who do survive are left with scars so deep that it hurts so bad they cover them with a facade of bravery. Others will not live, they will die, never experiencing innocence, dying at the hand of their abuser, beaten, broken, gone! How terribly sad that someone could do this to a helpless child…..it happens every single day. It breaks my heart, the way glass shatters into those tiny fragmented pieces that embed themselves into you. The sadness and the relief is they are free from their abuser, leaving behind only the memory of them. Those that survive, they are often operating on autopilot. Pretending to fit into the norm of what they are supposed to be, how they are supposed to be like everyone else. However, they cannot be that person that the world seeks out. They harbor a secret, so dark, so haunting that it has become a part of them. What of those? If they are lucky they will reach out, they will find that one person to share their burden with and for once will be loved wholly for who they are, even the broken parts. I believe that the scars will heal with the proper mending, but the memories are still there, just beyond the veil of their cool demeanor. Untapped, trapped, burdened, heavy, and alone in their pain. Perhaps, they feel unworthy of love, from an early age they were taught they were unlovable, so how will they learn to accept love when they have never felt it. Just as there is no cure for heartache, there is no cure for physical abuse…..but love can overcome that. For that person, battling the demons that consume their nightmares, the one who wants only to be understood, who wants to share but is too afraid, too ashamed to let anyone see the broken parts of their heart, their spirit, their soul……for that one I pray for love! Love from someone who will embrace that sadness, carry it in their heart so that for a brief instance they can lighten the load of the deeply troubled child hidden just beneath the surface. To that person I hope for peace, I hope for love unwaivering, and I pray for their strength to share their story. Only in vulnerability can they find freedom, vulnerability is scary but to the one who is deeply wounded it is the only source of relief. May those children and the adults they grow up to be, find that and so much more. May they smile, a true smile one that lights up those shadowy places in their souls that have been buried. May they laugh, a deep uncontrollable laugh to cleanse them and let them know how great happiness feels. And to the one who they finally let in, I pray they never let them go so that they can stop the search and just be who they were meant to be. In honor of that child, the many children out there without a voice, may they find it, no matter how long it takes and may they find the bonds of pain lifted. For those children, and the ones that are living it today, I pray there comes a day that no child suffers at the hands of the ones who are supposed to love them. That hands that would be lifted to hit them, instead tossle their hair, the arms that were used to pin them instead embrace them, and the vile words that spew from the aggressor’s lips turn to encouragement and love. May there be a day when children are given the one thing they were meant to feel….unconditional, unfaltering love! I pray for the day there is no child abuse in this world, but until then, I pray for a cure for the aftermath the abuser leaves behind!