I was thinking of writing a very serious post on motherhood and how it can really be rough sometimes. But then I read this post by Simcha, and well, I changed my mind and decided to write this one.
Let me set it up for you. When I was 16 I got pregnant with my first child. His father’s name in Homer (not my best friend who died, Homer, but the father of my first child Homer. I know. It’s confusing.) Homer and I lived together for a short time and honestly, he tried to do the right thing. The problem was that he did not love me. Our relationship was based on sex. I loved him, or so I thought, but really I didn’t. I was using him too. I wanted to get away from my mom. Marriage was my way out. Things between us did not work out. It was a long drama filled story, but in the end we weren’t together and I was a single mother. He did not help me raise Anthony, and the only time that him or his family saw Anthony was when I took him to see them. But I did it because I wanted Anthony to know where he came from. I didn’t have a dad and I grew up feeling like I didn’t know where I came from; I didn’t want that for my son. I’m glad I did that. I love Homer’s family. His dad, Hector, was one of the nicest people I have ever met. He passed away last week and I knew that me taking Anthony over there his whole life was worth it when I saw him with his family at the funeral.
When I was 18 I moved to Houston and l met Ben. We knew each other for 2 weeks when we got married and we had a crazy 11 years of ups and downs together. We lost one baby and had 3 more back to back. There were a lot of hard times in our marriage, but they weren’t all Ben’s fault. I made my share of mistakes. I came with a lot of baggage and open wounds. So did Ben.
So fast forward to last Friday. The first Friday of Lent 2013. As Simcha said “Friggin’ Lent”. *sigh* My son, his girlfriend (who is 24 weeks pregnant. I guess I should write a post about THAT too.) and my daughter all drove from Austin to Amarillo for his biological grandfather’s funeral. That drive alone is a penance, going for a funeral is even worse, my baby daddy being there… well…you get the point. I was not looking forward to it. But hey, it’s Lent, so the timing couldn’t be more perfect. I knew in the depths of my soul that God was going to take this opportunity to teach me something.
After the funeral we all gathered at the parish to eat. Homer and his new girlfriend sat with us and we talked about Hector, Anthony, and life. As I sat there I realized that God has been working the whole time. Homer’s dad was a Catholic Deacon. He cried when I told him that Anthony had gotten his Sacraments. Maybe Homer didn’t honor me very much when I was 16 or even in the years after Anthony was born, but now he honors me as the mother of his child. Every time he would tell someone that Anthony was his son he would point to me and say “And this is his mother”. I couldn’t help but realize that I no longer hated him. I was not angry at him anymore. I felt sorry for him, I loved him as a friend. When did THAT happen?!
While we were eating I got a text from my ex-mother in law saying that my ex-husband was in jail in Amarillo. What are the chances?! The one weekend we are there, is the weekend that he got picked up. My son did not *want* to go and see Ben, but he knew he should. Ben is the only father he has ever known. As I sat in the lobby waiting for Anthony to come out from visiting with Ben I realized that again, I was no longer angry at him.
It was a very long weekend. Emotionally draining for me and especially for Anthony. I do feel that it was God showing him what all the roads he could take would lead to. There was the Homer road, where he would not know his child. The Ben road where he could not put his child’s needs above his own addictions or he could choose the road where he sacrifices his own wants for the needs of his family. He has always known that is the right thing to do, but Stacey has been the only example he has ever had of a man who does that.
I was even mad at Stacey when the weekend began. I don’t even remember what I was mad at him for.
Then it hit me. This quote:
On the drive home from Amarillo I realized that this is the place that I am in now spiritually. I no longer hurt. I love these men. They are a part of my life story, they are part of my kids lives, and they are a part of who I am.
This morning I woke up realizing not only that, but for all the ways in which these men used me, I used them too. I used them to make myself happy. And when they let me down, I would be angry and hate them. I didn’t want Homer or Ben because I was willing to sacrifice myself for their good, I wanted them to fill the hole in my heart. I wanted them to love me so that other women would be jealous of me, I wanted them to do romantic things that made other people feel bad, I wanted them to validate me, and mostly I wanted them to protect me. All of those things are things that I didn’t get from the two people who should have given it to me: my parents. And I used these men to try and get it. Even worse, I have used my husband as well.
But now, I see it. I have finally gotten through the list of all the other things I needed to work on and now I’m at this level of my conversion where I no longer see myself as a victim. Where I take responsibility for my own sinfulness. The place where I show mercy, love and forgiveness to Homer, Ben and even Stacey for their shortcomings. I also have to forgive myself.
The thing that I realized when reading Simcha’s post is that not only do I expect magic from God but I have expected it from all the men in my life. I expect them to prove to me that they love me. I expect God to prove to me that He loves me. See the parallels? I have relationship problems. I do not know how to relate to people or to God. But I am learning. Before last week, I had no clue that I had a problem. Which is kind of dumb, considering that all my relationships have failed at some point, but I am not really the brightest star in the sky sometimes.
So, here I am, learning how to be in a healthy relationship with God, my husband, my kids, my parish, the father of my child and my ex-husband. Relationships with everyone require sacrifice, service, order and purpose. I know that may be so obvious to people ,but not to me. Not until I spent this past weekend with the Holy Spirit helping me examine my past. It all became very clear as I started Lent by hanging out with my baby daddy.
(I know that many people hate the term “baby daddy”. But I come from the ghetto and it is my attempt at being funny while talking about something that is very serious to me and hurts like a old bruise. At least it isn’t a gaping wound anymore. )