Brazen Princess

Loud and Unashamed
MAY 8, 2012 10:28AM

On Becoming a Mother - or "How I Never Got What I Wanted"

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                          Hotel                                                         Mario, Alicia, David,Joe and Vince approx 1992

In the quest of being a good mother, I prayed everyday for my kids. 

I prayed for myself, and as they grew I was convinced I wasn’t praying hard enough.

In our house, we had hard and fast rules: no cable TV; no Nintendo or X-box; no guns (even toys – they were violent); stay out of the kitchen while mom is cooking; in bed before 10, every night; go to church on Sunday, but read the Bible every day. 

Our kids resented these rules, and my heart broke that they lived in a world that made my parenting harder.  I resented the outside influences that made my kids resent my rules.  After all, I was trying to be the best mother that I possibly could be – my kids were my life. 

 

             Vince 

When my first son, Vincent, was born, he saved my life.

I was on a one-way train heading for Pleasureville, fuelled by the selfish fuel of my desire  - when I found out I was pregnant.  I cringed.  I had no job, was living off of my boyfriend, who had very illegal ways of supplementing our income, and clueless in the ways of being an adult. 

I was also had a pretty hefty habit, and finding out I was expecting a baby made me scared: I had compromised the health of my baby.  Being unable to calculate my due date (severe drug addicts don’t menstruate), I asked for a sonogram.  It was a relatively new option, used to see the baby from inside the mother’s womb. 

“My dear,” the doctor said, holding my hand.  “You are a mother.”

The words shocked me.  My baby wasn’t even born, and now I was a mother?  I panicked inside, but then felt a strange power.  I was going to have a baby.

When he was born, the pain was unbelievable and I was certain that the medical staff had made a mistake not giving me stronger drugs. 

“It’s a boy!” the doctor shouted, and the nurses were excited as they watched what I couldn’t see. 

“Is he healthy?” I shouted back, haunted by the possibility I could have endangered everything in his life. 

“Honey, he’s beautiful!” the nurse told me, her smile obviously not understanding what I meant. 

“But is he healthy?” I asked again. 

Vincent was the recipient of all of my fears from the moment he was born.  I was scared I had messed up my pregnancy.  I was scared that I would mess up motherhood.  I was scared that things were not going to work out between his father and me.  And then, I saw his face.

They had washed him, wrapped him in a blanket and put a cap on him.  His eyes were so blue, so clear, so focused.  He looked at me as if he knew me, and I started to cry. 

This is when he reached his hand out of the blanket and tried to touch my face.  The nurses told me it was a reflex.  I knew better.  He was a miracle.  I quickly left my boyfriend and my addiction, and straightened up my life.  

                              vince grad                                                                           Kindergarten Graduation 

Vince grew quickly, and it didn’t take long for me to realize he was a genius. 

His brain worked faster than it should have.  He had everything from pattern recognition to a long attention span at a very early age.  He read very early.  He seemed to recognize quality in toys early.  He loved certain foods together, and asked for three courses when I asked him what he wanted for dinner, rather than just the main course.

I was certain that no one would ever (or had ever) seen such genius in a little boy. 

When school started it was easy to see that he would have to be advanced a grade, and when they didn’t, I thought his teachers were nuts.  From an early age, he didn’t want me fighting his battles.

“Mom,” he said to me as we were leaving school one day.  “Maybe you should be nicer to Mrs. King.” Mrs. King was his very obtuse kindergarten teacher. 

“Why do you say that, honey?” I asked in the “mommy voice”, the voice I used to fake happiness or cluelessness. 

“When she tells you things sometimes you get ...” he searched for the right word,  “impatient with her.”

“Do I?”

“Nevermind.” He said, looking out the window.

“Okay, I’ll be nicer to her.” I relented. 

He turned to me and smiled.  “Thanks, mom.”  He thought awhile, and then said, “You know, Mrs. King is a beautiful woman, but she is getting wrinkles.  Do you think I should tell her?”

I smiled.  “No, honey.  Don’t ever tell a woman she’s getting wrinkles.”

We drove on.  Then, I panicked. 

“Am I getting wrinkles, honey?”  I was the ripe old age of twenty-eight. 

“No, mom.  You look like God created you yesterday.”

Genius. 

              Vince 031 

                           One of his Graduation pics - he was known for his shoes... 

Fast forward ten years, and my genius was in high-school, and a totally different animal.  His fifteen year old hormones clashed with the rules of the house.  It was a hard thing to narrow down, but I realize now that I hated not having control of his life.  He talked with girls, wanted a cell phone, kept secrets from me.  One day he came home and said that a girl asked him to the Homecoming Dinner.  I was livid, and almost called her mother. 

But, he was growing up. He seemed to be rude and mean one minute, and the next minute filled with love and tenderness.  I needed a decoder ring just to be in the same room with him.  I didn’t know how to have an adolescent guy in my life. 

Vince graduated from high school, and attended college briefly, but ended up moving out of our house at eighteen.  The story is long and painful, but I believed that I owned a big part of it.  I blamed myself more than I ever blamed him.

Our relationship was strained and filled with pain.  I was filled with regret for the way I brought him up.  Did I mess it up completely?  Many nights, I would wake up and pray heavily.  Nintendo, Xbox and toy guns were the things that seemed so unimportant now.  I felt like he had ripped off part of my heart and left home with it. 

Would he ever forgive me for all of the things I got wrong?  Would he ever be able to realize how much I love him? 

Slowly but surely, we reconnected.  In the midst of being worlds apart physically, we developed an emailing relationship that became a blessing. 

One day, as I checked facebook, I saw my son’s political beliefs listed as “socialist”.  I panicked. 

“So what’s up with this socialist thing?” I asked him on the phone. 

“That’s how I’ve always been, mom,” he laughed.  “If you’ve paid attention.”

I felt gobsmacked, as they say here.  I raised a socialist son and I never paid attention to him?  This was a definite item for prayer.

I felt An answer to prayer in the strangest way: I felt God showing me how he made Vince to love justice, champion fairness and equality.  He gave him a heart for the poor and He made him detest greed.  This is how God made my son’s heart be defined as “Socialist”.  I relaxed.  If that’s what being a socialist means, then I’m cool with it.

Within five years of moving out, something amazing happened.  Vince moved to Africa to stay with us for awhile.  Each moment, each second he was here was a gift.  I loved him completely, and saw a different side to him.   

           1stdayJoburg 

He was an amazing friend to those who got close to him.  He loved guns, and restoring them.  He was amazing with cars and engines.  We had vacations together, heart-to-hearts and I made meat loaf and mashed potatoes.   We watched South Park together and I laughed my ass off.  When he left, I felt restored.

He went home, reunited with his girlfriend and got a job in the oilfields, where there is so much danger I can’t listen to what he does.  He takes advantage of this, and tells me about this danger (while he laughs) any chance he can get.  He reads quite a bit, but is a master at xbox kinect, something we played the last time I visited him. 

While I was there, staying in his house, it occurred to me that Vince had become a lover of all of the things I forbid in our house, and it was okay.  My rules that I meant to protect my children were (for the time) the best I could come up with. 

What I didn’t know then was that listening to my children would be the thing that made them respect me.  That laughing with them would make them love me.  If I had to do it all over again, I would make damn sure that they knew they were a miracle to me...and that I loved them.

And I wouldn’t be so scared of things. 

In the most recent years, I have discovered the beauty of Vincent’s words.  His emails are genius.  My favorite part is at the end, he signs them, “I love you, Mom and Dad.”  I cry every time.

So I asked God for a son who would be gentle and polite; God gave me a warrior.

I asked God for a Christian hero, who loved God’s word; He gave me a man with His word written on his heart.

I asked God for a son who would hate guns; I was given a man who restores them into things of beauty and value.

I asked God for a Republican Christian God-fearing Political machine; I was given a Socialist Thinker who hates the Political Machine. 

I asked God for a son who would love me and be dependent on my love; I was given an Independent, strong man who makes me free to love him for who he is.

I have received nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for, and looking at my son, I weep for the mercy that God gave me.  I am overwhelmed by the love I feel for him. 

My x-box playing, metal shop working, gun restoring, socialist genius.  

                  100_5125R 

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Comments

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Fantastic, you had me a bit worried but I hung in there hoping everything would work itself out... great story!!
Incredibly lovely. Pain mixed with unexpected happiness.

I guess it's true. You may ask for one thing and God will give you what you really need. And it may turn out to be what you wanted in the first place, but you were (I'm surely an example) too clouded to see it. So happy to see how it "all turned out."
Wonderful, Janet. He seems like such a good person, due in large part, I'm sure, to how you raised him--even if he's not exactly what you hoped he would turn out to be. You must be so proud.
Sounds like my kind of kid~You're a lucky mom~
Jmac~ Vince is he personification of God's mercy!! He livens my day when a letter comes in from him!!

Mary~You are Soooooo right!!!

Toritto~ As you have said...and then some!!

Erica~ He is wonderful, despite of me, not because of. I love him so much for his OCEANS of forgiveness.

Scanner-Ever wonder why I value your words so much???
You did good mama. He is happy and functioning well in his world. A parent can not ask for much more than that! duke
Oh the angst of raising children. I think love matters, but sometimes I wonder if anything else does. So often they are who they are from day one. Love them totally and do no harm may be the best parenting advice. Well done--both the post and the son.
Imagine the lessons in this story applied to the world. It would be a whole different world! This is just great.
I wouldn't dare ask God for a thing. My kids are healthy and compassionate toward others - I couldn't ask for more than that.

Brilliant parenting skills, dear. Brilliant.
god only gave u what u deserved, from much accumulated karma.
"His brain worked faster than it should have. He had everything from pattern recognition to a long attention span at a very early age. He read very early. He seemed to recognize quality in toys early"

let him never forget all is play.
the play in the fields of god.
to read,, to romp.
to realize the godless are disguised as the fulla god.
to be a socialist & get lucky in the girl dept.
to be a Man of the New Age.
Post Armagedon type.
A bringer
of
ripping the lid off..
apocalypse.
did not blake say..
"
Ah Sunflower, weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the sun;
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the traveller's journey is done;

Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale virgin shrouded in snow,
Arise from their graves, and aspire
Where my Sunflower wishes to go! "

pretty damn sure he did. pretty damn sure his Christian
credentials are immaculate. haw.
William Blake (1757-1827), British poet, painter, engraver. letter, Aug. 23, 1799. The Letters of William Blake (1956).

''For where'er the sun does shine,
And where'er the rain does fall,
Babe can never hunger there,
Nor poverty the mind appall.''
William Blake (1757-1827), British poet, painter, mystic. Holy Thursday (l. 13-16).
"I have received nothing that I asked for, but everything I hoped for"

Funny how things work out! A delight, meeting Vince. (and what Chicago Guy said :)
Ah, those complex sons of ours, extraordinary in spite of our mistakes. I have never been able to understand how the term socialist became such a loaded word. We should all be socialists, I think.

Lezlie
Texas~ Thank you so much for reading. I am sure that you can see here that I did the best I could, but it was not the best in the long run for the most part. Still, it is a story of grace and forgiveness and respect and acceptance for opposing beliefs... and love.

jlsathre~ how incredible...but how challenging the "do no harm" is. Our expectations of people sometimes kills them! I also think that people are born with temperments and destinies, which I didn't think way back then as a young mom.

Chicago Guy~ Thank you for your words...and for reading. I am still reeling from your last post, as many of us here are. So good to see you here!

Nilesite~ How wonderful to see you here again! I am glad that many parents have more wisom than I did in those early days.

James~ Your comments are so encouraging... thank you. I love Blake, and as he said, the rain fell where it fell and I am happy.

dirndl~ Thank you, dear one. It is so nice to introduce my beautiful children here, and be humble in my mistake-making.

L~ such a great comment...thank you!! I agree about the term "socialist" - in its purest form, Jesus walked as a communist. That is something I never thought I'd say, let alone write!!!
First, great job, Mom. Second, there's a song called Unanswered Prayers that seems appropriate to your post. Last, but certainly not least, Jesus was a socialist.
Tom~ I thank God for his unanswered prayers...or rather the ones He answers in a way that is BETTER...I know and love that song. See my comment above for Jesus' true political state. (I agree with you mor than you think)
What a ride. Good mom!
Beautifully done!
I had a very stormy teen trip myself. They say your brain actually goes kind of crazy, Mine sure did. I can't believe I was so inconsiderate to my parents!!!! I feel a lot more guilt now that I am a parent and I understand what I did to them. But I sure learned a lot.
It is hard to let young adults do their own thing. They still have much to learn. It is a hard balance. I am so happy that you found your balance!
Tom Cordle
Thank you so much for these your words:

"First, great job, Mom. Second, there's a song called Unanswered Prayers that seems appropriate to your post. Last, but certainly not least, Jesus was a socialist."

Well written and reflected.
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