Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Waiting to Exhale...

It feels like I have been holding my breathe for a very long time. A long deep breathe that causes my heart to race, my palms to sweat and my head to spin. I remember when I took that last great gasp of  air, it was when my first son, Bryan, was born. I was terrified of becoming a mother. I had no clue how to be one and the thought of being responsible for anyone other than myself was quite daunting. I was terribly young and niave and he was so tiny, barely six pounds. He reminded me of a little frog. He was due on Valentines Day but waited a little longer and came into this world  effortlessly on February 18, 1985.  I distinctly remember the very moment  when my beautiful, perfect son was placed in my arms and I fell deeply, passionately, madly in love. My concerns melted away along with my heart. He took my breathe away.

I was adopted as an infant. My birth mother was forbidden by her step mother to keep me. At that time in the early 60's it was quite unacceptable to be an unwed mother. Although my birth mom and dad had planned to marry, life threw some curves and I was adopted from the Children's Home Society in August of 1964. I can not imagine the heartbreak my birth mother experienced. Her love for me was immeasureable.

Growing up I had a difficult relationship with my adoptive mom, the only mom I ever knew. She was a sensitive, loving, talented woman but her insecurities cast a shadow over her life that she could not seem to escape. As she slowly spiraled into a world of alcohol abuse our roles of mother and child reversed and I became the caretaker at the tender age of 14. I was constantly seeking my mothers approval, always looking for a way to engage her in my life somehow. There was a huge void in my heart, the need for my mothers love was so great. I did not understand what I was doing wrong. I blamed myself for her lack of interest in me. I had convinced myself at an early age that I must be to stupid, to fat and to ugly to be loved and accepted by her. What else could it be? At that time I did not realize that it was her past that haunted her and it was her insecurity caused by years of abuse as a child herself that caused the barrier between us.

I became pregnant at twenty years of age, still a baby myself in many ways. I had such mixed emotions about motherhood, never having that relationship I so craved made me feel inadequate. It was during my pregnancy that my mom was diagnosed with bone cancer. It was just a matter of time and I was devastated. Never one to give up easily I continued to seek out my mothers affection or at the very least, a little attention.  As my belly grew I noticed that my mom started calling me more. She started giving motherly advice, she started showing concern for my well being. It was during this time that I started to see a real relationship begin to bloom between my mom and me. I will never forget the day that I was helping her around her apartment. It was late and we were both tired. She was watching me intently, not saying a word, just watching. She had a look in her eyes, one of so much pain. She crossed the room and gently laid her hand upon my belly. Her eyes were moist with the tears she was trying to hold back and she asked quietly "What's it like? What's it like to have a baby in there? I could never carry a child of my own. I have always felt like I was less of a woman because of it, I have no idea what it is like. Can you tell me?" This was the moment I had waited for my entire life, the opening to a long conversation with my mom. A conversation filled with many questions and answers, the one that started the healing process in both of our lives, the one that said I love you and I forgive you.

As I look back I realize that it was my unborn child who initiated the beginning of the healing process in my relationship with my mother, it was my son Bryan that introduced me to a love that I had never experienced before but have been blessed with two more times in my other children, Matthew and Emma and it is my son Bryan who took my breathe away for the first time 27 years ago that inevitably changed my life for the better. I still feel my heart race when I see yet another goal he has reached or get a glimpse of the man he is becoming. My palms sweat when I hear of bad news in his neighborhood, always concerned for his safety. My head spins at the the time that has passed so quickly and I find myself yearning to hold my son at 5, 8 and 12 years old just one more time. He continues to take my breathe away and for that I am truly grateful.

Happy Birthday Bryan
I Love You,

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