Sunday, September 27, 2009
Mom- The Soft Place To Fall
I think I first heard the phrase "soft place to fall" from Dr. Phil, to be honest. And it stuck with me. I hope that my husband, my kids, my friends know that I am that soft place to fall. That when things are tough, when you need care, when you need to stop beating yourself up and taking hits... I can cushion the blows. It's a challenge because it also means dropping judgement. I had a realization this afternoon about that "soft place." And came to realize that I am very fortunate to have a mom who is still my soft place to fall. My mom and I have been on an interesting journey. She made a bad choice in her first husband (ironically, I repeated her mistake and also made a bad choice in my first marriage- live and learn, history repeats itself, etc). She was soon a single mom. We lived with her parents from the time I was 3 until I was about 5, I think. Then it was just the 2 of us. We struggled. She was working through dental school, dating a guy in med school (who became my dad). I was hiding the hugest secret of my life (being routinely sexually abused by a cousin). She married that med school guy- now a doctor, now my dad. We moved from Lexington to Cincinnati. New schools, new home, new family. Chaos as I entered adolescence. My poor mom... she was pregnant when I was a teenager. Plus, I was fighting my own demons from bubbling to the surface. Her pregnant hormones, nursing hormones, sleep deprivation- all things I fully understand now. Plus, her pregnancies were HARD. Her morning sickness was 24/7. She was uber-sensitive to smells and couldn't keep any food down. And she had a teenager that was not making life easy. I was starting my freshman year of high school in a new private school- I was slipping away in the public school. So my hormonal, sick, exhausted, stressed mom drove me to and from school every day- 30 minutes each way (my dad drove me when he could). She suffered through my theatre involvement, my volleyball practice and games. And I was acting out the entire time. I can't imagine. And then it got worse. She was pregnant again. Sicker than before- even had to be hospitalized for dehydration. We fought constantly. I yelled and screamed and was so dramatic in my emotional turmoil. My senior year of high school... my mom and dad have no idea what to do with me. I'm spinning more and more and more out of control and on the verge of seriously hurting myself. My parents are trying to create a happy and normal childhood for my brother, Ted. My mom is nursing a baby- my brother, Daniel. My parents are making choices to try and build a loving foundation with my brothers and I am fighting tooth and nail to try to force them to hate me. We reached the apex of the chaos and my parents did the best thing for me- met with my psychologist, my school counselor, and maybe some other people (I don't know who all was at this meeting of the minds) and offered me a chance for serious, intensive help. 2+ weeks inpatient in an adolescent inpatient hospital unit. Several months outpatient. I missed out on most of the last quarter of my senior year. I went to prom, I graduated with my class. Some proved to be real friends who supported me through a very crazy time and some were cruel, some cut me off, whatever. But my mom and dad stayed by me for all of it. I started college on time. Plans changed as to where I was attending because I needed to stay close to my support system- so instead of a small school near Chicago, I went to Xavier University. Lived on campus, went to therapy, and started rebuilding my life from scratch. And now I am a mom. And I think about what my mom must have been going through- what I put her through. And I am grateful, I am blessed, I am humbled. That's all a lot of important back story to get us to my enlightened moment today. I hope you've hung in here with me. When my mom comes to visit... it seems that I am always exhausted. I've always assumed that it was because I can't keep up with her. She is always going and doing and cleaning and planting and cooking and reading and playing and gardening and... all while entertaining my kids, keeping them involved, teaching them, loving them. Lately, her visits seem to always coincide with times that I am feeling under the weather and I find myself without the energy to keep up, to participate, to be with them. Today, I crashed on the couch. I slept on the couch. I felt exhausted. I couldn't have fought that sleep and it seemed to have come out of nowhere. It hit me this evening. My mom is my soft place to fall. When my mom is here, I feel like I can let all expectations go. I don't have to "be" anything for her. Any other people around my kids- I still have to be the one who is "in charge" or I feel like I have to make good use of my time or I feel like there is an expectation of what I need to do or be or say or whatever. This isn't a bad thing. It's life. We are expected to behave in certain ways in certain situations. I can let most of that down with Jeff. But he needs and wants from me, too. Just like I need and want from him. But when my mom is here... I can let go completely. I know Jeff and I might get frustrated with all of the constructive criticism we get about the house. I know that we can get a little annoyed with trying to find things after she has "helped" clean up the kitchen. But I've reached a point where I don't care what my house looks like when she gets here (within reason) because it is what it is. And I know that her suggestions, her busy-ness, her cleaning and gardening and activities with my kids... are all done in love. She's helping and trying to make life easier for us. So when my mom is here... I can release. I fully trust her to take care of our kids. I let go of any sense of there being expectations on me. She's offered me tough love, sacrificial love, motherly love... and she's my soft place. My mommy.