30 Days of Truth. Day 14 - A hero that has let me down.

Oh. My. God. Do you know what is kind of sad?

I can not for the life of me think of who the heroes are in my life.

(thinking.....

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thinking.....

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thinking)

Okay, NOT true. I DO have heroes.

My mom. She raised four kids on her own and not one of us is in jail or on a reality TV show. HERO!

My grandmother. She was ostracized by her family for being an unwed mother at the age of 45. Immigrated across an ocean to a new country and made a life for her and her daughter. HERO!

My sister. My much younger sister and in so many ways, so much wiser than me. HERO!

My husband. My rock, my love and my hero because he is my kids' hero, each and every day! BIG HERO!

And yes, perhaps at one time or another they have all let me down. But not in a big unforgivable, you are no longer my hero kind of way.

If I had to pick a hero, someone who has let me down (and I really hope I don't get struck down for this) I have to say that it is...

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God.

Now, now, don't get your panties in a knot, I am not about to get all preachy and stuff. Just keep reading.....

I grew up in a very Catholic household. When my mom was a kid, she and my grandmother used to go to mass daily and at one point early on in her life my mom contemplated a life in a convent (and then she kind of got knocked up with me, so...that didn't quite pan out)!

From a very early age, the Catholic church was a big part of our lives. Our baptisms, first communions, confirmations, all BIG deals at our house. We said the Lord's prayer every night before bed and we all knew how to recite our Hail Mary's and the full rosary by the time we were six years old. My brothers and I were all altar servers and proud of it.

I think growing up without a father made me appreciate God and the Church even more. Every Sunday, I would go to mass and know that I was loved by God, that He would never leave us and that I could always count on Him for a good 'chat'. And He never judged me. I was taught that at a very early age. God sees all and forgives all as long as you ask him for it.

And then one year something changed. And although I know it really was not God's fault that this happened, I felt let down and hurt and unable to forgive.

I was 13 years old, it was right before Easter and we were going to church for the Sacrament of Confession (which by the way, they now call Reconciliation-sounds nicer I guess). Going to confession always made me nervous. It meant that I would have to sit down with a grown-up and admit (out load) all of my sins. What, you ask, are the sins of a 13-year-old girl? Well, they mostly had to do with not listening to or honoring my mom and grandmother, hitting my brothers and possibly some other stuff along those lines. None of the major sins committed here, just your run of the mill tween-girl-in-the-early-1980s stuff.

As I sat in the confessional and recited my sins to the priest, my heart pounding out of my chest, I just hoped and prayed that I would only have to recite three Our Fathers and maybe five Hail Marys, get my absolution and then go get some cookies and juice. Nope, not with this guy. Someone has obviously pissed in this particular priest's Holy Cheerios that morning, because instead of the loving absolution that I had come to expect from my confessional experiences, I got a harsh scolding. I was told that I was a bad girl, that God was disappointed in me and that if I wanted his love I would have to try a lot harder. I can't remember what my penance was that night, but I do remember crying a lot as we left the church.

And then I got mad. Mad enough that I refused to go to church for a while, and mad enough that I have NEVER, ever, not even once gone back to Confession/Reconciliation ever again!

I do know that God really had nothing to do with this particular experience and that it was the priest that ruined it for me, but I can't help it. These men are His representatives here on Earth. They are the ones who are supposed to spread His message and His love to us and this man took that away from me. He made me question GOD and consequently my whole belief system and in the end we (God and I) have never really been the same.

We do still talk and I know that He takes very good care of my brother and my grandmother, but I don't visit Him at His house very often. My trust in the Catholic Church was broken that day and I was seriously let down. Someone told me that God did not love me as much as I thought he did and to a kid already suffering with abandonment issues it was just too much.

I will not go to confession ever again, but I will forgive and God knows that and I am pretty sure that we are good. We have an understanding and I know now that regardless of what any priest ever says, that He is always and will always be there when I need Him.

Love and forgiveness,

Natasha~

30 Days of Truth - Day FOUR: Something I have to forgive someone for.

My kids are lucky.  I am lucky.  They have an amazing father and I have a wonderful husband.  And I am sometimes confused about how this happened.  They say that girls often marry men that remind them of their fathers. That may be true, but I did not HAVE a father in my life, so how on earth did I end up with such a fabulous guy??

My mom left my dad when I was seven years old.  My mom and grandmother packed up the house, and all four of us kids and we essentially did a fly by night and were out of the house in one day.  I was the oldest and so I think of all of us, I was the only one who really knew what was going on.  Although to this day, I have yet to get a really good reason as to why she left him.  I think a lot of it had to do with my very controlling grandmother, her dislike of all men in general and my mother's need to always please her mother and do everything her way.

So one day I had a dad and the next I did not.  I know we must have had our 'dad' time with him after they were separated, but I don't remember much of it.  I do remember the day I decided never to speak to him ever again.  I was twelve years old, we were in his truck, I must have been fighting with my brothers, because all I remember is him grabbing my hair at the back of my head and pulling it (in what was probably frustration at dealing with 3 out of 4 kids on his own).   There were most likely words exchanged, but 26 years later, I can't remember what they were.  What I do know is that THAT day was the last time I considered him my dad.

My mom did a great job raising four kids as a single parent.  She had help from my grandmother and some amazing family friends and even though we struggled through more years than I care to remember, we all turned out pretty darn well.  And all through those years, my father never made contact with me, never paid my mother a cent in child support, remarried a month after their divorce was finalized and then had a new family to call his own.

My siblings somehow managed to maintain a relationship with him and my brother Desmond even went to live with him for a few months when he was about 12 years old.  My dad was a rancher and so was my brother (even at such a young age, he always knew who he was) and they were close.  I think I was jealous of their bond, but I still could not forgive my father for what he did and also for what he did NOT do for us and for my mom.

The next time that I spoke to my father was the day of Desmond's funeral in August of 1993.  And even on that day, we barely had more than a few words to say to each other.  It had been more than 10 years and the man in front of me that day may have been Desmond's dad, but he was a stranger to me.  He gave me a card that day, which, when I think back, may have been his way of trying to reach out to me.  I did not respond.

Fast forward another 10 years and I was getting married.  Ben and I had a rule for invitees to the wedding.  You had to have had a significant impact on our lives, either together or apart, to be invited and because he had never even tried to know me as a kid or an adult,  I saw no reason to invite my father to celebrate this day with us.

Another three years passed and then we had our first child.  Having kids makes one re-evaluate everything in your life and I was no exception.  I want my kids to know who and where they come from and I have tried to open up a dialogue with my father (with the help of my sister, who has somehow over the years developed a healthy relationship with him).  I have sent him emails and photos of the kids.  He has met my son once and has yet to meet my daughter.  He sends Christmas presents every year, but that is about it.  I think that a relationship with my father or for my kids with their grandfather is just not in the cards for us.

And I think that I am OK with that.  I know now that the break up of my parents marriage had more to do with my grandmother than with them (how sad it that?).  I blamed him for years for not supporting us, for going off and getting a new family and supporting THEM. I told myself that I was the KID, why did I have to make the first move--he was the PARENT for goodness sakes!

But here is the thing.  I turned out OK, so did my brother and sister.  My mom is remarried and just celebrated her 20th anniversary with my step-dad.  And despite my lack of a 'father-figure' growing up, I married an amazing man, who is also the most incredible father to our kids.

I don't know why my father was not up to being my dad, and I don't think I will ever get the answer I want or need.  I will just have to let it go, forgive him for his short comings as MY dad and be thankful that he at least found a way to be one for my sister.  I will never have that special father-daughter relationship, but I do get the next best thing and that is to see that relationship through my daughter's eyes with the most special man in both of our lives!

Love and forgiveness all around, Natasha~

30 Days of Truth - Day Three: Something I have to forgive myself for.

I have been pondering this post for a few days now and writing it and re-writing it in my head.  You are probably wondering, why?  What is so hard about this one, well trust me-these are all kind of hard... The truth is HARD.  Hard to admit and often times very hard to face.

Here is some background that you are going to need.  My almost 4 year old son and I are having 'issues'.  I am sure it is all related to the fact that, a) He is 4 years old and stubborn and bossy and, b) I am 38 years old and stubborn and bossy.  Ah, yes, it is very apparent at times like this that he is indeed my son.  He does not like being told what to do, even if the very thing he is being told to do is exactly what he NEEDS to do at that moment (think pee, eat, sleep).

Then you add me and my flaws and well, it can get messy.  I am not a patient person.  I like things done when I ask and that is that.  Repeating myself over and over and over and over and over and over and.....(are you getting the picture?), well that just drives me completely insane.

So along comes Monday morning this week and wow, it was a doozie!  First, he did not want to get out of bed, then it was a fight to get him to go pee and then IT happened.  Somehow he has it in his head that if he does not touch the toilet while he is peeing, then he does not need to wash his hands.  This is NOT the rule in our house. The rule is, you go to the bathroom, you wash your hands-END OF STORY!!  Always has been and always will.

He refused to wash his hands, I insisted, he refused, I reiterated the RULE, he refused again and again and again.  At which point I LOST IT!!  There I was repeating myself over and over, like some modern version of Joan Crawford in Mommy Dearest, "Wash your hands, wash your hands, wash your hands, WASH YOUR HANDS!!!"

....and then I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror and lost it on a whole other level.  What I saw in that mirror was not pretty.  I saw this ugly, red-faced, crazy woman SCREAMING at her child, who was cringing and afraid (and I don't blame him, because I scared myself too.)  I immediately left the room, went and sat down and proceeded to bawl my freakin' eyes out.

I kept thinking in my head, what am I doing?  What kind of image and message is this sending to my kid?  Am I scarring him forever?  What is MY problem?  Why can't I figure out a better way to communicate with him? And so I cried, I gave in, I just let those rough waves of motherhood wash over me, pull me under and make me feel like giving up.  My husband came in to check on me at that point and I said the words, "I can't do this anymore."  I am not sure exactly what I meant, but I was DONE at that very moment.  No more mama juice, out of gas, next station 225 miles from here!!

But of course that can't happen. So I picked myself up, revved my mama engine on the fumes that I had left and headed out to have breakfast with everyone.  By this point I was all nice and puffy-eyed and sniffling from all the sobbing and not one to let anything slip, DS looks at me, big eyes and a big smile on his face and says:

"Mommy, are you crying?  Why are you crying?"

LIKE THE LAST 15 MINUTES DID NOT JUST HAPPEN!!

Seriously, he was genuinely oblivious as to why I was upset and was obviously not in the least way suffering any ill effects from my psychotic outburst.

The problem I am having is that I am suffering.   I remember what I looked like while I was screaming at my child.  I saw the fear in his face (even for a few milliseconds) and made him cry.  And I don't want to be that mom.  The one who can't control her anger, who doesn't recognize when she needs a time out and not the other way around and so I really feel that I have to figure out a way to forgive myself for this incident.  It is an easy thing to say and a very hard thing to do.  No one sets out to mess up their kids, but in the end we all have some kind of mommy issues right?

Ack!!

Alright.  I, Natasha, forgive myself for losing it on my kid and scaring the pants off of both of us!  I can't promise it won't happen again, but I do promise to do better, to know my limits, recognize his limits, take my time-outs and realize that he is only 4 years old and not out to intentionally drive me crazy (at least not yet)!

And after a tough day like that, the best thing I can think of to help is some closeness and babywearing-no matter how old said 'baby' is!!

Natasha~

Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.  ~Mark Twain