Mind Blows

The hits just kept coming during a span of three weeks last November. First I got word that my oldest sister was being treated for beginning stages of Alzheimer’s. She is twelve years older than me. Then I got a call from my oldest brother, that he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s. He is nine years older than me. Another brother happened to mention in passing that he had recently had a physical and there are some issues with his liver. And another sister, ten years older than me, was diagnosed with early signs of Alzheimer’s. There are eight of us siblings and half were dealt major health blows at nearly the same time. It was just days after our country’s tumultuous presidential election. Right before the onset of the holiday season. Smack dab in the middle of our family’s annual unspoken mourning period, when each of us quietly acknowledges the anniversaries of our parents’ deaths and what would have been their nth birthdays. It was all too much for me.

For years my husband has tried to persuade me that Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s run in my father’s bloodline, not my mother’s. And my DNA comes from both of my parents, so I only have a fifty percent chance of getting one of those devastating diagnoses. Try as he did, I never bought into his logic. Thrusting four of my siblings into chaos with their physical health was a cruel reminder of dominant genes. I’m not going to escape the inevitable.

It’s natural to want to pull family close during tough times but when all this stuff went down, I was still reeling from hurt and anger after being slighted by another one of my brothers last August when his son got married and nearly all of my nieces and nephews showed up for the wedding and reception. However, none of my children had been invited. My siblings and their grown children asked where my daughters were. I didn’t lie. “They weren’t invited.” Oh, there had to have been a mistake. I must not have read the invitation correctly. Unfortunately, I had read the invitation exactly as it was addressed and when I had heard many of my nieces and nephews were going to be at the wedding I contacted my brother’s wife. She told me none of my children were invited. There was no slight, no mistake. My children were not invited. How was I supposed to respond to that? My daughters knew all about the wedding, had heard many in the family talking about it, knew there were bridal showers happening. They thought I wasn’t passing on the details. I finally had to tell them, they weren’t invited. Oh. Okay then. Except it wasn’t okay. And once the wedding day arrived and Facebook pages in our extended family lit up with fabulous photos showing all the fun, my daughters were furiously hurt. They had every right to be.

So when news traveled in November about all the different health issues, I tried to put on a good face and thought about gathering with my siblings for our Christmas celebration. Half-heartedly I asked each of my daughters if they were planning to go. Not one. As the day approached, I knew I couldn’t go either. One of my siblings understood why I was hurt. A few tried to tell me it was all a big mistake and I should just let it go. I couldn’t. And by that time I was too far down the rabbit hole, angry and hurt, mourning my parents, mourning the loss of family, of the deep and emotional family bonds that fell apart after my parents had died despite how much effort we had all put toward staying connected physically.

A week after my siblings gathered to celebrate Christmas, my brother (with the liver problems) called me. He and his wife were on the call together and they put down a quilt of guilt, telling me they loved me and I should have been at the family gathering. They couldn’t understand the hurt and anger I felt and they were convinced my children not being invited to the wedding had just been an overblown mistake. They told me I needed to put my feelings aside and be there for the next family get together. Ha! The next family gathering was another wedding, one of my daughters. And she had picked a venue that was limited to only 100 guests. She invited all of my siblings but not one of her cousins. Her mindset was, since she couldn’t invite all of her cousins then she wouldn’t invite any.

My brother and his wife who had intentionally not invited my daughters to their son’s wedding last August have never said a word about what happened even though I know the topic has spent some time on the family grapevine. And when they attended my daughter’s wedding in April, they were very cordial and joking about their daughter’s wedding happening in July, how stressful it is to plan two weddings within a year’s time. I wanted to ask if my daughters would be invited to their daughter’s wedding but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. I wanted to believe it had been a mistake, that it wasn’t an intentional slight. Surely they wouldn’t do it again.

They did.

Last night my husband and I attended my niece’s wedding. Many of my other nieces and nephews were there. And today, family Facebook pages are filled with fun photos. Again. My husband and I left right after the dinner was done. Not one of my siblings argued with me to try to get me to stay longer. They knew. Aside from an initial “hello” and “congratulations” spoken to my brother, the father of the bride, we had no other exchange of words. Those may have been the last words we’ll say to each other for a very long time.

Hurt and anger in the mind are as devastating as blows to the body. Everything hurts. People say time heals all wounds but the history with this particular brother is long and complicated. He’s logical, cold, calculating. I’m emotional, compassionate, creative. This may have been the final blow.

Standing By My Man

It’s no secret that my husband and I are on opposite sides politically. We met and fell in love before we knew that about each other. Shocking statement, I know. But it wasn’t a problem because we both did a lot of bi-partisan work and we each were well-versed in compromise, finding common ground, and negotiating. Besides, the political divide in our country was just a small one at the time. Our core philosophies were the same—work hard, do the right thing, treat each other as you want to be treated, watch out for the less fortunate, help others whenever you can.

I’m old enough to remember when Monica Lewinsky made the evening news, along with Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and others. I remember the backlash Hilary received for standing by her man. I even joked at the time that it was a good thing they lived in a big house with more than one bedroom because that meant Bill had somewhere to sleep.

When Al and Tipper Gore divorced, I was caught by surprise. And I wondered, how is it they didn’t make it but Bill and Hillary have survived as a couple? Political ambitions trump all else? Or maybe having more than one bedroom really did make a difference?

These last few months have challenged my marriage in ways I never expected. At first, I laughed out loud and teased my husband. “Did you hear the latest?” I would ask with each breaking story about Donald Trump’s behavior or bold lie. My husband usually justified whatever it was by saying Trump was misunderstood or misinterpreted. But then the news media began playing videos. Trump denied mocking a disabled reporter, and the media ran video of him doing just that. Trump said he never opposed the Iraq war, and the media gleefully ran old video of Trump saying he opposed it. Trump claimed no one respected women more than he did. Access Hollywood video proved that a lie.

Over the course of this election, I’ve witnessed a shocking turn of personality in my husband. Ten years ago I married a man who valued women as equals, who supported my desire for a career, who would never consider saying a derogatory or defaming statement about anyone. And now he supports a man who has repeatedly verbally abused, bullied, and sexually assaulted women; a man who has ridiculed POWs; a man who has laughed at the grief of a fallen soldier’s parents.

Funny thing about life. The older you get, the more of life experience you have to draw from and sometimes, not always, you’re wiser as a result. Many years ago I was desperately trying to get my daughters and me safely away from their father. Abuse and violence were a daily occurrence and I just wanted to get us out alive. I swore I would never allow myself or my daughters to find themselves in that situation again. Divorce was welcome relief and it saved our lives.

Fast forward to present day, to the political climate we are in. Events of the summer caused me to no longer talk about the election with my husband. Not because I fear for the safety of my life, but because I fear for the preservation of his soul. He has been brainwashed to the point of believing it is okay to joke about a person’s disability, that locker room banter can include sexual assault language, and that there’s little need for truth. His delusional mind now believes he needs to go buy a gun because civil war is going to break out if Trump loses.

No, I do not fear for my safety in the same way I did in my first marriage. But I am concerned about how I’m going to get my husband to walk away from the ledge of the extreme Right and bring him back closer to center. He is lost and needs help. No other woman would have him now. I am his only hope for a nurse to restore him back to a world of respect and love of country. I’m standing by my man. And if our country is going to have a successful future, I pray other women will do the same with their husbands. Gently, lovingly let’s bring these brainwashed souls back into our hearts. Maybe in the process we can restore civility and lessen the political divide.

This Year’s Christmas Miracle

I’m tired because the phone rang at one o’clock this morning. I was deep in sleep and for a moment had to think about what day it was, what time it was, where I knew my kids were supposed to be. In the dark, I reached for the phone and discovered it was my daughter Emily. When I had gone to bed, Emily had just gotten on a plane for the third leg of a long journey home from Grenada where she is a veterinarian student. She is halfway through her grad school program and today is her twenty-fourth birthday. She was so thrilled and relieved to be coming home. I knew her plane was supposed to land around midnight, so I was concerned when I heard her voice on the phone. She apologized for waking me up, then wanted to let me know she was home safe. She sounded happy, not something I was expecting from someone calling me in the wee hours of the morning. And then she said, “I wanted you to be the first to know.” Her long-time boyfriend had just proposed to her and they are engaged.

“Congratulations! I’m so happy for the two of you!” I said, with sincerity. He is a wonderful young man and I think the two of them will make a good life together. I promised to keep her secret until this afternoon, when she was able to share her news with all of her sisters and her dad when they gathered to celebrate her birthday.

It took me a while to fall back asleep, which is why I’m tired today. But this morning I woke up with the realization that after all the struggles Emily and I have gone through—the months of not talking to each other, the horrible things she said to me all through high school and college, threatening to sue me on more than one occasion—when the moment mattered to her, she wanted her mom to be the first one to know. It brought tears to my eyes.

As a mom, I’ve always tried to do the best job I could with whatever circumstances I was in at the moment. Some days were easy and joyful, other days—and there were many—were fraught with drama and worry. Sometimes I had to make decisions that I knew would not be warmly received by my four daughters. Sometimes I knew that saying the right thing would inevitably cause one of them to say horrible and mean things and shut the door on our relationship. But my guiding light was always how I would feel at the end of my day when I sat down in prayer and held myself accountable for my actions and thoughts. I followed that “spirit” as my “mother guide.” It was the one true thing I could place faith in. Getting Emily’s call last night, knowing she wanted me to be the first to know, was a reward I never imagined I would receive. I’m holding the moment in my heart as this year’s Christmas miracle. It’s a reminder to every parent: no matter the struggle, no matter how long the silence, don’t ever give up hope. If you worked hard and laid a good foundation, your child will return to your life on the other side of adolescence. You must believe. Always.

Transition

When I first started writing this blog I was in the midst of daughter drama (but hey, when haven’t I been in the midst of daughter drama?). It was February 2012 and two of my daughters lived with me and my husband. A third daughter was just a few months from getting married, and my oldest daughter was already married and a mom herself. There was a lot going on with all of them and life was not always a bowl of cherries. I wrote to vent and to try and make sense of so much that seemed idiotic and downright stupid.

Now, just three short years later, my life has changed so much! It doesn’t feel like it’s been only three years; it feels like ten or more. Now, only one daughter remains in my house. And even though she is still here, she is nearly “launched.” Not quite ready to be on her own but very much an independent young woman rarely needing my guidance. Ha! Three years ago I thought this day would never come, or that I’d die before I saw it. Or that she would die as a result of the really bad choices she made every day. Oh, how the journey was treacherous! But I am relieved to know it is behind me (us).

With all of these changes, I’ve been cogitating for weeks (months, really) whether I should abandon this blog and start a new one. My original focus was to make sense of the nonsensical, to write openly about the difficult challenges I was experiencing in trying to shepherd daughters through adolescence and into adulthood in today’s world. After much thought, I’ve decided I’m going to stick with this one a while longer. After all, I created my four daughters and through that experience I am who I am today because of them. I am the product of my four daughters.

So it seems fitting to keep the blog name, and keep writing about my life and interactions with them. For while they are nearly all on their own, I still sometimes struggle with their choices. But mostly, I am struggling with trying to reconcile who I am today with the woman I was before I became a mom. And as I watch my daughters become women and mothers, I see myself thirty years younger in them.

I want to believe that by writing this blog, I’ll be able to process thoughts and ideas until they are fully formed and ready to be spoken and shared with whichever daughter I am interacting with. I am still learning how to be a mom, even after all these years. Funny. On the very first day of my first daughter’s life, my doctor told me I’d be a mom until the day I died. The older I get, the more profound that statement becomes.

Spirit of Christmas, please visit us!

No, this isn’t a plea for presents or treasures or vacations in warm places. Truth be told, I don’t need anything wrapped in shiny paper this Christmas. I am blessed. I have all the material things that I need. And I even have a few extra dollars that I have already donated to charity. I’m healthy, my husband is healthy, our children and grandchildren are healthy. Indeed, that’s a mighty fine Christmas! What more could I possibly ask for?

There’s just one thing. I’m looking for a Christmas miracle that cannot be wrapped in a box with a bow. It can’t be bought in a store or ordered online. I don’t even know if it can be manufactured by humans, although Theodor “Dr. Seuss” Geisel and Charles Schultz came very close a couple of times. I remember watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas” every year when I was a child. We didn’t have DVR or TiVo back then, so we had to make sure we were sitting in front of the TV on the one night the show was on. And because every kid in town watched that show, the next day at school everyone was a little more kind, a little more caring. It was an infusion of the Christmas spirit.

In my lifetime, I have experienced more than once the true spirit of Christmas. And a couple of times, I’ve been fortunate enough (and blessed) to be on the giving side of a Christmas miracle. It’s a wonderful feeling to help someone who wants to believe. I am a believer, which is what makes this year’s Christmas story so dreary.

You see, instead of decorating and cooking and playing festive holiday music, we are battling über drama in our family. It’s drama in the most extreme sense. In fact, I never thought drama could get so ridiculous, so hurtful, so pointless. And it’s all about whether we will gather for Christmas, and where, and when.

As a believer, I cannot fathom even considering not gathering with family at Christmas. So the fact that two of my daughters are refusing to gather just doesn’t compute. In my mind, this all goes back to a still-unexplained meltdown that happened with Kate, my oldest daughter, in August. And now Emily, my daughter with entitlement issues, has formed an alliance with Kate and the two of them are refusing to spend Christmas with me. The other two sisters are just as confused as I am, and they’ve asked Kate and Emily several times to speak up about what this is really about. But Kate and Emily won’t answer. Instead they throw out hurtful and intentionally mean words, calling the others names for trying to defend me, and twist anything any of us say into absolute nonsense.

At first my husband told me to not take it personally, but even he can no longer deny that all this anger and hatred is directed at me personally. Over the last month I’ve tried a hundred ways to negotiate and compromise, even offered to go to them. That threw them off a bit, but they quickly recovered and suddenly were not available on any of the days that they knew I was. At this point I’ve thrown up my arms and said, “Fine! I’ll celebrate Christmas without you!”

And I will. But it won’t be the same. No matter how many people gather in our house for the holidays, there will be gaping holes. So I’m praying for the Spirit of Christmas to have pity on us and spread some magic snowflakes or put up a guiding star so that two lost sheep can find their way back to the flock, where they can be cared for and tended to and loved.

Dissecting Drama

In the absence of knowns, it’s natural to fill the void with imaginations. I’ve gotten a lot of practice over the years, so my sense of imagination is very well developed. With four daughters, drama is inevitable and with drama comes a lot of unknowns. It’s not always easy to understand the reason for the drama and often challenging to comprehend the accompanying hurt feelings. And when that is the case, I’m left with my imagination.

One week ago at this time I was in the final preparations for a weekend with all four of my daughters, something we had named “Mom’s Weekend.” It was borne from necessity, well, at least I believed that, since all of my daughters have such hectic lives and it’s becoming more and more difficult to get all four of them in the same room at the same time. I wasn’t able to arrange that last Christmas and so in January I told the girls we were going to have one weekend this summer and they could pick whatever dates they wanted. I was surprised when Emily replied immediately that she had only one weekend open for the whole summer and it was the first weekend in August. Emily is attending grad school out of the country and is home only for a few weeks during the summer, so I really shouldn’t have been so surprised that she had only one weekend open. As it turned out, the other three girls could make that weekend work so we all saved the date. And it happened. And I found myself thinking this would be the start of a tradition. What fun we will have over the years!

Only the daughters came, no spouses or boyfriends, and that was their choice. Kate did bring her two children and I was so happy to have them here. We had a wonderful evening Friday and on Saturday we all went to the local beach. It was a gorgeous day and we brought a picnic lunch. All the girls and the grandkids had fun, but partway through the afternoon my instincts told me Kate had something on her mind. I asked her a couple of times if everything was okay and each time she said yes, things are fine. She did make one comment that she would have liked to come without the kids just so that she could have had a “real” break from life. I remember well the hectic pace and chaos being a mom with young children. And Kate’s comment reminded me of the times I had wished there was a way I could go away for a weekend and get a break.

After supper on Saturday, Kate and Emily insisted we needed dessert so they headed out to the store. There was a small disagreement about what they should buy and who was going to contribute money towards the dessert. But off they went. None of us gave any thought at the time about how odd it was that these two needed to go off by themselves, or about how insistent they were that we needed to have a special dessert. I saw it as an opportunity for Kate to be without kids for a half hour and was glad to see her go. When they returned, we divided up the treats and chatted away the rest of the evening.

About nine or so some margaritas were made and some beers opened. Close to midnight I decided I was just too tired to stay awake anymore and said my good-nights, and was met with a loud scolding from Kate. She was not happy that I was going to bed so early. It was uncharacteristic of her to argue with me about whether I was tired or not, but I was just too tired to be all that concerned about her attitude. Besides, she already had had a couple of drinks. I attributed her stubbornness to the alcohol.

My husband woke me up about 1:30, telling me he wanted to go to bed but the girls were still partying on the deck and were being too loud. It didn’t take me long to discover he was right. They were being too loud. He crawled into bed as I crawled out and headed out to the deck. I repeated my husband’s words and told the girls it was late and to go to bed. Kate blew. It’s not like her to behave like that, so I just stood, motionless, speechless, half asleep, trying to figure out what was going on. Why would she blow up? Ah, yes, alcohol. And when I dared to mention they all had had enough to drink, Kate was even more furious. I took a quick assessment of Kate’s very uncharacteristic behavior. She was not slurring her words. She was not having trouble standing. In fact, she seemed very much in control of herself and her words. Except Kate doesn’t talk to me like that. I was called horrible names. I was told I don’t care. She accused me of being disrespectful to her and her sisters. She even declared I had not been there for her when she had needed me. My mind raced in confusion, trying to land on a piece of sanity so that I could get a strong foundation under me. But it wasn’t happening. Everything she said and did made no sense at all. So I decided to retreat to the kitchen and give us both some time to calm down.

I was in the kitchen alone for some time and cleaned up all the mess and washed a sink full of dishes. Just me and my thoughts. I could not make a bit of sense out of the words Kate had thrown at me. I do care. I have been there for her. I always treat her with respect. I hurt. My mind ached. I just wanted the nightmare to end so I could go back to sleep. By this time no one else had moved from the deck and the noise had grown even louder. So I headed back outside to begin cleaning up the mess out there, thinking that would send them all to bed.

In a matter of about one minute, maybe two, Kate was in my face, as if she wanted to take me down. If you knew Kate, you’d be totally blown away that she had done this. And I was. I decided it would be best if I just returned inside the house, but Kate followed me. Once inside she continued to yell and threw a drinking glass, shattering it on the floor. That brought everyone inside. Rose and Brianna had the same look of confusion on their faces as I had on mine. And looking back on it now, I don’t remember Emily ever coming in the house. In my mind’s eye, I cannot place her in the kitchen in that moment. It was chaos and danger. Rose and Brianna helped me clean up the broken glass. Kate disappeared, and I felt somewhat relieved that she had finally gone to bed.

But I was wrong. A few minutes later both Kate and Emily were hustling around the house, gathering up their things as if they were going to leave. By now it was close to three in the morning. I don’t believe Kate or Emily were drunk, but they both had been drinking. It was quickly apparent to us all that Kate and Emily were packing up their cars to leave, and Rose and I begged them to reconsider. “You’ve been drinking. Do not get in your car.” They didn’t respond. Neither Kate nor Emily would look at us or acknowledge that we were even present. And then I realized Brianna was also packing up and preparing to leave. And Rose realized that about the same time I did. She followed Kate and Emily as they carried things out to their cars. I hounded Brianna, asking her exactly what was going on. “I don’t know, Mom. I’m confused,” she told me. I asked her, “Why are you leaving?” Brianna stopped and looked at me. “I don’t know, Mom. I’m being told really bad things and being told I need to get out of this house immediately.” I argued with Brianna. “That doesn’t make any sense. You’re safe here. Why would you leave? You’ve been drinking. Do not get in the car.” My words fell on deaf ears. All.

I watched with horror as both of Kate’s kids were yanked out of their beds and placed in the car. Rose cried, standing in the driveway, trying to persuade the three of them to stay. Kate drove away in her car with her two kids in the back seat and Brianna riding in the front. Emily led the way in her own car. In the end, only Rose and I were left, wondering, filling in the void with our imaginations.

I never did get to sleep that night. My husband slept for about two hours. Rose and I talked as the sun rose, going through each moment of the entire weekend, trying to dissect every action, every word, looking for answers. None were found. About eight or so, I received a text message from Brianna with a few facts. When they had left our house, they had traveled about a half hour to land at Emily’s house. Except along the way they stopped at a gas station because Kate had a flat tire, and Kate’s four-year-old needed to use the bathroom, and Kate threw up. Despite all those things they had made their way to Emily’s house. And now Brianna was sober and wondering how in the world she had been persuaded to come there. She didn’t want to be there. Since Emily had planned to be at our house all weekend she had no food. And both she and Kate were taking turns getting sick in the one bathroom in Emily’s place. Brianna didn’t understand why it wasn’t safe for her at home. And she felt trapped without a car. She asked Kate and Emily to bring her back home but they refused. They told her she could never come back home again, it wasn’t safe.

After a couple of text messages, Emily gave up and called me. It was easier to communicate with spoken words. She was tired, confused, angry. Would I please come and pick her up? I took my time to think it over. Rose and I debated it a hundred different ways. In the end, we both agreed that Brianna had been played. On a good day Brianna struggles with anxiety and Rose and I believed the other two girls had manipulated Brianna. How or why we didn’t know. But we believed Brianna was an innocent participant.

Rose fell asleep as I headed out to get Brianna. And when I did pick her up, Brianna looked horrible. Every emotion she was feeling shown on her face. Her body language was screaming loudly but not a word was coming from her mouth. We rode in silence until we were nearly back home, then Brianna apologized. She didn’t know why she had gone with her two sisters. She couldn’t explain why they had bolted in the middle of the night. And she was coming to terms with the fact that she had blindly followed her two sisters into a path of dangerous actions.

It took me a couple of days to reign in my hurt and anger, but eventually I reached out to Kate via email asking her to help me understand why she had felt the need to leave my house in the middle of the night, taking with her two kids, and driving after she had been drinking. Kate answered back with more hurtful words, more accusations, and told me she would not be coming to my house ever again. I ended the conversation.

Rose and Brianna remain as confused as I am, and neither of them have any desire to reach out to the other two. Rose and Brianna are hurt and angry and feel they were treated with just as much disrespect as I was. My husband and I have talked it through so much that there is no combination we haven’t considered in our imagining. There are no answers. There are only unknowns.

Kate and Emily do not do drugs. They are not big drinkers. What caused a switch to flip in Kate’s mind, to the point that she felt in such danger that she risked her life and that of her kids to leave my home in the middle of the night, to drive her car even though she had had a few drinks? Is there something in Kate’s life that is placing her under a tremendous strain or stress? Is her marriage solid? Will time heal my wounds? Will time temper Kate’s feelings, enough so that she will be able to talk with me? Will I ever see my grandkids again?

As for Emily, if she had pulled this off all by herself I would have chalked it up to her severe hatred of me. I thought I had made progress with her in that regard while she had spent her first term at grad school, out of the country. Our communications had improved and she was finally talking to me without an entitlement attitude. I had come to the decision that she was finally maturing. But all that progress has been erased. Today I am convinced Emily and I will never have a sincere relationship. I don’t know that I will ever be able to trust Emily or the words that come out of her mouth.

And I will never again try to bring all four of my daughters together. If it happens spontaneously, then so be it. If it happens on their terms, so be it. But it won’t happen in my house. And wherever it happens, if I happen to be present, I will have an escape plan in place.

For now, I am trying to come to terms with the overwhelming grief I feel, the sadness and anger and hurt.

I love my daughters. Unfortunately, not all of them love me. It’s a very difficult truth to accept.

 

What I would do over…

I would have

  • known my mother better. There are so many questions I’d like answered. What did she like the most about being a mother? What was her most frustrating moment? Her saddest? What memory did she treasure the most? If given the opportunity, what career would she have wanted?
  • not argued with my dad two months before he died.
  • found a better way to communicate with both my parents so I could hear the words “I love you.” They signed birthday cards “love, Mom and Dad” but I don’t remember hearing the words. And I would have found a way to say good-bye before they died.
  • sought out relatives or other adults to be mentors in the absence of my parents. I was too stubborn and too determined to stand on my own feet, but I needed guidance and an elder’s wisdom.
  • paid more attention at school and practiced better study habits.
  • worked better at saving money throughout my whole life.
  • treated myself with more respect and dated better guys.
  • found other ways to communicate with my first husband in order to persuade him to seek help for his anger. I tried, but too late. And my message didn’t resonate. Maybe no message would have. I won’t say I would have married someone else because that would mean giving up my four daughters. I cannot imagine my life without them, in the past or present or future.
  • walked away from the marriage when my girls were younger. All that anger and abuse caused more harm than I understood.
  • worked smarter at being a good mother, using more effective messages to prevent daughters stumbling onto bad life paths.
  • made wiser career decisions.

What I have done, am doing, and will do…

  • told my children “I love you” every time  I put them to bed as children, and tell them every time I say good-bye now that they are adults.
  • answered any and all of their questions about my life, about their lives, about anything really. I have always done this and always will. If I don’t know an answer, I don’t make up one.
  • find ways to be in the lives of my grandchildren, even though we don’t live close to each other.
  • learn to accept my faults, to let go of guilt or shame I have for not being a better person.
  • learn to accept the faults of others.
  • strive to be a better mother, wife, friend.
  • communicate more effectively in all aspects of my life.
  • learn to count my blessings.
  • have prayed, am praying, will pray.