My mom was my superhero. I looked up to her in every way. As a small child I remember going to an amusement park. My mother got on some sort of rollercoaster ride. I stayed back with my grandmother as she climbed into her seat. A wave of anxiety washed over me and I feared for her safety. I cried out to her. She waved and smiled reassuringly; I cried even more… In my child-sized mind, I felt like I was losing her. Like she was putting herself deliberately in harms way. And all I could do was watch. Of course, she ended up being fine. But I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling.
When my mother and step-dad split up, I went through a transitional period when I found my mother becoming less of a mom, and more of a roommate. Impulsive decision making, and teenage like behaviour made me see her in a different light. I loved her so dearly, but I didn’t feel like she was the solid caretaker she used to be.
In 2006 when she was admitted to the psychiatric ward was the first time I felt like the adult. Watching her fall apart; sobbing for what felt like 3 months straight. She was broken. She didn’t know how to be a mother, let alone be herself. It was a giant reset button in her life, as well as in our relationship. In 2006 I feel as though I lost my mother.
She moved to another province upon release and has not come back since. I was born in Ontario. I’ve been raised in Ontario. She left my home and went somewhere else, taking my sister along with her. I was left here to do my own thing.
I work and I have my own family now. Up and leaving to go visit is a challenge, time-wise and money-wise. I don’t have the freedom and flexibility to drop it and go. So I see my mother maybe once a year, sometimes even less.
When I got remarried my mother wasn’t there. Was it hard? Absolutely. But I have to remind myself that having a mother alive is more valuable than having a mother being physically present on one single day of the year.
I hope that I can be the mother who always has an open door policy for my kids, and their kids, and so on. We will have dinner together every weekend, and talk on the phone about the going-ons of life. I want to be emotionally available to my children when they go through life’s challenges. I am, after all, their mother. And it’s a lifelong commitment. I am not angry with my mother; she is human. She has her own challenges to face and I respect that. It’s hard to witness from one province over – or maybe I lack any involvement simply because I am an entire province away.
But the truth is: life happens and you make of it what you can. Mental Illness can rob you of a person you once knew. It can take them and transform them, and you have to go through a process of mourning someone who is still alive. Do I have my own personal demons that I’m fighting? Absolutely. But these faces: they keep me on course. For them, I’ll choose every day to keep an open line of communication with my kids. To be open and warm and loving. And I’ll take care of myself so that I can be there when I’m needed.
And I’ll be their super mom for as long as humanly possible.