“Fear is the main source of superstition, and one of the main sources of cruelty. To conquer fear is the beginning of wisdom.” ~ Bertrand Russell

I was thinking about fear while reading a memoir about Domestic Violence today, and after really thinking about it, I realized there have been very few times in my life I’ve been truly afraid.  That makes me lucky…considering millions throughout the world live in fear of their lives everyday.

The first time I was horribly afraid was when my son was 15.  At the time, he was having intestinal issues and after ruling out things like Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Celiac Disease, our family doctor referred my son to a surgeon to see if exploratory measures might be used.  After various tests of his own, the surgeon determined that my son have his abdominal lymph nodes tested for possible lymphoma.  The night my son had to be hospitalized was hell…he wanted his dad and I to go home and get some sleep, and because he was 15, we did.  The next day, my son was released from the hospital and the surgeon told us he would have the results back in 36-48 hours.  I asked him what his thoughts were and he said he couldn’t make any call from what he had done, so I re-worded my question and asked this:  “Would you worry if this were your son?”  He said “yes”.

I brought my son home, and he knew we had to wait for the results while also understanding what was being tested for.  The first night home, when he let me tuck him in, he asked me to read some of his old favorite books to him.  I laid on his futon and did…and tried so hard not to cry.  I laid in bed that night, and even though hubby 3 loved my son very much and was worried, only his dad and I could really tolerate this together.  We talked on the phone throughout the night and we were terrified.  Is there any other word stronger??  Because even that one wouldn’t be strong enough for what I felt.  I knew I couldn’t bear to live in a world where was my son wasn’t in it.  He’s simply a part of my soul.  The results came in late the next afternoon and lymphoma was ruled out.  My baby was OK.  And no matter what, the world was as it should be.  (Later we found he had some kind of odd virus and after a few rounds of medication, he was fine).

The second time I was fearful was a few years ago when my mom was admitted to the ER because she was coughing up blood.  She called me to tell me what was happening and since she had battled cancer once and I knew she was drinking too much, I feared something related to either one of these.  I rushed to the ER and found my mom in the examining room.  I went in, while her now ex-husband/batterer waited in the hall, and I saw her back was covered with bruises.  All over.  In the shape of fists. Worse, I saw a look of sheer terror in my moms eyes.  She had obviously been horribly beaten and throwing up blood was due to internal injury.  I went out to the hall while my (sorry mom, but I know you understand) FUCKING step-father was standing out there, talking to passerby about religion.  Yes.  I’m not kidding.

I grabbed the ER doc (a total bastard) and practically screamed at him that her injuries were due to a BEATING…not falling down the stairs…and he needed to get on the  phone and call the police!  He said he questioned her repeatedly, and she vehemently denied it.  With that much resistance and no witnesses, the police wouldn’t do anything.  I was incredulous and went back in to see mom.  She fell down the stairs.  Period.  She knew I didn’t believe her and I knew she was so terrified of her batterer she wouldn’t admit to anything else.

I knew my mom was going to be leaving that hospital with a monster.  I knew the chances of my mom being there again was very great, and I also knew there was a chance she night not make it the next time.  Those were the fears me and my sister carried until the day my mom said she had had enough.

The final time I’ve truly been fearful was this summer.  Yes.  That’s how much I was hurt by the narc abuse Sarge was putting me through, the infidelity, and the ugly discards that came at his whim.  Alas, as victims of narc abuse know, it’s not ‘just’ the abuse.

I lost a couple of people in my life I hoped were friends.  True friends.  Friends I confided in and friends I love.  Very much.  But, I made some terrible decisions.  I’m still making decisions that may not be healthy or are self-sabatoging.  I know that.  But that’s when you need your friends the most…to understand your shortcomings and catch you when you fall.  However, I do know how hard this is.  Sometimes you just want to shake people and ‘make’ them see, but you can’t.  We all have to see through our own eyes.

I lost the respect of my family.  Having your mom tell you how disappointed she is in you hurts.  Even at the age of 50.  But I was disappointed in me too…and I couldn’t blame her for saying this.  Worse, was having my son say the same thing.  I know as a daughter, I did some really shitty things.   But, as a mom, I’ve tried everyday to do my best by my son.  I know I didn’t around the time of my separation with his dad, and I know I didn’t this summer either.  What I saw in my son’s eyes when he visited me this summer, and what I heard in his voice was shameful.  I saw his respect in me diminish greatly as well as so much disappointment and even contempt toward me.  I understand.  I was feeling those too.  Letting down my son was horrible and I’ll never forget how fearful I was of losing his trust and respect forever.  I still am.

I lost time.  Because I was crying, sleeping, and stumbling through my days, I lost really seeing my puppy grow up.  I lost bike rides and hikes and playing with my dogs on a summer day.  I lost running and entering some local races.  I lost going out to restaurants and being able to sleep without prescription drugs.  I lost the ability to see anything clearly except the pain and depression and anxiety I was feeling.  I lost all love of myself.

And the worse thing?  The thing that scares me most?  I lost trust in the world.  I used to think the world was a happy place.  I might be going through something awful, but there was still true good in the world.  Some might call is naivete, but I knew there was a pretty house with a picket fence where happy people lived and dreamed, and life was a wonderful thing after all.

I don’t believe that anymore though.  I really don’t.  One of my favorite Stephen King books is “The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon“, and my favorite quote is this:  “The world had teeth and it could bite you with them anytime it wanted.”  I think that’s what happened this summer.  So many bad things came together in my life at once, and I saw a smiley world turn to a dark, mean, nasty, ugly world.  A world where people hurt you for no reason.  A world where selfishness is the norm.  A world that can pull you down and keep you down if you even try to pull yourself back up again.  A world where people who don’t even know you will simply hate you, because their heart has nothing else in it.  A world where there is war, terror, famine, racism, homophobia, and people who are killing one another because each worship a different god.  It’s a world that holds so much anger, hurt, entitlement, and self-centeredness,  that it scares me now.  It’s a world I’ve lost trust and faith in.  A world I fear.

And this fear simply breaks my heart.

Prof K ❤

son.

I’m going to admit something to you that I’ve never admitted before.  Never.  In fact, I’ve lied about it.  And I’m really not even sure why.

When I was a little girl, there was 1 thing I was sure of…that I would be a teacher.  However, I also knew that little girls were expected to grow up to be mommy’s so this became something I tried to picture, but really wasn’t too excited about the prospect.  You know, I never was really a ‘kid’ person even as a little girl.  Dolls creeped me out and I really never saw the ‘fun’ in changing their diapers, feeding them bottles, and then putting them down so their eyes would close.  Ick.  Instead, I was an animal person and I took such great care of my stuffed animals, I still have my rabbit and teddy bear from my toddler years. Instead of wanting to play barbies (which were just curvy dolls to me), I would play with my Lincoln Logs, zoom my Tonka trucks over the carpet, and climb my grandparents tree with my sis and cousin.  I just didn’t have that nurturing ‘something’ I saw in other girls.  Even as a teenager, I didn’t babysit like my friends.  I tried it once, was petrified the entire time, and literally watched the clock hoping the parents would be home earlier than planned.  They weren’t.

Then, my sister had my first nephew and he was a doll!  And my sister was so ‘easy’ with him…like she learned how to become a mommy overnight!  I loved spending time with he and my sister, but I never watched him by myself.  I was too scared!  What if he had a dirty diaper I couldn’t handle?  What if he was still hungry after the baby food was gone?  What if he started to cry and I couldn’t comfort him?  What if he just didn’t like me?  I always made sure someone was with me so I could ‘hand him off’ if I needed too…like a tag team.  My second nephew was born 3 years later and I was a bit more comfortable with him, and of course, I loved them both to the moon and back, but I started to think about being a parent myself, and just couldn’t see it.  I felt a ‘mommy’ wasn’t in me.

After college, I loved teaching and working with my kids.  But they were only with me a few hours a day, and I could send them home at 3:00.  Ahhhh.  I got to go home and only be responsible for myself.

My first hubby and I never used birth control and I think it’s because I still felt like you ‘had’ to have a baby after you married.  People even asked what we were waiting for, but in 4 years, I never got pregnant.

When hubby 2 and I started dating, I didn’t think I’d be able to get pregnant, but lo and behold, I missed a period a couple of months into the relationship.  I took a pregnancy test…waited the 3 minutes which seemed like hours…and saw the positive sign in the window.  And, it was clearly positive.  I was absolutely terrified.  Truly.  Hubby 2 and I got married (quickly!) and moved 3 states away for his job.  I was going to be ‘all alone’ with my baby after he was born.  No family.  No friends (yet).  Funnily, I loved being pregnant.  I loved the attention AND the eating of chips and danishes at all times of the day or night with no guilt whatsoever!  But, right on schedule and after a LLLLOOOONNNNGGGG labor, my son was born.  The nurses got him cleaned up and then put him in my arms.  I looked down at this beautiful baby but thought ‘who is this little guy and why is he being given to me?’  Unlike most moms, I resisted leaving the hospital where I had so much help and support.  The thought of bathing my boy alone was horrifying!  Of course, we got kicked out after a couple of days and as we took him home in our big, clunky Impala, I couldn’t help but think this was the start of something I wasn’t ready, or qualified, for!

My mom came to be with me for a week after his birth, and after she left and hubby went back to work, it was just me and my son.  How was I going to do this alone?  I wasn’t experienced, wasn’t ready, and wasn’t feeling a ‘mommy’ in me yet.  I was flying solo and had to make sure he always had a clean diaper, that I was drinking enough to make his milk, that he was getting bathed and clean, etc.  One day, hubby 2 came home and said, ‘Why did you put your pajamas on already?  It’s only 5:00!’  I said ‘I haven’t had time to get dressed yet!’

One night, after battling colic for 4 months and multiple sessions of breastfeeding everyday, I went to bed and when I awoke, I realized my boy hadn’t gotten me up.  It was after 2:00 and he usually wanted fed at midnight.  I tottered into his nursery, looked in the crib, and his face was getting blue and he had very shallow breathing.  I screamed for hubby and we rushed him to the hospital.  I didn’t even put him in a seat…I just held him to me and started praying.  Hard.  The doctors diagnosed asthma, and he got his first breathing treatment of hundreds to come.  He spent 2 nights in the hospital, and was in a breathing tent.  I couldn’t hold him.  I ‘slept’ on a cot in his room, and kept getting up to see my boy struggle with his breaths.  My heart melted.  And at that moment, I realized this was MY son and I was totally in love with him.  I realized that if something were to happen to him, I wouldn’t be able to go on.  He was my precious boy and I became a mommy that night.  After he got stabilized and came home, things changed!

I started loving being a mommy!  I’d play on the floor for hours with him.  Read him books I had loved as a kid.  Took him places where he could pet animals, play with balls, and toddle around with other children.  As he grew, we just had more and more fun.  I was his t-ball coach, his Boy Scout leader, and his classes’ room mom (my goodie bags were to die for) every year!  We did everything together!  In the summers, we would swim at our local pool everyday, participate in library programs, have pajama days where we would laze around and just read or play games.  One day, I looked at him and started seeing a big boy.  And then a bigger boy.  And then a teen.  And then, a man.

How did this happen?  Why did it go so fast?  How did my baby grow into a man in the blink of an eye?  I had gone from dreading motherhood to embracing it and never wanting it to end.

Three years ago, my boy moved to Fort Worth, TX for a great job opportunity.  But, that’s 12 hours from our home.  I drove down with him to get his apartment ready, and then I was going to fly back home after he was settled.  I was cringing at the thought of having to say goodbye to my baby.  To not see him everyday.  To have to look at his room and see an empty space.  To not have his friends around complimenting me on my nachos.  To not have my boy with me.  My son tried to comfort me, and told me he’d wait with me in the airport so we could have some extra time together.  But, when we got to the international airport, we had no idea where we were and ended up in the place where you drop people off and GO!  NO!!  I didn’t want this!!  I needed time to say goodbye, and people were honking and motioning to us to leave!  I got out of the car with my bag, and my son came around to hug me.  I was sobbing, and my boy took me by the shoulders and said this ‘Mom…you did a great job with me!  I couldn’t have done this without you.  You gave me wings, and now you have to let me fly.’  That’s exactly what he said.

I had come full circle.  I started not knowing if I could be a mommy, and then had my son tell me I had done a great job.  I smiled through the tears and knew I had to let him go.  We stayed close!  I flew down to Texas every 6-8 weeks and we’d do so many fun things together.  My mom and I drove down every Christmas with her car full of gifts!  It was working out, but having my child so far away scared me too.  What if something happened to him and I couldn’t get to him?

But guess what?  He’s coming back home.  There are new opportunities for him with his company close by and I’ll be able to see my boy whenever I want!  I can’t wait!  He’s my heart.  He’s a part of my soul.  How did I not know that at first?  Because I feel like he’s always been with me.  Somewhere inside.  It’s just that he needed to come out in person.  And I am so darn blessed that he did.

One time, when he was little, he asked why he didn’t have a brother.  I told him this ‘Baby, sometimes God gives you the perfect child right from the start!’  (I actually couldn’t have any more children…how ironic.  I went from dreading one to wanting a bunch!) He loved that…and I still say it to him often!

Now, I’m eager to be a grandma some day!  My sister has 2 grand kids, and they are awesome!  And, even more so, my sis is the best grandma I’ve ever known (besides our own).  She is a baby/kid person and loves children so much.  I can’t wait to hold my son’s child in my arms one day.  And if his wife is scared and unsure at first, that’s ok.  Grandma K will be there helping.  And loving it.

This is what I know:  No matter what is happening in my life, I have a son who is the most awesome, funny, adorable, sweet, ambitious guy I know.  He has blessed my life more than words can say, and I know he loves me right back.  No matter what, life is good because of my boy.

Mommy K