break the cycle
I asked my mother to go home with her for lunch, she said “No, I packed you your favourite! I’ll see you at the bus stop after school. Love you, babe.” Those were the last words my mom ever said to me... those words would stay with me for the rest of my life. From relationships in my teens to commitments in my twenties, it was never easy to distinguish trust because when one of the most influential people in my life said they would be there, they never showed up again.
My mom had begun volunteering in my French immersion class, she was always so optimistic about where being bilingual could bring me in my future. I wish I had stuck to it. She was always so eager to further my education, from Montessori preschool tuition outweighing some college program costs at the time to French immersion beginning in grade 1. I sometimes think she intentionally tried to prepare me for a life without a crucial role model to have as a guide, regardless of her intentions it was far too young for any child to have to navigate a life without a mother, especially a little girl.
She never picked that little girl up from the bus stop, she would make a decision that would alter the lives of everyone she loved and who loved her. I found out later in life she made a point in the days leading up to her death to ensure that her children; myself and my brother, had parental figures to take care of us if for some reason she was no longer around. The sad part is, she failed to realize that regardless of who the figures left in our life, what we would always focus on was the one who wasn’t…
I was 6, and to say I had any comprehension of the demons she was facing at the time would be a lie. Only when I look back at the few memories I do still have, do I start to remember things that indicated she was suffering beyond anyone’s understanding, even doctors at the time. Sleeping in bed all day, waking up from the already limited slumbers due to your own screams... it must have been terrifying for her.
So many incidences I was protected from, regardless of her constant battle. I look back and remember a happy childhood full of love, soccer games, birthday parties, and family gatherings. Only as an adult do I realize the damage mental illness can cause to a person’s inner self. How much I feel her battles weigh on my life 22 years later. How often I doubt my ability to be a mother because I didn’t have one to guide me. I unfortunately was left with a naive understanding, from the mind of a child, of what mental illness can do to a person. I believed she didn’t love me; well, that’s not entirely true, I believed for long that she didn’t love me enough to stay and to fight, but maybe it was herself whom she didn’t love enough.
My mom did everything a “mom” is supposed to do, she volunteered as a girl guide leader – she had the fitting name of Rainbow. I was enrolled in dance, soccer, and swimming, all the things a good and loving parent would want for their child. She wanted a little girl so bad but something I think always scared her about that responsibility, I know it scared me. I remember finding out I was pregnant and being so excited and wanting a little girl so that I could finally have a mother-daughter bond. Once I found out I was having a boy I was almost relieved... I said to my fiancée “I’m happy it’s a boy, I don’t know if I am the woman she should be looking to yet.” I knew my son would have his father to guide him to be a good man. Having a daughter on the other hand would be entirely up to me to teach the things I felt for so long I lacked, due to not having my own mom.
That understanding changed everything. It allowed me to focus on the future of my story and not trying to finish hers.
I will always have a part of me that feels like that little girl who was left at the bus stop, I will never fully be able to understand the decision my mother made, and I will never be able to trust the words people say fully.
I never believed I would be here for the milestones I’ve achieved; I believed I would follow the path my mother paved for me. 22 years later I have a fiancée, stepson, and 2 ½ year old little boy. He tests me every day, he has also teaches me something new every day. I know in the future, every day when I drop him off at school, I will be there to pick him up when I say I will. There will never be a moment where he does not feel as though my love was enough. I am the one to end the cycle within my family, my mother may not have had the strength to face the rest of her days, but the strength she did have to make it the 38 years that she did, was left instilled in me and that will be enough to get me through my darkest days.