The day I found out I was pregnant I thought I had breast cancer. Lumps in your breasts are cancer aren’t they?
I came out of the doctor’s office in shock. And pregnant.
It was May 1994. I was still a very young woman. My relationship brand new.
I had too many uncertainties. Too many insecurities. A childhood that left me damaged and still searching for who I was.
I was bringing a child into the world and I was still a child.
At the age of 13 I had been told I couldn’t have children. Now I was pregnant. They were wrong.
The Smashing Pumpkins was on the radio when I came out to tell him we were going to be parents. The song was “Today is the Greatest.” I still hear it and get sentimental.
I was in shock. It was 1994. I was 21.
I had no clue life would change so rapidly, in such an unforgiving way. I had no clue that I would spend the rest of my life fighting.
Struggling. Learning. Loving.
Believing in myself and finding the strength to move forward came from places I never knew existed in me. This small, wonderful, pure form of humanity relied on everything I was, AND, everything I wasn’t but wish I could be. When you are alone in this amazing and awkward adventure it feels like the universe has just set down on your shoulders. It’s there to stay. I found myself many times saying “What I have I done?”
But failure is not a word I use.
I will not go in to great detail of all the things that I have been through in the last 20 years being a good mother but I will say that being a mother has changed me in so many wonderful ways:
I am wise. I am resilient. I go on despite all obstacles.
I love my daughter more than life itself.
At the age of 21 I was terrified. At 31 I was convinced I had failed. Now, at the age of 41, after overcoming everything, all the struggles, the court battles for custody, the growing pains, the safety nets, the not knowing, and the fears and doubts. I know I was, and still am, a good mother.
I know I am a good mother even though now, at 20, she’s angry most of the time.
Angry at what, I’m not sure. Me, maybe. Life, definitely.
We all had those times didn’t we?
Sometimes I don’t like her. But that’s okay. Most times she doesn’t like me either. But we love each other. That’s what’s important.
When did I let go?
Maybe it was that day she decided she was going to take her plate in to the kitchen herself and put it into the sink for Mummy.
Or maybe that day when she was singing and dancing on the picnic table and tore a hole in the seat of her pants but kept on dancing because she’s a performer like that.
It was probably when she came home on curfew but was still drunk. At least it was before curfew.
This may not sound like an empowering entry but just wait.
I say this: when times get tough, wait for those little moments of goodness, the rewards that come in small doses when you least expect them. They can be disguised, but they are there and they are little miracles. Regardless of your doubts and fears, they are there. They really are.
Even now, when she barely talks to me, I AM still Mummy. She still finds moments when she needs me. Those are the moments I cherish. Those are the moments I wait for.
Despite the odds, my daughter loves me and I am a good mother.
Rebekah Norton is a single mom of one 20-year-old daughter. She lives and works in the Fort McMurray, Alberta, Oilsands most of the time, but her home is in the Comox Valley with her 3 dogs and 1 cat. She enjoys writing, music, and her animals.
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