Dear Mom,

I was too young and naive to understand, and to this day, part of me is still too young, and naive to understand. I will never understand how you did it, but I will spend the rest of my life being thankful that you did. I will also spend part of the rest of my life hurt, angry, and isolated, but that is a price you were willing to pay. That is a price you were willing for me to pay.

That is a price far too expensive for me to keep on paying.

When I was about seven, and younger, my relationship with my mom was not rock solid, but it was okay, to say the least. My mom worked often which meant that my summer vacations were spent with cousins that lived about two hours from where I was raised. During the school year, I saw my mom but very little of her. A majority of my childhood was spent with my grandfather who took me to church often. Although, for the most part, I was asleep on his lap during mass. He was, and still is the heart, and soul of what made me who I’m today. He is by far the very best part of me.

I was often sick, and I was so fragile. When I saw my mom hurt, it hurt me in ways I still cannot understand. In those days, I spent most of my days in the hospital, but I managed to be ahead in my school works and passed every grade. I excelled in academics despite seldom being there because it was the one thing I had that I could give to my mom. It was my way of showing her how much I love her, and how I wanted to be by her side. It was my hallelujah and my Ave Maria. Whenever I was able to see my mom, it was the one thing I could give her, and see her be proud of.

I never knew that my dedication to doing well in school would not be enough. I never knew that one day I would not have her. I had spent long summers away from her, but she called now, and then during those long summers, and I always went back to her at the end of the summer. I wasn’t okay with it, but it was something I could live with. It was something I was willing to do because I knew that at one point, I would get the chance to spend summers with her, and it would be wonderful!

Sadly, I never got the chance because I was about seven when my mother decided she couldn’t care for me on her own. She had the help of my grandfather and my uncles who would often time send money for medicine and school. I was about seven when I learned what it meant to be truly undeserving.

I was honestly a good kid, and the only trouble I got into was buying candy. Candy was my weakness. I truly loved eating sweets even though they made me sick a lot. So, being the well-behaved child that I was, I never complained about anything because like the long summer vacations I always thought I would get to see my mom. I was very wrong. First off, calls from Togo to the United States where expensive so I seldom heard from my mom. My family also had this idiotic idea that the less I spoke to my mom the easier the move would be on me so for that reason I wasn’t allowed to talk on the phone with her for long. Same with my grandfather whom I assure you I missed more than my mother.

Despite all the anger, confusion, embarrassment, and rage that came from not being wanted I never acted out because I knew that my misbehavior went back to the ears of my mother. For everything, I did affect her directly, and I did not want to be that child that embarrassed their mother. I wanted from the very fiber of my being to be that child that could be bragged about to her. Near or far, I wanted her proud of me, and she was. Even if she never told me.

I can’t even begin to tell you how often I muffled my tears with the pillow as not to disturb anyone’s peace with my ungrateful tears. I cried a lot at first but I never allowed anyone to see me cry.

I was that kid whose father did not want her, and whose mother decided she was too much of a burden. I wasn’t about to make any noise, and I never did. I was what you would call that perfect kid. Obedient to a fault, and underneath it all was sadness, anger, and despair. The older I got, the more I understood that whatever I wanted for my life I had to do for myself because my parents weren’t going to be there for me. I started making decisions for myself and doing my research. I read everything I could get my hands on. Again, academics were a huge part of my life, and it absolutely helped that I loved to read and write.

By the time, I was about ten I was too grown to care to have an authoritative figure. In fact, I came to have a strong distaste for being told what to do, but I never acted out. I was 14 when I started looking into college. I knew education for me was the way. I was right and moving away to college was the first time I felt less trapped. It was also extremely difficult for me to go back during the summer. I seldom went home for breaks because once I had a taste of freedom I despised going back where I felt trapped and unwelcome.

I was about 20 when I heard from my dad. At that point, 13 years had passed since I last heard or even saw him. I was told he is my father, and to let him in. I don’t deny that he is my father, however, at that age, I didn’t need a father. My relationship with my mother was awful. Although I never said anything to upset her, in me I felt nothing for her. I didn’t know how to feel about her or him, and to this day, I still don’t know how to feel about them. I tolerate both of them as they tolerated me for as long as they did. I send my mom things she asks for, and I know, as she gets older I’ll have to take care of her. I have no ill feelings towards them, and I truly thank God for carrying me for as long as he has done so.

For anyone who asks if I’ve missed my mom, the answer is no. I did for a long time, but at some point, I stopped missing her because it hurt too much.

As an adult now, I sometimes still cry for that little seven-year-old … This is part of my story. It’s not everything that makes me who I am, but it is part of what makes me who I am. This is why I don’t for second take children for granted. This is why I’m meticulous about preparing for parenthood because I know the sacrifices children are forced to make for their parent, and I could never put my child in such a situation. I’m thankful that my children won’t have to choose between having a mother and having a good life. I guess you can say my mom is partly to thank for that. On the other hand, maybe, it’s just God’s mercy. I guess I’ll never know.

In case you wonder why I’m so passionate about good parenting etc. This is a short story of why, and one of the most difficult stories to grace my blog thus far. There’s a lot of layers to be pulled back, and I’m slowly doing it. Despite the difficulty, and the memories that I would rather not remember. I’m doing it, somehow. By the grace of God, I’ll keep doing it as I have for many years.

Mom, I am still learning to heal, and I am learning to be okay with not knowing when healing will come. I’m learning to be okay with not completely forgiving you. I’m learning to live with the fact that you’ll never truly be a mother to me.

My life was built on pain, but there’s so much good that came out of it, and I can’t begin to thank God enough for the strength he blessed me with. I wish I didn’t need it, but I’m thankful to have it.

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