Tag Archive | mother

If Only … Thoughts on Mothers and Daughters

My relationship with my mother was a dismal failure from the time I turned approximately 13. Fault? I guess that doesn’t really matter, but I think we shared fault. She did not know how to communicate effectively to a teenager, and I did not know how to communicate with someone who did not know how to communicate.

 

From the time I turned a teenager, I wanted out of my parent’s house. That was my goal in life. I did not understand them, I did not even like them. I thought they were insane. I thought I would do a much better job when I finally have kids of my own.

 

When I finally moved out, got pregnant and married at age 18, I thought I would have my “white picket fence” and live happily ever after. I didn’t think I would ever need my parents again. And, truth be told, I rarely communicated with my mother and father after I moved out, unless it was to call my Dad for help for whatever reason – and there were numerous ones! But I was so wrapped up in my own life and problems, that I never called my Mom just to talk. We never, ever talked just to have a conversation, to find out how each other is doing.

 

I’m a Christian now, and I try not to look back at my life with regrets. It’s not easy when there are so many. I do try to leave it in God’s hands. But holidays come around, Mother’s Day, my Mom’s birthday, Mom and Dad’s anniversary ~ yep, I still remember them, even keep them on my calendar(s). I think back to all of the night gowns given to my mother for Christmas. Bells for Mother’s Day or her birthday, she collected them. Candy was always a welcome gift. But how I wish we’d had a relationship. There are the clichés: hindsight is 20/20, if only I knew then what I know now… etc. I wish I’d been there for her when she needed someone. I wish I hadn’t been so self-involved. I wish we had talked!

 

All I have left over her, besides photos, are memories of things she did, how she looked ~ things that I now find comforting, and find in myself often. But I have precious few memories of the last 5 years of her life. That was my “self-indulgent” time. I couldn’t find the time to go the 15 miles from my house to where I grew up to see how she was doing. To see if I could help. To be there for her, or my Dad. It haunts me now.

 

If I could have a “do over” in life, it would be to have a better relationship with my parents… Mom especially. From that I would’ve learned to be better… better at everything. Perhaps my kids wouldn’t have paid such a price for a self-indulgent mom, and maybe I’d have a better relationship with them, as well. However, no “do overs” in life. You only get one chance to do it right.

First Daughter ~

I had the unprecedented pleasure and experience of becoming a grandmother on Wednesday… for the eighth time.  It affected me in ways none of the other grandchildren’s births have.  I’m not sure why.

Perhaps in part because I’ve had so much contact with my first born daughter throughout her pregnancy, this time.  Having two sons, ages 5 and 12, the knowledge and anticipation of having a daughter this time was very exciting… for everyone.

I thought, in the past week, that she had begun to noticeably “glow” ~ you know, like they say pregnant women do.  She quickly denounced it, preferring to compare herself  to a troll.  I think it was the hormones.

Tiny Riley Rose came into our lives on Wednesday, 7-10-13 at 12:28 p.m.  Grandpa Al and I took the new Big Brothers up to the hospital to see their sister that evening after dinner.  I think it was love at first sight, for all involved.  Weighing only 6 lbs 1 oz, she’s a little peanut swaddled in a receiving blanket wearing a warm hat.  Under her hat is a mass of dark hair.  (a source of constant indigestion for my Number 1 throughout the pregnancy ~ so “they” say). 

Photo: Instead of a big dark blur, I see a big light blur.

She was asleep, happy and warm in Mama’s arms.  The atmosphere in the private room was one of calm, joy and love, by both new mother and father.  A vast difference from Number 1’s (it’s a Star Trek thing) first birth in 2001, which was rather chaotic (after laboring for 3 days), harried and exhausting.  This was way different, and welcomed.

 

Mama & Daughter get to know each other.

Mama & Daughter get to know each other.

Each of us took turns holding Riley, starting with her Big Brothers, who were so gentle and seemingly in awe of this tiny little bundle of sleeping sister.  I watched them, and their parents, as everyone took their time in these first moments of getting to know this new family member.  But I was stunned by my daughter’s transformation.  Even after being awake for at least the past twelve hours while things progressed and the pregnancy turned into birth, she exuded confidence, maternal love that I hadn’t seen before, strength and joy as her family gathered around her to celebrate and welcome her.  It was incredibly beautiful to experience.  And I remembered all the struggles this family has been through, and how they’ve pushed forward and are just entering into the “homeowner’s” status.

As I witnessed my first daughter cuddling her first daughter, it appeared to me that she has turned a corner in her life that will forever be changed, and cherished.  As a mother always worries over her children, I can worry a little bit less about Number 1, I think, and concentrate more on being “The Grandmother” now.  Okay, I’ll work on it!

Until next time, thanks for stopping by and visiting.

TTFN ~ Tamara Eckstadt 

Revealed Chapter 3: D-I-V-O-R-C-E ~

MS, my new Marine Corps husband, and I moved down to Jacksonville, NC, shortly after the wedding in September, 1977.  I was due to have our first child in March 1978.  Our first “home” was a 10 x 50 mobile home in a small mobile home park not far from Camp Lejeune’s Main Gate.  The entire park, White’s Trailer Park, housed about 10 mobile homes of varying sizes.  Ours was the only one available at the time in our price range ~ cheap.  We joked about how we could sit in the livingroom and our feet would be in the kitchen.  But, hey, it was ours and we were in love.  My first Christmas away from home was spent without a Christmas tree, and I was extremely homesick and lonely.  MS introduced me to some of his friends and their wives, and I quickly learned “the ways” of the military and their spouses.  First up, washing and ironing Marine “utilities” ~ their uniforms; blocking and baking caps, and spit shining boots and shoes (oh yes I did!).

 Our gorgeous first-born daughter, Kristen, was born in March 1978 and now, at age 18, I learned to become not only a military wife, but a new mother.  However, things began to change over that summer and my newlywed husband seemed to wander places, not only without me, but places that I was not familiar with… taverns on the “other side of the base”.  Fights ensued, and at one point, with the intention of helping MS move out of our newlywed home, I threw everything that belonged to him into the sandy front yard ~ everything.  It didn’t take long for other violence to come into play, and become so serious that one night my beloved threw me out of our house while pointing the barrel of a rifle at me.  I had no choice but to leave and leave my 6 month old daughter behind… for the time being.  Not having a vehicle, I walked to the nearest public telephone and called my father crying.  He was to leave New York the next day to come and get me with his pickup truck.  I began the walk back to our trailer, but not before calling my old boyfriend, ST (at SUNY Oswego) and crying the blues to him as well.  ST was sympathetic and attentive (as usual).  We would make arrangements to see each other when I got to New York.  On the walk home, I knew I would have to calm things for the night, and I began to plan my exit strategy as I walked.  I would apologize, make up with MS, then take him to work in the morning on the pretense of needing the car for the day to run errands etc.  Then I would return to our trailer after dropping him off on base, pack the car with everything I could and more, leaving room for the baby, and head for Goldsboro, where I would meet my father at a relative’s house.  One possible glitch… well, our car was a 1977 Mustang… very small!

 Not to be dissuaded, I made my plans come to fruition, and the next day I was in Goldsboro and by dinner my new husband was wondering where his ride home was.  It didn’t take him long to track me down and hitch-hike to Goldsboro that night to try to convince me to come back.  Dad and I drove back to Jacksonville the next day, to pick up all of my and Kristen’s other belongings that would fit into the truck.  I took our daughter and moved home, leaving him the Mustang (and the car payments).  It did not take me long to reconnect with ST and plan on getting a divorce.  ST even asked me to marry him, once divorced.  However, I remembered how things had been in high school, and I eventually changed my mind and returned to my husband.  The summer of 1979 was spent family intact back at White’s Trailer Park in Jacksonville.  And before long I was announcing that we would be adding to our little family in March of 1980… right about the same time that MS announced he would be shipped to Japan for a 12-month stint overseas.  THEY CAN’T DO THAT!  Can they?  They did, he went, and I moved back home yet again for the duration.

 In March, 1980, Karalyn was born in Syracuse, NY.  MS arrived home on leave about a week before I went into labor, so he would’ve been there for the delivery, if he hadn’t bailed on me.  So my Mom (who had taken Lamaze childbirth classes with me) arrived just in time to see her granddaughter born and be the first to hold her.  After a few days of being on leave with his family, my husband had to return to Japan to finish his tour of duty… but I was optimistic as his leave would end that late summer and he would be at his new stateside duty station before Christmas, and we would join him there.  At the time, he believed he would be re-stationed in Virginia, and indeed he was.  We were in frequent telephone contact, and each time I asked him how things were coming with getting housing for us, and each time I was assured it was in the works.  As the weeks, then months dragged and we were still in Plainville while he was in Virginia, I became impatient.  Finally the news came that he had secured housing for us and that we would be moving by Christmas!  Could it be that I was finally going to have my white picket fence?

 In the beginning of December, MS called me, and I was excited about the anticipated news of our move to be a family again.  However, this time was very different.  And I still remember the conversation:  he told me that I would not be moving to Virginia, and that I should find an attorney and get a divorce from him.  He’d found housing, and he had another woman living there with him.  Then he hung up the phone.  I did not hear from him again for months.  And, although he was getting additional funds from the military for having a wife and two children, he did not make any effort to support us while we continued to live with my parents.  But I did as he said, and borrowed the money from my parents to hire an attorney and move on with my life with my daughters as best as we could.  My attorney also made efforts to try to get MS to send us money for the support of his children, but my husband eventually went AWOL from the Marines and “disappeared”.   In fact, his superiors contacted me and accused me of harboring him and I was threatened with legalities.  After much going back and forth with Virginia, I was granted my divorce in late 1981 and was free to move on as a single mom supported by public assistance with no plan for the future.

 Being “wronged” as I felt I had been by MS, I was determined to find a way to get at least some funding from him ~ after all, he was getting half of those funds for being married to me and having two children with me, and he was not supporting us voluntarily.  I knew tax season was coming up, and that MS would be filing his return as everyone else, and that he potentially would get $1000-$3000 refunded thanks to his married w/children status in 1980.  After doing some research and making some phone calls, I sent a change of address form to his post office in Virginia, forwarding all of his mail to me at my Plainville address.  I was in touch with his post office daily checking to see and make sure that the refund check was sent to me rather than left there for him.  Eventually, I did receive it, and yes, I cashed it and purchased much-needed items for his children and his wife (this was before our divorce was final).  Several weeks later, he called me wondering if I had somehow gotten his refund check.  Needless to say he was pretty furious when he found out what I’d done… but he was still AWOL from the Marines and unable to do much about it without getting himself into trouble as well.

 That summer I was 21 years old, divorced single mother of two little girls (ages 3 and 1).  I enrolled into Central City Business Institute for night classes, moved my little family in to Syracuse and started my life essentially over once again.  It seemed awhile before I would be able to find that elusive white picket fence I’d wanted since graduation.  I had not given up hope.

Forgiven and Set Free ~

I am a child of God.  I am His daughter, His princess, His brown-eyed girl and his devoted and loving child.  I’m pretty happy with this arrangement, and I’m sure so is He.  I spent a good deal of this early summer learning and getting comfortable with myself, and my God.  It took a lot of hard work, tears and revelation to be able to admit, privately and publicly, that I had an abortion when I had just turned 14 years old.  It’s not something you can just discuss over lunch with a friend, or blurt out at some perceived opportune moment.  Even now I have difficulty putting this “out there” for all to know, but the difference is now I know it serves a purpose.  If telling my experience can save just one girl/young woman/woman from choosing abortion over any other option, I will consider this sacrifice of privacy a success.

   Yes, I found myself pregnant at the age of 13, in 1974.  Surprised?  I was!  As a 13 year old in 1974, I was extremely naïve, and just plain didn’t know much.  So when a young man approached me (he was also 13) and wanted to be my boyfriend, and he gave me lots of attention, I was flattered and loved the attention.  Who wouldn’t?  We took that next step, and we weren’t careful.  As I look back I think “What was I thinking???”  Well, obviously I wasn’t.

   There are some blank spots in my memory surrounding that summer.  Somehow our parents found out, and took it from there, making the decisions and all of the arrangements to get things taken care of quietly so that he (the baby’s father) and I would be able to continue on with our lives without interruption or inconvenience… I guess.  The next thing I knew, I was being admitted to Crouse Hospital for three days, and my parents left me there alone.  I wouldn’t discover until decades later that I was never alone.  But here I was.  This was not to be your “simple” abortion, by the way, somehow months had gone by before my admittance, and I was now almost 5 months along, well into my second trimester.  So a “saline abortion” had been ordered by my OB/GYN.  Now, at my age, I had no idea what was even happening, all I cared about was if it was going to hurt.  As I stared at the 10″ needle that was about to be inserted into my uterus, my doctor and his attending nurse tried to reassure me.  I closed my eyes and gritted my teeth, thinking about being able to go home and go horseback riding… after all, it was summer vacation! 

   Somewhere in the middle of the night the contractions began and kept me awake.  I labored for the better part of 10 hours in my hospital room, by myself, as I watched the nurses going about their routine outside in the hall.  I remember thinking to myself when would this end and what would be the result?  When could I go home?  Then I remembered “three days” and knew I’d be able to leave the next day.  The nursing staff pretty much ignored me and left me to myself as I felt like my stomach was about to explode.  Why hadn’t I been allowed breakfast that morning when I woke up?  Finally, after an eternity, I had to push and my child was born in the hospital bed.  I felt the little arms and legs jerk between my legs, and I called for a nurse.  A 40-something year old woman came into the room and seemed surprised to see a baby there, but she began to wrap him up and prepared to whisk him away to who-knows-where.  I quickly asked if it was a boy or girl, and she hastily told me my son had been born alive… then they were gone.  My parents picked me up the next evening after they finished work, and they took me home as if I’d just had my tonsils out.  It was never mentioned again, by them or by me.

   Decades later, when I began having bouts of depression and uncontrolled crying, my husband and I were stumped as to why.  That is, until I began having thoughts and memories of that summer in 1974, and regrets and doubts about what I should’ve/could’ve done to change my baby’s fate.  See, now I had become a Christian woman, a woman of God, and I didn’t believe in abortion… under any circumstance.  I believe in life at conception, and under no circumstances should a person take that child’s life or it would be considered murder.  Was I really seeing myself in that new light?  Certainly I could not be considered a murderer, as I had no control over what my parents did.  And they couldn’t be murderers, they were my parents, doing only the best that they could for my benefit and future.  Certainly neither God nor I could blame them!

   Well the depression and crying continued intermittently.  I sent to Crouse Hospital for a copy of the records of that abortion, and I got a clinical 4 page assessment of what happened.  “Products of conception” he was called.  My baby boy.  This year, 2012, it hit me again ~ very hard this time.  I confided in a friend, who told me about a post-abortion Bible study group from our church that might be helpful, and she gave me a name and a phone number.  I was skeptical, but I made the call and the arrangements to meet with this “group” and commit myself to getting through this and getting better, getting results, getting to the bottom of this.  The group was to be 10 weeks long, and we met once a week.  Two incredible young, devoted and loving women from church lead the group ~ each confessing that they, too, had been there and back, and that we would get through it and come out alive and better for it.  Seriously?  Who ARE these people?  But I devoted myself to my Monday night sessions, and to the homework as well, which consisted of reading a “workbook” and answering a myriad of questions in addition to reading Bible passages that pertained.

   I learned so much from this Bible study.  I was finally able to mourn the loss of my child.  Society supports women who have lost a child due to miscarriage, or after birth, but nowhere is there recognition or support of a woman who has had an abortion ~ also the loss of a child.  And society would say, “Hey, you’ve had 38 years to get over it,” in my case, but does any mother ever truly “get over” the loss of their child?  I put it right up there with PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder), and in fact, it is referred to PAS (post abortion syndrome), and it is real.  Go figure?  Finally a NAME to address what I’d been experiencing, and an avenue in which to get better!  I learned how to forgive myself, as God has forgiven me, for being complacent in going along with the plans for my son.  I did nothing to thwart his death.  I also was able to forgive all of those people involved in this:  my son’s father, my parents, his parents, even the OB/GYN.  I needed to forgive and show mercy.  Having mercy means that we no longer hope in our hearts that they’ll get what they deserve, no longer want to see them punished.   I could finally put the depression, anger, guilt and even the suicidal thoughts behind me.  I was finally beginning to feel my life come back to me and my spirits lifted.

   At the end of the 10 week study, I felt like a new person (2nd Cor 5:17) “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.”  I realize that there will be times when I think about my son, who has since been named, but I know how to deal with these emotions, and on who I can rely and trust.  I am my Father’s daughter.  Those of us in the Bible study, and our study leaders had a memorial celebration at the end of the 10 weeks at the church.  It was beautiful!  There were flowers, candles, music and speeches in memoriam of our children.  At the end, we let go of helium balloons outside and watched them glide away.  Al and I also purchased and planted a beautiful red oak tree in our front yard in memory of the loss.  The oak tree will grow big and strong, as I know my son would have.  He must’ve been a strong little guy to make it through and survive as long as he did.

   And now I’ve been able to move on and put the past behind me.  I know someday I’ll be able to see him again in Heaven, and I’m looking forward to that day.  Until then, I can rest each day knowing he’s with Our Father, and that my future is set.  And I’m thanking God each day that I’ve been Forgiven and Set Free!

My little red oak tree, planted in memory of Kirk Leroy Thomas (so named by his father and having the same middle and last name as his father). We call it “Kirkwood” for short. The yellow mums were planted from the memorial, as well as the white roses that were given to me by a special Sister in Christ at the memorial. Kirkwood has survived the weather/storms better than any of our other oaks or maples, including my King Crimson maple that stands not far from the strong little oak.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4-3-2013 Update ~ Recently our church, Word of Life Assembly of God, in Baldwinsville, NY, helped facilitate a promotional video of the Forgiven and Set Free experience.  It can be found HERE on You Tube.  It breaks my heart and sets me free each time I see it, remember it, remember him (Kirk Leroy Thomas) and hear that song (about abortion).  I hope you’ll visit the link and listen in … can you tell which one is me?

God bless!