Guest Author - Kathie LoMonaco
Since I am going through a bit of an emotional upheaval right now, I didn't know if I should do a 'Mother's Day' article. But, then I thought about it some more, and I thought - why not, why not lay my cards out on the table. People might benefit from my knowledge, my experience - my heartache. People might even relate to it. It's such a dysfunctional world - and nothing really surprises me anymore. I don't know. What I do know is that I have one grown 'child'. Just the one - that's my daughter. And, she had my grandson three years ago. They both mean the world to me.
It was not easy raising my daughter alone - since she was eleven. Her Father and I separated at that time in her life - that is a crucial time, I know. It just couldn't be helped - it was festering for a long time. Something had to give, or I should say - go - that was him. That was 27 years ago! and, in those days, it was much more difficult for a woman to raise a child, or children alone - it was still not the 'norm'. In fact, there was no other woman in my immediate neighborhood that I knew of who was raising a family by herself. It just wasn't done. That was back in early 1980's! (wow, I'm really dating myself now). It took a tremendous amount of courage and tenacity to be able to undertake such an upheaval - an upheaval emotionally, mentally and financially.
I guess you could kind of say my daughter and I grew up together. It was the first time I had ever lived 'alone' - and, I was scared. By alone I mean sole support of myself and of course, my daughter, the house, and everything else. And, I did it on a secretary's salary. When I look back I cannot believe at what I was able to accomplish. But, I knew I was miserable in my marriage - and I did not want to waste the best years of my life in a loveless 'partnership'. And so it went...
Even though my former husband made himself scarce the ensuing months - which turned into years - my daughter was always so happy when she did get to see him. Fathers and daughters. It's a tough act to follow. Daughters always want to feel they are daddy's little girl. She was no exception. I tried to overcompensate; and, I know I was overprotective of her. I admit I spoiled her. Maybe it wasn't the wisest thing I've ever done but unless you can walk a mile in my shoes (or any mother in the same situation), you cannot really know what it was like.
I made sure my daughter had the best - the best school, a private school, the best clothes, the finest jewelry; more often than not I worked two jobs so she could live a nice lifestyle, without her having to give up living in her own familiar house; she kept the same friends - and except for her Father moving out and only about 12 blocks away, nothing much else changed for my daughter. That is, except the fact that I know now that 'shift' in her life caused her untold hurt and heartache - but because she was never the type of child to open up about things, especially things that bothered her, she kept it hidden inside. Little did I know that the coming years would reveal to me the anger and anguish that she kept bottled inside. I will say that I tried several times to get my daughter into counseling when she was younger - with me - but she refused. She was belligerent.
My daughter became rebellious from about 16 or so, and on; once she got her driver's license and a car that I was able to get (which belonged to my Uncle who passed away) - she ran with her friends just about seven days a week. I made the mistake of getting a second credit card for her to use (to be paid by me) just in case she was short on gas - I never wanted her to get stranded somewhere because she did not have enough money for gas. After a few months of very high gasoline bills, I took the card away from her. She had been driving her friends around as if she were a tour guide. I had to put a stop to that.
Then, suddenly, I lost my job of quite a few years. Why? because once I became separated from my husband and newly 'single' - I was fresh meat out there in the meat market - and who better to take advantage of a young, vulnerable woman, in a vulnerable situation, than her all-powerful boss? yep, my own very much married boss. He would come into the mailroom when I was doing the mail and would put his hand on my back and start snapping my bra strap. I knew this man for years! yet once I became separated from my husband - he threw all caution to the wind and tried his best to take advantage of me. Push came to shove once he found out I was out interviewing for other jobs - the next thing I knew I had a pink slip. Pond scum is too good a phrase for him.
I had to pick up the pieces once again and start over - which is no easy feat for a woman with no college education. Still and all I was always there for my daughter - the parties, the sleepovers, boys, the heartaches, dancing class 2 days a week (all totaled, she had 9 years of tap, ballet and jazz); gymnastic classes; orthodontist, 4 years! I found whatever money I needed at the time I needed it - I did whatever I had to do in order to ensure my daughter would lead a happy, normal life. She had wonderful grandparents in my Mother and Father and I owe them a debt of gratitude.
Still and all, it just always seemed like I didn't do enough. My daughter started dating a guy who was extremely rude and disrespectful towards me when she was about 18 - I feel that something about this guy must have reminded her of her father - this guy would never even acknowledge me when I opened the door to my home when he came to pick up my daughter for a date. It was as if she condoned his horrible, disrespectful behavior. Looking back now I think that experiencing her father's behavior toward me (at home) led her to believe that is how men do or should treat the women in their life.
It left me so very puzzled and exasperated each time the guy she was involved with came to the house and acted rude towards me - and she did nothing to put him straight. It had never occurred to me until the last few years that the reason my daughter allows bad behavior in her relationships (i.e., rudeness, disrespect, manipulation, inconsiderateness, unreliability - nothing physical) from men (towards me and her) is because that is what she learned growing up in our home - that was her experience of how her father treated me - and that is the only example she had to go by. My daughter tends to forget what actually happened growing up - and chooses to misdirect her anger at the only person who has always been there for her, through thick and thin. I understand misdirected or misguided behavior such as this is more prevalent than most people are aware of.
As far as that creep who ultimately turned into a stalker, luckily he was finally given his walking papers by my daughter after a couple of years (but only after one of them - and to this day I don't know which one - defaced something of mine that was borrowed by my daughter to use - and when I discovered it after it had been destroyed - I was horrified! I never knew why they treated me in that despicable way or what that act was all about - of course, it symbolized 'something' - and you don't have to be a psychiatrist to figure out there was a lot of hostility in an act such as that.
They say you choose a partner that reminds you of either your Mother - or your Father. But, then again, it's not a 'conscious' choice. It took me a long time to figure this out. Now I am left wondering why she did not choose someone more like me - as I had been a good role model and set a good example for her, which I am proud of. I was the one always there for her. She moved away in her early 20's - and to this day it breaks my heart that for almost 12 years she never made it her priority to come and be with me for one Mother's Day or one birthday in all those years. It has been the biggest heartache and disappointment of my life.
It is a hard thing to have to live with when I see my own daughter go out of her way always and often for the family she married into and even for casual friends. She goes to weddings in other states and yet all those birthdays of mine and Mother's Days came and went with no daughter in sight. She even missed my 50th birthday party.
She's currently married - having had my grandson three years ago. I relocated to where she lives only to find there is a lot going on in her life that I was never cognizant of. I am hoping we can make up for the past almost 15 years of us living apart - and put all the water that has gone under the bridge behind us so to speak and get on with our lives now, and enjoying my grandson.
It's an uphill battle of which I feel the issues involved are either 'avoidance' or 'denial' issues - or both. She is very bright but I have seen where she puts her trust in the wrong people - and that is a recipe for disaster. She is easily influenced - usually by the wrong people. Integrity and good character are the two elements that always seem to be missing in the people she gets close to. I'm sure you get the picture I am trying to paint.
What I have come to know is that for some reason I have experienced quite a few manipulative characters that have come into my daughter's life and have always wanted to 'control' her. Control is not love. Please remember that. People that are insecure need to control. Unfortunately, the unsuspecting person being controlled falls under the misapprehension that the possessiveness their partner exhibits is 'love' - but that is not the case.
'Loving' and 'controlling' are polar opposites. Possessiveness, jealousy, being territorial - they are all tell-tale signs of an insecure person who desperately needs to control the people closest to them -whether it's a spouse or (adult) child. Another example: a Mother who refuses to let her son grow up - there is a need to dominate him so that she can call the shots and run his life. She needs him totally dependent upon her. Imagine how insecure and controlling that 'boy' (or girl) will be when he/she grows up.
However, miracles do happen and at some point in time, God-willing, people do wake up one day and stop ignoring the elephant in the room. I'm waiting and hoping for that miraculous day.
Wishing you a Blessed Mother's Day!