This week I did some volunteer time in my daughter’s classroom. Naturally I was about 3 minutes late. When I walked in the door of the classroom I saw that our topic was politics. I cringed. My daughter is an innocent 8yr old who I kept this election from. As an adult I often felt as if even I should not have witnessed the things I did during this election and now I am expected to help with this lesson. Why oh why are we doing this? Millions of things raced through my mind. I wanted to grab my daughter by the hand and run.
Then it happened and I saw that none of the ugliness was going to be a part of this lesson and we were actually using this opportunity to show them what an election should be. Each child was asked to ‘run for President’ and build a platform. Now I was impressed.
There was no talk of why any other child should not be the President it was all about why individually they should ‘get your vote’ Now being that I was in a classroom full of 8 and 9 year olds I did not see some of their answers coming.
Our children are better people than we are. The answers coming from all these little people really did something for my soul.
I would protect our planet all of the Earth and the water. I would teach everyone how to garden so that no one would ever go without food. I would tell Americans that we all just need to be kind and care about each other. I would tell my fellow voters to vote for me so we can work together and build better communities.
These are just some of the answers our 3rd grade children were giving.
As they worked on the craft part of this project I got a chance to whisper chat with the teacher. I had been a bit worried about how we were going to make this transition with our children. Our kids have seen a lot more than we think they have over this last year and they for the most part know that we should be doing better. Well it looks like that’s where the focus will be. For now we just need to teach them to do better.
Obviously our children need to learn about Government, Constitution, Laws, etc. So now I will wait it out with the rest of our Country and see what the next POTUS and FLOTUS have to offer to our schools. I will also be waiting and looking forward to the year that those 3rd graders are old enough to run for President.
I grew up in a household that didn’t take the sense of ‘family’ very seriously. I have very few childhood family memories. I never met my father that I knew of but have heard stories that in times during my life he saw me without me ever knowing. My bio mom as I call her was married 4 or 5 times (I lost count) and had other live in boyfriends in between these marriages. I have one sister that we share the same parents and then I have numerous siblings that we share a common bio mom. I have zero memories from before the age of 5-6. I am told that when I was in kindergarten my 1/2 sister died of cancer. I don’t remember it. I don’t remember her being sick. I don’t remember anything in my life before that. I am told that my Grandmother (bio mom’s mom) kept me as a baby but I don’t remember it at all. I think my earliest childhood memory is of a yard that we had and of a hallway that led up to a friends house that had a funny smell. I also remember waking up in the middle of the night screaming because I was being hit in the back. I was told it was a ghost in the house we lived in but I am very skeptical about that. I have no memory at all of the first two husbands bio mom chose one of which was my father.
I have fond memories of husband #3 He was a hard working man that drank a lot. Drugs and alcohol were such a common thing in my life I just assumed it was natural and everyone’s lives were like that. Husband #3 gave us what I recall to be stability. We had a nice house in a good neighborhood, I had friends, I was able to stay in the same school and I had an Uncle who I adore in my life. I was allowed to have pets and it was my first ever feeling of ‘a family’ I remember Saturday mornings going to the tavern with husband #3 and drinking Shirley Temples and being given quarters to play the bowling machine and jukebox. Alcohol and bars/taverns were a perfectly normal thing in my life. During summer BBq’s it was our job to run and grab cold beers from the refrigerator for the adults.
Then the memories of my dads side of the family come. Life was nothing like this during my visits there. We took vacations, went camping, went to amusement parks, and its the only time in my childhood I ever remember someone taking me to an actual store to buy clothes. I remember canning in the kitchen with everyone pitching in and helping Grandma, and a different sense family. It was confusing to me as a child and I always felt a bit uncomfortable. Now I can look back and realize that it was uncomfortable because my actual home life was something I knew I should hide from them. I remember going to my Uncle and Aunts house to visit and hang out with my cousins and thinking ‘why isn’t my life like this at home?’ I admired them and they are the kind of parents I knew I someday wanted to be. I knew that was the life I wanted. Then I would have to go back home. We didn’t take vacations or go camping or any of those things I did with my ‘other’ family. We went to bars, and picnics in the summer that the bars had in forest preserves. At those events there were tons of other kids who had a life like mine. Tons of alcohol, lots of food, smoking marijuana as if it were just a cigarette, lots of men with facial hair, leather jackets, tattoos, and motorcycles. I always thought the moms were beautiful and the one thing that stands out in my mind was the eyeliner they all wore. There was always lots of things for us kids to do there and all the adults were always encouraging us to go eat, go fish, walk in the woods, go get a ride on a motorcycle, play the jukebox, go dance, just go have fun, be a kid. The only problem was I was quite unsure of what a kid was supposed to do.
Eventually husband #3 became an ex and that’s when all sense of stability and security left my life. I cant even count how many times I moved to a new house and a new neighborhood as a kid. Now as I started to get older we were left home. I remember spending the night with my best friend and watching her parents get ready to go to all these events we used to be allowed to go to and as soon as they left we would then get into her moms makeup, smoke cigarettes we stole as they got ready, we even got out the tattoo stuff a few times and gave each other tattoos.
All the while I still had visits with my other family and lots of time spent with bio mom’s mom. This is when I hid my home life. I wanted to be like them but it wasn’t a reality for me. Bio mom’s mom (my grandmother) took me on a vacation to Texas once and once again I was exposed to these family members who had regular lives and I had to hide mine. Looking back I think how could none of them know what my life was like? I’m sure they did but it wasn’t anything they could change so they all did there best to just give me good happy times during my visits.
Then came a live in boyfriend and after a summer of way to many people shoved into a tiny 2 bedroom apartment we moved to Chicago. Although bio mom never married this live in I gained what I considered an older brother. I completely related to him and he was allowed to do all those things I had watched adults do all my life. Since I was raised to view these things as ‘normal’ it was my turn to try them. I was 11 the first time I smoked pot and drank alcohol. Now this wasn’t just a kid trying it out I had so much access to it I could do it anytime I wanted. I was in grammar school the first time bio mom used drugs with me. I think I was in the 6th grade and smoking bongs with my bio mom. She worked in bars and hung out in bars and I was allowed to pretty freely use drugs and alcohol whenever but I was expected to go to school and stay home and babysit for my siblings. That only meant that I had parties at my own home as in Chicago there were kids everywhere that had the same life I did. Sure there were some that didn’t but they sure weren’t allowed or interested in hanging out with kids like me.
The live in boyfriend then ended as it seems every relationship bio mom had was a complete failure and life got real tough then. Visits with my other family dwindled as my responsibilities and the pressure of hiding my home life got tougher and tougher. Now I had siblings to babysit, meals to cook them, cleaning to do, homework. We actually dried our jeans in the oven as we became very resourceful. All that with using drugs and alcohol as an escape was a lot of pressure for a kid. I then found that during visits with my other family I had no access to drugs and alcohol and at that point I was already an addict although I didn’t recognize it because it was just normal to me.
When I was 13 I hung out with an older crowd as drugs, alcohol, and that lifestyle was so much more accessible if I hung out with them. I experimented with so many more drugs then. Bio mom got more random boyfriends and home life was really not such a great place for me to be so I took off. I took off a lot. Sometimes bio mom would call the police sometimes not. They never did much but bring me back to the place I now thought of as hell and the visits with my other family just made me want the life I was never going to have even more.
My Uncle had married during all of this chaos and I sought refuge at his house as often as I could. He was a good man, a hard worker and his wife (my Aunt) taught me all the things a mother should teach her child even though I was just her niece by marriage. I loved being there they understood me and I found a place that I didn’t have to hide my crazy home life from. Once again in my life I was learning what a family was. One with parents. Parents who put their children first. I knew I didn’t ever want the lifestyle I grew up with for my future children. I wanted nothing more in life than a real genuine family.
I became pregnant on the bio moms watch by a man who was her age. She knew of the relationship but looking back she just gave me to him it took one less responsibility away from her. He was a drug dealer who gave me access to drugs, guns, and the lifestyle I had grown up in. He also went to jail the day my daughter turned two months old. Now I was a teenager with a baby and nothing. My Aunt and Uncle tried their best to help me during this time but life was so much harder than I ever dreamed it could be and I knew nothing more than to be the kind of mother my bio mom was. At this time in my life I lost my relationship with my Aunt and Uncle over a stupid mistake that I wont speak of but life got horrendous then.
Life spun out of control so quickly I was completely alone and had a baby that was dependent on me. Bless her heart that sweet innocent angel ended up with a drug addicted mother who had no idea what she was doing.
So I did what I was knew how to do. After living with many fellow random addicts on and off I finally got an apartment of my own, got on public assistance, and sold drugs. I met a guy and fell in love. He was willing to step in and take on the role of father to my daughter and to this day I think of him as her father. He worked, I sold drugs, and tried my best to be a mom and a housewife but lets face it being an addict it didn’t turn out very well. All the years I was addicted to drugs I didn’t want to be but I didn’t know how not to be. He wasn’t wiling to quit drinking and using drugs with me and I realized I could do bad by myself and I could actually be better at it alone. I left him and turned into my bio mom. I worked in bars and hung out in them as well. I thought nothing of taking my child to parties where other addicts were there along with their own children and we sent them off to play while we drank and used drugs. Eventually all of this failed and I ended up with my bio mom and my sister raising my daughter.
Right now I’m going to just skip a very painful place in my life that would take hours and so much pain I just don’t care to revisit. Close friends and family know that story and again it wasn’t one that ended well.
There were a few times throughout my life when I tried to do what was right in life. I had great jobs but with no support system it was always easiest to go back to what I knew. Also its a bit tough holding down a pretty impressive job that I was able to get and be an addict at the same time. It was so much easier to be the bartender to gangbangers and motorcycle gangs as the pay was good and the drugs were pretty much free.
As I went through this very painful place in my life my best friend stuck by my side. He to was going through a similar situation and we just genuinely connected and understood each others feelings. After a period of time we started to date. I was still an addict and he himself was a casual user. Circumstances in his own life kept him from his own children and we used together for a few years before the whole being serious about putting in the work to get straight happened. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but we worked hard together to get there. There was never one relapse as we were completely dedicated to being straight and to building a family together. There have been so many struggles along the way and together we got through every one of them.
Today I am drug free for almost 7yrs. I have two children who’s father is my best friend. He is as dedicated to being the best father he can be as I am to being the best mother I can be. He is a hard worker, a good provider and I finally have that family that I myself never had but always wanted. Our children are happy, caring, loving little people who do not know what it feels like to have an unstable home or an absent parent.
About now you are probably wondering why I wrote this post (along with a lot of other things) The reason for this post is that I see on a daily basis women who choose the lifestyle I was raised in. I see women who keep good fathers away from their children while they themselves bring in the live ins or the other husbands and place them in the father role. I want you to know from someone who was denied her father exactly what this does to your child. Even though your child may never tell you how they feel I will. They feel horrible they are torn apart on the inside and you are causing so much mental damage if they are lucky enough to turn their adult lives around it takes years of therapy to get over these feelings. If your child asks for their parent whom is willing to be in their life and you dismiss it you will someday be sorry. You are teaching your child a lifestyle that is extremely hard to change around. Fathers if you are not in your child’s life get your act together and get in it. Although things didn’t work out between the two of you each of you owe it to your children to accept the life of their other parent as long as its a good healthy lifestyle. Moms if your ex has a new partner that is good to your children embrace it and allow your children the love of that woman. Fathers if your ex has a new partner thank that man for doing your job when you are not there as the time spent with each parent is equally important. Get over yourselves and do what is best for these kids. Allow your children all the access you can give them to their family. If your child has Aunts, Uncles, Cousins from dads side or moms side they are all important in the lives of these children. You are creating future broken homes, addicts, abusers etc all because you are being a selfish idiot. Its not about you its about these kids. You might not think this is causing any damage and a pop up visit at the convenience of either of you is ok well let me tell you its not. I am still in therapy and have had so many wasted years and family members that I loved and looked up to become strangers to my life that its pathetic to me.
I have recently been able to reconnect with a lot of my family members and although we are now strangers to each other I am determined to get to know them all again. Not a day passes by now that I don’t think how proud my Aunt would be of the me today. Every time I successfully can something I stop for a second and know that my Grandmother would be so happy to see what I have done. I wish that just for one second that my children could climb up on the lap of both of my Grandfathers and feel the love I did as a child. I missed growing up with cousins but I will now make extra effort to get to know them. No one can give me or my dad back the time we missed with each other as sadly he has passed away while I was busy being a drug addicted lost soul. He will never have the chance to know that his first born child has grown into a strong wonderful woman. The saddest part of the entire thing is I actually feel nothing at all for my bio mom. She was never much of a mother to me as she was to busy holding grudges and trying to rebuild her own life mess at the sacrifice of her children. I can forgive it but I will never forget it. I want better for my own children and all you mothers and fathers out there who have broken homes need to get it together now because to late comes to soon.