Take a nice long soak in my bath water

Today marks eight years since I’ve had my mother to talk to, and I so wish I could ask her what she remembers about the days when Barbie and I took a dip in her bath water…

 When I was a little girl, I remember getting into my mother’s bath water AFTER she bathed. I would play with my Barbies while she got ready to leave for work as a bartender, our face cloths laid out on the sides of the tub as beach towels, and the tub the Barbie’s ocean; I can still smell the Ivory soap and her Patchouli perfume, and remember how I longed for my cheeks to be bronzed and glowing like hers. Yes, she “highlighted” long before all the YouTube beauty gurus taught us how.

 As I got older, I realized I was basically bathing in the filth she washed off her own body, but at the time, it was perfection.

And then last night, I was soaking in my bathtub covered in bubbles, reading my wet puffed out book, and my daughter popped in to tell me three random riddles, because a peaceful bath is non-existent with children, and I am totally okay with that. After a far too lengthy discussion about why I cover my boobs with a cloth, and how she is not impressed with inheriting my nipples, she asked to get in my water, after I got out. At first I thought…oh Hells naw. I’ll run you a new bath. And then I thought…hmmm…my damn water bill has been outrageous, and it never killed me when I was little…so yes,  my sweet girl, you can hop on into my dirty bath water.

While she bathed – which included a full 360 naked spin with legs in the air – we talked about make up, and skin care, she told me funny stories about her friends at school (who are pure awesome), she razzed me about my dating track record, and she asked me to put her hair into braids for curls the next day –  and I wondered what my mother and I talked about when I was exactly my daughter’s age, taking a nice long soak in her bath water.

Today marks eight years since I’ve had my mother to talk to, and I so wish I could ask her what she remembers about the days when Barbie and I took a dip in her bath water. I cherish that time that I got to spend with her, just the two of us in the bathroom. My kids almost always come in the bathroom with me when I’m getting ready for work, or getting ready for anything really. My daughter swiping on my lip gloss, telling me my brows look super fly. My son complaining about how the hair spray makes him unable to breathe, and usually playing basketball in there at the same time. It’s not a very large bathroom and some days it drives me crazy to have all three of us crammed in there. But the more I think about it, the more I realize that those are our moments.

I hope you will take some time today to enjoy those little moments, my sweet readers. For, as they say, someday you may look back and realize that they were actually the big moments.

 

Live The Story You Want To Tell

This blog is my journey to owning my story, but to not living it any more. I am surrendering my story. I am unburdening myself of that story I’ve told myself over and over – – that I am unlovable.
I wonder how I will feel if I let go of it for good? I’m excited to find out…

I always felt different.

I would ask my mother if I was adopted and she’d deny it vehemently. In fact, she’d act completely offended and insulted.

I have three older siblings, each two years apart. All are tall, and striking, with thin lips, and thin noses, and they all look very much alike. The perfect family portrait. I always wanted to Sharpie myself into their childhood photos. I am ten years younger, Yes, ten. YEARS. I am too short to reach the top shelf at the grocery store without using the shelves below as a ladder, with big lips, a round nose, thick hair, and giant eyes. My siblings are all incredibly talented, both musically and artistically. I can’t whistle, or trace a stick man.

Growing up, I frequently heard “You look nothing like anyone in your family” which only reinforced the feeling that I just didn’t belong. I desperately wanted siblings closer to my age. I don’t recall living with my siblings as a child. I have snippets of memories, which are likely created by stories told and re-told over the years. I remember wanting my mother to adopt a child. Preferably Webster. You know the child actor? Emmanuel Lewis. Yes, him. I longed for a Webster. I cried and begged my mother to please, please adopt Webster for me. Although, in looking back, had she adopted the fictional non-Caucasian Webster, I still would not have looked like my sibling. I didn’t think that through. I wanted someone to fight with. Someone to laugh with. Someone to lessen that feeling of being alone.

Most of my life was spent with just my mother, an always struggling, always working single parent. We moved from the country to the city when I was eight years old, and my siblings stayed behind. Many a boyfriend came and went; none leaving a positive mark on my life. Some leaving negative marks. I adored my mother growing up, although she was not around often, and she made some pretty poor choices. She was all I had, and no matter what was happening in our lives, I always knew she loved me. She said it; she showed it with hugs and kisses; and with little gifts I’m sure she couldn’t afford. As an adult, she became my best friend, and my biggest fan. She was funny, brave, smart, and beautiful. If you wanted the entire family to know something, but you didn’t have the time or energy to tell them yourself, you just told Mom. And within minutes, they all knew. Strangers at the mall knew.

You see, normally, she could not keep a secret to save her life.

But she kept one secret. For eighteen long years.

I think she kept it so long that even she no longer knew what was true.

I went away to university, fresh out of high school. I desperately wanted to figure out who I was apart from my mother. When I was home visiting one weekend, I asked her one simple question. I have no idea what we were talking about at the time. I don’t recall why felt compelled to ask in that moment. I remember only my question, and her answer.

I asked my mother: “Dad isn’t my father, is he?”

“No”, was all she said.

And with that one word, my entire life was changed.

That lie became the foundation for “my story”.  At times, my story made me stronger. I made it through that, and all that followed. More often though, it made me doubt everyone. And I no longer belonged anywhere. Even with my family, I was, in fact, different. Now, I’m recognizing that piece of my story is just a part of who I am. Just a chapter of my book. I don’t have to allow what happened from that moment on to impact the rest of my life. I am so much more than that little girl who was betrayed, and then rejected by both of my “fathers”.

I realize now that I have viewed much of my life through that filter. Perhaps not intentionally, but every relationship, every person I met, I saw through that filter. Could they be trusted? Was I good enough for them to truly love me, just as I am? Was it even worth the risk?

This blog is my journey to owning my story, but to not living it any more. I am surrendering my story. I am unburdening myself of that story I’ve told myself over and over – – that I am unlovable.

I wonder how I will feel if I let go of it for good? I’m excited to find out…

“Do the best you can, until you know better. When you know better, do better”

– Maya Angelou