For those of you that follow my blog, you know I talk about my mother’s passing quite often. If you are new to my blog, first off welcome and thank you for supporting my writing.
To bring the newbies up to speed, my mother Lisa Miller passed away in September 2008. Coping with her loss has been difficult and has caused an inner struggle for me, mainly because of our deteriorating relationship and the environment I had to grow up in.
Today, I want to talk a bit about what it was like growing up with my mother….the good and the bad.
The first childhood memory I can think of is my mom being lifted into an ambulance. I was probably between 6 and 8 years old, looking out my window with no real understanding of what was going on. With tears running down my face one of the paramedics came up to my window, took my hand (my window had no screen on it), and said, “your mommy’s going to be ok, don’t worry”.
Not sure if this trip in the ambulance led to her going to rehab, but that’s what happened after. From that point on, it was clear (to me) that my mom had a problem with prescription drugs and on occasion other drugs.
After my parents divorced, she often had people over who were obviously her drug dealers. These people always made me uncomfortable to be at home, so I would avoid it as much as possible by going to friend’s houses, staying with my cousin, and doing extra curricular activities in school.
When my youngest sister was born, our relationship took a drastic downhill plunge. I came to resent her because of what she put onto my shoulders and that it never seemed like she wanted to get better. A 15-year-old shouldn’t have to share a room with her newborn sister. Don’t get me wrong, I would do anything for my sister, but I would have liked sleeping through the night during my teenage years.
When my sister would start crying in the middle of the night, I would go to my mom’s room and try to wake her up so my sister could get fed. Many times I would have to do it myself because either my mom was on something or she was just too tired and asked me to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I would go to school on 2-3 hours of sleep.
I was taking care of my sister so much she actually started calling me “Sissy Mamma”. My mom was hurt by this, but I told her, “What do you expect? When I’m not in school I’m watching her all the time.”
Once we moved from the east side of Palmdale to the west, during my freshman year of highschool, her addiction to prescriptions became noticeably worse. One one occasion, I came home from school, my stepdad was at work, and she was sleeping on the couch (obviously on something). It wouldn’t have bothered me as much if my 3-year-old sister wasn’t running around with no baby gates up and saying she was hungry.
By the time I was a senior my mom checked herself into the mental ward at the hospital. I came home and an ambulance was in front of our house and a police officer was sitting at our table writing down all her prescriptions.
Afterward, my dad got custody of my other sister and brother. I was old enough to decide where to stay. I had no other choice than to stay at my mom’s house because who was going to watch my baby sister. So, while my mom was in the hospital I watched my sister everyday after school and on weekends, while my stepdad went to work.
At this point, you probably think my mother was some horrible person, but I know that she was never in the right state of mind. She had a really tough life growing up, to the point that it caused her to have extreme depression. I won’t go into detail about that.
I will say, that even though my mom had problems, she was a loving mother. She would never go a day without saying she loved us and always supported everything we wanted to do. I could have told her that I wanted to build a spaceship and she would have been cheering me on from the sidelines.
She hung our report cards on the fridge, would show off our A+ papers, and would help us with homework if we asked. When I was in the 5th grade she stayed up all night helping me with my California Mission project because I waited until the last-minute to do it.
I know that she wanted more for us than what she was able to give and she knew that her children would go on to do great things. Her belief in us is part of the reason why I push myself for more.
While I didn’t grow up like a normal kid, I learned a lot of valuable lessons that some don’t even encounter until later in life. I think it spurred my motivation to accomplish my dreams.
I don’t want to go through life living off of hand me down clothes, eating ramen noodles for each meal, and living pay check to pay check. I don’t want my future children to have to pay for college or stress about money while trying to finish a 50 page assignment. I will never go back to that. I want a comfortable, satisfying life.
I 100% believe that how you grow up and who you grow up with defines who you will become in the future, whether good or bad. Unfortunately, my mom didn’t overcome her childhood struggles whereas I took it as my motivation to reach for the stars.