Charlie and Me…

Hi everyone!

It’s Mommy Monday!

Ok, so I may be just a bit “prejudiced”, but I believe that being a mom is one of THE hardest jobs on earth. I have no doubt that being a dad can be pretty challenging at times, too, but there’s just something about the “maternal bond” that a mother has with her child. It’s not like ANYTHING else I’ve ever experienced… and, good OR bad, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

It doesn’t matter if you birth them, blend them, or adopt them- every mother has a path to travel with her child… lessons to learn… and a story to tell.

I have a story for Charlie… my oldest son… it goes like this…

Dear Charlie,

Well, here it is again… July.

July has become a very confusing month for me.

On one hand, the month of July brings back a flood of “heartprint” memories. July of 1979 was the final month of my very first pregnancy… the month that my world as I knew it would forever be changed.

I was going to be a mommy! I was so excited… and scared to death!

I remember not being sure if I was ready for this…

It was a huge reality-check when I entered into the “nesting” phase.. the tiny little onesies, sleepers, and cute little boy outfits all washed and neatly folded, bottles washed, diapers and receiving blankets stocked, cradle set up, infant seat in the car, suitcase packed, etc., etc., etc.

Ready or not, it was time to be a “grown up”.

I was anxious to start this new phase of my life… I just had to wait for you… and wait… and wait!

You were supposed to be here on the 19th of June, but that date came and went… and you still weren’t ready. Sheesh! You weren’t even born yet, and you already had a mind of your own! Finally on the very LAST day of June, I started feeling something… regularly… painfully… and for the next 56 hours!

I can still remember holding you for the first time, your first tooth (4 months old!), first word (uh-oh!), first steps (6-1/2 months old!), first ice cream cone (9 months), first day of school (4 years- nursery school!), first Little League game (6 years), and every single one of your other “firsts”… because they were MY firsts, too.

You were the first grandchild… the first grandson! You had your grandpa wrapped around your little finger from the moment he laid eyes on you.

The baby years started off rough… colic was NOT fun for either of us! Teething wasn’t a pleasant experience either! But potty training?!? You NAILED it! One week and you were completely out of diapers… day AND night! Your terrible two’s lasted until you were nearly four… but once we got past that stage, it was a whole lot easier on both of us! I was constantly amazed at the personality you were developing… it was soooooo big… for such a little boy!

The funny, loving, and inquisitive side of you always made my heart melt… the mischievous side of you definitely kept me on my toes! You were fascinated with taking things apart to see how they worked… He-Man was your hero… school was FUN… and your brother was your best friend!

You were growing up so fast… and I was still trying to figure out how this whole “parenthood” thing worked.

I tried to teach you the things that I hoped would make you a better person… not realizing that you were also teaching me how to be a better parent.

We both struggled through your adolescent years…

you- trying to gain more control…

and me- not quite sure how much of it I was supposed to let go.

I was beside you as you fought your demons going into adulthood. I was always looking for the answers… for both of us… though I wasn’t even really sure what the questions were. I spent countless nights praying that God would keep you safe, re-evaluating my parenting skills, wondering how I could’ve missed the “signs”, and struggling to find a way to “fix” what you thought was so wrong in your life.

To this day, I’m still not sure if I was unwilling or just unable to understand the power it had over you. It was probably a little of both.

For years, every single day was an emotional roller coaster- fear, shock, disbelief, helplessness, hope, disappointment, frustration, and then… back to fear again.

My heart always hoped for the best… even as my head tried to prepare me for the worst- and you knew, deep down, that you were dragging my heart along with you on your journey through hell.

I know you knew… because you would always pick up the phone to call me. No matter how bad things got for you, you always made sure to “check in” with a phone call every few days… you knew that I needed to hear your voice just as much as you needed to hear mine. Even when you’d say, “I’m okay, mom”… I knew that you weren’t. You were scared- and I was terrified! It didn’t matter how the conversation went… we always ended our calls with “I love you”… no matter what.

Feeling helpless is NOT one of my finest traits… and you knew that, too. I suppose it’s all part of that “maternal bond” I was talking about earlier…

I don’t care what anyone says… it doesn’t matter how old you are… it will ALWAYS be MY job to protect you… because I’m the MOM… and that’s what moms are supposed to do! But I was failing… miserably. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t seem to protect you from the things that were hurting you… because it didn’t work that way. As badly as I wanted it FOR you… YOU had to want it for yourself. It took me a long time to understand and accept that.

People kept telling me that “relapse is a part of recovery”… but it took me a long time to understand and accept that, too.

The two of us did a lot of talking, hoping, promising, forgiving, and crying during your periods of sobriety… but, mostly I continued to pray… and hope. And you know what?!? It worked! YOU did it… I was sooooooooo proud of you! For the first time in years you had the sparkle back in your eyes and the laughter back in your soul.

After you made the decision to take your life back… one day at a time… you began to move forward. You started working toward repairing and rebuilding the relationships between you and your sons. You knew it would be a slow and challenging process, but at least you were heading in the right direction.

You were given another chance at fatherhood when your baby daughter was born. I loved watching you… watching her. You always seemed in “awe” of this tiny little baby. Whenever you held her, there was a smile on your face and a light in your eyes… and you were loving every minute of it!

Then, you took the first steps towards rebuilding the many bridges that you had burned along the way… some took more work than others… others were damaged beyond repair. You handled both situations with understanding, maturity, and respect. I can only imagine how humbling that step of the program must have been for you.

I finally had my family back together again! I really missed your smile, your laughter, and your wit. We all did. It was so nice to see you happy and making plans for the future.

I love that we could talk about anything… and everything… and sometimes nothing at all. You were no longer just my son… you became one of my best friends.

So, WHY is July such a confusing month for me?!?

Because on the other hand, it brings back a flood of heart-shattering memories.

July of 2012 was the final month of your life on this earth… the month that my world as I knew it would forever be changed.

I’m sure I was NOT ready for this…

I love you… always and forever… my son, my friend, my angel,


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