I don’t know if I’ll ever be strong enough to tell you, but your boring mama wasn’t always a boring mama. Furthermore, I don’t know if I want to tell you about the things that came before you. But right now, while you’re sleeping & you’re so small & I am so sick today, I’m thinking you need to know that I am your mama.
When I was in the fourth grade, I met my first best friend. Shawna (whose birthday is tomorrow) was my best friend for 12 years. We grew up together. Her parents even tried to adopt me the year I turned 12. I learned a lot of life lessons by growing up with my best friend. I was absolutely devastated when she died in a car wreck (that wasn’t her fault) at the young age of 21. I remember finding out in the middle of the night, clutching my chest and collapsing into the floor, thinking things would never be okay again. I remember waking up in the floor and yelling at the sun because it didn’t have a right to shine the following day, because in my mind-the world should have just stopped. It’s absolutely awful to lose your best friend, & I hope you never lose each other.
Other people really enjoy turning 21, but I didn’t. Not only did I lose my best friend when I was 21, but I lost my mama. My mama was so sick, so unwell. She made me crazy because her mind was half gone. I spent years caring for my mama because she wasn’t well enough to care for herself. No matter how crazy mad she made me, I still loved my mom. I still mourned her when she passed away. At her funeral someone said to me, “Alyssa, you are so tough. You’ve been mourning your mother for years. She’s really been gone for years and you’ve carried on with it by yourself. I couldn’t do it.” That’s probably true, another person probably couldn’t do it.
I have never been unemployed. I started a job two weeks after I graduated high school and I’ve had a job ever since. Your mama has always worked hard. My daddy taught me that.
My brothers and I all grew up in different homes because my family was very broken. You might notice we all have very different personalities and qualities, I think that’s part of the reason why. I know I was dealt the worst hand. I grew up living with various relatives for short periods of time, and even longer stints in state foster care. I won’t pretend this was anything short of awful. I grew up wondering why my parents didn’t love me enough to take care of me. I grew up wondering what was wrong with me because I was tossed around more than a baseball at practice. I grew up wondering if I’d ever feel anything other than homeless. I’m sure everyone involved had their own reasons for their choices, all I know is that I survived it and was bitter about my experience for years. Even when I got out of the foster care system and went to live with my mom, things still weren’t good for me. I made myself a lot of promises because of my childhood. I promised myself I’d be a better person. I’d never drink. I’d never smoke. I’d never take recreational drugs or prescription drugs I didn’t need. I’d never turn away a child on my doorstep. I would dedicate my life to helping children. I would be a good wife and a loving mom. I would be a better person than what I had grown up seeing. Are you listening? Because this is important:
I have kept my promises.
I wanted more for my family, so I kept my promises and married someone that would keep those promises as well. No child should see what I saw in foster homes. It’s okay to be poor, it not okay to just survive your circumstances. You are not lucky kids, nothing that’s happened to you has anything to do with luck. You live inside preparedness. You live within planning. You live inside a million dreams and promises and plans. You live among people that we have chosen to be a part of your life because we are confident that they will love you. I wanted you to never doubt you were loved.
I don’t care if you don’t think I’m beautiful. I don’t care if we’re never rich. I do care to let you know that I am smart, kind, & practical. Above all, I want you to know that I am strong. I’m the kind of strong that still cries when Dumbo is taken away from his mama. I’m your strong mama. Remember that when you think I’m just boring, just living a quiet life. I’ve already lived an exciting life & now you are my greatest adventure.
There’s a lot more about me that I could tell you, but right now you’re both sleeping in my lap and I want to love on you a little more…before you’re not so little anymore. So for now, that’s all I need to say.