The other day I got to take Matt to the high school for freshmen preview night. I was driving home beforehand and it hit me.
Holy shit. I’m gonna have to buy him his class ring very soon.
What. The fuck. Happened.
Maybe you’ve read them and maybe you haven’t, but the first blog posts I wrote that had some major views was a series on Matthew, and our journey. I skimmed over a lot of the story though because theres just so much to tell, and have written subsequent posts since those first that go into more detail about the adventure it has been to raise the child. (I’ll post links below for those that haven’t read the posts.)
What I didn’t get into was that I was flat ass broke for a lot of his childhood. I drove a car that took a quart of transmission fluid a week to run and looked like it had hydraulics while driving down the road, because the suspension was so shot. I worked two jobs for the first 4 years of his life to make ends meet, and even then we struggled. There was a time when I brought home less than $800 a month and had to make that work. Let that sink in. Rent, lights, gas for the beast I drove, not to mention all the things it takes to raise another human.
My son didn’t do without due to me busting my ass and some help from family. And good God was it hard.
When he was about 4 he found me crying in my bedroom because I had been expecting a check that hadn’t come. I had $2.00, no gas in my car, and the rent was due. He was supposed to be napping. My little boy walked up to me and hugged me. “Why are you crying mommy? Momma’s don’t cry.” Which made me cry harder because indeed, Momma’s shouldn’t cry. But I was just so lost and felt like a huge failure.
“Its okay baby. Momma’s just gotta figure some stuff out.” I told him.
“What? Momma’s dont cry. Why’re you crying? It’s okay mommy.”
“Momma’s broke. But I’ll figure it out.”
“I can fix you! I’ll get my hammer!”
The innocence tore at my soul. “No baby. Momma doesn’t have any money, that’s what I mean.”
You know that little boy went and got his piggy bank and brought it to me?
That was it. That was it for me. I was not gonna live this way or let my child live this way. So I busted my ass and figured it out.
We got through being poor. We got through all of his health shit and his behavior issues. I had Chase and Matt was there helping me with that baby. I had two more junk cars as I slowly climbed my way up the income ladder, and often times I would go out to my car with crossed fingers hoping it would start.
We’re through all of that. And Matt is this rather handsome, tall dark headed 13 year old boy with sarcasm and wit and just enough awkwardness to keep his ego in check.
And I look at him in awe. I made this child, who is rapidly becoming a man. He is healthy and happy. . . Well, as happy as a 13 year old can be anyway haha. . . Despite the hardships, I have this stellar human being that I get to call my son.
On the way home from preview night we were talking about how far he’s come. I told him how proud I was of him and reminded him that he can do anything with his life that he wants, that he doesn’t have to cram it all into high school, or even college for that matter. And I reminded him of how hard I worked to get to where we are now, and that things don’t just always fall into your lap, that you have to work for them.
“Kid, it was hard. Dealing with your behavior, and being broke all the time.”
“Yeah, but I dont remember it being bad or anything. Like I had a pretty good childhood.”
I was blown away.
Here I was, constantly worried and counting pennies and busting my ass just to keep the lights on. . . Putting water in my body wash to stretch it to pay day. . . Driving for two days with my gas light on and praying to make it from point A to point B. . . And he saw none of it. I thought I was failing. I thought because we were struggling that I wasn’t a good enough mom. I cried after he went to bed most nights and berated myself because I couldn’t do better and be better. My home, my car, my job, none of it was good enough in my eyes because I wanted the very best for my children. And to be honest, while I’m happy with where I’m at now, I want to improve on this, too. I’m not completely satisfied. Regardless of all my inward worry though, I always put on a happy face for my kids. I tried not to let them know the worry I felt. I always showed them love and affection, and I made sure that I gave them my time. I couldn’t take them to Disney land. But I could take them to the park and kick a ball around with them, or take nature hikes, or have movie nights. We weren’t rich and we still aren’t. But I always work with what I’ve got to make sure they have me.
But my kid just told me that he had a good childhood despite it all. Granted, he isn’t all the way through his childhood yet, but the 13 years he has had on this earth he sees as good.
That’s all I’ve been working for. That’s all I’ve ever wanted. For my kids to not look back on their childhood and say it was bad.
Money doesn’t mean a damn thing. Your time means the world though. And when I look at my handsome Matthew B and remember that not so long ago he was a chubby little four year old handing his momma his piggy bank, my heart breaks a little. I’ll never see that four year old again. I’ll never hold a baby Matthew again, or watch his breathing even out as he falls asleep finally after fighting me for hours. I’ll never hear his feet patter into my room and feel him jump on my bed as he hollers “G’up, momma! The sun is up!” Those times, while rough and full of worry, were also times I cherish because I had this little boy who kept me pushing forward with his chubby cheeks and big heart.
Guys, they grow up. And maybe right now you’ve got a little one sleeping in the next room and you’re bone tired, and worried. . . You’ve had a long day, week, month, year. . . But trust me when I say. They don’t need the fanciest house with the newest car in the driveway. They don’t need expensive trips and toys. They need love and attention, they need someone reading them stories and playing pretend. They need you. Embrace it. Read them their book and get lost in the story with them. Cuddle up with popcorn and candy and watch Curious George for the seventy millionth time. I am so glad that despite how rough I thought our life was that I made time for these things with my kids and we have good memories. At the end of it all, that’s all you really have, anyway. Because guys, they grow up. You’re gonna blink and your four year old will be thirteen with high school looming in the all to near future.
Please read Matthew’s other adventures!
Part Two: The Beginning of Life as I know it