It’s a pleasure to welcome my younger sister, Tiffany, who’s a mom of two young children. Tiffany has a diagnosis of schizoaffective disorder – bipolar type, and has shared a monthly guest post on my blog since February 2015. The purpose of her regular guest posts is to raise awareness of what it’s like to live with mental illness. Last year, Tiffany skipped her May guest post while the Second Annual Special Mamas series was running. This year, I invited Tiffany to share a guest post as part of our Third Annual Special Mamas series. Today, Tiffany is honoring our mom’s unique journey through motherhood with a guest post thanking her for all the ways she’s supported my sister from childhood to current day. Please welcome Tiffany as she presents our mom with this belated Mother’s Day gift!
Friends. They’ve come and gone. But my mom has been my consistent best friend throughout my life. She has been there during good times and horrible times. She has been there for me even when I wasn’t so sure I wanted her to be there for me. There have been times when I did not want her to see the horror going on in my life. My mom has never given up on me, and I love her because of that.
Life was so peaceful when we were young. We’d take driving trips around the country with my family every summer. I’d watch the minutes pass as I watched the clock and clouds in the sky. We listened to some pretty good music along the way. My mom was always prepared with treats to eat. When we made it to our destination each summer, our days were planned out by my mom. We had consistency in our lives, and we knew what to expect. The opportunity to explore the country gave us great experiences. Many experiences I’ll probably never have again!
Holidays at the house we grew up in were amazing. I remember my mom putting decorations up every holiday. On Christmas, one of the best nights of the year consisted of getting the decorations out and decorating the tree. We were ALL SO EXCITED! We took plenty of home movies. On Halloween, my mom would crawl into the attic where we had costume choices to wear. Most of the costumes were made by my mom. She is an awesome sewer! Once again, we were ALL SO EXCITED! The Easter Bunny and Santa Clause always came to our house with everything set up for pure enjoyment. Those were the days! I am completely grateful for every holiday celebrated with my mom’s help.
Growing up, every weekend was pretty much the same at our house. Wake up with brother and sister. Eat breakfast. Watch cartoons. Play with friends. Then come in for lunch. My mom always prepared the best lunches for us. We had hotdogs and macaroni and cheese often. We also had grilled cheese and tomato soup. Those foods are still some of my favorites. My mom always had the house clean, and I’d have to say that us kids were always pretty happy. My mom gave us love and consistency. She was always there for us.
Riding bike has always been one of my mom’s favorite activities. When we were younger, we’d bike with the family. We’d explore the small town we lived in, and occasionally the kids would get to decide where to go. There was a hill we liked to call “horse hill” because we would often see horses there. Sometimes we’d even get to stop at the Dairy Queen on our bike ride. Thanks to my mom, I still have a love for biking today.
We had a great life growing up, but I had problems with being homesick. If you’ve ever been homesick, you know the feeling? My mom was a teacher at the school we went to for elementary. Many times, friends would invite me over or want me to stay overnight. I had the worst feeling ever, and I’d usually go to the nurse’s office to tell them I was sick. They’d let my mom know, and they’d usually let me knock on her classroom door. Many times, I’d walk back to our house and lay there for the day. I was obsessed with binoculars and would watch the kids on the playground. I was safe. I was at home near people who loved me. I tried to go to church camp when I was around fourth grade. I was so sick! I was SO homesick. I needed to get home, so I told the camp nurse that I was sick. They called my parents to come and get me. Homesickness should be considered an illness. I always came back to my home, where we were completely loved.
I read the following statement recently on a Christian website. As a parent, when our children stumble, we don’t disown them. We may punish or reprimand, but cast them out of the family? We cannot.
As some of you may know, I was back and forth between Minnesota and California during a period of time in my 20s. I made some poor choices during my time in California, but I want mom to know that I always had a friend. At the end of my career in California, I was not sleeping and had so many jobs in the background acting world that I just could not keep up. I was not on any medications at the time, and my mental illness started to really affect me. I put up a fight for months and months. Finally, I called my mom to come and get me. I was super happy because I got to take a trip across the country with my mom. We got to see the beauty of the country together. That’s my perspective, and I’ll always remember that experience. I was all over the place, but I knew I was loved and needed to figure my life out.
My mom taught me to do all things with love, and she’s never let me down. I was in and out of locked places, including a halfway house for the majority of the time I was pregnant with my now five year old. My mom would faithfully drive hours each week to bring me to appointments and visits to the perinatal specialists I saw because of my daughter’s lung complications. I was SO thankful. The visits from my mom were just what I needed to stay optimistic about the situation. She helped me get through a very tough time in my life.
I now have a five year old and a two year old. My mom loves those kids and would do anything to shower them with love, the same love we experienced growing up. My mom is a retired teacher, and enjoys working with my kids. She helps me and the kids in ways I am not the best at. She is in charge of most of my finances. She’ll change that responsibility back to me sometime in the future. My mom completely deep cleans my house a few times a year. She has also taught me to be a good mother. Because of my mom, my daughter now loves to cook. My mom helps me pick out clothing for the kids sometimes. She also helps with the decorating of our home. Sometimes we go out to eat together, or to the park. We are making memories for my kids to remember throughout the years. We are both striving for my kids to have a happy life full of love, a life that I once had.
Sometimes my mom and I are like oil and water, but we always settle our disputes with love. Never does my mom hang up the phone without saying I love you. My mom has taught me the power of love and never giving up. I may not have the strong emotions I once had, but I believe they are still there.
I’ve worked for years on how to explain to my mom how much she means to me! Thank you mom for all the little things you’ve done throughout my life. At the end, those are what matter most. You’re a blessing to me! Thank you for showing me the way when I was lost. Thank you for hugging me and loving me when that was often pretty tough to do. Thank you for understanding who I am as a person and individual, most of the time. (wink) Thank you for helping make a home for me and my children. Mom, I probably would not be living if it weren’t for you. I’m pretty blessed to know that God placed a pretty awesome mom in my life.
This post is part of a month-long guest post series titled Special Mamas. The series runs all May and is in honor of moms who have unique journeys to and through motherhood. To read all 10 posts in the Special Mamas series, CLICK HERE and you’ll be directed to the introductory post. There, you’ll find all guest posts listed and linked for easy reading!