“Time to eat!” my mother called.
I heard her words but I had made a vow to myself that I was going to finish this book before the night was over. I was sprawled across my bed reading as fast I could letting my imagination take me to places I had never been before.
I hated my reality and so you could always find me lost in a book trying to escape the cramped quarters, trying to survive in a house full of people.
There were 9 of us. 6 girls and 3 boys. My parents resources were limited but they did everything they could to feed us and take care of us.
Because of this, when my mother said the food was ready to eat, you needed to be in the kitchen getting your plate.
I, lost in my imagination, wasn’t ready to come back to the real world. I laid there with my nose in a book for another hour.
Finally, I came up for air and decide that I was hungry now and wanted something to eat. My mother was in the kitchen washing dishes when I arrived searching for food. My mom used to have this huge pot that we called the Jeffrey Dahmer pot. Okay, I know that may sound sick and creepy, but this pot was big enough to cook a body in. This was the pot that she used to cook pounds and pounds of spaghetti. Well, that night was spaghetti night and inside the pot was nothing but remnants of spaghetti that was long gone.
I was confused.
I went to my mother and I asked her, “Where is my food?”
For a second she didn’t comprehend what I was saying.
I asked again.
“Momma, did you take my food out?”
She finally realized what I was saying.
“You didn’t eat?” she asked.
I shook my head no.
With all the kids running around eating and making plates, she overlooked the fact that there was one kid missing.
I could see her shoulders slump and a look of sadness tugged at her beautiful features. I could tell she felt bad about the situation. She sighed and walked over to the oven. She pulled out a plate of spaghetti. It was her plate that she had sat aside for herself. She handed it to me. I knew what this gesture meant. This was all the food left. If I ate this, she wouldn’t have anything to eat.
I ate the food and my mother didn’t eat. I always remembered that. There may have been other times that she didn’t eat but I remembered that time because it meant so much to me. I almost wanted to give it back to her but I was a kid and I was hungry so I ate it.
My mother was a paragon of integrity, motherhood and self sacrifice. She is a person I model every day of my life. She always sacrificed for her 9 children until the day she died. We never had much money but she made sure we had everything we needed even if that meant she would go without.
I am the mother I am because of her. When my daughter had issues with anyone, she always knew that she could come to me and we would figure things out. I was always there for them.
My mother is dead and gone and yet she influences me every day. As I parent, I think about my parents and in particular my mother.
Did she suffer from a mental illness? Yes, I believe she did. Did that stop her from being the best mom she knew how to be? No it did not.
She shows me that even though I have Bipolar disorder, I can still be a good and decent human being. I can be a great mother, wife and friend and not end up on a 20/20 about me murdering someone and using “Bipolar disorder” as a defense.
I am a walking example that this diagnosis is not the end. It is only the beginning of a new chapter in your life. I am ready to fill that new chapter with love faith, family and new adventures.