Growing up, the one thing I wanted, was what my mom had. At that age, I thought what that meant was to be a mom and to be able to stay home and watch my children grow. Now that I’m older and have watched five children grow, I realize that it wasn’t just being a mother that I wanted. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t regret a single second of the sixteen years (oh god, am I that old?) that I’ve been a mother. I just realized what I really wanted was the love story my parents had.
My parents got married really young. They met while walking down the street, my dad with two friends and my mom with her sister, Jeanne. My dad was on leave from the military at the time and only had a short time to get to know my mom but in that short time, he fell in love with her. I can imagine it was really easy to fall in love with my mom, because she was something special, but so is my dad. They were truly meant for each other.
Now again, don’t get me wrong, my parents had their share of hard times and it’s not like I never saw them fight. It was rare, but it happened and they never tried to make it seem like their marriage was perfect. My parents had the marriage you see in movies. My dad worked really hard, first in the Marine Corps and then in the Post Office. My mom held jobs here and there throughout his time in the military, but once he retired to Hagerstown, MD, my mom was strictly a stay-at-home parent.
Even while she did work, she never faltered as a mom. To be honest, I hear about her having worked more than I remember her working, because she was still always there. My dad would go overseas for long periods of time and would write us letters and call when he could. My mom made sure that his absence was barely felt. We knew that he loved us and was working hard and would eventually be home and things would be like he never left. We never worried that anything bad would happen to him, even though there was every likelihood that there could have been.
After moving to Hagerstown though is when I really start to remember my parent’s relationship. My dad would work full-time, and my mom was MORE than a full-time mom. She took care of the house and made homemade meals every single day. Even as a stay-at-home mom, I never quite lived up to what my mother could do. She did the laundry every day, washing, drying, folding, and putting it away. When she cooked those meals, she portioned them just so and served them to us. Our lives were almost effortless. She said, “I love you.” tucked us in, giving us hugs and kisses when we were young but as we grew, gave us the hugs and kisses in the living room and sent us off to our rooms to tuck ourselves in. Every night, she would walk in to our rooms to check on us right before she went to bed. (I had to pause writing this because I couldn’t stop crying, God do I miss her.)
But even though I watched them love each other throughout my entire life, when I REALLY knew how much they loved each other, is when the roles were reversed after my mother got sick with lung cancer. My dad had luckily retired a few months before her diagnosis. He gradually took over the duties of taking care of the household as she progressively lost the ability to do so. He made sure that she would do anything she was physically able to do, but when she couldn’t anymore, he would without a word about it. I watched as my father, who had never had to do a single household duty outside of mowing the lawn and taking out the trash, took on every single chore. When the last thing she could possibly do for herself became paying the bills, he waited as long as he could before taking over because he was so afraid of her feeling like she had lost all of her independence.
I have never seen a love the way I’ve seen my father love her when she couldn’t do all the things that she had been able to do just a few months before and I honestly don’t think I ever will. I realize now that that is what I truly want.
As I went through the pictures I wanted to use for this blog, I realized and remembered that my mom hated having her picture taken, however in the pictures with my father, her smile was genuine and beautiful, which is a true testament to how she felt about him.
My last relationship ended recently and I did everything I could to show a man incapable of loving that love did exist. It was frustrating because I couldn’t just show him that love that had existed between my parents because even though it still exists, my mom being gone makes it a little bit more difficult to prove. Even though he has basically abandoned me entirely, I still haven’t given up hope, because unfortunately, my heart doesn’t stop loving just because you tell it to.
I am 33-years old now and I have never had the fairy-tale wedding or even relationship. Every relationship I’ve had has ended and the love didn’t remain beyond three years. I want to believe that someone will some day look at me the way my parents looked at each other, but I’ve all but given up hope of that ever happening. I truly believed I could with this man. He made me so happy and even though he was very honest about how difficult it was for him to use the “L word,” he also didn’t say it was impossible, so I persevered through almost three years of attempting to get him to change his mind. It was futile, and he broke up with me telling me that he cared about me but I was “too passive and irresponsible,” because I had allowed myself to be abused and I had made a bad decision that he had never expected me to. I am heartbroken still even though its been almost a month since he’s said a single word to me, two since we’ve had an actual conversation. I really just don’t know how to give up on people.
But I digress, I know now that it wasn’t meant to be with him and even though I really, really wish it was, I have to move on eventually. I have so much going on in my life that a relationship should really be the furthest thing from my mind. I know this logically, but I still can’t resist the idea of having someone love me and being able to give the love I know that I’m capable of giving.
I hope that one day I will get my happily ever after, but the odds of it happening are increasingly grim. Though I remain on the dating apps, I am far from active, and even the few people I do pay attention to or attempt to converse with, I have a hard time even attempting to give my heart to. I guess I don’t really want to believe that he’s not coming back. Because from the first time we met, to the time we actually began dating, he pushed me away for about a year and I am nothing, if not patient. I know that it’s ridiculous, and everyone says at this point I need to forget about him, but I can’t forget about the way I felt about him or the way I looked at him…I don’t know that I’ve ever felt that way…or if I ever will again.
I want my love story and after everything I’ve been through, I more than deserve it. My physical attractiveness isn’t what it used to be, so I have a hard time believing that it will ever come to pass. After writing my last blog about my first love and all the times he broke my heart, I feel sad that I didn’t get to marry my first true love the way my parents did, but I’m starting to learn that unfortunately, as much as I would like to have everything my parents did, my life is different and will always be different.
I’m still here though…and as long as I live, I have the reminder that true love does exist when looking at pictures of my parents and my family. I know that people can find love at any age and I have to remain hopeful that my happily ever after just hasn’t happened yet.