The View From Here
"Antonio" - 30
Los Angeles, CA
1 child - son (8 mo)
I distinctly remember the first time I heard my mother talk to herself. I will never forget it. I was eight, and I was sitting in my bedroom. She was walking down the hallway in our duplex in a flowery blue dress. I can't remember what she muttered, but I remember seeing her and thinking, "Is she talking to herself now?" The beatings and the weird accusations had gone on for years. I didn't know it then, but my mother was beginning her descent into a schizophrenia.
If anything, my father was my "mother." Though my parents divorced when I was only two years old, my brother and I remained very close to our father, spending our weekends and holidays with him. For us, it was a respite from the whirlwind of life with our mother. He loved, he cooked, he cleaned, he instructed, he nurtured, he did homework. Everything I have and believe, I owe to him, and I thank God for him every single day. Because of his example I cannot, for the life of me, understand how a man can abandon his child.
For a long time, I was mad at my mother. When I was in college, I would often dream that she was healthy. I would picture her and I on a bridge together, and her hair would be flowing, her face glowing in the sun. I'd wake up in the middle of the night thinking, "Wow! She's healthy!" Then, a few moments later, I'd realize it was just a tortuous dream.
My mother and I have now switched positions: I take care of her; I pay her bills; she calls me to ask permission to go to the store; I take her to the doctor. In many ways, she acts like the baby. No longer in a constant rage, she's now a little old lady who doesn't want any trouble. On my instructions, she calls me everyday to check in. Sometimes, I'll be in a big meeting and I'll look down and see "Mom Calling" on my cellphone. Though I still have pain from the past, I don't dwell on it. Instead, I chose to love her for giving me life. This realization did not come easily, but rather over years of prayer, reading, self-analysis, meditation and conversations with my wife. I forgive my mother for being sick, because it was out of her control.
My relationship with my mother has made me a more sensitive man. Though I'm strong and disciplined, I am also understanding and compassionate. My son is eight months old and I don't think I really understood what unconditional love was until he was born. Yes, I love my wife, and very much, but my love for my son is inexplicable. There is no greater feeling for me than laying in bed with him, playing and babbling. My relationship with my mother, and it's effect of forging a closer bond between my father and me, makes me a better, more sensitive father--and husband. I'm the type of dad that wants to be home every night to read bedtime stories. I don't want to miss football games because my dad didn't. So, in many ways, my son will benefit from my childhood experiences with my mother.