Someone once asked me what my biggest regret was, I told them I had none because I have to live with my decisions and have made peace with them. Are there things I wish I had done differently? Absolutely! As I reflect on this topic, I can’t help but think and browbeat myself into thinking what the long term effects of this one decision that has been recently weighing on me.
I grew up in a loving home. Loving, but not very supportive. My mom told me growing up, I was a troublemaker. I was curious about everything. She said I talked incessantly and still talk way too much today. She said I would go through 15 outfits in one day. Growing up culturally Asian, meant I was taught males eat first, we obey them, etc. Women are meant to stay in the kitchen, cook, clean etc.
Growing up was hard for me. I was by far not a normal kid at all. While I might have been the valedictorian in grade 8, I did this by integrating myself into different groups of peers but never sticking to one. I got to hang out with the cool girls, the nerdy girls, the jocks, you name it, I was awkwardly and socially accepted into these groups.
However, I was taught in schools, that I am a female and all this female empowerment noise. So I would constantly go home and challenge my dad and his authority over me. People jokingly tell me I turned both my brothers gay, whether this is true or not, I allowed them to accept who they are and to this day, one of my brothers has told me, you taught me feminism. One of my greatest prideful moments. I bring this up to give context of my upbringing.
My sister gave birth to one of the reasons I live, a beautiful angel. She came into this world unexpectedly, this is another story to share for another time. This angel has become such a big part of my life for two years. While she is not mine, I acted and felt like she was. In fact, many have said, she looks like my sister but has my big personality. We moved in together to help my sister with babysitting–a decision which I do not regret because I had unlimited access to my angel but one I would never do again. Unfortunately her man and mine do not get along well.
But my sister wanted to have baby number two and I knew where we were, I was not enough support to help her with two babies. I did what any reasonable sister does, I told her to go back home to mom and dad. Now, remember, this baby is the other half of my heart, my man has the other half. So you bet I watch her over the monitor to watch her grow. We, my man and I, poured so much love and so much of ourselves into our angel.
But I can’t help but wonder, did I make the right decision? I still get small glimpses into her life through Facebook calls and I can’t help but see that she is a bit lost. To paint you a picture of my life with her, I’ll share this beautiful story that still makes me cry to this day. On the last day when I dropped her off, I wanted to put her to bed for one last time because I knew I wasn’t coming home for a long time. Angel and I have a routine. I tell her the most outrageous stories whereby she uses her quick wit to save the castle and villagers with the help of her brave knight, her uncle, my man. I am usually her biggest supporter and her advisor. I told her three stories that night. They usually are always the same with some slight variations. But I think she knew something was up because she wouldn’t go down. So I sang to her. Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, Baby Shark, and ABCS 3xs. On the third go around of ABCs she put her sweet little hands to my face and said, “Pam. I sleeping.” I will never forget this moment. I cried so hard.
I know it is irrational of me to feel like I am losing a baby but this is the only way I can describe it. I miss her everyday and I cry like I’m an idiot. I miss watching her grow up and having a hand in shaping her future. I love this little monster a ton–like she is my own.
So it breaks my heart to see her through the camera and because we had access to her for over two years, I know her behaviour, her temperament, her soul. She is such a helpful person. She wants to learn. I have never seen someone want to learn as much as possible and I love my folks and my sister, but no one can see how intelligent she is and how she knows she is missing in her learning but is trying to learn. To paint a picture, our angel grew up reading books back to us incoherently. I still have the video of my man reading to her, her snatching the book from him, and reading to him. She will go to bed holding my old romance novels because she wants someone to read to her back home and she wants to learn.
Another thing I can see through the camera, is when I put my angel to bed, she gets so many hugs, kisses, and cuddles. When she was back home for the first month, she would do this every night with whoever put her to bed. Now, two months later, nothing. She wants cuddles but no one seems to understand her and her needs.
Remember when I said she was very helpful? When I would be slicing and dicing vegetables, she would pull out her own cutting board, hand it to me, and basically say, Pam, I want to help too. I would give her a butter knife, some vegetables for her to cut and cheese. She never quite helped me out but she sure felt like she did. With this angel, we celebrate all wins. She will even wash rice with me. She made a mess but she loved being helpful. So when I see her try this with my mom, my mom gets impatient and calls my angel a troublemaker. When in fact, all she wants to do is help. I instilled and encouraged her to do this.
I guess my biggest concern is did I make a mistake by sending her home? Like I said, it was a loving but not a supportive home. Is she going to have troubles growing up like I did? Where you felt like you didn’t fit in, that you wanted more but your whole family will tell you to just be happy with what you have? Do I have any right to feel what I feel? She’s not mine but damn, I shaped her so much and I can’t help but feel like she is being penalized for being this beautiful, curious, constantly learning soul who is sweet, covers you with kisses and hugs? I can see her character already shaping in the two months she has been home with my parents. She has lost parts of who she is. It hurts me so much to know no one can see her for what I see in her. It also scares me so much how much the environment and the people you are around shape who you are growing up. Do I have a right to feel what I am feeling?
I have taken so many counselling courses. I have learned it is so much harder to counsel yourself. I know I have to learn acceptance. Acceptance that these things are out of my control. That this angel isn’t mine. That all I can do is be there when she needs and provide some sort of person she can always look up to. But sometimes I wonder if it’s enough? I sometimes wonder if this is actually going to be a decision I regret making. She’s such a smart baby. I did sacrifice a lot for her. I put my career on hold for the last 2 years to spend time with her. In the two months that she’s been gone, I’ll have my masters completed. that’s how driven I can be and how ambitious I really am. Part of my healing process is writing this out. Am I still sure of my decision? I don’t know. All I know is I miss her like crazy and acknowledge that no one will ever love her as much as her uncle and I; no one will meet our standard of raising her into the person she can become. Help. I need a second opinion.