Saturday, September 1, 2012

Mi Familia and my Pregnancy

Mi Familia

A few people have asked me if my mother is going to come up after the baby is born. I politely said no, but smiled and said my in-laws are coming for 3 weeks! If it’s one thing I can thank God for is for an amazing mother and father-in-law. They give me everything I ever desired in my own family and more. Their love means more to me than I can ever express…and I will forever be ever thankful for them.

I can’t even write this post without crying…*reaches for towel* 

My Mother

My mother lives in Trinidad, in a private home (for the past 3 years) that I currently pay for. I am her primary and only caretaker. She has no relationship with her family; therefore, I also do not have a relationship with her side of the family. She is about 50 years old, and has had a mental illness (schizophrenia) since I was about 7 years old. As a result, we had a rocky relationship that lacked everything a mother-daughter relationship should have. As a child, no one explained to me what this meant. And no one certainly prepared me for life with a mentally ill parent. All I knew was that she was “sick” in her head. But I never understood why she would say she is not my mother, or that she hates me…I never understood, why she would treat me this way…I cannot explain what it was like as a 12 year old to listen to your mother cuss at you with F bombs, and all the other obscenities in the dictionary, yelling at the top of her lungs that she is not my mother etc. etc. But it did affect me. I have been unable to “love” her for a long time. I didn’t see her as “mommy” or refer to her as such because she has not been that person to me for most of my life…Therefore it was hard for me to love her as a daughter “should” love her mother. And it still is. I have grown a mighty long way because of my knowledge about the illness, and really accepting that it’s okay to not love her the way other people love their mothers. Needless to say the least, a void DOES exist that she will NEVER be able to fill… And that is why I am ever so grateful for my mother-in-law…She gave me something I NEVER had, and it’s PRICELESS!

When I was 13, my father had left to visit NY for 6 months…and continued going every six months for the next few years. As my father was preparing to leave the first time, I cried and cried…I asked him how could you leave me here with a “crazy lady!?” How could you do this to me!? I had no other family (grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins etc)…There was no other adult left in charge to look out for me, a 13 year old kid. When he left, I cried myself to sleep every night for a month for hours at a time…I must confess, it was one of the lowest points of my life…I actually remember thinking that I was better of dead than alive. I was so unhappy…

So my father left me  “in-charge” of taking care of all the household responsibilities. Each month I went to the bank and got cash to purchase groceries, and pay all the bills. Since we are talking about the 1990s in Trinidad, paying the bills actually meant going to each billing company (Water, Light, Housing Authority) and standing in long lines to pay each bill every month. I got used to it. I made a budget and managed the spending each month…Something that has helped me to be an excellent saver today. I took myself to school, did my homework, made my food for school and pressed on like “normal.”

To be honest, I hated my life. I was not content…And I always yearned for better…I wrote my step mother and my godmother BEGGING for them to “send for me” and allow me to come live in the US with them. At 14 I promised that I could work part-time and pay for school…I just wanted to see a brighter day…But it was not to be. My godmother encouraged me by saying that she too had a tough time growing up but one day it will end…Because I will grow up and make something of myself. I cried, because at 13, I couldn’t look so far ahead…It seemed like an eternity to get to that point.

How did I cope? Jesus! I must thank the Clark family (Jemma and Junior) in Trinidad for opening their doors to me. Junior Clark is the preacher for Princes Town Church of Christ in Trinidad…and they lived in walking distance from me. I practically grew up knowing them because my father was friends with Jemma’s father…So from a very young age, I would spend a weekend here and there at their house. During this time of sadness in my life, I knocked on their door. I knew that spending a weekend with them meant going to church…and that is what I wanted. I practically went to their house EVERY weekend…Their life, planted the gospel seed in my heart. And I can thank them today for leading me to Christ! I eventually stopped going over to their house every weekend (when my father returned), and started to go to the congregation that was closer to my home in San-Fernando by the time I was 14. Jemma’s sister, Tricia went to San-Fernando Church of Christ, so I connected with her…But eventually I forged relationships with other brothers and sisters there…I participated in youth group every Saturday and went to worship every Sunday. I was 16 when I was baptized.

My “Other” Family

One thing I didn’t mention was that my father was married to my step-mother and had a family when I was born. My step-mother had moved to NY during the 70s by herself and then eventually sent for her children. I think that my mother was their caretaker and when all the children left, my mother continued to stay at the house because I came along shortly thereafter (1981).

Anyway, I grew up always knowing that I had 4 sisters and one brother who lived in NY. When I was 8, I traveled to NY for the first time and I was soooooooo excited to meet them! I literally jumped for joy when I found out I was going to NY. Needless to say, not everyone on that end was as excited as I was. The older sisters were more pleasant and welcoming…And the younger two were not! They actually would “play” with me by handcuffing me to the bathroom door and doing other mean things. One day, they handcuffed me, stuffed a dirty sock in my mouth, and locked me in the closet. My father’s response – “Oh, they were just playing,” as I cried and cried.

I recently learnt a few years ago that it was possible that my brother and sisters did not learn of my existence until I showed up at their doorsteps in 1989.

Despite all of that “negative tension” I still loved them…And I still pursued having a relationship with them. My father had actually moved to the US in 2001…I was 20 at the time…So when I moved to the US in 2003 to start undergrad, I reached out to my sisters…I visited them…I called them…I was there for thanksgiving and Christmas…I yearned so much to have the family I always wanted…But then little by little I started to feel hurt. Hurt, when my calls would not be returned for months at a time…Hurt when no one wanted to come see me when I graduated from undergrad or grad school…Hurt, when “they” didn’t really want to come to my wedding…and never even acknowledged it…(Not everyone, my step-mother and a couple of my sisters were there – sisters who I made bridesmaids because I honestly feared that they would not come otherwise…)…So, eventually I stopped trying…I decided that it was time to stop hurting myself…This was probably around 2009 – six years after I came to the US. But even though I stopped trying, part of me still yearned for them…Yearned to be “part” of a family. I still maintained a relationship with my dad and step-mother during this time by calling them regularly. I just stopped trying to pursue the sister-sister relationships.

This year (2012) was a MAJOR turning point for me. Where I moved into the stage of “acceptance.” Accepting that I represent something very painful for them, including my step-mother (whether they acknowledge it or not), accepting that they may not be at a place where they can fully accept me…Accepting that, my position in the family is one of “scapegoat” because its easier to “blame” me or treat me poorly, than my father who is responsible for the situation. This year I accepted that I no longer have to chase relationships with people just because they are family…This year I allowed myself the space to sit and grow…And focus on what God has given me….This year…I stopped crying for them…

It’s not to say that I don’t love them anymore…I wish they played a more active role in my life…It just means that I have found a place in my heart to be okay…content…finally…

What brought me to this place? After a series of unpleasant conversations with my step mother…And one of my sisters lashing out with nasty text messages…I decided that I am not capable of dealing with this type of behavior…So I “withdrew” myself from the situation by simply not calling my step-mother or my father…I decided that there was no way I would allow “threats” by anyone in my life and in my home…I don’t play those types of games…Well, I didn’t call, and they didn’t call either. My husband did attempt to reason with my step mother and father about the situation, and their response was pretty much that I was playing “victim.” That shocked me to the core…To hear someone justify bad behavior by blaming me, absolutely floored me. In March I spoke to my father about everything…and I also confronted him about when he left me alone in Trinidad when I was 13 with my mentally ill mother. His response was one of total oblivion. He actually said my mother was not “crazy.” And that I was “blaming” him for doing something he had to do – go to the US! I cant tell you the emotions that was flowing through my veins in that moment…My blood was boiling in a way I never felt before. Here it was, all my life I always thought that people do the best they can…But most times if they could do it again they would do it differently. This was like him telling me he saw nothing wrong with what he did, and would not change anything. And looking at my like, What’s your problem!? I was crushed. Anyway, I told him I was pregnant and we left the conversation with him “promising” to call me “next week.” I’m still waiting…

Despite this, I think that God has used my pregnancy to show me my blessings! Things change when you get pregnant…You start to think about the future, for you and your child…What you want for them and don’t want for them…You start to think about the things you experienced as a child – good and bad and how you will be different…and provide an even better “life” for that little person…I wish I could say that my baby will have a relationship with his grandparents, aunties, uncle and cousins on my side of the family…But sometimes that is how the cookie crumbles.

My Blessings

The joy I have experienced since being pregnant has been positively overwhelming…And its not just because I have a little person growing inside of me…which is pretty cool…It because at a time when most people have the support of their physically family, I don’t. At a time when most daughters have mothers to share this journey with, I don’t. I had envisioned this moment for a long time…And I had pictured my sisters, my step-mother and my father being present….I had imagined their love, and their support…But I look around and its no where to be found. At a time when I desire their presence not one soul has CALLED…I did have one sister who has emailed. But that’s okay…

It’s okay because God gave me a host of other Southside sisters too many to mention. He gave me the Harris family in Trinidad – my best friend’s family…Who practically adopted me when I lived in Trinidad, and still remains ever present in my life. He gave me friends in Jamaica and Trinidad who continue to check in on me ever so often. And he blessed me with an incredible husband who came with a “family package” I could call my own J.

When I think about the fact that my family has not picked up the phone to say boo, yet I have a friend who is willing to fly from another state just to be present at my baby shower, I am HUMBLED. I am grateful. I am tearful. As soon as she walked through the door, I hugged her and cried…And I am just in a state of awe, that God would lead me to such wonderful people. Another dear friend drove 7 hours in DC traffic to be here...Amazing!

When I think that I have friends (Trelya, Rhonda, Kirtisha and others willing to help) who love me so much that they WANTED to plan a baby shower for me, I am again humbled…and grateful beyond what my words can express.

When I think that I have sisters like Abena who and Monica who faithfully read my baby blog and pray for me regularly, I just want to cry tears of joy.

The love I feel from people…who may in passing just asking how I am doing? Reminds me how blessed I am…Because not having a family who is emotionally present, makes me appreciate EVERY SINGLE PERSON who has just passed by to say hello. It makes me think that I am lucky. It makes me feel special. IT makes me realize that God has provided…and provided abundantly.

I tell you today about my family, because I want you to know and understand how special you are to me. I want you to understand why I am grateful for your presence in my life. I know its hard for many people to understand what it is like having a mother who is mentally ill…and then the rest of the family that is emotionally distant…I have felt like an orphan many times because of my family situation…But the end result today is that I am ULTRA grateful for you…and really happy that you have chosen me to be a part of your life.  

What have I done to deserve such an outpouring of love from people who are not even my family? I don’t know…But I THANK GOD for you more than you know, and more than you can understand.

I’ve cried so much writing this I have a head-ache! Lol. But I need you to know how special you are to me. HUGS!!

MUCH LOVE and blessings!


  1. Good writeup Kaara. My wife is in a similar situation with her mom. Who needs some psychological help and I'm not saying that as a bad mother-in-law joke. It is hard especially during pregnancies but having extended "family" my mom and other really cool friends makes it less hard.


  2. That was pretty deep. I like the sentence "This year I accepted that I no longer have to chase relationships with people just because they are family." You don't get to choose your family, but you can choose your friends. It seems like you have chosen well. Great blog!

  3. Wow!!! Thank God that he is not like man. While we may not see the light at the end of the tunnel, God is already there (he had it all planned out for you. How Awesome!!
    I Hope that you will put all these great information in a "Best selling" book soon. If you're not already aware...UR a gr8 writer, and that's a blessing - I've read some of your other docs....~AH

  4. Kaara Monique De Freitas Kiddoe - I read and I read and I was tear-filled, I experienced all the emotions while reading this outpouring. I felt sad, angry, happy, grateful but you know what it is these very experiences that has made you into the Wonderful person you are today. The Good Lord never gives us more than we could bear and He has been with you every step of the way. I never knew about the horrible way in which your step brother and sisters treated you I mean handcuffed locked in a closet with a dirty socks in your mouth - AT this juncture my blood was boiling it was a good thing I was thousands of miles away LOL because that is evil personified MY GOD at this time I was filled with tears because you are a Beautiful person inside out and you NEVER EVER EVER DESERVE THAT KIND OF TREATMENT.
    I just wanted you to know that I am always here for you Kaara and you know that. Yes I may be Thousands of miles away but I do wish I was closer in distance, but know that you reside in my heart and that I love you Unconditionally. I have always maintained that we are brother and sister and forever we will be closely knit. It hurt my heart to know that you went through so much but the cries of the righteous never falls on deaf ears. The Lord of Hosts knows and numbers each one are they not all in his bottle. My favourite passage in the Bible - For eye has not seen or ear heard or have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those that LOVE HIM. We wait in eager anticipation for the birth of your child and know that you are always in our hearts and our prayers. LOVE ALWAYS YOUR BROTHER AND FAMILY - TIMMY, MELISSA, AMAYA AND ARIELLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  5. I was just looking over this and I just realized I had not responded. Thank you all for your words and your encouragement. IT truly means alot to me...Thanks for reading and letting me know your thoughts...I always appreciate reading comments...And I don't know why I didnt respond...Maybe it was because I was pregnant and forgot. lol!

  6. I didn't know things were so rough on the family front, girl! God specializes in giving beauty for ashes, so I know that He'll take excellent care of you, and fill every void.