Being a Mom has brought me so much joy over the last twelve years, but has also struck me with a lot of guilt, shame, and sorrow.
I was so good with babies, even as a child. When babies were around, you'd likely find me holding him/her. I had my first babysitting gig at twelve years old, and continued taking babysitting jobs well into my high school years. Taking care was built into me. It's part of my nature.
Being pregnant at eighteen was exciting. I was looking forward to having a little baby of my own. I spent a lot of my pregnant days imagining taking care of my baby, and I was sure I'd be a great Mom.
Taking care of others, and taking care of yourself couldn't be more different.
Taking care of others comes easy to me. Taking care of myself seemed to be life's most difficult task for many years. If I had realized this sooner, then maybe I would've done things differently.
The relationship I have with my son is incredible. I couldn't be more proud of the boy he is today. He is kind, compassionate, funny, daring, imaginative, smart, athletic, and wise beyond his years.
I ask myself often, "Would I change the past, and parent differently?"
Parenting in my twenties came with toxic relationships, weekend partying, and lots of moments of anger and sadness. All of which I did a very good job at hiding from my son. I did my best to pretend life was great. I spent my time as a Mother showing Landon how to have fun, work hard, be kind, help others, and love animals.
On the dark days, I was fortunate to have a Mom who helped me raise Landon. She showered him with praise, and love. She gave him all of the kind of love I did, and spoiled him rotten. She made me look like the bad guy when I said no, and she'd say yes, but that's what Nanny's are for.
I remember specific conversations with Landon when he was just a little boy.
"Mommy is sad today. I just want you to know that it has nothing to do with you."
I never wanted him to feel what I was feeling in those moments. It isn't fair to project those feelings onto your children. I never wanted him to think that my sadness or anger was his fault. I was never good at hiding emotions, but I certainly tried. On days that I couldn't, the best thing (in my mind) was to explain that my feelings were not his fault.
Tears well up in my eyes as I recall the days I wished I could disappear. I had all of these dreams of what I wanted to be. I envisioned a life that was far beyond the life I was living. I wanted to be so much more, but struggled to achieve it.
I lived at home with my parents for six years of Landon's life, and shared Landon equally with his Dad.
I am incredibly blessed to have a Dad for Landon who loves him more than life itself. Without him, Landon wouldn't be who he is today. I knew that even if I wasn't getting it right, his Dad was. Knowing that Landon had him made me feel less guilty about how my life looked.
I would never have admitted it then, but I hated myself. I allowed so many unwanted relationships, behaviours, and negative energy into my life. I thought if I could just give all of my loving energy to others, I'd feel better. That was not the case.
Landon was always the light to my darkness. No matter how many times I felt like I was failing, I would tell myself that Landon deserves the best life, and the best Mom. I continued to motivate myself with Landon on the forefront of my mind.
While so many people tried to deter me from the dream of owning my own boxing club, I imagined living a life of doing what I love. I knew I had it in me, so I continued to pour myself into a sport, and lifestyle that offered us next to no money. I truly believed that,
"If you build it, they will come."
I frequently talk about my darkness, because it is what got me to where I am today. It allows me to reach out to the broken, vulnerable, lost, and hopeless, and give hope to those who struggle to find their way to the beauty, and happiness of life.
I resonated with the name that many know me for. "The Dark Angel". I used The Dark Angel for my photography business, and then later used it as my professional boxing name. It defined me.
After countless failures, mistakes, and times of sorrow, I found the help I needed:
Self help in the form of a therapist.
Therapy led me to self love.
Self love led me to the girl that is writing this today.
I no longer feel like "The Dark Angel" that I once was. I feel like Kylie Angel. That's me, and I do not feel like I am in the dark anymore. Not one part of me feels like the broken, and lost girl that I was for so many years.
To answer my own question of, "Would I change the past, and parent differently?" The answer is no.
I am not proud of moments I had as a Mother. For years, I was painted with guilt, and shame. I hated myself for being sad. I spent a lot of time telling myself that Landon deserved a better Mom. He deserved a happy, and present Mother. Sometimes I felt like I was on autopilot, and it caused me a lot of inner pain.
I poured myself into boxing, and giving love and energy to anybody I felt needed it. Landon was a witness to this.
But would Landon have gotten the experiences he did if I hadn't went through darkness? Would he have gotten to spend as much valuable time with Nanny and Papa? Would he have gotten to see all the hard work that goes into something I loved, and believed in?
Having those conversations about feeling sad, and angry taught Landon that it is okay to be sad and angry. Taking time outs on the hard days meant that he got to spend time with family members that could give him love and memories that he will always cherish. Overcoming the hard times showed him growth, and allowed us to grow together. He may not see it now, but I know when he is an adult, he will connect the dots.
From living at home with my parents, to rising above tough relationships. We stuck together, and we made it into our own apartment with two dogs that we love dearly.
Therapy is what taught me that taking care of yourself heals the inner pain, and ultimately turns you into a person who is their best self.
Taking care of me turned me into the Mother I always knew I was.
Finally taking care of myself mended the broken, and landed me in the place I always wanted to be. I also hit the jackpot in the relationship department as well. I couldn't ask for a healthier relationship that adds so much happiness to my heart.
I know that Kylie today would parent differently than nineteen year old Kylie. I am in a completely different place in my life. But the result of who my son is today is a result of the love, lessons, and life experiences he had along the way, and I wouldn't change that for nothing.
Landon exceeds all characteristics of a normal twelve year old (bias much?). We couldn't be more proud of who he is today.
Hard times seemed to be the sunlight to my growth. I watered myself by never giving up. Landon is the root of me, and I will forever believe that he was a gift from God.
God gave me Landon, while knowing my path all along. I know that the journey will continue, and God's plans for us are big.
I no longer feel ashamed of who I was, because it was a part in shaping him into who he is today.
I no longer have guilt for the hours spent working on a dream, because it taught him that my dreams are important too, and dreams can come true.
The inner work gave me clarity.
The most important part about being a parent is love. When you love your children unconditionally, you give them security. Every child should feel safe in their heart. To do that, you must make decisions based on what's best for them, and love them through every moment.
Giving children security will give them confidence that they will carry into their adulthood.
If your life is hard, fight to be better, because every child deserves the best you can give.