Tuesday, May 03, 2005

overcoming childhood

Raehan's post titled "Simply Heroic" was about two fellow bloggers who didn't necessarily have the greatest role models when it came to parenting. at the end of her post, she posed the following question: Is there anything from your childhood that you have had to struggle to overcome? wow. what a question for a Monday morning. I left a short-ish comment but decided that my response required an entire post.

my interpretation of her question was that it related to things I had to overcome as a parent. that might not have been exactly what she meant but that's the question I'm answering. Raehan, I hope you don't mind.

now that I think about it, growing up with a mother like mine was great preparation for being a parent. she played the role of child, and I played mommy to her and my two brothers. I guess that's why I never questioned whether or not I would have children of my own, in spite of all my issues. it was something I always wanted and I could not wait to get started. I had my son when I was almost 19, so obviously I didn't wait long.

I actually enjoyed taking care of everyone when I was little, I still love it. I loved being in charge and being the one who remembered what we were supposed to be doing and when. I would watch my brothers when mom was at work, we never had a babysitter during the day. I would make sure they were fed and clean, make sure they took their naps and got to play outside when it was nice enough. I changed diapers and filled bottles and pushed strollers. I had a lot of responsibilities for someone my age, I wasn't even six yet and my brothers were one and two. it's crazy to think about it now, but we all survived it somehow.

things were actually going well until we moved in with my grandparents. it was probably just a matter of time until our luck ran out anyway. life for the boys improved I'm sure, they had animals to play with and 40 acres to run around on. my life, on the other hand, was turned completely upside down. I was actually expected to let someone else be in charge. someone else made our meals and told us when to go outside. someone else would tell mom how we spent our day. I wasn't special anymore, I was just a kid.

anyone who says that being a kid is the best time of your life did not grow up with my grandmother. her sole purpose in life seemed to be to make me miserable. she loved to tell me how worthless and lazy I was and what a drunken loser my dad was (he left right after my youngest brother was born) and how I should be kissing her feet for raising me. she delighted in taking away people or things that made me happy. she loved to keep me either locked inside the house doing chores or locked outside unsupervised for hours on end.

she loved the boys, though. my youngest brother was her obvious favorite. he could do no wrong in her eyes. even now, if he calls her a fat bitch, she laughs. one day I jokingly said she was crazy and got slapped across the face. my mother tried to make sure my other brother wasn't left out so he was her favorite. I was no one's favorite, which really hurt at the time. I felt unloved, unimportant and invisible. I realize now that it taught me self-reliance.

I never did figure out what my grandmother's deal was, but I never really tried. I was just thankful to be out of her clutches once I did get away. she would still get close enough for a quick jab every once in a while though. and I could still see that malicious gleam in her eye when she knew that she could still hurt me. she has gotten better over the years, to the point where I don't mind her being around my children. it's too late for me though, I'll never be comfortable being anywhere near her. I don't think I'll ever be able to forgive her for all the things that happened to me as a kid. hell, it's already been more than 20 years. if forgiveness isn't in me now, it's just not coming. I don't even try anymore.

the lessons I did learn from my upbringing are ones that I learned the hard way. I tried to remember them when I became a parent. the most important one is that kids are supposed to be kids, with kid responsibilities and kid worries and kid thoughts and kid fun. that it is my job as a parent to be their protector, their teacher, their home and their heart. I learned how important it is to love them equally, even if one of them isn't being as loveable as the rest. I respect their opinions and individuality. I would give my life for them if it was ever necessary.

I know I haven't been the perfect mother. there are lots of things I would do differently if I could. but in spite of my mistakes, I have three pretty great kids. and I wouldn't trade the experience of being their mom for anything in the world.


Raehan said...

Very nice post. Thank you for writing that.

It sound like you used your experiences and turned them into strengths.

panthergirl said...

Many of us hear you, loud and clear. The important thing is that you are breaking the cycle...