I have often joked that being a mother (or father) is a life sentence! Well, I was kind of joking. Even when your child is a smart, happy, high-functioning adult, deep underneath the cloak of ‘job well-done’ is a mother, with her fingers crossed, holding positive thoughts for her kid.
I think of my mother who died 18 years ago. She was a beautiful and talented young woman, emotionally damaged and not well physically. Even as I chose to hold her pain, I didn’t really know what that was. I responded to her hurt and sorrow by taking those things on and it made me mad in a way I didn’t understand. I was angry with her, but truly I was angry with myself and am only now articulating that in this way. I also took that anger out on myself. I just didn’t know it at the time.
The idea of being a mother scared me…not just the actual giving birth part, but the responsibility of raising a child. I didn’t feel that I had a very good role model. I wasn’t sure I knew how to be a mom. Who does? Playing with dolls and babysitting aren’t preparation! I babysat once, thought the kids were brats, and never did that again. Dolls are compliant so what kind of training is that?
I’ve made many mistakes as a mom, some quite damaging. For one thing, I never communicated to my daughter how I felt when she was born…the wonder I would experience when she did the smallest thing for the first time…how I would call her dad at work to tell him about something that had happened that day…the almost excruciating love I felt for her.
Then there was anger and frustration…when she exhibited a mind of her own about picking out socks or something like that and we had a schedule to keep! Really my anger came when my parenting skills were challenged and found wanting. I believe that much of this emotional baggage came from feelings in my childhood as well as feelings about my marriage. My child was a convenient target for these emotions. I regret that deeply.
In the final analysis, my mother did the best job she could have possible done and so did I. Both our skill sets were a little lacking…I know I could have benefited from more tools in my tool box which would have been so much better for my daughter.
I don’t love anyone or anything like I love my kid. I wasn’t prepared for that. Being a mom made me a better person for which I give thanks.