“Well a Mother, a real Mother is the most wonderful person in the world
She’s the angel voice that bids you goodnight
Kisses your cheek and whispers “sleep tight ”
Your mother and mine. Your mother and mine. “- Your Mother and Mine , Disney’s Peter Pan
I have spent the last 20 some years analyzing every detail that makes up the relationship between me and my mother. I’ve always felt that I got the short end of the stick when it came to mothers. Ours wasn’t a picture perfect relationship at any point in my childhood, and I grew up with a lot of baggage and questions swirling around me constantly.
Since having my own children and making my own mistakes as a parent , I have come to realize a few things. The first is that my mother is damaged. She had a difficult childhood , and was deeply scarred from what she endured as a young child and young adult. I’ve heard the argument “at some point you have to own up to your mistakes, and stop blaming your past. ” I’ve even said it. But, that’s only partly true. When you go through traumatic events early in life they leave scars that aren’t easily over come. That doesn’t excuse the actions of the victim when they do wrong as an adult, but it does help us understand that they may not be in total control of what they do either.
It’s like baking a cake with wet baking soda. Your cake won’t rise , and that sucks , but if the box wouldn’t have gotten wet than it may be different. You can’t go back and keep the box from getting wet, but you can understand that when you used wet baking soda you won’t get exactly what you wanted.
Another thing that I realized is that she did the best she could , and gave what she had to give. It wasn’t much. She didn’t have much love to give. She wasn’t the super lovey dovey type that said “I’m so proud of you!” And gave you a huge hug when you aced a test. She just didn’t have it to start with , so she couldn’t very well give it away. I unknowingly expected something from her that she simply was not. I blamed myself for her lack of emotional connection , and displays of affection. I thought if I was thinner , smarter, more obedient, did more work, that she would give the things I wanted the most. I was asking her to be someone she wasn’t, and that wasn’t fair to her.
Parenting is hard. And when you grow up with parents that are extremely religious and strict without explanation, it makes things harder. My mom grew up in a difficult family. She had six siblings, her family was extremely strict, Grandma was sick a lot and Grandpa was constantly gone in his efforts to provide for his family. She tried hard to step out of her parents shadows and find her own way as a parent , but with a large family with strong opinions that didn’t make it easy. I remember many times as a child listening in to adult conversations about how we were being raised , and hearing my grandparents and moms siblings commenting on all the ways she was failing.
I know from being a parent myself that everyone and their dog has an opinion about how you do things. Hearing the opinions of family members isn’t easy to do , and can make things even more difficult on a struggling mom.
My mom wasn’t perfect. My mom did a lot of things that hurt me. She does things now that hurt me , but that goes both ways. Looking back at my childhood I see my mom in a new light. My scars are still there , but I can understand the person that gave them to me a little better .