I sometimes wish it would stop – the constant demand on my time and energy.
I sometimes feel like I have been both mothering my son and myself in this last year.
The intense disappointment I feel in my mother for not having ever been a soft place to fall or a sanctuary of safety for me is sometimes crippling. As I write that, I cringe. Have I become one of those blathering people steeped in their misery, ignoring their reality and the blessings in their lives? Am I to be forever mourning my childhood? I have never had much patience for people who dig through their childhood too much and get themselves all worked up and indignant over past hurts. Life is happening now and it does not serve to be too tangled up in the past. At least this is how I was raised. To avoid the psychologist like the plague and never to dwell on unpleasant things. Hell, I was even told to never disclose my feelings to the homeopath as they don’t know what they are doing when it comes to emotions. And when I burst out spewing all my anger as a 14 year old, no one knew where that could come from.
And yet, I do feel that this current journey is in some way warranted.
When my son cries, it pushes major buttons for me. I feel like I am missing something, and I get very very stressed out. And I do not think that is healthy for either me or him. I guess I am hoping that by exploring my childhood not only as an exercise in memory, but also re-experiencing the emotions, I will be able to let it go a bit and be more present as a person and a mother.
I remember some time ago being asked what I wanted from my mother by a friend and I was stumped. I had no idea. I had been trying to figure out who my mother was as a woman, in an attempt to understand why we have such conflict, and it wasn’t working. I think now I can say that I want my mother to hear me – all of me. Not just the parts she like or knows how to relate to – all of me. I want my mother to be able to relate to me in a supportive way, even if she does not share the same passion or ideology. I want my mother to hold me gently, to soothe me. I want my mother to ask me what is bothering me and take the time to listen. Especially the last one.
Unfortunately that which I want is not very likely to happen.
So, it seems I am not yet out of this wood of self examination. I have tried repeatedly to write my blog on other topics, commenting on books I am reading, ideas that are springing, experiences that are flowing….. for now this space is reserved for my personal work.
I certainly do not have many answers and I am very much on a journey trying to find how best to grow my family. I have to wonder if it is at all important what happened to me as a child? Am I just making myself more miserable remembering the harder parts? My parents cetainly followed that route. If something difficult is happening emotionally, just pretend it isn’t and distract self with activity and positive thoughts. And this is many ways is how I expected myself to live as an adult. Until I became a mother. But why bother wading through all those hard memories?
I think it does have significance. When my child will not sleep and I am at my wits ends I long for that illusion of control that would come if only I could intimidate him into going to sleep. After all that is how I treat myself…. I intimidate myself to ‘not go there’. It is the way I know.
Does that mean that I am making a better parenting choice when I try to look at why it is so important for me not to intimidate, shame or manipulate my son to do what I need him to do in that moment in order to cope? I think so. If I had more tools at my disposal to deal with frustration, I think I would be a better mother/better me.
Today I did stamp my foot and raise my voice after the umpteenth time that DS giggled and slid down off the bed when moments before he had been definitly falling asleep. And he got scared. And I knew that in no way would I achieve anything good with this approach. I do not want my child to be scared of me.
I am sure there are those who would argue that it is not that bad if they are a little scared, as at least he would do things when it suited me. I am not yet ready to instill fear in my child for lack of my own coping skills. I do not know if I ever will be ready, but it does not feel right.
I am his world, and together with his father, his everything. It seems too cruel to take that away. And yet it seems such a daunting task to find the tools to deal with those moments of frustration and surrender to them. I keep relearning this lesson of surrender.
I am so aware in the moment of my frustration that I need a ‘fix’ and need to bring the situation back under my control. I know it is an illusion that by stamping my foot and shouting it’s all better. I know that it is a quick fix and one that I cannot rely on.
DS, I am so sorry you saw your mummy shouting and stamping her foot. I was having a very rough morning and am stressing out about all the family coming for a birthday meal and I want it to be perfect. It is not your fault that I got angry.
I want to understand. I want the pain to stop. I want to be the best mother I can be. I want to be the best me that I can be.
I am so sure that CIO is not a choice I would make. I am so sure that DS will be snuggled, hugged and loved unless he chooses not to be. I see such a different reality for my family – a reality that I never had and one that I crave with all of my being. I know it is not a new idea, but in many ways I do feel like through my mothering of DS, I am in a way mothering myself when I was his age and thus making things better for myself.
The two memories I have that just gut me are sucking on my dolls arms every night to sleep and ruining them, and my mother would fix on new arms, rather than comfort me. I do not understand this. And I was left to cry almost every day after school for 3 years from the day I started school. No one wondered why I was crying almost every day and no one thought to try and understand and help me. When I wrote a letter to my teacher in grade two telling her how sad I was and no doubt hoping someone would help me, she formally asked my classmates to include me in their games, which left me mortified. I hid under her desk during break time.
And that I was having a tough time being accepted in my class I guess should not be a surprise when I had a foreign American accent and could not speak Afrikaans, and I was no doubt working through the burden of child sexual abuse in my childish way. I was just expected to deal with life and get on with life. And I did.
At a price. Today I have a really hard time when I feel I am not accepted or heard. I struggle to find my place in a group. I am very defensive and careful about how I present myself so as not to inspire ridicule. I fiercely protect myself and feel that I can only rely on myself, even when my DH has shown himself again and again to be my life partner in every aspect of life. I never let go of the feeling that when it comes down to it, I have to rely on only myself to make life happen.
I also have learnt to achieve what would be thought almost impossible – only to be stumped when I find myself in a group and I just do not understand what is happening around me on an emotional level.
Motherhood is opening wounds and I am experiencing great anger and disapointment in my parents. However, I also am healing deep wounds that matter in my life.