Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The hardest job...

...I've ever had is being a mother.

Every day I stop over at ABunsLife where her tag line "Trying not to mess my children up one day at a time" gives me a chuckle each day- it's humorous and yet so true.

You've heard me say this many times before, parenting should come with a handbook, but it doesn't. What we have is experiences from our own parents and those, perhaps, that we looked up to at one point in time to use as foundation for our own future families.

But what if we don't?

What if what we grow up with is a small sliver of right mixed in with a whole lot of do we decipher what we should and/or should not be doing that will completely screw up our children? My situation is not the norm, so perhaps I struggle with this issue more often than others, but I try to make the best decisions I know how and yet, with just a few words...there are moments my daughter can rip it all out from under me and leave me feeling more vulnerable than I ever imagined any child could.

I was born to a teenage girl who's own mother was so consumed by depression and alcohol that she had stopped noticing her daughter, my biological mother - Mo. Mo, thought she could have a child who would love her and need her, I would be the thing to fill the missing void. Like many young teenagers, Mo's plan had a small flaw - someone would need to raise me, be there for me and take care of me. That someone role is usually reserved for the parent, but in this case, Mo was not ready for this responsibility.

Faced with a choice, Mo choose to give me up for adoption when I was about a year old. I was given to a family for what was thought to be a better life and I guess, by all accounts, it was. I had a mother and father and a sister - I was taken care of and loved, what more could I ask for, right?

For starters, I was a bit headstrong - my mother (adoptive) had her own issues and these two elements did not mesh well. I was raised with a firm hand, fairly strict rules and I learned early on that if these rules were broken, there would be punishment. One of the strongest memories I have is being told that when I was about 4 or 5 I looked at my mother and told her "I don't need you. I can take care of myself." Growing up, I thought it was quite funny every single time my mother would throw it in my, while I realize it is a child talking and not understanding what she was saying, I can begin to see how this hurt my mother. You see, my mother had her own bowl of issues, mentally - the woman was not the most stable person. I don't ever doubt that she loved me, but I think she never quite understood how to be a mother, never quite knew how to show love.

My mother and I led a very strained relationship while I was growing up, my father often worked long hours and was rarely home, my sister was much older and had her own life. Eventually, my mother and I saw a difference of opinions for the last time and it was over. I moved out and I never spoke to her again. It's been over 10 years since I've seen or spoken to this woman and there are days when I often wonder what it was that was the straw that broke the camels back. What final incident was enough that I could walk away and never look back...even after all this time, never feel regret for leaving?

I didn't leave my family, just my mother and eventually we all left my mother. The interesting twist of this story is that even then I was searching for myself and at that time in my life, I thought the answers would lie in my birth line. I sought out Mo. I searched for my biological father - both of which I found. I had questions - some were answered and some I don't know if I'll ever have answers. Mo, is apart of my life today. She is apart of my children's lives - she is not my mother. She has no desire to be my mother, she is my friend. We are alike, in looks and in personality which I find terribly scary sometimes. Mo, choose to have another child a few years after me and as evident with him, she was still not quite ready to be a mother. Even today, a 40 year old woman will tell you she has yet to grow up. As for her mother, eventually she was overly consumed with her own problems and took her life, leaving everyone around her with questions and too few answers.

This is my history, my family legacy...for my children I want more - but I have no idea where to begin. I am a parent to my children, I am not their friend. Even though I love them fiercely I too, believe they should be taught right and wrong and consequences of their actions. This has led to many "I hate you's" or "You're a mean mommy." Just words - I try to remind myself, it stings a bit when they are thrown at me, but as time goes I feel them a little less each time. Then comes a day when my child looks at me as say's the unthinkable. In an instant my world flashes around me and while I know there is no merit to her words...she and only she has exposed me and left me feeling vulnerable and raw.

There are things I can moderately prepare for, things I know one day I will face because all mother/daughter relationships face these moments. There are things I am aware come with having children and teaching them to exert there Independence. There are many lessons I know are still yet to come, it is not these I's the ones I never thought would ever enter my world because I was going to make sure my child never felt the way I did.

Being a parent is not an easy job. It is by far the hardest job I've ever done.


DysFUNctional Mom said...

It is definitely the hardest job for me as well. My childhood was different from yours, but there are definitely many things I try to do differently from my parents. Then every once in a while, I remember that they did so SOME things right, and I may do something the way they did it. It's a balancing act, really.

pixie4bears said...

Your post brought some tears into my eyes. That quote is definitely very true. No one is perfect and all parents will mess up but it is how we fix it that matters. Enjoy Motherhood!

The Woman said...

It is the hardest job. I don't know how working mother's or single mother's do it. I am wiped at the end of the day.

Kimmylyn said...

I am sitting here with huge tears in my eyes.. this was beautiful Kel.. I am all chocked up because it is so true.. you only want the best for your kids.. it really is the hardest job..

April said...

I think the people who have the hardest childhoods who are the ones who make the best parents. You know what you were lacking (in a sense) and you know what you want to provide for you OWN children.

My hubby had a horrible childhood (raging alcoholic/drug addict mother who constantly moved him around and left him with different family members and finally at age nine, abondoned him at his aunt's and never came back) and he always tells me how much he wants to give OUR future children. How much he never had growing up (a loving, stable environment with loving, stable parents. He never even KNEW who his dad was). I KNOW he'll provide exactly that to his own children some day.

Aleta said...

I don't have children, but I love to hear from friends and family that do have children, because I find it fascinating ~ how does one raise a child, to have the answers, to know what will impact or affect the child in future years.

This was a beautiful post and in some ways, reminded me of my Mom. She was one of eight children, born to parents who abused them. If I told you the stories about Mom's childhood... it's too much pain. How Mom ever became the person that she is today, amazes me. When Mom got married, she went into education in college years. She went into education, not to become a teacher, but to learn how to be a parent (her words). She's great at both - Mother and a Teacher. It's what is inside the person and how you heal. YOU are a stronger person for what you went through and eventually your daughter will realize and apprecite it, if she is lucky enough to open herself up to your experiences.

Beautiful post..

A Buns Life said...

I'm so sorry that we share the legacy that we both had to walk away from our mothers in order to protect ourselves and our the trick is to NOT repeat the cycle. Our children are our most precious gifts (even though some days I question this!) and I just look at them in awe and wonder how my mother couldn't love me as much as I love them.....but I know it is hard. The words that they throw out and their actions hurt, but as long as you show them unconditional love, which is all that a child really, really wants, it will all be ok.

zandria said...

Wow, Kel. What an incredible story! It sounds like you've definitely been through some stressful stuff in your life. I think your decision to be a mother to your kids, instead of just a friend, is a good one.

Busymama Kellie said...

It sounds like you've been dealt a difficult hand in life. I can't imagine not having the love and support of family growing up, how hard that must have been! But it's great that you are aware of the problems without laying the blame. Instead, focusing on how to change it. I admire your strength!

Jojo said...

This was a beautiful and honest post, I've missed your blog! You are tackling the hardest subject head on...being the parent vs. friend. Even though we are adults in comparison to our little ones, we're still human and crave some kind of "acceptance", if you will, even from our children. But parenting is more give than take...we have to give so much love, but so much guidance and discipline as well. We can't control every single wrong and right we give out, but I certainly hope we can teach our children the kind of judgment that will allow them to discern between what's essential and let the things they don't need go. I had a good childhood, but of course with many things lacking...but I find myself today that the negatives in my life have taught me valuable lessons as much as the positive to use in my own parenting.