As a teenager I held a lot of animosity towards my mother for the upbringing i had. She wasn't loving enough, supportive enough, anything enough! She just bought me things and bragged to her friends about my good grades. I felt like nothing more than a possession.
Fast forward and I am 18 and my mother asks me this very question "Was I a good mother?"
It may have been a loaded question that she expected me to answer with my usual well thought out diplomacy. A thinly veiled attempt to have an ego boost. She was at that time the age I am now. I shudder at the thought of having any child in double figures. Anyhow my answer was this:
"Well you were a good mother to my brother and my friends all think you are really cool and can relate well to you...but....you weren't the mother I needed. I needed a mum when I was 12, I don't need one now."
I think back to that conversation and I cringe. I am a mother and I know how that would hurt. On the other side, I also know the constant pain I felt growing up with the mother I had. My father always trying to smooth things over and condone the behaviour of the woman he loved. My brother rarely suffering the viciousness of her words or punishments.
However, I also applaud myself for the honesty I showed in telling her what I felt. At the time I felt it was a gentle let down. It was the best I could do.
As a parent now I try and model the behaviour I wanted to see in my mother. Don't get me wrong, I fall down and stumble back into the autopilot mode of parenting as my mother did. That involves yelling and a lot of it. They are the days that I hate. I punish myself for those days more than anyone else in the world could ever do.
Our children are watching, always watching. Observing like little sponges they take it all in. The days I am at my worst they seem to be watching the most. I then see it reenacted in all its glory with teddies or Barbies. It saddens me, but it also inspires me...to be a better mum.
I am not aiming for super-mum, just to be the best I can be. A parent that my girls will look up to, relate to and talk to. It only requires commitment and attention. Attention to how you feel within so that you can control your inner self before it explodes. Attention to your children when they are talking to you. Attention to the world around you so that you can see the beauty and share that with your children that exists all around us.
The below clip is from you tube and highlights well how our children pick up on things. It is heartbreaking and enlightening at the same time. It should serve as a wake up call for all adults who smoke, drink excess alcohol, binge eat, have substance abuse issues or physically or verbally mistreat their children or partners. Little ones are watching and if you wouldn't want your children doing it, why do it to yourself?
I am not the fun POLICE here either by the way. Just think though if you don't want your kids doing it, then should you. Is it really about age or lifestyle choice?
So as a child and teenager and even in my 20's I did not respect the upbringing I had. Materially I had it all, but for me inside I felt empty, hollow, unloved and unloveable.
I still struggle now, however I have learnt to accept materialism is the only way my mother can give. You take the good with the bad.
So as I continue in my journey through parenthood and life I remember to be grateful for the things I could not as a child/teenager. I remember how it felt for me so that I can empathise with my children and as a form of self regulation for me as a parent.
I am not perfect, but I am grateful. I think that is a worthy lesson in life for my kids.