How I learned to be a Mother

I learned to hold them every chance I get.

I learned to tell them I love them every time I felt like it, which is mostly every time I look at them.

I learned to praise them all the time so that they would always be assured of my appreciation of them, and so that they would never underestimate their worth.

I learned to not insult them in public (but I am still learning not to use too much sarcasm either, not even jokingly).

I learned that there are situations where I need to put my foot down with no explanation, and that I can not be bullied into feeling guilty about that. I also learned that there are times when I should give them more credit and explain to them why I make some decisions, and even involve them in those decisions.

I learned to never ask them to lie for me; I also learned to stick to my truths and live up to my promises. Most importantly, I learned to not punish them for telling the truth, and that when a punishment is due, it can be reduced when they come to me with the truth.

I learned to explain it to them when I was frustrated about their behavior, I learned to express to them that my frustration never meant that I loved them less, but that it was rather because I loved them that much.

I learned to call them when I missed them, but never scold them for not calling me to say they miss me; they are kids, they lose track when they’re having fun, and that’s a great thing to forget about me because they’re having a good time.

I learned that no one comes before them, not my friends, not my sisters, and not my parents, and that if any of the aforementioned is offended by them, I should stick to their side and never make them feel forsaken even if there was a lesson of discipline that they must learn; they will learn it, but without ever getting the idea that I chose anyone over them.

I learned not to speak ill of those I dislike in front of them, but I also never told them to respect an elder I didn’t think was worthy of respect; I want them to learn that respect is earned not imposed.

I learned to admit it when I did a mistake and they caught me on it. I learned to apologize and ask for their forgiveness when it was due, but I also taught them that apologizing once is enough, and it was up to the receiver of that apology to either accept it or reject it, but I will not humiliate myself by apologizing over and over, and neither should they.

I learned that I should not hide behind religion or social norms to justify an unfair behavior.

I learned to give them space when they were angry and would not talk to me, but I would also express my dismay when I call for them and they refuse to answer because they’re angry.

I learned to NEVER make them feel like they owed me for all the things I do for them as their mother; it was I who owed them that much the minute they were born.

I am still learning not to let my anger take over in terms of any verbal or physical abuse, regardless how minimal or “justified”.

I am still learning not to use sarcasm as my default way of communication, as hard as it is with how cynical and bitter I become each day.

I am still learning not to be too hard on them when I mean to teach them a life-lesson that I think is important for their growth and maturity.

I am still learning a lot of things and it’s about the one challenge I have in this life that I appreciate regardless how I occasionally like it and how I mostly resent it: my challenge is that I would be a good mother to them, a mother they love and appreciate despite her numerous mistakes and occasional failings, a mother towards whom they feel no resentment.

I learned all that because it was the opposite of what my parents did (combined), and I refuse to give my parents credit for having to taught me to be a good parent by being lousy ones (on an emotional level, not a material one). I don’t owe them that; if I owe it to anyone, it is to the mother figure who had taught me unconditional love, and to the brother figure who had always been there to support me when I needed it, even if he didn’t always know about it, my late Nana, and my youngest uncle. If it weren’t for them, I’d probably be passing on the abuse to my kids using the same lousy justification: that’s what my parents did.

So no, as far as my emotional sanity (or lack of thereof) goes, I don’t owe my parents shit. Every day of my life has been an uphill climb trying to rid myself of the damage they caused, and I can’t say I have it in my to forgive them yet; I deserved better than that, and my kids do deserve better than what my parents made of me. And if there is a reason as to why I am not taking out my anger at my parents now that I can, it’s because I believe I have no right to deny my kids their right to love and be loved by their grandparents, as lousy as they can be, even as grandparents.

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~ by insomniac on September 18, 2014.

One Response to “How I learned to be a Mother”

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