Many times, I think about how my kids will be on to me. Sooner than I think, now that my eldest has turned three and is wildly sensitive to everything, and my youngest is becoming sentient. Before I know it, they will realise this mummy actually doesn’t know everything (as Matthew sort of expects me to), this mummy isn’t as happy as they think I am, and this mummy isn’t as nice and wonderful as they think I am.
The reality is this: I have to change, and become that better version of myself soon. Real soon. If not for myself or for my husband, then for these two children. I have to change to be the mother I want to be for them, the mother who can teach them to love, live and laugh – genuinely and without any pretence.
The problem is this: I am a broken person. Very fractured inside, just struggling to be a better person everyday. And I don’t even know if I’m doing that because I want to, or because I’m supposed to.
Last year, I spent my time focusing on being grateful and counting my blessings, mostly as a way to overcome the negativity that can overwhelm me. So instead of pondering on my insecurities and fears, I focus on the good stuff that I’ve been blessed with. That’s a whole lot of stuff to track and I enjoyed that whole exercise, mostly because I learnt to look at the other side of life – the side I haven’t been accustomed to look at.
This year, well it’s really only February now, I’m working on solving root issues in my life. I happened to read “The 10 most important life lessons to master in your 30s” that came up on my Facebook feed yesterday and Point 9 is very poignant to me. Yes, I’m in my mid-30s this year. It is time to move on from old wounds – but which way do I move towards? And how?
I’ve analysed this to death, and I know all the reasons why I’m stuck in my own rut. The unfortunate thing is that if I don’t reconcile my past, I cannot move onwards to the place I want to be at for my children. And they are always going to be the most important people in my life. It is for them that I have to deal with the BS.
So tonight, as is my nightly routine with the kids, I spend time with my baby Emma and put her to sleep while Matthew plays a puzzle or reads outside the bedroom. She is almost asleep as I linger in the bedroom, looking out the window at my little seaview and wonder why I fail at this one particular relationship (I fail even at giving up on it). I have tried all ways to forgive and reconcile – healing, counselling, pretending – but nothing works.
Tonight, the situation becomes even clearer to me. It is because of how I have been bullied and blamed for almost everything that happens (due to my doing or lack of doing anything remotely related to anything at all) … and still am facing this same perilous and ridiculous predicament (I’m turning 36 this year! I should be blamed only for my own actions, not everyone else’s!). The word that summed it up for me was “bullied”.
And as Emma drifts off to sleep, I check my Facebook feed and chance upon another Huffington Parents article “What I Changed for the Sake of My Kids“. Honestly, I could have written it. She’s talking about me. Right down to this:
“It is the way I have always been: insistent and demanding of myself, uncompromising when it came to getting things done the “right” way.
Since I was young, and perhaps because of childhood bullying I experienced, I have had little tolerance for my own mistakes and frailties. I believed in my heart that the world would end if I were softer with myself, if I wasn’t on guard all the time. This extreme vigilance translated to my parenting, naturally and despite my desire to act and exist differently.”
The truth is, as of now, I think I am still doing okay as a gentle and loving mother who plays aplenty. There are some very bad days when I’m all screamy and naggy, but those days aren’t the dominant ones and they are few and far between. But there are also days when I downright bully Matthew into submission. Each time that happens is when I strive to bend his will to mine because on some level, I feel he needs to acknowledge I’m his parent, and not just a friend; each time that happens, I end up feeling miserable and heartbroken after.
Since Emma has grown up a little, I have had a bit more time to see to other areas of my life – writing being one of them. Reading being the other and returning to my parenting literature has reminded me of the perspectives and stances I should take, but it still takes a lot of self-control to cast aside anger when it arises quickly and sharply.
I still fear it’s going to be a losing battle if I cannot get hold of my emotions and reactions for real. As I said in the beginning, soon enough, my kids will be on to me. They will catch my frown and irritation, my frustration and anger spells. As it is, sometimes I see in Matthew his desire to please me, which could be because he just wants the mother he still worships at three-years-old, to be happy. That’s all the kid wants.
And all I want is to love them wholly, completely, and teach them the important things in life that I had to learn by myself – again, my list is really short, it’s just to love, to laugh and to live. But now, I’m questioning if I have ever really learned those lessons or did I just learn to pretend that I did?
Self-doubt aside, it’s just glaring how frail I am, despite how hard I try. But as the writer of the Huffpost parents wrote, “Kids are the highest stake.” I’m not losing this battle. There will be change – even if I have to act my way into enacting them.
What will I change? I will be more forgiving and tolerant, more childlike and less adult. I will have to address that one failed relationship and reconcile myself to accept it for what it is, without expecting it to ever be more and definitely never hoping for it to change.
The goal is simple, like I wrote in my last blog post: May I never raise children by sacrificing my relationship with them.
That’s the destiny I will change.