I gotta be honest, I have a really hard time remembering things from my childhood. I only say that because once I became a mom my brain only has room for my kids and the stuff they do. Sometimes though my siblings will remind me of something or my kids will do something that reminds me of being a kid again.
Being a parent, though, has made me take a look at my parents in a different way. I now see things the way they might have and I’ve learned a lot about them that I never would have if I had not had kids.
For instance I’ve learned how hard being a parent is. I’ve learned how you stress out about them and their health and if they’re developing and growing the way they’re supposed to. I’ve learned that you can’t stop the love that you have for your kids no matter what they do and I’ve learned that they can bring you a lot of joy. I think about how my parents felt about me and my siblings and it makes me feel closer to them.
I understand now when my mother was stressed out being at home with us all the time. There was four of us and I couldn’t imagine how that was. I only have two and they drive me crazy, I don’t know how my mom handled four. I understand wanting to be left alone to do something without being interrupted if only for five minutes. I understand when my parents would yell at us to be quiet or go to our rooms because they just needed a minute of peace and quiet. I understand my parents making us do chores or cleaning up after ourselves because it is exhausting to follow kids around all day and clean up their messes or wash their things. Kids are so messy and destructive. I understand why my mom got on to me so much for being the oldest because I probably was just as mean to my little siblings as Cillian is to Felix. I understand how frustrating it is when they don’t listen to me and I have to raise my voice and look like a crazy woman.
But despite all the understanding I have now for my parents, there are a couple things that they did that I don’t understand. Like when my mother would let my siblings and I say hateful things to each other. There was more than a few times my siblings would gang up on me to make fun of me or be mean to me and my mother would laugh and join in with them. She did it to my brother to. She would tell us we were annoying and always wanted us to leave her alone. She never wanted to hug or kiss us. She would literally make a grossed out face if we tried to give her a kiss on the cheek. She gave me the feeling like she regretted becoming a mom and it wasn’t what she wanted.
Or how my dad was so bent on us being perfect, well behaved kids he would get onto us for every little thing. He was very strict and he would scare us a lot. He has always had strong opinions about how things should be and how we should behave so we don’t like to be around him that much now that we’re adults. It made us feel like we could never stand up to his expectations, he made us feel ashamed of ourselves and we feel judged. It’s hard to talk to someone like that.
Things weren’t always bad when I was growing up and I do think that my parents were just doing the best that they could. Neither one came from stable families with great parental figures, they grew up amongst disfunction and had to learn how to not do the things that their parents did. And being a parent is really hard, especially when you have a lot of them. I think they just had an idea of how it was going to be and it just didn’t turn out that way.
What I learned from my parents is that you have to let go of the expectations you have for your kids and just let them be themselves. You have to love them for who they are and guide them to become good people. I learned that kids need affection, especially boys. They always seem to get short changed because they’re supposed to be “manly” and “tough”. My boys are the most affectionate little boys I know. I want them to know there’s nothing wrong with affection or feelings or asking for comfort.
I want my boys to trust me and to know that I love them no matter what. I don’t ever want them to feel like they can never live up to crazy expectations or that they gross me out. I always want them around and I want them to feel at ease with me.
One thing my mother taught me was to be honest. Sometimes she was brutally honest but she would always explain something so we could understand, that’s something I will do with my boys. Except in a nicer way.
Something that my father taught me was to work hard and to never stop working towards what you want in life. He always encouraged us to reach higher and higher. That is something else I plan to do for my boys.
I really do love my parents and I am thankful for the things they taught me, the good and the bad. Because now I can be a better parent to my boys and hopefully they will appreciate me and the things I did for them.
This picture was taken when I was around twelve. My parents are now divorced and both are remarried.