October 31, 2019 at 11:33 am #320729
I’m back. Busy week but things are winding down. 🙂
I see some similarities in our 5 year old selves, for sure.
Let me tell you a little about my mom. She’s a good person but let’s just say motherhood wasn’t her strong suit. She worked hard in her job, did the grocery shopping, got us kids where we needed to go, made dinner after work each night, never hit us or was physically abusive in any way, but I can’t recall having one meaningful conversation with her my entire childhood. She was a mother on auto-pilot. No doubt there are far worse moms out there but at one point I gave up, stopped trying to connect with her, felt anger instead (and showed it), and it happened somewhere between ages 9 and 11. My dad was different. He was busy too but he’d make time. He was/is optimistic, glass-half-full. We’d have important conversations and he’d always look me straight in the eye, but it didn’t happen enough as he was working a lot too. Anyway, I think my 5 year old self craved and needed a closer relationship with my mom, but life isn’t perfect.
I believe that the longing for attention from my mom made me an overachiever and more sensitive and anxious than I otherwise would have been. That’s my unprofessional opinion.
I felt safe and comfortable in my home but I did notice that other homes operated differently. I had a couple friends who were constantly doted on by their moms, would run crying to mom for every little thing (minor skinned knee, spider in bedroom, etc.) and I can remember thinking “what’s up with that??” Then there were some other friends who had aggressive, angry parents or siblings and I didn’t like being in those homes, wanted to leave, and was always relieved to walk back through my doors, back home where things were normal to me, but far from perfect.
I never had a sincere, true connection with my mom until we were much older when I finally understood what was going on with her, and when the pretending became harder for her. My mom’s childhood was as bad as they get; it’s a wonder she was/is able to function at all. I feel nothing but love and compassion now, well and also sadness for what could have been. But back in those days that generation of parents didn’t admit weakness. They pretended everything was okay and kept themselves protected in suits of armor like yours.
But I was affected. It changed me.
There are times when I find myself on auto-pilot, not present or engaged, so I check in with myself, become aware of what’s going on with me. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of becoming what you experienced growing up, and when it happens you can’t blame yourself. It’s not your fault.
You felt “the need to be accepted…that I had to try all the time to be seen and that just me alone was not ever enough.” Those were my feelings too.
Anything you’d like to share about your mom?
So you believe your 5 year old self would be disappointed in you and I disagree. It’s my experience that kids that age don’t think that way. For them, hard feelings last about 30 seconds. Resentment, judgement, bitterness, overanalyzing haven’t set in yet. Five year olds just want everyone to smile and be happy. I think your 5 yr old self would be so happy and proud that you showed up to parent night. You ask what my 5 year old self would think of me? Same thing — happy I showed up, and proud to show me her classroom and schoolwork and introduce me to her friends, regardless of mistakes I’ve made that she knows about.
There’s no such thing as a perfect childhood. I missed out on things I really needed but I also was spared awful things that other kids got. Ironically, I believe I’m a far better person than I might have been had I had a perfect childhood. My struggles have taught me things I’d never have known without them, lead me to places I wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
There were many years when I was very disappointed in my mom and boy did I show her, and she blamed herself, which of course made things worse for both of us. She knew she was different than those doting moms. She knew something was wrong but she was deeply wounded, and the way she coped was to make sure we had those things all kids need — food, clothing, shelter — and then dove deeper into her career where she felt less of a failure. That was her way of escaping her pain.
BNovember 3, 2019 at 7:19 am #321087
just wrote an entire reply to you and lost it….grrrr- hate it when that happens!
I’ll start over.
Hope you’re ok and having a great weekend. Speak soon
NNovember 3, 2019 at 11:20 am #321125
No rush. Take your time. Enjoy your weekend. -B