Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Avoiding the Mistakes of our Parents

We repeat it like a mantra; "I do not want to be like my Mother". And yet, try as we might, we often become just like her. For some, it's a simple matter of being a little anal about the cleanliness of our home. For others, it's much more serious, like avoiding alcoholism only to find we're addicted to pain killers.

I've been thinking about my family, my childhood's family, a lot lately. I woke up weighed down by thoughts of them on Sunday. Then at Church on Sunday, a lady gave a lesson to us women about families and part of her lesson involved having women from amongst the class randomly tell about their family growing up. We all had to be prepared in case she called upon us. At first I wanted her to pick me - I knew I'd have a unique perspective then most of the other women. But after the seventh woman shared her story I was crossing my fingers that I would not be called upon. Each woman shared a different story with a common thread: They had been loved.

My story, I'm sure, no matter how I sugar-coated it, would have been depressing, to say the least. I thought of coming on here and going down a list of the woes of my childhood, but suffice it to say that, by the time I was 19, when my Mom passed away from cancer, I had: been molested by a family member, experienced long-term sexual abuse at the hand of a man my Mom allowed to live with us, been raped, battered, and embarked on the unhappy road of self-inflicted abuse, and those are just the highlights. I honestly do not know how it is I am here, a relatively sane, happy and healthy person, given the path I spent most of my childhood on.

I love my Mom with a passion, though I can't figure out exactly why. My sister and I compare notes on this from time to time, though it depresses us immensely so we've come to avoid it. We were desperate for her love, yet we can barely name less than a handful of qualities or moments in which we felt our love was reciprocated, or even received, for that matter. My Mom outright abused my sister, verbally and otherwise. To me, she was probably just apathetic. But I LOVED her. Probably a sick kind of love.

As for me, I'm sure avoiding the mistakes of my own Mom figures largely into my own need to be a SAHM. I need for my children to know I am here, I am listening, I am theirs. Probably precisely because my Mom was not there for me, she was not listening and I always knew she did not belong to me. My children will probably never cherish me with that adoring sort of love that only the sick can engender. They will probably become apathetic to me, because I am TOO accessible.

Then they will avoid my mistakes and make their own, once they are parents. But I hope their mistakes are their own and not mine, not my Mom's. A new frontier for them to forge.