Monday, April 12, 2010
Mother's Child; Children's Mother...
I am a wounded person who was raised by wounded people. They did what they did. I don't always do my best, and neither did they. I've given into the same rage they inflicted on me, which was inflicted on them. I know what it feels like, from both sides.
They didn't always restrained that rage, and neither did I. I suffered less violence and humiliation than they did; my children have suffered less than I have.
But less damage still isn't no damage. And there is no doubt I have damaged my children, and maybe, in some ways I still am. Rationalizing the damage by saying that "my parents turned out all right, and so did I, and so will my kids" doesn't cut it for me anymore.
Jeremiah and Annalise were born as unique human beings in this world - as miraculous as every brand new child. My goal now is to allow them to keep as much of that selfness as possible, so that they can be whole, unwounded adults. I want so, so much more for them than to "turn out all right"!
I've moved beyond knee-jerk reactivity to what my parents did in my raising. They were just people, like a wise friend said, "who knew as much and as little as me". I can keep the good parts - work ethic, passion, love, laughter, learning, questioning, debating, the freedom of undirected time, passions for animals, music, and reading. And I can let go of what doesn't suit the priorities *I* have, as a parent - the control, the anger, the hitting, the shaming, the pitting always of one against the other that is still a part of the dynamic, the inflexible and intolerant opinions, the prejudice...
I know my parents are perplexed, apprehensive, and somewhat offended by the choices we're making. I wish it were otherwise, but the peace, passion, joy, and harmony of our life together is what really matters. My children's faces, so often aglow in the way only happy souls can be, are all the proof I need. I get the added bonus of a marriage that is richer and more sustaining than I ever thought possible - and it's FUN here, now, rather than the never-quite-dormant frictions and furies of my own childhood. The storms of emotion are less severe, and blow past quickly. Those in the throes aren't punished or blamed, but loved and supported as best the rest of us are able...
My parents raised me the way they chose to. They did some good, and some damage. I'm not angry. But I let go of what didn't fit with the life I want to create for our family.
And I don't need their approval to take my turn, and raise my own children. The approval I need is from the people who share my home and my life, and from myself. So long as we are thriving, and I am still striving to improve my partnership with them, all is well.
I've become much more my children's mother than my mother's child.