Recently my son looked at me and said: “mummy you do not cry because you are an adult”.
Children tend to view their parents as only their parents, not as individuals with feelings, wants, needs and desires. I too looked at my mother in the same way as a child. I honestly believed my mother was indestructible, that she was able to overcome all things. Though she gave birth to me at the age of 20 I looked to her to have my needs met. It did not occur to me that she was overwhelmed at having to be head of the home and make key decisions alone. I thought my mother had the answer to everything. How wrong I was!
My mother was a young mother of two children trying to balance home life, work life, her emotions and needs. Behind my mother’s smile and laughter, her pain, fatigue and loneliness were hidden from us. Perhaps she wept at night because I really do not recall seeing her tears as a young child. Though we had financial struggles we were happy at home. We ate well, had clothes on our back and had treats here and there.
As I moved into my teenage years, my eyes opened and I saw that my mother was indeed human. She hurt, felt tired, had weaknesses and did not value her worth half as much as she should have.
The one of many great attributes my mother has is you know where you stand with her. She is direct which clearly rubbed off on me. Her yes means yes and her no means no. She was not the mother who smacked me then cuddled me a few minutes afterwards. She was not the mother who said no then changed her mind. She was consistent and put boundaries in place which in turn made me feel safe.
When I became an adult my mother revealed a number of things to me;
1. When she smacked us she so wanted to cuddle us afterwards but knew it would bring confusion and blur lines.
2. The hardest part of child rearing was making decisions alone; having no-one to share the challenges with. Knowing she had to live with the decisions she made which may not always have been the best.
3 When I had to walk my younger sister a mile to school from the age of 8, it deeply troubled her but she chose not to show me her anxiety and instead cried in private.
It was then that I saw my mother in a different light and realised she was not handed a book on how to raise children – nobody is.
Accepting our parents are human who make errors just as much as the next person, let us not have such high expectations of them. Let us choose not to hold them account to decisions they made in the past based on the knowledge they had at that time. The majority of the time our parents have our best interests at heart. Perhaps they do not show their love in a conventional way, perhaps they appear harsh, judgemental and controlling at times but when push comes to shove they would give their life for you.
How do/did you view your parents?
How has this impacted on your relationship with them?