Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Casualties of war...

Yesterday Anna told us about some other girls in her class who are mean to her. My first instinct was to ask what she had done to these kids to make them dislike her.

Isn't that awful? I didn't voice that, I quickly realized that that was my mother's voice in my head, and it was my childhood rearing it's ugly head.

I believe there are no coincidences. I was thinking while I was putting away dishes ( which is sometimes when I do my best thinking unfortunately), and I wondered to myself if I had handled the situation with Anna , well- correctly?

Shortly after worrying and wondering, I read a post that Swampwitch had written about the The Velcro Technique of Learning. In her post, she talked about a student who "had used the Velcro Technique of Learning by applying old knowledge to a new situation."

As a parent, I often feel as if I am drifting alone on an endless sea, with only a few ships here or there, but far enough away to where I can just make them out. I have only glimpses and snippets of good parenting as examples, mostly because of my aunt. I watched shows as a kid and wondered if that was what normal life was like. Were the Brady's a typical family? Happy Days seems to cheesy to me now, but I loved that show. I wanted to be Joni. I feel like I am alone, I have nothing to go by, and that I am making it up as I go along. Along with my struggle with low self esteem (that was a gift from my mother), I constantly doubt myself as to whether I am doing the right thing. For the most part, I have only my wish to do the exact opposite as my mother guiding me.

You would think that being the case, I would be a perfect parent. Unfortunately that is not the case.

Recently, My very sweet and supportive Aunt had emailed me after reading my post about childhood pictures, and bad memories attached to them. She told me to remember the good times, and to also remember that despite my upbringing... I am at heart a good person. The pictures mean little if anything, that I have to focus on the good- like my step-dad.

She also went on to say that she too has been an imperfect parent, mostly in thought. She worked hard to break the cycle of dysfunction and abuse, and though sometimes she wanted to beat the crud out of her kids... she didn't. I look at the difference between my mother and my aunt and I marvel, it amazes me.

I had a heart to heart with Anna, again, on the topic of mean kids. I explained that she shouldn't instigate because it makes her as bad as they are. I also told her that she has a right to stand up for herself if they are being mean to her, that she didn't have to allow them to treat her badly. I told her that as long as she continued to let them make her feel bad, they would keep doing it. I explained that she deserves better, that she was worth having friends who loved her for who she is. I told her that the next time one of those homegrown brats said something hurtful like she wasn't invited to their party, to let them know that she didn't care whether they liked her or not, she has friends of her own... and that their bullying tactics bored her and to walk away... All the while hugging her tightly and reassuring her.

As I read Swampwitch's post, I realized that I have been struggling with applying old knowledge to new situations (not that that is a bad thing, but in my case it is)... but I have learned to apply new knowledge to old situations. I am relying on what little good for examples that I have. At least I have that.

Before I read Swampy's post though, the phrase "casualties of war" popped into my head. In a way, I am a casualty of war. I could let that define me, and sometimes, just sometimes I have a moment where I get to feeling sorry for myself... like the other day.

My mother is a casualty of war herself. Her childhood was horrible, barely an existence. I see now that because of her war experiences, instead of learning from history, she chose to let the war continue. Because of her own personal war, I too became a casualty.

On those days when I feel like staying in bed and pulling the covers over my head, I remember what it felt like when I was a little girl. I remember those days when my mother was there in body but not mind... and those days are only slightly better than the days she abused me.

I refuse to allow that for my children. Though I wonder to myself what aspects of war I have allowed my children to witness... I am trying really hard. I can't change the past. All I can do is pick myself up and move forward, love my children and apologize to them whole heartedly for the wrongs and war injuries I have caused them. I am making it up as I go along, but I have to believe that by struggling against my inbred instincts to automatically assume that my daughter is to blame for every little thing (like my mother did every day of my childhood life)... That I am doing something right. I choose to see the good in her. I choose to tell her she has worth and value in this world. And I choose to tell her that she deserves so much more. :O)


local girl said...

At least you recognize the problem and are willing to make your daughters' lives better for it. Good going!

Anonymous said...

I'm so proud of you, you get it. Raising kids is a the hardest job in the world.
Again, I'm so proud of you.
Anti Yvonne

tiggerprr said...

I see so much of me in this post. I think, because no parent is perfect, that to an extent this applies to everyone. Even moreso people like us who had a truly effed-up childhood. It's good that instead of furthering the chain of bad parenting/bad choices you're doing what you can to stop it and give your children the love they so definitely deserve. I know the path is not always easily traveled.

Janie Hickok Siess, Esq. said...

A very moving post. Thanks for including it in the Carnival of Family Life which will be posted later today. We have lots of great submissions, so please come by and read the others.

Holly said...

Are our girls in sync? Friday, my daughter came to me with a dilema of not knowing if one of our neighbor girls is a good person. I asked her why and she informed me of the "low down" she'd just gotten from a friend about all the mean things she's been saying about her. I felt so bad seeing how big a deal this has become and how much it really hurt. You want to just cradle them forever and protect them from everything but you simply can't. Great job on recognizing the tough stuff mom!

Holly's Corner
Here via the Carnival of Family Life. ;o)
(happy accident that I hadn't gotten back to posting on this one eh? - *laugh*)

Lisa said...

Being able to recognize a problem and develop a solution is one of best things parents can do to not repeat the past.

Here via the carnival of family life.