disclaimer or something

A mummy-hand holding, (former) biker gang affiliating, hippie influenced semi crunchy granola mom's ramblings and reminisings on an off-kilter life

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

An awakening

I recently have gone through some sort of awakening, except its not some pretty sunrise type but more a "red sky in morning, sailors take warning" kind of awakening.

I have started to reflect back on my childhood, now that I'm a mother. Okay, I'm a little late to the party as I've been a mother for three years, but I'm just catching on.

There's always been something I couldn't put my finger on, that I barely detected as a child and that felt like bottled up rage as I entered motherhood three years ago. I couldn't label, categorize, or identify this uneasy pit in my stomach feeling, but come three years later- today- I can no longer ignore it.

I grew up with  "non-traditional" parents, who themselves are beginning an awakening to the fact they were exactly that- non-traditional.

I grew up in every semblance a normal girl in a normal family. I mean, my mom had her MA degree. We owned our home and cars, and we went to art museums and on yearly vacations. We'd been on two Caribbean cruises, I knew a smattering of French, and my family watched only PBS and CNN. Our spare time was filled with books, art, rock-hounding, and re-creations (as in Renaissance Fairs, Pioneer re-enactments, etc). I went to college. I had food on the table, a roof over my head, and clothing on my back.

Normal, right?

But under the seams, nearly undetectable even to me, were some worn, jagged, off-kilter threads.

My parents both came from families you don't hear about in Leave it to Beaver. Alcoholism, gangs, divorces, domestic violence, extreme poverty, homelessness, mental illness. So I must credit them for really, truly, doing their best in raising me. They went above and beyond.

But is that ever enough?

I, too, ended up experiencing the generational cycle of dysfunctional families. My dad didn't work, and never attended a school awards assembly, father-daughter dance, or other "normal" thing. Friends had to call to announce they were coming over, and couldn't knock on the door, so I had to go greet them a home away and bring them to the door. Someone once OD'ed in our yard during a party, I thought it was cool to help my dad explode gunpowder in the yard, in an attempt to show my friends how cool he and I were, which needless to say, drove me into the friendless zone... a zone my dad enjoyed, being an "Aspie".

The patterns of their childhood came to haunt them, and my parents separated for a while. My mom said she was in "survival mode" and didn't really take care of me. Before that, my dad admits he was too 'loaded" to really "be there" .My mom said it hit me pretty hard. I even ended up peeing myself. Apparently, I was a mess.

I wonder how these things, in my formative yet forgotten years, affect me now. I'm slowly trying to unravel this mystery.

I look at my own kids, wondering where I'm going wrong. But I feel so guilty, because I'm just beginning to realize how my own childhood had some damaging "wrongs", so I can't yet identify good from bad, right from wrong. I refuse to continue generational things handed to me, but I'm not even sure what baggage I might be carrying.

I don't want to damage my children.

I want to heal, forgive, and love, and pass on those skills to my children - without the baggage I am being crushed by.

I can do it. Somehow. Right?


  1. Yes, you CAN do it. They say we are products of our environment, but I think you can overcome that. Your father reminds me of my father. He never worked either, as I was growing up. He was "disabled." We could never have any friends sleep over or play at our house. He was overly strict to the point of being abusive. And he was an alcoholic. You can put your baggage aside and not let it interfere with the raising of your children. We have three grown children who are amazing adults and I didn't let anything that I experienced growing up affect them - they are fine, and your kids will be fine, too. You just have to love them and have a little faith. Great entry!

  2. Have you read John Robison's Look Me In The Eye? It's an awesome glimpse into the mind of an adult with Asperger's still finding his place in the world. We have similar issues at our house - my husband and daughter are both Aspergians, my son probably is (mixed findings, half the medical world thinks yes, the other half only sees ADHD), and if I'm off the spectrum, it isn't by much. My husband is having to come to terms with a Beaver Cleaver childhood that sheltered him from the realities of kids showing up without warning, plans changing unexpectedly, and life that moves at the pace of a freeway. He's an introvert who forces himself to do extroverted things on my behalf. And he's using that knowledge to help our daughter build a world where she doesn't have to struggle to assimilate as an adult, where she can be herself without sacrificing love and friendship. I understand your Mom's survival mode so strongly, though, and I understand completely why you don't want to scar your kids. Keep that desire in mind, but also give yourself leeway to be human and for things to go wrong. It's cool if you mess up from time to time. We all do.

  3. I think as long as we are thinking about this, and talking about it, we are already one step ahead of the game. We all want to do the best we can for our children, yet we know perfection is impossible, and truthfully, not desirable. I know they will forgive us someday for our occasional gear shifts into survival mode.

  4. I agree. Recognizing it is totally the first step. Being aware of your actions and loving unconditionally. That's all you need. You will be great for them and they for you. Also remember we are all human so mistakes happen, sometimes!

  5. Adding my agreement with Mamarific and Jen. And it's not always a solely forward march. Sometimes we slip backwards for a bit…and then continue on. Good luck with the journey!

  6. My agreement with Jen and Mamarific too. You've realized what not to do, and that is huge. You know what mistakes not to make.
    Awareness is a powerful thing.

  7. My mother told me that it takes our entire adult lives to get over our childhood. I'm not sure if she says that because it is a reality or if she is apologizing. Either way, it's true. I KNOW I was not the perfect parent and some of this (most) was passed down to me from my parents. But I do believe that with each generation, we get better at it. You are questioning your own parenting skills. This alone means that you want to be a better parent and that will make you one. Best of luck to you!

  8. You'll make your own mistakes, but at least you have some "do not enter" signposts. You don't have to be perfect, you just have to be trying not to repeat other's mistakes!

  9. Thanks, everyone. Sometimes I need to remember that identifying the issues I faced, and wanting to do better,is prettydamned good.

  10. All any of us can ever do is our best. Wanting to do better is a great starting place. I bet you'll raise great kids!