The longer I am a parent, the more angry I get at my own parents.
Usually, it's different -- becoming a parent makes you appreciate your own parents even more.
I get angry at my parents because I see what has gone into the caring and rearing of Fly, and I know the lengths I would go to for him.
I don't believe they did the same for me.
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My mother and dad were both on their second marriage when I came along. Then they divorced when I was three or four -- old enough to remember them fighting.
My mother had a string of boyfriends before marrying my stepfather, who turned out to be an alcoholic. My dad almost immediately married my stepmom, who was kind and nurturing while I was little but who became emotionally abusive when I turned into a teenager and young adult.
I remember my grandmother watching me a lot when I was young, and I remember going to babysitters' homes too.
But I don't
remember any good times with my mother and father together. Not a run to the ice cream shop, not a walk around the block, not reading a book in their lap. Nothing.
My parents shared custody of me. I lived with my mother and stepfather for the most part but spent weekends, summers and holidays with my dad and stepmom until I was old enough by law to choose. Then I left my mother's partying ways and moved several states away to live with my dad and stepmom.
Today, my stepfather is dead, and my father lives I-don't-know-where in the South but hasn't tried to get in touch with me in 13 years even though he knows how to reach me. (A half-brother gave him my information.) My mother and I have reconciled, but she lives far away, and there's still a part of me that doesn't trust her completely. My stepmom insists she cares, but she puts everything else before returning my calls and e-mails, often not contacting me for months at a time.
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I'm sharing this not to ask for some awful pity party, but to point out I don't really have a good role model when it comes to parenting. And I don't have a parent figure I can turn to for help or ideas when I am struggling with Fly. Reading parenting blogs really helps, because I get an idea of what it's like for other moms.
A few years ago before Fly came along, I told all this to a neighbor. I told her I really thought having a child would be wonderful, but I was afraid my experience with my parents would leave me clueless and empty of parent-love -- not something I wished on a helpless baby. My neighbor assured me that children are a blessing from God and so God would help me figure out how to care for a child and raise that child in the right way.
Her advice made sense then, and it's something I remind myself now. Some days, I even take a little pride in the idea that I am parenting in my own style and tell myself to be glad
I don't have to rely on what my parents did (because they didn't do anything) or that I don't have to ask them for advice because I am relying on God.
But some nights after a trying day with my fussy Fly, I compare myself to Fly and wonder what it would have been like to grow up in the love of parents who actually cared.
Although, if they cared, then I might not have moved away, and I wouldn't have met JP, so then there would be no Fly.
And some days I look at Fly and wonder how I am going to do this parenting thing, even with God's help. During those pressed-but-not-quite-crushed
days, it makes me angry because I know my parents took the easy way out.
And then, of course, I realize I need to forgive my parents and move on.
But I still miss their lack of love.
And that makes me want to stay in the game even more, for Fly, so he doesn't say the same thing about me when he grows up.
Almost every parent wants for their children more than what they had themselves -- and for Fly, oh, what I want for Fly is more love.
Labels: confessions, Damselfly chronicles, family, motherhood