Thursday, January 17, 2008

More love

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.

- - - - -

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.

- - - - -

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.

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Blogger Cathy, Amy and Kristina said...

Fly is blessed -- so very, very blessed -- to have you.

12:58 AM  
Blogger Bloggy Mama said...

What an incredible post. Fly is lucky to have you as a Mom. God had all these things for you in His plan... your move, JP, Fly! What a blessing you are to them and they are to you!

1:15 AM  
Blogger Kris said...

Fly is a lucky little man. He will never, ever, not for one second of his life, be without love, thanks to you.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

WOW! I think you and I are long-lost sisters, because my own experience is eerily similar. Almost exact (only it is my mother who was the alcoholic - recovering now).

8:09 AM  
Blogger Felicia said...

Sounds like you've learned from your parent's mistakes and your child is benefiting :)

8:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can totally relate. Mom left me, took off with two other kids, with an alcoholic Dad that could not handle the pressures of single dad life so dropped me off at my grandparents house. My grandma was old school and I received many more spankings than I would like to remember.

I recall panicing once I was pregnant. What the heck did I know about being a mom? My dear sweet husband reassured me that I would do alright ... He was right.

You are an amazing mom that has a lifetime of what not to do's to help you through :)

8:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a mark of a good parent is realizing where their own parents went right or wrong and caring enough to make sure that you do things right. Fly is a lucky boy.

9:42 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Ok, that made me cry! lucky Fly is to have parents who love and care so much!! I do think it is great though how sometimes people who grow up in not-so-great or broken and abusive homes turn out TOTALLY the opposite and wanting to do a million times better than their own parents did - my husband is like you too...he turned out great even though he grew up in a rough home! Way to go...I know you will be a great mommy - and ARE a great mommy!

10:10 AM  
Blogger Don Mills Diva said...

Wow - what a touching post. You are giving Fly all the love he needs, you must know that. I truly, truly admire how you've managed to be such a loveing mother when that same love was withheld from you - Bless you.

10:27 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

You know, it is the sum of our experiences that make us who we are. It is those bad memories that are helping you to be a great parent.

Even those of us with good role models screw up a lot.

10:41 AM  
Blogger SlushTurtle said...

Fly is so blessed to have you for a mommy!

1:29 PM  
Blogger Maria said...

I feel you. I don't want to parent like my parents did (or didn't...really). From reading your blog, I'd say you are doing an excellent job, and I am sure one day, Fly will grow up and look back...and realize that he had a wonderful and loving childhood. :)

1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very touching. I think my mom felt very similar to how you do only she at least had my father's parents as an example. Your acknowledgment of what you didn't have and what you hope to give is huge! You're going to do the best you can to give Fly a great start in life and love him without condition. It will be the best gift you can give him!

2:44 PM  
Blogger Lissete said...

I was very lucky with both my parents. My husband not so much. His dad was great but passed away when my dh was a teen. His mom put men above everything. He is a FANTASTIC dad! Either you learn from the good or you learn ( what's not right) from the bad. Fly has a great mommy.

By the way, the top picture (you?) is Fly with curls!

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I used to be pissed off at my parents when I was younger now it's the opposite, now that i have a kid I am more tolerant. They still annoy me but..I'm not as mean spirited about them as I used to be.

4:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so sorry your parents did not give you the gift of a stable home and loving relationships. Fly is so blessed to have you! Also, you are establishing a new pattern. Fly will be able to use your example to be a good parent as well!

4:33 PM  
Blogger groovyoldlady said...

My dad left us when I was 8. I blocked out the pain until I had the first two kiddos of my own and got to witness my husband's amazing Fatherliness. Then I spent almost 3 years grieving because I had never known a father's love. It broke out painfully on Father's Day (that was the worst) and sometimes when I wistfully watched him playing with them or cuddling them or teaching them.

Those two are all grown up and the pain is gone. I find my peace in knowing that the "curse" of "bad" parenting was broken by Mulletman and I. We may have made mistakes (I KNOW we did!) but we were there - for each other AND for them, together.

6:34 PM  
Blogger jodifur said...

You should be very proud of yourself for over coming your up bringing and being such an amazing parent.

Every child deserves a wonderful childhood. I'm sorry it didn't happen for you

10:23 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

To think that you were able to break free of the bad habits of your parents and make a good home for Fly just makes me admire you all the more. It's easy to be a good parent when you've had a good role model, but you're a pioneer of sorts--blazing your own way and you deserve all that much more credit. I admire that you don't let the negatives of your own childhood stop you from doing better--my mom is like that. She was raised with alcoholics and not a lot of love but rose above it and I stand in awe.

1:10 AM  
Blogger carrie said...

I totally get where you're coming from. My husband and I are in the same boat: breaking cycles with our kids that were set up in our own childhoods. It's really hard sometimes!

Hang in there! You're doing great. And I can know that because you obviously care so much.

3:14 AM  
Blogger Janet said...

What a poignant and raw post.

The fact that you're giving this brain time means you're a mindful and involved parent. Our past influences us, but doesn't define who we are. Your relationship with Fly is proof of that statement.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Praise to God for the wisdom our parents impart on us NOT by their example (for mine, too, weren't exactly winning any parenting awards!) but by showing us exactly what we DON'T want to be as parents!

1:51 PM  
Blogger Dayngr said...

It is amazing the things that we go through and the inner struggles we deal with as mothers.

I am going through the opposite right now. My parents were so great that I spend most of my time feeling like shit if I am not living up to my own unrealistic expectations. Every holiday has to be perfect, every memory golden etc. I beat myself up daily over the fact that my kids aren't going to have the same experiences that I did growing up. I want their lives to be filled with happiness and joy.

I know I'm doing right by my children, just like you are by your little one but that doesn't stop us from analyzing does it?

I'll leave you with this and hope it helps in some small way - when you know better you can do better. You know better and because of it you are doing better for your baby than was done for you. That doesn't make the past any easier but it is never too late to have a happy childhood. You can be a child again through your child's eyes and enjoy every minute of it because you are a wonderful, loving mom.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Because you are aware of what you do you are an amazing mother and Fly is so lucky to have you!

5:15 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Way to go, Mom. Fly is very lucky to have you as a mom.

6:36 PM  
Blogger Stephanie said...

Just realizing all of this makes you a better mom. Kudos to you for consciously choosing a different path!

7:04 PM  
Blogger Nadine said...

This has been the best post I've read here. Very moving and touching. Fly is blessed that you were able to break the cycle and start a fresh. I pray that God would honor your desire for Fly and I know that one day he looks back and he will say, "Boy, I hope I can be as good a parent as my mom. Everything I've learned about loving my child came from her."

Thank you for sharing your heart.

7:37 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

((hugs)) to you... just your awareness of your child and your own childhood gives you a leg up in the parenting arena... Fly will grow up full of love and pride.

8:19 PM  
Blogger ♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

Beautiful post Ma!

God has plans for us all - even FLY - he hand picked FLY for you...and he even hand picked your parents. Why? Who knows but God himself...maybe so FLY would be well cared for and LOVED the way he SHOULD be and IS now....we have to go through all we do to get to where we are today and where we will be in the future.

YOU are FLY's angel. :o)

This posting was sad, but filled with POSITIVE FAITH - I applaud you!

From one Mommy to another (who loves her son more than anyone in the entire world) BRAVO - you are awesome!

Amy xoxxoox

11:52 PM  
Blogger ♥♥♥ A- Licious ♥♥♥ said...

ps and ALWAYS put your TRUST in GOD.

God is Good!
Let GO and Let GOD!

xoxoxox Blessings xoxoxoxo

11:54 PM  
Blogger Stephanie Wilson she/her @babysteph said...

I think you're already there- you know what's good and what you want for your child. You love him and you will make sure he knows it. I am so sorry you had to grow up in that way. My dad had no role model- his dad died when he was a baby and my uncle & aunt really raised my dad- often abusively. But my Dad turned out to be the most wonderful father- I don't know how he did it considering he'd never had a father to learn from.

Ernest Hemingway has said we "are stronger at the broken places" and sometimes I think that can be true.


8:53 AM  
Blogger Chair said...

Heya, I'm a new reader -(gotta love the serendipitous finding of great new blogs!

My dad was never around when I was a kid, then, when I was 11, he moved in with his girlfriend. As much as it seems sort of dramatic and sad in a general context, my life didn't change at all, if anything it got better because there were no more fights between my parents!

Over the years I've become pretty much "meh" about him, after being bitter, angry, curious and trying to forge a bond. Again, sort of sad but: whatever.

When I hear stories of others' childhoods with various parental situations, I realize how incredibly fortunate I was (and AM) to have had such a strong, caring mother. I feel like I didn't miss out on a single thing as a kid -thanks entirely to her efforts, her guidance, her love. We were pretty poor then, mom tried to work but had to take care of us, dad was essentially dead-beat and we survived on social assistance most of the time yet, again, I don't feel like I lacked anything.

I guess my point (I'm way to garrulous, I know!) is that I've found it's better to have NO parent than a BAD parent. Of course, when you have two bad parents that changes.

I'm so happy to hear you've been able to rationally and maturely come to your own conclusions about what makes a good parent, I have no doubt that Fly will feel blessed to have you as his mother.

2:32 PM  
Blogger LBA said...


I grew up with violence and low self-confidence ( having your father tell you you're 'fat and ugly like your mother' does woooooonnnnnnderrrrs for the impressionable teenage physche !! )

I also had to harden myself and make my own decisions, bring myself up, receive no support, and eventually, make my own independent way.

It's made me a harder person than I would like, but i'm so glad my son is not having to grow up like I did.

He's better off for sure !

And his dad is *wonderful*.
I thank God my life has turned out so well - it could have all ended so terribly, terribly badly...

But I do miss the happy innocence of people that haven't been through hell. I look at them wistfully, wishing I was as ignorant also.

Take care


6:55 PM  
Blogger OhTheJoys said...

Mabye it's everything you missed that makes you know just what to give.

xo, you.


9:37 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

I had a bit of a tumultuous family situation growing up too. My parents divorced when I was 2. My dad remarried once, and my mom remarried 3 times. But what I always had, and what Fly has, is his mother's unconditional love.

I am so sorry your parents weren't truly present in your childhood, but I think their absence is, in part, the reason why you're such an incredible mother. How lucky Fly is to have you.

10:49 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Our past shapes us and fortunately yours helped you see what kind of parent you would NEVER want to be. For whatever reason that was how it had to play out in your life. I am sorry to hear it, but you are stronger for it and I would be willing to bet your son will never have to suffer as you have. Congratulations on being a wonderful person and mother despite your rocky childhood!

10:55 PM  
Blogger Bon said...

i'm late to this but deeply moved, and recognize some of that anger in myself.

my parents split when i was a baby...or rather my father split. my mum, for all her limitations, did well by me and certainly loved me. my father? never enough. and i thought i'd long made peace with that, but last year, especially when O was around the age i had been when my dad walked, did it hurt all over again.

Fly is blessed to have you, and the abundance of your love. and you will do well by him, because you care enough to try.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Lady M said...

Fly is basking in your love. :)

3:31 AM  
Blogger Bloggy Mama said...

TJMaxx I've already commented on this post but it was one of my favourites, so I wanted to comment. Love you, girl!

12:30 AM  
Blogger Lovingmyamazinglife said...

Cute pictures.I wonder if they bought those clothes at TJMAXX.Hmmmm

9:13 PM  
Blogger ohAmanda said...

What a beautiful transparent post (and I'm sorry I'm so dreadfully behind on your blog...).

My mom had a weird-o family, too. And she's always told me it was healing for her to have kids not just b/c it was now "her turn" to do it "right" but b/c God used her own family to help heal the wounds caused by her first family.

I hope that made sense. I say it to say that I'm praying God will use Fly to heal the wounds in your heart. And on top of that, look what He's already doing in Fly--protecting him from those same wounds!


1:01 PM  
Blogger Suburban Correspondent said...

don't worry - many of us are "winging it." I do wish I had lots of fond childhood memories to lend depth to my relationship with my kids, but the love I have for my kids seems to be enough. And I've found their love to be so healing for the little girl inside me!

7:22 AM  

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