The baggage we pass to our children …….

I have had a few chats with girls who are moms lately.

The discussion has often centers around the fact that we, as moms, bring baggage into our relationship/dealings with our children.  That baggage was often handed to us from our own mothers/parents.

Before you start looking for the “UNLIKE” button on this post – I am not trying to “pass responsibility” on to our mothers or father and say ‘woe is me for my sad life‘ I am going to make a different point, so bear with me on this as I sort of stumble to the point.

A lot of the stuff that was passed to us from our parents is what shapes, moulds and sometimes hinders us in our own lives.   

It affects how we function as adults.  For many of us, the effect is felt in an acute manner – but for others among us, there is not much of an effect. 

But — I believe firmly that there is ALWAYS an effect (great or small) – this is often felt much later in life, when you least expect it and in the strangest ways. (the monsters that lurk in the box, in the closet shall we say)

The thing is that for me – now as a mother – I have my own set of baggage that I am now handing to my children. 

One f&k up at a time.

I think it is a bit unrealistic to think that I am the perfect parent.

Sometimes it is unrealistic to think that I am even a ‘good enough’ parent.

Sometimes I am just crap at it.  But with that in mind, I wake up each day and hope today I will be a bit better.  And maybe get a bit more right than wrong.

Recently a friend’s mother (who is around 65 years old) who I have not seen in several years, asked me about my kids.  We were chatting and then she asked in a conversational how-are-you-tone:  ”Are you a good mom?”

She said is with a smile and clearly does not read my blog (bless her).  I stood there and in my usual flippant manner said: ”Well no, not particularly.  I am okay, but I make a kak load of mistakes, but I get better at it.”

To which she smiled, and then I moved the conversation on as I realized that making that statement made her feel a bit awkward, and uncertain whether to invite me in for tea.

And this is my point that I am getting to in the least succinct manner possible – I think I have the benefit of being a parent in an age where parents are more “conscious” and more “aware” than parents our parent’s generation.

I am not suggesting we are the perfect parent because we are so super aware and conscious.

I am not suggesting that we are automatically better than our parents’ generation.

But I am suggesting that we might be better because we are more ready to accept that we do not get it right, and also admit that we might not be all that good all the time.

And (most of us) keep trying to get better, once we admit that we have got it wrong.

Our parent’s generation was definitely the generation that felt they were right all the time –and g&d forbid you question them  –  then or now. 

It is just not done. 

Most friends I know who have mother-daughter issues will not think of raising any issues with their own mother. 

These women would rather sit with the angst that burns holes in their stomachs every time they see their mothers, rather than breathe a word of dissatisfaction or raise an issue from their past.

They have indicated that the part that puts them off (besides mortal fear of being disowned) is that their mother will not be receptive in any way to listening to any discussion about how they might have failed as a parent.  The conversation just does not happen because they feel their mothers would not listen nor accept any discourse on the issue.

I feel that our generation of ”being parents” – and I might be speaking only for a small group that I know – readily admit when we f&k up royally. 

We speak about it on forums, we admit it on blogs, we admit it when we comment on blogs.

I don’t want to read blogs about the perfect mom who does arts and crafts and calls her children “my little ones” I want to read about the mom who struggles like me, argues with her husband and screams at the kids, and admits that she does not get it right – thems my kind of people!

I have told my kids several times that I am sorry when I make an error, or I have disciplined them in error, or maybe I was too quick to punish or punished too harshly. 

Sometimes I do not always realize when I do something wrong.  But I have Kennith who will happily point out my errors for me.

As much as I loathe him when he does that, he often makes me take stock of a situation.  Though I am often angry at him I do respect that he sees and comments on it, to allow me to also see what I am doing wrong.  We often chat about how we might have failed as parents in certain areas and maybe how we can try to get it better the next time.

I was packing up some books this morning, and I realized that I have 5 parenting type books on my night stand (and on the floor around my night stand). 

I don’t know sh*t from shinola when it comes to kids – I have three and I have been doing this for nearly 10 years and I still think I am pretty sucky at it.

But maybe it is just me – maybe it is just me who knows nothing about parenting, and possibly most other moms have got it right.  And with that is the fact that as a “novice” at parenting I make mistakes – almost daily, and those mistakes will then be passed to my kids for them to carry as baggage into their adult life.

And that my friend, is a tad on the scary side!

Some days I am going to get this parenting thing right, and some days I am going to get it spectacularly wrong.

I hope – that I remain as “aware” as I am now. 

Aware that every action as an opposite and equal reaction.

That everything I do now (good or bad) will have a ripple effect into my children’s lives, and into their future.  Some good, some not to good, some important, and some not relevant at all.

The problem is I do not know which ripple will be the ripple that sets off the tsunami, and that is the kicker.

Anyway, that was my little thought for the day.

I am sure it is not something that has only occurred to me.  But I can now add it to the list of things that wake me at night to lie awake staring at the ceiling, fretting, worrying and wondering if screaming at Connor/Georgia/Isabelle and withholding television privileges will turn them into the next  sociopath.

We just never know!

Leave a comment


  1. Ah but we also need to remember that we pass on a whole lot of good & positive things- way more than the baggage.

  2. Hi Celeste
    I actually liked your post – full of mommy angst that it is! Think its better to be aware than to happily plod along.

    I’m a psychologist and one of my pet issues are parents who refuse to face that they may be part of the reason why their little Johnny or Mary are “playing with the nice aunty”. Grrrr.

    Maybe this helps: its about being consistent about the good and apologising for the bad.

    I do a parenting course called Good Enough Parenting – not about being a perfect parent.

    I’m sure you’re doing a great job and I’ll be following your blog with interest.

    • reluctantmom

       /  May 17, 2011

      Thanks Amanda – I really have started to use that phrase “Good Enough Parenting” a lot lately as I always felt if it was not perfect then it was unacceptable – and that was not just parenting but everything.

      And it placed huge pressue on me, and of course left me feeling unhappy a great deal of the time. So Good Enough Parenting is definitely my aim. I do love the phrase you gave me:

      Maybe this helps: its about being consistent about the good and apologising for the bad.

      Very very powerful!!

  3. Tania

     /  May 6, 2011

    ” They have indicated that the part that puts them off (besides mortal fear of being disowned) is that their mother will not be receptive in any way to listening to any discussion about how they might have failed as a parent. The conversation just does not happen because they feel their mothers would not listen nor accept any discourse on the issue.” – TRULY AS IF YOU HAVE WRITTEN THIS FOR ME – JUST OVER A YEAR AGO, JAN 2010, AGED 38, I FINALLY DECIDED TO PUT MY FOOT DOWN AND BEGIN CONFRONTING MY MOTHER – IT DID NOT GO WELL AND WE ONLY FINALLY STARTED SPEAKING TO EACH OTHER AGAIN IN NOVEMBER 2010 – THAT IS, MY MOTHER DECIDED TO FINALLY START TALKING TO ME AGAIN…

    • Tania

       /  May 6, 2011

      …I had another opportunity this past weekend to have my say again directed at my Mother… and surprisingly, even though she had done nothing wrong in her eyes and everything was again me and not her, she did take note of my outburst and the rest of my visit was very pleasant… and I am not yet disowned, i think….

      • reluctantmom

         /  May 6, 2011

        You are very brave – I do not necessarily think “our moms” did a bad job, but I do feel they could have done better.

        My issue is merely that there is this feeling that parents always did a “fantastic job” and maybe that is not always the case.

        Well done Tania, I am sure that conversation it was ot easy ……..

    • LadyWinthorpe

       /  May 8, 2011

      Tania, i know exactly what you mean hey……heres my story ..
      When i read this Part of the blog,i thought about the status of my relationship with my mom. Right now,she is not talking to me,im not talking to her. My little brother is stuck in between. he does not know what is going on between us. If she has information to relay to me ,she does it thoruhg my little brother. This is as a result of the fact that i decided i had had enough,and gathered all courage i have within me and told her how badly she has treated me all my life. I am not talking badly in lighter terms,i am talking, horrible,shocking,painful ,like i wasn’t her own flesh and blood.

      I have very often been ashamed to divulge or confess to anyone about exactly how i relate with my mother, except to a few of my closest friends and my long time boy friend, they are the only ones who know what is going on. I decided to tell my mother how i felt about how cruel she had been to me, how much i (hated) her for all the horrible, heart breaking things she had said and done to me. No child deserves to be treated like a dog by her own mother. It is not my fault that she bore me outside of marriage and that her relationship with my Father ended badly . After i unleashed all the weight my heart had been carrying all these years, i could breathe. Literally, i had never been at so much peace in my heart. At that moment,i realized that my mother was the one who has had issues all this time, and she had a lot to deal with from her past . And i have been a victim of her bitter sad past (life) . From then on i decided,not to OWN her life’s problems and i chose to forgive her,for she is a broken soul. I still long for the day i would be able to give her a hug or receive one from her, of tell her how much i love her and what she means to me ……i believe that it is never too late. We will have the mother daughter relationship i know we both long for but don’t know how to go about it. I also secretly hope for an apology from her. But i know i will never get it. She has too much pride and her heart is hardened towards me.

      • reluctantmom

         /  May 10, 2011

        I do want to comment on this, but I just want to digest this and the pain you are feeling, and let it swirl around in my head a bit before I comment. xxx

  4. Kennith

     /  May 6, 2011

    Unfortunately Celeste is not being quite truthful here, as she actually is a damn fine mom.

    She constantly puts their well being in front of her own comfort…as long as they do not get in between her and a bottle of wine.

    She guides our kids to be free thinkers with open minds, abolishing discrimination and bullying tendancies.

    She lets them be who they are, while still getting paranoid enough to ensure that all is done to assist their development.

    She throws the most kick-ass birthday parties with entertainers, snake shows and pony rides even when I am pushing for a quick and easy spur party. Trying to cater for every possible wish.

    But also tries to raise our kids with discipline, responsibility and a respect for others.

    And most importantly she manages to dote huge amount on love on our kids, even though it is something that does not feel natural to her.

    Although whatever she does may not seem to be good enough in her eyes, she is a damn fine mother and I could not have wished for better for my kids.

    • Tania

       /  May 6, 2011


    • reluctantmom

       /  May 6, 2011

      you are a good egg bunny, you are a good egg!!

    • Aaaawww, what a beautiful comment from your hubby!

      It’s better than a Mother’s Day card (if words of affirmation are your love language) 🙂

  5. I have numerous parenting books pilled very neatly on my nightstand. Every day our housekeeper dusts them off and rearranges them in a different order. They make an excellent stand for the alarm clock!

    When i commit a “parenting faux pas” I usually end up in the parenting section of Exclusive books where I will spend a rather vulgar amount of money to ease the guilt. My reasoning is that if I read this or that book, I won’t ever make a mistake as a parent ever again.

    I have also recently started buying the books and downloading them on my Kindle, but this has not had the desired effect either.

    It seems you have to actually read these fecking boring things for them to actually make a difference. Don’t think I feel that guilty yet….

  6. Ah, you see, this is why I read your blog. We admit we are wrong and we deal with it, either by reading those books (or not) or by blogging etc. I should print thiis out for my mom.

    This is also why, although a lot of the times I do show a lot of happy stuff, I also give my readers the low down on the tough stuff.

    • reluctantmom

       /  May 6, 2011

      I think that is why we blog – or that is why I blog – I would rather “out” me for my errors than have someone do it for me.

    • reluctantmom

       /  May 6, 2011

      And I think if I have the courage to admit that motherhood is not all soft lighting and skipping through the daisies, then when the next mother is struggling they can realise that is not about about them, it is just the way it is.

      I really struggled and I felt so lonely and devastated that it was only me who found this motherhood gig hard and difficult and trying, because no one was telling me they were struggling.

  7. julz

     /  May 6, 2011

    I should send this to my Mom. I couldn’t quite explain this concept to her without her taking offence.

  8. I totally agree with you. I will like this post! 🙂

  9. Monique

     /  May 6, 2011

    I’ve been following your blog for quite sometime and I simply love how you put things in perspective and never sugar coat things, they are what they are.

    Re: Your post today I feel that we are not perfect as much as everyone would like to think we are. We are allowed to make mistakes it’s normal. I’m not the perfect mom either but I know I try my hardest and I to f up royally but you know what my son is happy and he loves me no matter what, as I do him.

    Without that love we wouldn’t shout, scream or punish our kids we want only the best for them and don’t want little brats running around. All I want to say is you’re doing great as much as you might not think you are.

    • reluctantmom

       /  May 6, 2011

      Thanks Monique for commenting ….. yes I do beat myself up that I am not doing great, but I am sure it is not all as bad as I often think …..

  1. The baggage we pass to our children ……. (via The Reluctant Mom’s Blog) « LadyWinthorpe

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