Parents – how they get it right, and how they get it so very wrong …..

I have always been critical over my parents and their ability to parent.

I have written some scathing blog posts in the past.

At the time, that was how I felt.

This blog is where I put my thoughts, my ramblings and sometimes my emotional spews.

I know I can go back and delete, block or amend the many blog posts that I do not necessarily agree with anymore. Or the ones that I do not feel the same about at the moment … I could.  I prefer not to.

One of the things I like about blogging, is that it gives me the luxury to go back and read my thoughts.  To see how I felt about something.  And compare that to how I think and feel about something now.

To recapture my emotions in a slice of time.  To see my view point then.  And compare it to now.  That is a rare gift, and blogging allows that.

My parents should never have married.  If they did not have sex, that would actually have been great too.

Then there would have been no pregnancy, and  no pressure to get married.  Possibly  they would have moved past each other, and gone on to enter into relationships with people who were better suited to them both.

Maybe who weren’t so broken to begin with.

Both my parents were individuals from dysfunctional families – each having their own stuff, and history and baggage that they brought to a relationship — where love or lust just was not enough to keep it going.

It was a different time – girls left school in standard 8 and got married, and started having babies by 18 years old.  It was acceptable for a girl not to pursue an education, but to get married, and remain at home.

There was little attention paid to parenting styles, and what you passed on to your children.  Whether you were getting parenting right, or just a bit right – or horribly wrong.

Our parents were raised by parents who had come through the second world war.  There was none of this “child care” stuff – children were there, did what they were told, and did not answer back.

Children were given food and water, and told to be quiet and go outside and play.  Parenting was not the democracy that it appears to be now.

My father was a particularly bad father.  No matter how many opportunities he had to make it better, or to be a good or semi decent father, he persisted in never taking the opportunity.  Instead he overshot the mark in “how to fuck up as a father!” – again, and again.  And again.

Derek went through his life as a bitter, angry man, with a drinking problem and very little in the way of emotional intelligence.  He  was unable to reflect on his life and see that he had done this to himself.  He refused to take responsibility for the fact that he had almost single-handedly been the designer and engineer of his own demise.

The last time I saw him, he was still bitching and moaning about my aunt who attended the function following the wedding, but not the wedding.  He was foaming at the mouth, and going off his head in anger.  At this point, it had been 20 years and change since the wedding – but that is the way he was.

No sense of forgiveness, no sense of reflecting and realising that looking to the past was going to  just destroy him further.

That was just the way he was.  Everything was someone else’s doing.  Anything unfortunate that happened to him was because of someone else, and never his responsibility.

What made it all the more sad is that he was a genuinely clever man – well read, and could hold a fairly good debate.  When I was younger I had admired his intellect, and been very proud that my dad was so clever.  He sang well and played the guitar, and used to play these lovely folk ballads — that is probably the only good memory I still carry with me.

He was generally well liked and people got on with him.  He did however destroy most of his relationships so that by the time he died he had hardly a friend left in this world to attend his funeral.

My parents separated when I was about 5.

It was a long, painful divorce with custody battles, maintenance arguments and pretty much everything ugly you could ever imagine in a divorce.  It dragged on for 7 long years.

My mother was left having to raise three children with very little in the way of formal education.

She worked hard, and often had two jobs to keep food on the table, and a roof over our head.  There was not much money for anything besides the absolute necessities.  We often went without.  And lived mainly on hand-me downs, or things people gave us.

As an adult, I reflect on the time period. And what the situation must have been like for both my parents.

I do see it through a slightly different set of lenses than I did 5 years ago or even 20 years ago.

My father deserves very little in the way of forgiveness, but that being said I am not angry at him.

I am not consumed with outrage and animosity.  I stopped caring about him in about 1987.  I made a decision that year that he was my father, but there was no rule that said I had to have a relationship with him.

I chose not to.  I walked away without a glance over my shoulder, and my life was better for it.  He no longer deserved my time, or consideration.

I however remained very judgmental regarding my mother, and the decisions she made.

I think I often overlooked the fact that she was 23 years old, with 3 children, with a drunk and abusive husband.

My father continued to find ways to burden our family, even when he no longer lived there — any way to make it more difficult for us to get by, seemed to be his overall aim.

My childhood was difficult.  But this is not about the difficulties I had to face.  This is about reflecting on the the impossible obstacles my mother had to face.

I forget my mom was 23 at the time.  She had very little in the way of life experiences.  Had never been shown a stable and happy family life.  She had no family support, and very little in the way of resources – financial, emotional or otherwise.

She still managed, somehow, to feed, cloth us and ensure we went to school.

She tried her best, to be present with us.  She worked and we were often left alone, because there was no other option.  If she did not work, we did not eat.  She never missed a day at work.  She never once shirked her responsibilities and just thought “fuck it!”

I judged her quite harshly before.  Very harshly in fact.

I am 42, I am going through a divorce, I have 3 children.

The irony is not totally lost on me.

As soon as Kennith said we were getting a divorce, and my brain managed to take it in, one of the first thoughts that ran through my head was “fuck, fuckity, fuck, I am my mother ….. fuck!”

If I did not have the emotional intelligence, the maturity and most importantly the support of a caring, and mature (ex) husband, I am not sure that I would be able to survive this.

He has taken full responsibility during this process for his children.  As difficult as it has been at times, he has done his utmost to keep a balance between the fact that we are divorcing, and remaining a present and caring father to his children.

He is not just a father in title, but in deeds and actions.  Constantly.  Probably more so now.

Kennith has remained engaged with his family, and responsible for his children — if he wasn’t, there is a fairly good chance that I would have blown my brains out already.

I could and would not have coped raising three children.  I know we must tell ourselves that “God does not give us more than we can cope with” — I disagree.  Life gives us far more than many of us can deal with, some days we survive, and some days we don’t.

This year has been stressful and continues to be.

I have had many moments (several this week alone) where I have sat and wondered if this is all worth it.  If throwing in the proverbial towel is not a better idea.

I am bright.  I have financial resources.

I have family and friends who have and continue to support me – even in my crazy times.  People who have been a source of strength and wonder to me over these last 7 months.  I have several “fall back” plans so I have options.  No matter how dark the night seems, I always have options – a tiny match in the room, but a source of light none the less.

I am worlds away from where my mother was.

She was young, poor, and trapped in a situation where she had no control, no choices and very little in the way of resources.

I have all of this, and I am still finding this fekn difficult.

Imagine being 23, alone, no resources, no support, three children, and trying to keep it together, under almost impossible circumstances.  And to add to the situation, having a abusive, and financially burdensome ex-husband permanently lurking on the fringes?

I was quick to bash my mother for “not being good enough” for “not having done better” and for “making bad choices that I have suffered with” —- it is funny how over time and with a few of your own life experiences you think to yourself “holy shit balls, I would never have survived that… not in a million years.”

I went around angry for a very long time.  Very long.

If I had been my mother — I think I would be dead, because there is absolutely no way I would have had the personal strength to get through the day.

If I was my mother – I think I would have run away and left my kids somewhere.

If I was my mother – you wouldn’t be reading this blog, because  I would not have survived to write it.

I don’t have a clever closing paragraph, or a Jerry Springer deep meaningful moment to share with you here.  So I am just going to end this blog post.  Just like this.

clue

 

This post links in to – Topic for day 14: My parents ….. yes, I do realise I am just sucky at blog challenges.

 

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11 Comments

  1. Tanya Roberts

     /  July 23, 2014

    Love this post Celeste. I agree with everything Sharla said. And I’m sure Lucille is extremely proud of the woman/mother you have become. Miss you xx

    Reply
  2. Also me. The cry thing. Perspectives and all of that.

    Reply
  3. Sharla

     /  July 21, 2014

    Celeste, I admire your honesty, your courage and on some level I can fully empathise with you and certainly agree ” Life gives us far more than many of us can deal with, some days we survive, and some days we don’t.” As I am sure you know, I am expecting our miracle baby in December and can, in all honesty say that your blogs, intellect and experiences have helped me envision what motherhood & parenting is all about. Thank you for sharing your life, your pain and your joys the way you do. Connor, Georgia & Isabelle are blessed with a brave & dynamic Mom.

    Reply
    • Sharla — thank you for the message.

      I am so thrilled beyond thrilled that you and your husband will be welcoming a baby into your lives soon. Mazeltov!!!

      Reply
  4. As always, beautifully written. There’s nothing more beautiful than a positive shift in thought. p.s it makes me happy to hear this about Kennith. pps maybe you’re tougher than you think?

    Reply
  5. I loved the honesty of this post. I think is so easy to judge a situation (I know I have!) without having the life experiences to understand it. I also have witnessed firsthand how alcoholism and verbal abuse can completely destroy a family. I think that you are doing an amazing job Celeste and, even though I do not know you personally, I look forward to reading your posts because I feel that no matter what life throws your way you are putting your kids first and keeping your sense of humour intact…which is an incredible thing 🙂

    Reply
  6. I loved this post, so honest.
    As I get older I understand my parents more than I did before, but I also tend to look at things they did and go…..huh?!?!
    At the moment I am of the opinion that we will ALL make mistakes as parents. We just try to be the best we can be right now.

    Reply
  7. Alexandra

     /  July 18, 2014

    I had a very normal middle class upbringing, nothing to complain about except I did not get along with my mother at all. In fact I hardly spoke to her at all during high school. I used to see how many days I could go without actually speaking to her. When my daughter was born, I suddenly had a much greater understanding of the very complex relationship between a mother and a daughter. She is now one of my closest friends and allies.

    Reply
  8. Graceful.

    Reply
  9. And with age come empathy. Good luck!

    Reply
  10. alicedag

     /  July 18, 2014

    This made me cry

    Reply

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