Sunday, April 3, 2016

Broken people parenting

One of the things about being a parent who didn't necessarily have the best examples to work from is that it makes you constantly worry about repeating the bad example you had.  It's not passive.  It's never passive.  It's an active concern that you have that nags at you after every decision you make, and every reaction you have.  It is that voice in the back of your head that can't ever seem to be silenced.  Then you read articles, which are supposed to be informative, but just make you go into a panic.  Things about how children react when their mothers aren't loving enough, and how it damages them for life.  Those things make you think that every time your toddler clings to your legs while you're trying to cook dinner and stares up at you with huge pleading eyes saying "Up!  Please!  Please!" your'e going to leave her scarred for life by telling her no, that you've got something else you need to do.

I don't think most people understand that kind of constant concern.  I don't expect them to, honestly.  I think that most people understand average mom worries where you think "Am I doing the right thing?" but it's very different from constantly questioning "Am I going to leave her messed up like me?".  It's hard.  It's hard to be wholly unable to silence that voice.  It's hard to feel like no matter how well you do, the voice will never really be satisfied.

I think that's what makes it hard to accept if someone makes an offhanded comment about something you're doing as a parent.  Whether it be the person at Target who gives you an odd look when your kid is angry crying because you strapped her into the front of the cart because she was insisting on standing up in the seat and your reaction to her crying is "Oh yes, I've ruined your life and now it's over".  Or if your kid melts down while your friends are over and someone makes a comment about it and you find yourself worried that you're doing something wrong because your kid melted down to begin with.  Or if someone implies that you're doing something at a level less than you should be.  Or if someone questions how you're handling anything.  That just reinforces the voice, and it makes you think that you're doing everything wrong, or that you're handling something differently than you should be.  It's enough to leave a person ugly crying in the middle of the afternoon.

This is a bit rambling, possibly because I've had a large glass of wine so I could pretend I don't care about people saying things or giving me those looks.  But, I do.  Those things hurt.  Maybe if the voice wasn't there, they wouldn't, but they do.  So, yeah.


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