Hope for change. #reverb11

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My Children Will Do it DifferentlyIf you could choose one thing that your children will do or experience in a different way than you have, what would it be and why?

This question stumped me for a while. I wanted to answer it with honesty, but I had to think about how I really felt. I’m just coming to terms with the fact that I may, indeed, want children. For a long while I was very against it. I have thanked whatever deity is out there for my miscarriage, regardless of the pain and suffering I went through.

To have children would mean I am responsible for another life. I’m barely capable of handling the responsibility of my own.

Thinking back on my childhood is difficult. It was not easy.

With my mom diagnosed with cancer when I was 7, helping her through the illness, and feeling a sense of obligation to take over cooking, cleaning and general mothering, I grew up fast. She passed away when I was 13.  My parents never got along well. I like to say that I’ve never seen any two people love each other so much and not be able to get along. They separated a few times, the last time solidly when I was around 10. I remember running into the street as my dad drove away. He got his own apartment and we had a room there. He moved back in when my mom’s cancer was deemed terminal for the last time. After my mom died, it was life with my dad. My brother and I didnt have much trust in this man who had left us, abused us, scared us… But he loved us, for sure. He showed us both sides.

When I was 14, we moved out of state, away from everything familiar. We lived with my dad’s girlfriend for 3 months, then when they broke up, we moved around until my dad bought a house. My brother and I enrolled in the smallest highschool we had ever seen. This is entering the time of  The Craziness. Long story very, very short, I was grounded for half of my sophomore year through the end of my senior year. To get to go out, I would do everything possible around the house and essentially beg. People talk about being bullied in school. To be honest, nothing that was ever said to me or about me at school was worse than what my dad and his girlfriend said to me. The abuse I got was verbal. My brother’s was physical.

I am amazed that either of us are able to talk to our father, much less have the relationships we have with him. I love my dad, and I’ve mostly forgiven him. I can’t forget it though. It reminds me that I am strong enough to make it through most anything.

But, I never want to be that sort of parent. I want my child to know that our home is one of love, solace and safety. I don’t want my children to feel as unloved as I did. I don’t want my child to fear me. The one thing that I would have my children experience that I didn’t is a solid, stable life. I ache for them to have hope for hope’s sake and not because they are running from terror and pretending that things will get better is the only way they can stay safe, sane and survive.

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7 responses »

  1. Wow. To lose your mother at such a young age…my stepdad committed suicide when I was 11, so I know what it is to have life completely turn upside down; but, I couldn’t imagine losing my mother.

    As a parent, one of the things I think about is what would happen to my kids if I were gone. I hate to think what their lives would have been like, and that’s even with their dad – my husband.

    When you lose a parent at such a young age, a part of you stops growing. I’m so sorry for the loss of your mama. I am sure that she would be proud to see that you persevere.

  2. I’m having trouble dislodging the lump in my throat. I can’t imagine life without either of my parents and I am hardly a child; so for you to have lived through such a nightmare and come out on the other side with the relationship with your father still in tact is a testament to your forgiveness.

    If you do pursue the idea of having children in the future, the things you have learned will no doubt guide you in your relationship with them.

    Thank you for answering this prompt with grace.

  3. Such heart-breaking honesty, vulnerability and beauty to this post. Your line about two people who love each other but cannot get along killed me. I, too, experienced grief at a very young age and I tend to agree with Stereo: in some senses, experiences of ‘absent parenting’ or hurt childhoods can be a guide in being better parents ourselves. I would not wish grief upon anyone, but I do think that once one has gone through that experience and the pain of it has faded, there can be a positive transformative power to it. Thank you for writing about this with such candidness and poise.

  4. i was uncomfortable answering this post because i felt it required that i look back, and possibly explain, a painful adolescence. i feel so strongly for what you went through, and i am so very sorry. i have the same goals: create a home that is a place of love and safety, and never a place of fear and sadness. i forget, sometimes, that i am not the only one that grew up in a home that wasn’t all bright and shiny – thank you, so much, for your honesty here.

  5. Before your dad came back that last time, your mom asked me if I would take you kids as my own when she died. I agreed, naturally. And then it didn’t happen because he came back. And the rest is history. In a lot of ways, even though my own home was fairly fudged up at the time, I’m really sorry it turned out that way and you and brudda had to go through all that horribleness; you’d already endured enough. I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you more.

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