Before you cast the first stone…
I often wonder if I’m doing an o.k. job of raising my two kids. I know what I do is probably not always the right thing, or the best way, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got. Then I go visit my friends with kids the same age as mine, and I see the way they behave, and I breathe a sigh of relief.
I see that their 9 year old is also a bit moody and acting like a 16 year old would (without the hormonal “boy” trouble), and her 5 year old is also going through a “phase”. I see my other friends and they tell me their’s did the same thing, and that is more or less no different between the boys and the girls. Then I know they are all going through what I am, and it is part of being a parent, and raising kids. I’m on the right path.
So why is it that when I still had parents, they could not stop telling me that I’m raising my kids all wrong, they have no respect, they have no boundaries they run around and (attempt) to break everything, and they never sit still and they can never just “be good”?
This I might add, happened when my daughter was just 6 years old and her little brother a year and 8 months.
I mean, what do you expect from a little boy of a year and 8 months, who just started to explore the world, who have rarely seen them (my parents) or the inside of their (very not baby friendly) house. The kids explore, they touch things, they taste it, and if it moves, they try to figure out why!. A 6 year old tries to get everybody’s attention, and if they don’t get it, then they act like a clown until somebody gives them some attention (well, mine does).
And this is where the final break between us happened.
After my supposed mother decided to avoid and ignore me for the first 3 months of my daughter’s life because I did not want her to come into the ward during my c-section, I had to figure this all out on my own, and with the help of my very dear friends.
Looking back I thank the God in heaven for that, because the way she parented us left a whole lot to be desired. For my kids I want something different.
By Different I mean wholesome, with little or no fighting between mom and dad, stable home (no moving around), stable school environment (no moving between schools) and most of all, love and attention, food on the table, and clothes on their backs.
And so when I collected my kids from them that day (after their visit of only 2 hours), my mother “freaked out” on me for the next half hour about the “state” my kids were in. I finally go up, took my kids and my husband, greeted everyone politely, kissed my grandmother good bye and left them in the dust of my old shoes. The “them” I am refering to is my mother, her husband, her other daughter (26 years old), the daughters husband, her Son with ADHD (and in a private school paid my my mother no less), their little girl of 3, and my other half sister of 15. All living happily in the same house, being cared for by their gambling, drinking mother.
Who needs people in your life that made it start out shitty, and now that you are trying to build your own, only has negativity and critique to offer? I can do better than that with my own choice of people to surround me with.
Why do I feel this way? Let’s see (and this is by a long shot not all of it, let’s keep this short):
She left us to be raised by a black woman, mostly dirty, hungry and alone. She never attended any of our recitals, concerts or even church. She sent us to camps (church, girl scouts any camp she could), and when those were unavailable, she dumped us at my gran’s every holiday. For the whole holiday.
Talk about controlling, she refused to let me cut my hair until I was in grade 8 and went to the hair dresser behind her back. She refused to let me shave my legs until I was in grade 10, so the boys made fun of me in high school – I used a friends razor in grade 8 and that problem went away.
She never taught me about sex or even having your period, so when I finally did, in grade 9 and in the communal shower in boarding school, I thought I was dying, and the girls called the nurse. She had to explain to me what happened, and that it will be happening every month. I did not have any money to buy pads or tampons, and had to get those from the nurse. I got my school uniform from the lost and found, and had to put card board pieces in the bottom of my shoes when they had holes in them. When we asked for new things the standard response were there is no money, she had to pay for our board and lodging at the boarding school (little did I know she got subsidies for that).
Look, let me say this: there is nothing wrong with being poor.
I understand that better than most, but there is something wrong with being poor while your mother is taking the weekend of to go to the Eastern Transvaal with her boyfriend, on the back of a motorcycle to go and have a “jol” at the Royal Hotel- while you can only walk in your school shoes when it is dry outside, otherwise your socks get drenched. We used to have to wear stockings in winter in High School. Nobody knows better than me how to cut off the leggings on the stocking and interchange them with the panty piece attached to interchange the “good” legs. And if those tear, well then there is always a borrowed needle and thread. I must have looked like Frankenstein’s bride most of the time in winter! No wonder I tried to hide out and become invisible most of my high school years in boarding school. I felt like a freak, and mostly got treated like one too.
My mother always had money for gambling. Even when I was allready grown up we visit once a month or so on a Sunday afternoon, she would tell us to excuse her from the conversation because at 3 in the afternoon it was “free roll” at the casino, and she had to go and play on the computer in her room. We couldn’t very well visit with ourselves so we eventually left, after visiting my gran.
We invited them to Christmas dinner one year, her and my two half sisters with their families. On Christmas day my sister in law (my brother’s wive) and I started early on our glazed pork, mutton rump and veggies. We baked two delicious puddings – we were cooking an all out feast for Christmas. The dinner was supposed to start at 7. By 8 o’ clock they still did not arrive, so we called to see what the holdup was.
They were actually already 600 km’s away from us, on their way to the coast. They told us it was a last minute decision (all 7 of them), and they forgot to let me know. We ate the cold food and gave the rest of the food to people on the streets.
Yes, you can’t choose your blood family, but you can choose not to let them into your life. You can forget them, and move on. But only if you REALLY truly believe that they are a negative bad influence in your life, and if you are ready to let them go forever.
I told my kids when they asked why we don’t have any grand parents that sometimes people don’t love us, and that is o.k. – we can also choose who to love and who to let love us in return. The people my daughter knew as her grand parents chose not to love us, and that is o.k. because they were not good for us, they treated us unfairly and they bullied my little girl when she went for short visits (never more than a day).
So we chose not to have them in our lives anymore, all of of together. And they are o.k. with that too. It has been 4 years since they saw us or the kids, and the kids can barely remember them. I’m glad for that. They don’t need to remember negative people in their life, they can choose to turn around and walk away from them, like I did.
I did not do it lightly. I was 36 years old.
36 years of trying to please her, to get any kind of recognition and acceptance from her. It never happened. And I made peace with the fact that it never will.
My daughter was diagnosed with ADD just before she started primary school, we got the right medication for her, and she has our support.
She went on to get her “honorary colours badge” for Choir Song in her second year of primary school, she’s now in grade 3 and also plays Hockey. Her grades are great and she is doing really well in a regular state school. My son is in kindergarten, he loves playing golf, and doing “guy stuff” with his dad over weekends. Both my kids, according to their neurologist and teachers are well adjusted and happy. I did not need a neurologist or teacher to tell me that.
The way my kids hug me, or tell me when they need a hug, or tell me frequently how much they love me, as I do them, all of that shows me what I need to know. And never has my kids, up to this day threatened to run away from home and packed their bags (like I did from the day I was 5 because I was so unhappy.)
I made it one of my goals in life to accept my kids, no matter who they become, or who they choose to be, I put everything into parenting them in a way that will give them confidence and a framework for making good choices. And if they make bad ones, I will do everything in my power to support them, accept them still, and still love them. I will always be their biggest supporter and fan. That’s the kind of mother I am.