Apologies to those who have read this before, as I wrote it when I was pregnant probably over a year ago. It used to be one of my ‘Pages’, but I’m about to have a bit redesign of my blog and one of the things I’m going to do is reduce the ‘Pages’ and make them into posts instead.
There’s no doubt about it, being in someone else’s shoes always helps to understand their choices more, even if we don’t agree with them. But becoming a Mum has definitely given me an insight into the rather bizarre woman who was my Mum. She once said to me ‘You’ll never be a real woman, until you become a mother’, which was a little harsh, as I had been told I couldn’t have kids at 19 ;o) However, I understand that she is right, that there are aspects of myself that I wouldn’t have tapped into without the arrival of Max, and things I could never had understood without experiencing them. (But I don’t agree with the ‘real woman’ concept, as I am convinced that a woman can have a fully satisfying life without children, and a dissatisfied one with children).
It’s been many years since I came to terms with my ‘interesting’ upbringing, to the stage where I totally saw why it worked for me, wouldn’t want it any different, and was even grateful for it. But there were still things I didn’t understand about it and recently there are two insights in particular that I have gained.
1) How a Mum could became addicted to the love of her children, and manipulate the family using a ‘divide and conquer’ strategy.
2) Howcome a Mum would let child nurse her from very young, and encouraged TV watching with her most weekends, rather than going out and be healthy.
The Addiction Of Love
It is an amazing feeling to know that someone loves you so totally. Max loves me from the top of my head, all the way to my toes, and tells me how ‘beautiful’ I am, especially with my now rather big and pregnant tummy. I understand that as time goes on, I wont be quite so perfect, friends (already at 4yrs very important) will take pride of place, and there will be times when I’m a bit old and a bit haggard! But luckily for me I have the confidence in myself and him, to not worry about it, and to know that he will always love me deep down, as I will him (despite shouting sometimes when I am tired and overwrought!). So, although tempting, I haven’t fallen into the trap of encouraging him to see Mummy as better than Daddy, which is where Mum must have started. She must then have continued to worry that there could be only so much love like that, and so she ensured that as children we didn’t bond with each other, but just with her. Why on earth she was so concerned about this I’m not sure, the only thing that I wonder is that I know that her parents where incredibly close, and she had no siblings. So either she felt that she was competing for love to get it from her parents, or she thought that creating a larger family herself, meant that there would be less love to go around (I have 3 brothers who are 20yrs older than me, and then I arrived as a ‘surprise’ when she was 43, which was very old in those days).
It’s only because I know what I know that I don’t fall for the temptation that she did, so if I had been a less secure person, with less training in my background, it is totally forseeable that I would have behaved in a similar way, even if slightly less as I’m sticking to 2 kids! I can also really feel for her, because she really managed to maintain a pretty perfect image with me, until all hell let loose as my Dad died when I was 20 and I suddenly found out a great deal about what she had been doing. So if you have ever considered encouraging your child to appreciate you more than your partner, bear in mind that she then went through 10yrs years of terrible pain, with me being extremely angry with her, which only subsided 11yrs ago as I began to train in the sort of stuff that I do now.
Using TV To Entertain Your Children
As a young child I played outside a great deal on my own, but Mum became ill very soon after my birth, and got steadily more ill with all sorts of problems like blood clotting disorders, arthritis (both types), lung disease etc etc. So I steadily took on the role of ‘young carer’ more and more. There was the time that I was left to nurse her at 5yrs old and had to call an ambulance, or the time just after my ‘O’ levels when I nursed her with a broken pelvis and my Dad recovering from a heart attack and a diabetic coma. She must have been in constant pain, and as I hit teenage my time running around outside dwindled and was replaced either by school work or watching old black and white movies with her. So why would someone let their child nurse them, rather than get help and encourage them to start an ‘unhealthy’ habit (as I got even older, there were also glasses of wine and cigarettes)?
So, I get pregnant again at 40, the first 15 weeks are terrible, I’m exhausted and feeling awful, during which time I admit that I resorted several times a week to having a bath with Max in the afternoon for a good couple of hours, to play with toys and watch TV (we’d just extended the ensuite luckily & bought one of those fab waterproof TV’s from china; dirt cheap, and I really recommend them!). There then follows a short period of time where I’m more active. But then ‘uncomfortable’ descends into full blown SPD (the body is overly successful at producing relaxin for the ligaments, creating back pain, hot pokers in the hips, and pain at the top of the legs/groin). Plus in the last couple of weeks, where the snow has hit and I’m still trying to tie up loose ends with my business & admin, I’ve had to work while Max is in the house. So yes, I have resorted to the babysitter that is the TV, plus those fab websites for Cbeebies and NickJr.
Like Mum, I have no parents to help out (hers died when I was 10). I’m not sure why she didn’t ask my much older brothers, but I do understand why she didn’t ask other people. There are times when I have asked, maybe too subtly and found myself very disappointed to find I didn’t get any help. Then there are the lovely people who I know would definitely offer, but I also know are already over-stretched themselves, so I won’t ask. And then there is my pride ;o) She was lonely, and holding onto her ‘last child’, and if she had encouraged me to do more healthy things, she would have been all alone with her pain. I don’t think that you can be totally rational when in pain either, so she didn’t really think it through.
Now it’s much easier for me, there are all sorts of things available to help me get my body back into working order after No2 arrives, and I have tonnes of knowledge of my own to help out. I also know that she never got to see her daughter’s children (she died when I was pregnant with Max), and so there is a motivation for me to get healthy and live to see my grand children. We know a great deal more about health, fitness, nutrition, hydration and exercise now a days. Plus, seeing someone spend the last 5yrs of their life in a wheel chair, with no dignity and extreme discomfort, is a constant reminder about health. I may never be a mega fit person, but I do understand ‘use it or lose it’.
Do You Judge Your Mum or Other Mums?
So do you find yourself judging other Mums or even your own Mum? If so, be careful what you judge, because you may get a chance one day to walk in their shoes and gain a greater understanding, and you might not be lucky enough to make different choices. Or often, we go to extremes to be completely opposite from our own parents, discovering at the end of the day, that this also didn’t create the ‘ideal’ outcome that we dreamed of.
The ideal is to see that there are benefits (the old silver lining) to everything, and to balance your approaches. So, I will continue to attempt to walk the middle road between my mother who fought to have us all to herself and my father who didn’t want to be disloyal by pointing out that he wasn’t that bad after all. My children will have some responsibility in the house, but not to the extent that they feel it all falls on their shoulders. And I will watch the odd film with them, and be lazy sometimes, but also go out, fly a kite and ride a bike. And in a year or two’s time when I’m beginning to get a handle on No2’s arrival, then I exercise will become a necessity in my daily schedule, so that I can at least try my best to be still bouncing at 90. Heh ho, wish me luck, and I wish you all the luck to. I know that we all just want to be loved just as we are, and we all want to be the best Mums we can be. Sometimes we’ll discover that there is a better way, but until then, we can only work with what we have. If I love my life now, then Mum didn’t do a bad job did she? I only hope that my children love their lives when they are 40 too.
Thanks Mum xxxx