I haven’t been able to write much lately. When depression comes knockin’, i tend to get very angry. I’ve done a lot of screaming and yelling, ranting and raving, and general grumbling and griping besides. And while i needed to do those things, i’m convinced the time for that is mostly done. I want to focus more on the positives; turn my attention to things that are good and well and right with me and with the world. I’ll fix my attention on things i can change for the better, and concern myself with things that matter. I have neither the time nor the energy for pettiness.
I’ve only just begun growing up. I’ve been too broken to be functional and too stuck in the past to mature. There’s been hard work and preparation that has led me to this time in my life, and intend to push continually forward, no matter how slowly, for as long as i’m able. To that end, i’m going to write more often, but i’m including a caveat. It’s for my peace of mind, and also removes my biggest excuse for not writing more often.
Some of it is probably -no, certainly- gonna suck. Like unwashed donkey balls kinda suck.
So there, i’ve got that shocking admission out of the way. Now i have no excuses.
I’ve had a couple of friends ask me for that piece i wrote about parenting and forgiveness for Facebook almost a year ago. I think it’s good enough to hopefully offset all the agonised whining that i’m about to begrudge my readers in the coming weeks.
P.S. Children Are Always Worth the Effort
It’s taken me a while to figure out just how to talk about this subject. Sometimes words just spill out of my brain and onto the keyboard, and it’s a good thing. Sometimes though, they need to tumble around up there for a while, maybe to soften the edges of some of the words. Marinate them to make them a little less chewy, and more tender. It’s called discernment i think, and i appear to finally be getting some, lo these long years.
It’s about your kids. Well, it’s about my kids really, but it could be about your kids. There is no part of one’s life that is more precious, more intimate, and therefore no more potentially dangerous story to tell. That’s the reason for, and the benefit of the thinky time i took. You’ll hopefully get the gist of it, without deeply personal details that serve no purpose. I want to demonstrate that one can walk the line between being an open book and maintaining one’s privacy. You can help others with your experiences, but you needn’t expose your soft underbelly, thereby leaving yourself completely vulnerable to those who would harm you and/or those you love.
A lot of build up for not much to say, heh.
I have a lot of opinions about children and parenting, as anyone who knows me at all can easily imagine, seeing as i have opinions on nearly everything. I’m happy to tell you about them, even if you may not always be so keen to hear them. My philosophy with regard to parenting is unformed and nebulous, insofar as it is constantly evolving, and difficult to communicate due to its infuriating ambiguity. Well that, as well as being tethered to the deepest and most personal emotions one might ever feel.
I have failed my children. In ways. In spectacular and terrible ways. That i’ve failed as a mother has been drilled into me since i had my first child. Single, poor and uneducated, i set out to try and make everything right. I joined a church and i went back to school and i made friends with appropriate people. I got down to the business of being the kind of mother the community i’d surrounded myself with told me i should be. I took to it and did very well, but it didn’t fully take root, i guess, because 4yrs later i’d done it again. Another child and still alone. I was more financially stable and somewhat more educated, but still obviously flawed and in need of something. I listened to what i was told by the “appropriate” people around me and took all of the suggestions, but i soon found that i couldn’t maintain the level of what the world around me called success even half as long as i had with my first child.
I stumbled across a good guy and had the sense to keep him, even though those appropriate people wouldn’t put their stamp of approval on our relationship. I was becoming disillusioned with all of them and all of their suggestions. I never blamed them, though. It never occurred to me that what worked for them just wasn’t for me. I turned it all on myself: i was wrong, bad, flawed, weak… I was missing something. I just wasn’t doing it right, or i wasn’t doing it hard enough. Even having a third child the generally approved way didn’t help. I was circling the drain, and nothing could stop me. No successes, no amount of living the life i was taught to believe was the good and right life was helping. And my brokenness finally claimed me and i fell into a terrible blackness where i was lost to everyone. The proper life and the proper people and my perfect husband and my children’s need of me, could not pull me out of it.
I could not help but surrender to the process. I lost my oldest child and my family either fell away or i pushed them out and closed the door. My mental illnesses finally had me in an inescapable stranglehold, and i was sometimes barely a wife and mother and sometimes not either, not even a little. My children watched as i swam around in the sludge, my childhood catching up to me. It picked me up in its merciless jaws and shook me like an angry bear. They saw me completely incapable of mothering them properly. If it hadn’t been for one good parent in the mix, i may very well have lost them to the system.
I was eventually able to start digging myself out of all the muck i’d been mired in for years. Yep, years. And after all the dysfunction my kids had seen, the only thing i had to offer them was a front row ticket to that show, as well. They’ve seen me stumble, they’ve seen me fall flat on my face, and they’ve even seen me purposely jump right outta the boat and go swimming in the sewage again. But they also saw me pick myself back up and keep trying. And the time in between stumbles has gotten longer, and the damage has been less. I don’t hide the struggle from them. What would be the point? Kids know. I try to keep certain things from them that wouldn’t edify them and would likely only confuse or complicate things more than they are already, but truthfully friends… They’ve seen more and know more than they should. I’m not proud of that at all. And i’m not trying to tell you that it’s okay, because it isn’t. It’s not okay that i’ve screwed up royally, and they have paid the price. But i’m telling you that i’ve done it, and i know absolutely that i’m not alone.
I’m telling you that it’s not over. Not for you, not for your children – not even for your relationship with them. Children are the most amazing humans on the planet. They deserve to live in a perfect world with the best of everything and always be happy and never be hurt. But you and i know that will never happen. Not to one single baby born on this earth, if they live past an hour or so. So most of us parents try to do the best job we can and mitigate the damage. That can be particularly difficult when WE do the damage. But let me tell you something i’ve learned for me and it may be true for you, too.
It’s way harder for me than it is for them. I must admit my fault. Wholly, without reservation and with absolutely no excuses. I can never, ever say, “I’m sorry, but… ” I can’t offer an explanation of any kind, unless it’s asked for, and even then i must keep it simple – no victim stories and no hyperbole. And it must always return in the end, to what i did or failed to do. And that it is all on me. And my action/inaction is my responsibility alone.
Then comes work. Hard work. I must demonstrate -without fanfare- by my behaviour and by my behaviour alone, that i am sorry, and i’m going to be/do better. Because they’re watching me. They’re watching to see if i meant what i said. They want to know if they can trust me. They also want to know what to do when they screw up. They need me to show them how to make proper amends to someone that they’ve harmed or hurt in some way. I must show them i’m truly sorry and the only way to do that is through my behaviour.
As i’ve done these things, i’ve learned some wonderful stuff. Like, your children don’t want to harbour any ill feelings towards you. They want to forgive you, and if they can’t right away, they want to let it go. They need to, and it’s a burden they shouldn’t be carrying. And if they aren’t ready yet to let it go, they at least want to give you a chance. Even if they say they don’t. They’ll be watching you, to see if you live your life every day as if they had given you a chance. Even if the road you’ve walked with your child is particularly long and rough and you have done some terrible things… Even if they say they’re done with you and have cut you out like a tumour… You still MUST live every day as if their forgiveness is possible – because even if it avails you nothing personally, you will be healing them on some level, and you owe that to them. Every single day. You do not owe them perfection, but you do owe them effort. They are worth every effort.
My children have forgiven me for my mistakes, and to have their love and a good relationship with them would be worth much more time and much more effort than it actually took. There is no time for you to wallow in guilt and self-pity. Your children want to love you. Your children want to forgive you. Your children want to admire you and brag about you and be in relationship with you. It doesn’t take much, really. I’ve discovered that the relative ease with which i prove myself to them, fills me with a happiness and gratitude that enables me to demand more from myself; to strive for better. As a parent, certainly, but also as a wife and a friend and a member of my local community and even a citizen of the world.
Kinda mushy and dramatic, i know. But that’s me sometimes. Especially when i talk about my kids. It may be that i should never have been a parent, but it is the thing that i’m the most glad and proud and fulfilled in being.
Love and Peace,