Sunday, October 27, 2013

It's time to admit it... I've made mistakes as a parent....

It's time to admit it...
I've made mistakes as a parent
Not the same ones my parents made but mistakes never the less

I came from a two parent home where my survival was my responsibility. My dad worked and my mom was In charge and I was the mistake she needed to correct. I was beaten and battered both emotionally and physically and I swore I would never treat my kids like that.

Scroll forward ... My kids are now all almost grown.... 
I didn't treat my kids like my mother treated me. I tried to correct my childhood by giving my children what I wanted as a child. 
So what's wrong with that? 

My children aren't me. They didn't grow up in a family of abuse. Where fear was your first feeling. They didn't grow up with a parent who argued in front of them... They didn't long to be safe first loved second..... I did.

My greatest mistake was not seeing my children for who they were and the situation of which they were living.

Giving them what I didn't have ... Has it's positives and negatives...
But I have learned they are not me ... Their world didn't include the pain and fears mine did as a child but their world did include disappointments due to me not seeing their experience for what it was... Their experience.

I wanted to correct the past... Instead I wish I had forgiven my past for being anything more than what it was so that I could have been free to see what was in front of me.

So I made mistakes as a parent and I ask my children to forgive me ....I am sorry. To say I did my best @ the time would be accurate but to say that I wish I had done much better is the truth. Love is where my actions started from, though sometimes they got mixed with my baggage and the fear of just not knowing what to do.
I am not perfect... Wish that I was... You deserve that! 

In closing, again I am sorry. My wish for you is to take what your childhood was like with me... Make your children's life be about them not about the correcting of your own... Get to really know the children you have ... Do what they need ... Not what you think they need based off of your own baggage.

In the end I believe love will prevail and one day all my children will understand that I'm their mom but really just a person... A woman trying to figure it all out... 
Love you my children always

My heart is burned on my arm...

My heart is burned on my arm...

It's on my left arm above my wrist. It's shape, is that of a heart with an arrow thru it. How appropriate. 

Some have thought it to be a tattoo that went wrong - it is not is a scar.
It is a symbol. It is a reminder. It is my legacy on display. It is a big part of my story. It is my silence, my pain, my joy , my fear, my strength, my loneliness, my individuality... It's better than a tattoo as I didn't pick this to have put on my arm... It was a result of my reality as a child that is there and it is permanent.

Sunday morning breakfast. My Uncle who adored visited infrequently...was at our house. My father, mother and brother were all eating breakfast in the kitchen.

We had a micrwave. One of the first microwaves available. It was so new to people that with the purchase of a microwave, there were free classes offered to teach you how to use it. We had all gone to the class.

We were most impressed with the microwave, because it could heat water in a cup, in 1 min, to boiling. Beat having to fill up the hot water pot on the stove and waiting 5 min for it boil.

I had put a cup of water in the microwave. I wanted a cup of Postom... A coffee like beverage that we as children were allowed to drink. Pushed the button for 1 min of time, and waited. The microwave did its thing and rang the bell when it was done. The door to the microwave opened from right to left. I opened it and reached in with my left hand to get the cup, which was full of hot steaming water. I grabbed the cup, and at the same time the door to the microwave swung back towards my arm, causing me to spill the water on my arm. 

Hot boiling water hit my arm wetting my white Oxford shirt sleeve. It hurt but I didn't say a word. I flinched but didn't yell or scream or react. Somehow in a matter of seconds I had processed that showing a reaction wouldn't be good. (Apparently I this is something I must have learned) 

I took the cup, sat it on the kitchen table by my plate, and sat down to finish my breakfast. My arm is on fire! I can't believe the pain! I excuse myself to the bathroom so I can look at it. Once in the safety of the upstairs bathroom,  I unbutton my sleeve and take a look at my arm -the skin has already started to swell. It hurts like hell. I run my arm under cool water ... It helps a little but as soon as I stop,  the severe pain is back. I use wet toilet paper to wrap my arm where the burn mark is and I wet the paper so as to help with the pain... Button my sleeve, and go back down to breakfast. Over the remainder of breakfast, I will have excused myself a few more times from the table so that I could check my arm. I even put butter on it. That set my world on fire, the pain was so bad.

The burn was severe and goes through all the stages it had to go thru to heal... I'm not sure how long it took... A few weeks?? but I hid it from the family the entire time...

One day my mother noticed. Asked me what had happened to my arm? I do not remember giving an answer but somehow one got developed...better than any lie I could have come up with on my own. 

My parents put together that it was a tattoo that I had let someone put on me and there were chemicals in it that had scarred my arm Wow! Apparently the heart shape helped them develop this reasoning .... Problem solved. 

I got punished for letting someone "tattoo" my mother. 
But the true punishment I didn't understand until later in life...

When I was grown I had another instance of pain that was an accident ... I had used a hot curling iron to curl my hair. It started to fall off the dresser... I grabbed it by the hot curling barrel to prevent it from falling.... It hurt like hell! I got dressed and went to work. At the time I was working as a sign language interpreter in a school. My hand blistered... I worked all day that day... Went to the emergency room after work was over... That's when I was enlightened.....

That current injury to my hand was a first degree burn ... The scar on my arm was shown that it was most likely a second degree burn. 

Now, here is where I started to understand the level to which I had been taught and punished as a child....

Pain! Somewhere, somehow I had learned that I wasn't allowed to show pain. My pain was embarrassing. I was embarrassed to show it.. To tell someone. I didn't want to be seen as not strong enough or that I was stupid because I couldn't handle the pain. So I would hide it and often mentally beat myself up if I cried because something hurt.

I had a second degree burn on my arm that was caused by an accident and I never told the people who should have been there to take care of me... All because somewhere somehow I knew that telling of my pain was worse than enduring the pain of the injury. I endured the original pain, then the pain of the supposed lie "tattoo" and the pain of the punishment of the lie...

My tears had no value! 

What my mother had done to me caused me to know my tears had no value! OMG how those words hurt now reading them and knowing the depths of what that means and ment for me as a child growing up... Now as an adult!

Fast forward to today. Old habits die hard. I don't like people to know of my weaknesses. I don't like people to know of my pain. If I'm feeling bad...I still try to hide it... Trust,  in these moments, is still tough. But at least I'm aware, and I try to use words to let people - who I care about,  understand  when I'm hurt or not feeling well. I am a work in progress. 

I learned my survival method by the results that I got as a child...

What survival methods did you learn? 

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The Language of My Son

The language of my son--Being a single mother of 3 - two girls and a boy there were many challenges to say the least. All the children are two years apart - my son the youngest. A huge challenge for me was how to really communicate with my son as he seemed to communicate differently than my girls. 

The girls? Well this seemed easy. They were like me .. They were little girls. I understood their childhood interests. Playing with baby dolls, dress up, Barbies etc... I understood their emotions and how they communicated them... From happiness to sadness I found I could easily predict and understand their emotions and how they got to them.... But a boy? What does he play with? cars? GI Joe? Etc? How is he going to express his emotions and how does he get to them? How do I direct his communications and emotions into what a man is supposed to be? I felt lost....and I hoped through time I would figure it out...or at least that's what I told myself to get through the days..

The differences were noticeable and tough to handle as my communications to my son didn't always seem to be well received by him. He wanted to be cuddled, but on his terms. He was often very quiet and didn't say much. He also wouldn't repeat himself so when he spoke I had to be listening or I missed out. He played, but alone, and didn't really want to have to explain his thought process to us girls so that we could play too. He was my son and he was his own person. He was a calming force in a house of raging emotions and drama that the girls seemed to have just as a part of their nature. But there was something missing a real communication... A true understanding. 

Nighttime was a chance for me to check in with him and chat before bed. I often wanted to communicate in his language but couldn't seem to break through his wall of being the only boy. I had to get creative. He loved his "little men" toys these were Digimon, and some other popular characters that he played with ... He also loved stuffed animals... His bed was full of them. We would have nights in the summer where we would " camp out " in the living room. He would participate but only after moving all his stuffed animals into the living room first. His love for his stuffed animals helped cultivate my communication skills.

One night I thought and thought how I could express to this little being that I loved him,  that I loved that he was my son ... My only boy ...and that made him special beyond compare. Yes the girls were like me, but he was cherished because he was my only boy! Well, it came to me....

Tucking him In one night I asked him did he know how much I loved him?. He just looked at me in silence as he often did ... The silence sometimes seemed to be his communication...
I said "if you were a toy @ toys r us.... I would buy all of you that was on the shelf" (toys r us is our local toy store) he looked @ me and smiled the biggest smile... He sat up and gave me a hug... And there started our special communication... Whenever I would say that phrase to him he would smile... I finally broke through his wall of communication... The fact that he was a boy and did things different and thought differently? I had finally found a way to connect.  From that day forward I realized I had to learn to speak his language... His language on his was a challenge and made me have to be more creative ... But I figured it out and I am still figuring it out... :)

He was around 4 yrs old when this happened.
He is now soon to be 18... That line doesn't work now....  I'm still working to speak his language. I call it the " language of my son" 

Thank you for reading my blog.
Please share your thoughts and experiences.