Words of a parent

My parents and I have never had the best relationships. It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me to find out that my father and I have gone on years’ long periods of not communicating with each other. In many ways, I think our problem is that we’re too much alike. As I approach 40, I find that I’m mending fences and letting go of old hurts. That’s not to say that my relationship with my father is great now, but we’re slowly getting to “good.”

Throughout my childhood, it was very evident that my older sister was the favorite. She had free reign to do as she liked, and our father frequently bankrolled her. He did things for her that he later refused to do for me. I could write an entire blog entry on all the things I missed out on that my sister got to enjoy, but I’m learning to let go and release that anger. I can’t change the past, all I can do is learn from it. The funny thing is, when my mom and I were discussing this, she admitted that my sister was treated differently than I was. She called my sister “the experiment” and my upbringing was a direct result of what they learned from how they treated my sister. That’s not to say that it was fair, but it did explain a lot to me.

Another thing my mom recently told me was that she was a horrible mother. I don’t think she was, but I don’t have another mother to compare her to, so I don’t know. She admitted that after she and our father divorced, she gave up cooking and left my sister and me to essentially raise ourselves while she put herself through law school and worked full-time. She stated that she thought it was amazing that we turned out as well as we did, mistakes and all. Then she brought up an article that she had read in a magazine from a mother’s day issue where women talked about the things they learned from their mothers. Mom asked me what I thought I learned from her. I told her that I learned that I can be independent and to follow my heart, even when it leads me down the wrong path. There are so many things I wish my mother had taught me. I wish she had taught me how to balance a checkbook and learn to live within a budget, so that I didn’t accrue so much debt. I wish she had taught me about relationships. She and I have never discussed any of the boys (and later men) that I dated, and never held me or talked to me through those painful high school breakups. She never talked to me about sex, and in return, I never talked to her about being raped and later beaten. We didn’t talk about serious things. We still don’t talk about serious things very well.

I wonder sometimes if my son thinks I’m a horrible mother. After all, I’m never around. I don’t call nearly enough or visit hardly at all. I try to inquire about what’s going on in his life, but I get the normal teenage answers of “nothing’s going on.” I think of the things that I want my son to know, so that he grows up to be a better person than I am. I want my son to feel like he can come to me for anything and I will give him honest answers, even when those answers are painful.


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