I’ve been feeling my parenting failures deep, these days. My patience for my almost-four-year-old is worn thin most of the time. I pray at night that God would help me to be the mother she needs, not the mother I am. And each morning, I promise myself I’ll do it differently. Less shouting, less spirit-breaking yelling and fighting.
And I remember too late that I was going to do better, try something different.
Then I recall words breathed, not too long ago. “I want to be like that when I grow up, Mummy” she told me. We had just driven past a grocery store I used to work at between semesters at university. And Abby, filled with wonder told me she wanted to do the same some day. We chuckled and I thought to my self how much better her life will be than mine, how she probably won’t have to work off school debt just to afford another semester of school because we’re saving for her education, bit by tiny bit.
Tonight, all alone with the kids gone to bed and Tim away for work once more, I watched a movie I wouldn’t normally watch (just a chick flick). In it, the mother tells her grown-up daughter how she wanted a better life for her girl, how she didn’t want her daughter to grow up and be like her. Immediately, I thought of words my own mother has used to say the same thing to me.
And I couldn’t hold back the tears at that moment.
Why do we do this? Why do we only see the negative in our lives and hope for something better for our children? Why do we not value the lessons we learned, the good things we have, even if we had to learn or earn them the hard way?
Why, oh why, can my mother not understand that I want to be just like her when she had a young family: a work-at-home mum with a small business, so I can be there for my kids, but have a job I’m passionate about.
I’m again reminded of my failures. How in some ways that I didn’t want, I’m exactly like my mother. I remember her saying the same thing about her mother.
I don’t want to pass on that legacy. I don’t want to pass on shame or guilt. But I don’t know how to change it. I don’t know where to begin or even how to love this girl, some days.
This wild, wilful, beautiful child who turns four in a few weeks. This girl who can be so helpful one moment and make me want to pull my hair out the next. My love for this first-born runs deep, but I just don’t know how to show her some days.
Days like this one, when she cries at the thought of discipline, of being asked to go to her room because she didn’t listen to me, sobbing that I must hate her, that she’s a bad girl – it breaks my heart. No matter how many times I tell her I love her, no matter how many hugs, how many special times with just the two of us, it’s like she doesn’t believe me.
I find myself wishing that she won’t have this problem with her own kids, that she won’t be like me. And the cycle starts anew.