The Childhood

Saturday, February 4

Eighteen weeks. This week, baby girl is 5.5 inches long and the size of a large tomato, or a green bell pepper. She also may be beginning to hear. I joked that it’s time to start playing her some Van Halen, AC/DC or Def Leppard. We must prepare her… haha. Oh, and some Beethoven of course.

Out of the blue, my mother sent me a card about moms and daughters. She wrote in it about all the things we have in common, mainly our sense of humor, and brought back various instances of times where we were on the same page. It was very sweet. Looks like Grandma is getting melencholy about her youngest having a baby. I don’t see that side of my mother that often. I’ll treasure that card. And send her one in response.

It’s funny how you think of your mom a lot once you’re pregnant. I compare all my experiences to what she must’ve been feeling, although I was her 5th child, so it probably isn’t the same. I have a lot of questions to ask her too.

I have a lot of mixed feelings about my childhood and the way I was raised. I’ve been trying to make peace with them for years. I know they did the best they could, and I love my parents, flaws and all. But I, like most new moms, vow to do better. My girl won’t even doubt our love for her. She will constantly be reminded of how smart and capable she is and how proud we are of her. We will do our best to stimulate her and discover what makes her excited about life, and then do everything in our power to bring those things into her world. We will spend time with her outside of the home. We’ll explore together, learn together, and love life together. She won’t ever have to see her parents fight. She won’t ever see her parents drunk. She won’t ever be scared that her parents aren’t protecting her. She will always be welcome into our bed when she wakes up from bad dreams or if there’s a thunderstorm. If she ever loses us at a mall or a carnival, she will see how frantic we were searching for her when she finds us. She will be allowed to sing and act and dance in the house – even if she’s awful at it. She will always see us in the audience for her plays/concerts/games. She won’t grow up in a bar or be familiar with drunken people or have to sleep in the car because mom and dad aren’t ready to go home yet.

Ugh. I know I must make my childhood seem awful, but it wasn’t. Just dysfunctional with some trauma sprinkled in. There are things my parents did well: My mother was always home. As a stay-at-home mom who didn’t drive, I always had access to her. She always cooked a meal for dinner, and we ate as a family most nights. I could talk to her about anything – boys, teachers, friends who shoplift – it didn’t matter. She liked being included into my world. She would offer her opinions and advice, but I’d never get in trouble for the things I told her. She laughed a lot, and we found the same things funny. She taught me the joy of conversation.

My father: Well, he is more complicated. We are not close. He was a ghost dad – he provided as best he could, but he wasn’t around and didn’t give affection freely when he was. I know he loved me, but I don’t know if I’ve ever heard him say it. I can count on one hand how many times he’s embraced me. There are feelings of emptiness there, as far as the bond a daughter should have with her father. He didn’t have much of a relationship with his daughters. Maybe a man born in the 30s just doesn’t know how to relate to women. But he worked hard at providing for his family, even though it never amounted to much. He’s now in is 70s and still goes to work for a farm every day. He was my chauffeur growing up and always remembered where people lived and how to get around our city. We had silent drives, but that was my dad. I can think of two things he taught me: To always look back at my car after getting out to see if I left my lights on (not relevant anymore) and to always put my smaller bills on top of my larger bills in my wallet, so people can’t see my hundreds. (haha)

I’ve taken the good things and am trying to let go of the shitty ones from my childhood. Isn’t that what we all are trying to do?

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