I think this is one of the few areas G-uno and I are very much alike. We both worry we aren’t doing it right. we didn’t have great examples or it was all very confusing.
I never wanted to marry.
I never wanted kids.
I also found whenever I would declare these absolutes at the top of my lungs, Fate seemed to smirk and go “orly?.” My best friend…. the eerily accurate predictions that would randomly come out of their mouth, one in particular: “you’re going to be the first to get married.” This was said right around graduation and it was like a punch in the gut. A death sentence. I completely dismissed it, hell bent on proving them wrong. I was working at the time to run off to Europe for a month. The LAST thing on my mind was getting tied down to anyone or anything.
Two years later, I ate my words. I was indeed the first of us to marry.
Many years later, I end up with an unplanned kid on my hands too. FYI, don’t buy Durex.
In my home, my grandparent was always right, even if they were wrong or lying through their teeth. I was never to question elders, I was to respect them. I was also taught respect was earned. I remember at the age of four, informing my grandparent that I didn’t like the idea of respecting someone just because they got old. Grand’s friends didn’t respect them, so I would just work with the “respect is earned” since I liked that one better anyway. I remember they looked like I slapped them. At four, I could tell their own friends were just as self-centered and deceitful as they were.
Grand would decide they were angry at offspring X that day, call, bitch, slam the phone down, repeat or not talk to them for six months. Later on, offspring Y is the demon, so that must be addressed. It altered depending on whatever fantasy of martyrdom was currently playing in their head. See where I get my excellent communication skills?
Basically, I kind of figured out at a young age that the person who was responsible for my well-being was slipping under the fog of dementia, though I couldn’t call it that. My official term was “batshit crazy.”
With the mostly absent mother and the vengeful Grand from hell, I had the shittiest examples of parenting. My aunts and uncles, for the most part, weren’t much help either. I figure if most of your kids hate you, I cannot really consider you a good role model for parenting.
I realize I make Grand sound awful. They had merit. I learned to buy quality over quantity. I learned to pay it all off before you take it home because its not yours until you do. I learned that in cases of great tragedy, they had an iron will. They had been put in desperate situations in the past and had totally turned it around, pushed through, survived. They didn’t make a lot, but knew how to make ends meet. They taught me how to keep a checkbook, how to balance it, and the importance of saving. They treated me like a small adult and I acted like one very early.
Grand worked by the parenting method of “throw enough accusations at them and see which one sticks.” I STILL have this lingering feeling of defensiveness because of all the years of being treated like a thug. I was usually being accused of sleeping around, doing drugs and being somewhere other than where I said I was.
In reality, my friends and I were friggin’ lazy ass philosophers and spent most of our time chilling at one of our houses and just talking about… EVERYTHING over coffee. Grand would have been able to find me within two phone calls (before cellphones, sweetheart) had they ever tried, because I made sure they knew or at least met my friends and had their numbers. 98% of the time, I was exactly where I said I would be.
To our family, Grand presented me as their favorite, even going so far as to rub it in on occasion. They made a distinct effort to spend significantly more on my Christmas than all other grandchildren and children, mostly stuff I didn’t like but “they would have liked had they been me.” So not only did I get the benefit of being hated for being “spoiled rotten,” I also looked ungrateful as hell because none of it I liked or wanted.
I suppose in direct rebellion to my upbringing, I have lacked a filter for what I say or just chose not to use it. I have no goal in doing this, there is no strategy, I don’t even understand that type of communication and I don’t want to. A friend once told me that no matter how much I’d changed outwardly over the years, my character never changed. That made me very happy to hear. It still wasn’t enough to convince me I could be a decent parent though.
My kid…I was blessed in so many ways. I know that sounds like Hallmark bullshit, but it was like I lucked out and got the easy setting with modifications for the mentally-impaired on a really complex piece of equipment because they knew it was being steered by a fucking idiot. I got training wheels for my training wheels, is what I’m trying to say. I would currently be getting yelled at if they read how many times I used expletives in this post alone.
I have never understood why parents want to rewrite their past so they can place themselves on pedestals as pillars of good choice. I think this sets unrealistic expectations for their kids. It basically comes off that their kids aren’t allowed to screw up. But screwing up is how you learn best, and we learn best by sharing those screw ups. The first time my kid tried to think I could do no wrong, I sat them down and told them about some wrongs I’d already done. I told them they aren’t allowed to make the mistakes I’d already covered, they had to go make new ones. That was my job as a parent is to help them avoid repeats.
I have, as a parent, a very small window of time to teach 30+ years of experience and knowledge to my kid. My window of opportunity is from the time they can understand what I’m saying until they stop listening to anything I say. With that kind of constraint, its a miracle any of us can be effective at parenting. But as for G-uno and I, I figure we just have a shitload more experience and knowledge in what you don’t do as a parent and that guides us. We have awesome kids who add enrichment to this world, and that is nothing short of a miracle.
Like G-uno, I fuck up… probably a lot. You know what? I have learned that is fucking AWESOME! You know why? Because we ADMIT it! We APOLOGIZE! We do things that were unprecedented in our own upbringing. We’re already revolutionaries for our generation. If you think about it, if our parentals had ever once just apologized when they were being a dick or were wrong, even once, how much of a badass would they have looked to us just from being able to own it? So, I’m not going to dwell on the fact that I have to apologize for being the occasional screw up, at least I admit that I did. By apologizing, even for the little things, means our kids mean enough to want their respect too.