Home > Family, Parenting > Oh, Yes I Did!: You Will Not Be A Good Mother

Oh, Yes I Did!: You Will Not Be A Good Mother

Not As Sweet As I Look occasionally blogs here, but is more easily found at her vibrant, active Facebook page, which is where I came to know and love her. Despite what you might first assume based on her potentially daunting moniker, she’s loving and supportive. As you’ll see below, those traits are matched with strength and conviction that make her not only sweet but also formidable.

graduation 3

You Will Not Be A Good Mother

I have a wretched mother. I mean, really wretched. If she were not a nursing instructor and friends with most of the social workers in town she probably would have been arrested for child abuse. So, when Darling Husband and I decided to have children, my father and many of his family members repeatedly told me how not to be a mother, because they were sure I would screw it up;

“Now remember, be kind to your children, especially when they are sad or sick.” Oh yes, because I really needed to be told that it was inappropriate for my mother to slap me across the face because I was sent home sick at age 11.

“You’re not supposed to belittle your child. You need to be a positive influence in their lives.” Right, because without that advice I wouldn’t know it was wrong for my mother to call me stupid bitch because I didn’t understand algebra at age 9.

“Don’t be too strict.” Oh, yes, because otherwise I might think that it was normal to spank me until I couldn’t stand and lock me in my room for hours because I got accidentally broke a coffee mug at age 6.

“Take care of your children; don’t make them fend for themselves.” Good advice, lest I think it was appropriate to leave me in charge of my brother for hours on end (while she was passed out drunk) when he was 3 and I was 7.

On, and on, and on. What those well-meaning (I think) family members didn’t realize is that they were being abusive all on their own. I know, and have known since I was very young, that my mother was physically and mentally abusive to me, because I saw how she treated my brother and it was the exact opposite of how she treated me. The sad part is that because of being raised by my mother and because of all those family members doubting me, I didn’t think I could be a good mother. I don’t remember ever wanting kids when I was a child. As a teenager, and as an adult, I was positive I didn’t want kids because I was convinced that I was doomed to repeat her mistakes. But then one day, one of my mother’s sisters said something to me that helped to change my mind. My Aunt Petunia said to me, “Don’t worry, you won’t be like your mother Sweet, she is fucking nuts! You will probably be one of the best moms in the world. You are brilliant and will overcome being raised by the craziest fucking bitch on the planet.” (My aunt does not mince words.)

I took her words to heart and eventually DH and I had FIVE children. I am, according to my father’s family, my mother’s family, complete strangers, teachers, priests, and my husband’s family, a fabulous mom. My kids are polite, well mannered, brilliant, funny, and delightful. I am not a perfect mom by any means, but I am also not “Mommie Dearest”. I make mistakes, but I encourage my children, I love them fiercely, I laugh with them, and I continuously strive to do better. The one thing that makes me believe I am doing a good job at this mom thing? My two older daughters have said on many occasions that they hope that when they have kids, they are as a good of a mom as I am. So I did it, I became a good mom, despite being told I couldn’t do it.

 last : Doing More Than Keeping Up | Don’t Be A Priest : next

  1. March 21, 2014 at 7:37 am

    Thank you for sharing. It’s easy to forget that not everyone starts on the same playing field…. Inspirational!

  2. March 21, 2014 at 8:06 am

    I love you words. Such strength. Great job mama!

  3. March 21, 2014 at 8:24 am

    awww, good for you, breaking that mold. I do know what you mean though–my mom was a verbal nightmare and I wonder sometimes how I ever developed self-esteem under her care. I think it is clear to some of us what is just wrong and we can learn to do the opposite. I have wondered over the years about the mother/daughter dynamic and think there is a major jealousy issue b/n mothers/daughters in our generation as our mom’s didn’t always have the ability to grow up with as much freedom as we did. They married and had kids earlier. Some didn’t have careers. I think there’s a lot of resentment.

  4. March 21, 2014 at 8:53 am

    I like your aunt! ;) I’m sorry your mom’s problems caused you pain. Unfortunately, there seem to be some people that we learn how NOT to be from. My husband had wretched, unbelievably neglectful parents. This has made him overly watchful and generous as a father and stepfather. All three of our kids know they can count on him to come through for them no matter what.

    Enjoy your beautiful, loving family–you deserve every ounce of love and happiness that they bring you! :)

  5. March 21, 2014 at 8:58 am

    Do you know the old poem, Children Learn What They Live?
    http://www.empowermentresources.com/info2/childrenlearn-long_version.html
    Here’s the thing, I know a fair number of people like you who lived with dysfunction and learned FROM IT, not it. Good moms who had bad moms. Supportive loving fathers whose dads were brutes. You took all that yucky experience and said that’s enough of that. When I have kids I’m giving them the home and family I wish I’d had.
    And you did. Just like The Little Red Hen.
    I love that about you <3

  6. March 21, 2014 at 10:35 am

    Oh boy does this sound familiar! This is the first draft of my book,with a father instead of a mother in the villain role. Thanks for sharing. Made me feel like there are others out there who get it.

    Best regards,
    Elizabeth

  7. March 21, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Gosh, what a ringing endorsement from your oldest children! I think I’m doing a decent job but maybe not enough for my kids to not aspire beyond my performance. :)

    I was just talking with a coworker about cycles of parenting through the generations. Conventional wisdom is that messed-up parents produce children who grow up to be messed-up parents, but his wife had a horrible childhood, being responsible for her sisters when she was 7, watching her mother’s boyfriend put a gun in her mother’s face, etc. Her sisters did, indeed, turn out just as messed up, but she is a loving, responsible, excellent mother (maybe slightly overly protective, but all things considered…). So my non-professional opinion is that strong people actually turn out even better through a rough upbringing than those raised in a more normal environment. Or, at least, they have the potential to.

  8. March 22, 2014 at 7:17 am

    Did my mother have a second family? Nah, she was too old by the time the adoption agency handed me over.

    Thank you for sharing your experience, like you I was convinced I would repeat her mistakes. I made a joke of it though and thanks to surgical intervention never had children of my own, it wasn’t until I married and became a step(monster) I learned I could truly love and parent children lovingly. I learned I didn’t have to carry my own mothers horror forward. I am so happy to know of others who found the same.

  9. March 22, 2014 at 7:06 pm

    I think the best lessons can be learned from your parents mistakes. Mine have all been.

  1. June 6, 2014 at 5:31 am

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