I have to apologize for not posting in what has felt like eons. My only excuse is that I haven’t really felt moved to say anything. There hadn’t been any new revelations in my life, any new happenings. Just the same ol’ same ol’ of the routine that we have. At one point it even felt like I no longer had anything left to say or think other than “do I have enough onions for dinner tonight?”
In retrospect, I see how pathetic that sounds but thats a post for another day. Today I wanted to talk about Mothers day. I’m sure most of you if not all of you celebrated the mothers in your lives this past Sunday. If you are a mother yourself, then Happy belated mothers day to you. I hope it was a good one, one where you felt appreciated for all that you do, whether you are a stay at home mom or a working mom. The key is that you’re a MOM and that it is a role that no one really understands the sacrifices of, until they are a mother themselves.
This post will probably not sit well with people from my culture. You see, where I come from, dirty laundry is never to be aired. Things may suck, but you keep them to yourself and keep the appearances up at all times. I’ve found this way of thinking to actually be pretty detrimental – it sets up false notions and ideas that everything is perfect and okay… So apologies in advance.
My mothers day was… well in nice terms, ignorable. Which is precisely what I plan on doing. Ignoring this year’s mothers day (and if Lobster remembers) possibly doing it over this weekend.
My relationship with my mother is sad at the worst of times and complicated at best. You have to understand: I have no doubt in my mind that she loves me, as best as she is capable of loving me. That isn’t something I question… but rather HOW she loves me or rather shows it. Same goes for my father, to a point. They come from a generation where you didn’t show affection, it was just accepted parents loved their kids.
I am the eldest of three and the most independent of her (which has been a major sticking point between us). Growing up I would hear my mother complain of how her mother never showed her any affection or love. They were fed, clothed and taken care of, but hugs and kisses and outwardly shows of affection never happened. My daughter (according to my parents) is a carbon copy of who I was at her age, so when I see her independence and her willfullness, I see what my mother dealt with. Which is why I guess its so hard for me to understand the strain in our relationship.. I guess its harder to see the cycle you’re repeating again in your own life.
I have a younger sister (8 years my junior) who can do no wrong in my mother’s eyes. Things that would have gotten me kicked out of the house, are glossed over when done by my sister. Its a source of constant irkness (its a word!… that I just made up ) for me. Its a behavior that has caused me to question myself constantly: whats wrong with me? Why am I not enough for you to love the same way? Am I not smart enough? Am I not pretty enough? what is it?
Years ago before I met Lobster, there had been a flurry of my parents trying to attempt an arranged marriage for me to a guy who was a lawyer. They had decided that it was time for me at the old age of 22 to be married and they were going to take care of it for me. They introduced us. I said no. Flat out HELL NO. There was nothing there between him and I. He was the opposite of what I wanted in a mate and I wasn’t even remotely physically attracted to him. To me he wasn’t good looking.
My mother’s sage response: You’re not good looking yourself either. You need to marry someone who is less good looking than you, so they are never tempted to look outside the marriage and cheat on you.
Ignoring the craziness of the advice itself… the woman who gave birth to me didn’t even think I was good looking. What chance did I have then? I begrudgingly said yes to the arranged marriage. That fell through due to ridiculousness on his family’s end and 3 months later I was flying to philadelphia where I met Lobster. Another story for another time.
My Mothers day was spent with both parents telling I was too strict with my daughter (but then it being noted to outsiders what a well behaved little toddler she was and how well she listened), that I didn’t know how to deal with my toddler’s stubborn eating habits, that ice cream is in fact okay to eat three times a day as meal replacements because it’ll make her gain weight (never mind that its all unhealthy weight). I was reminded how I didn’t know what I was doing and that I should just do as I was told by someone who “raised three of you kids”.
Negative reinforcement was a very big thing in our house. I brought home a 95% on a math test once. All I heard from my parents was “Where is the other 5%?” The next week I brought home a 100% on my math test. Instead of praise I got, “Why didn’t you get the bonus questions?” There is a reason why I’m a type A overachiever.
I asked myself (while talking to my bff about it) why I keep allowing myself to be treated this way. Why do I go and stay with them if I know this is how it will be every time. The reasons are twofold. One, my daughter loves them and they love her. They as grandparents, dote on her and adore everything she does. She knows she is loved and I wouldn’t want to be in the way of that relationship. Two: hope. Stupid me always holds out hope that this time it’ll be different. This time they’ll tell me, “you’re a great mom. We’re proud of you.”
Stupid stupid hope.
Last year during a similar visit I was told that the reason why Behbeh didn’t eat properly now is because I didn’t eat enough when I was pregnant with her…and that really I had no one but myself to blame. It took Lobster MONTHS to get me to understand that it wasn’t my fault.
I have a breakdown almost bi-weekly when I feel like I am consistently failing as a parent. This past week around my family (minus Lobster who stayed behind for work) really made me realize how different I am as a parent. Yes I am strict and I expect her to do her best… but despite coming from family where negative reinforcement was what was supposed to make you be a better person, I am choosing to do the opposite.
I let Behbeh be independent and try and fail… and I pick her up and tell her that she did good just by trying and next time she’d get it. She’d do better and I loved her anyways. There is no “except for” or “unless”… no hang ups, no disclaimers. My love for that little girl is complete. I may be disappointed by things she does and I’m very positive there will be times I will be absolutely livid with her – but I will always be her biggest supporter. I’ll believe in her when she doesn’t even believe in herself. Because I’m her mama.
Her father and I make it a point every day to let her know what a treasure she is to us and how loved she is. When he picked us up at the airport, Lobster gave me a bouquet of flowers (aww) AND gave Behbeh a baby bouquet of flowers just for her so she’d know how much he missed her.
If she’s ever yelled at, afterwards we tell her that while we were mad at her, we still love her and thats never going to change. Every single night before she closes her eyes to sleep we tell her, “Mama and Papa love you more than all the stars in the sky. More than all the grains of sand in the world. More than anything and everything. Always. Always. Always.”
She has the rest of her life and the rest of the world to meet people who will bring her down, tell her she’s not good enough, or pretty enough, or smart enough. I want her home with us to be the one place where she will always know that “no matter what” she’s beautiful inside and out and so so loved.
The cycle has to end somewhere…
and its going to end here with me and her.