Having a very mobile and energetic 9mth+ old has definitely made posting here near the bottom of my priority list these days(the very bottom of the list includes but is not limited to, folding the finished laundry, scooping the dog doody in the backyard, and lets not forget, actually bringing the recycling to the curb) Motherhood is a busy but rewarding job for me, it's something I've always wanted to do. It's pretty blatant that my mother's dreams had little to do with mothering. I'm still not sure what her dreams are, I don't think she even knows, though I suspect that deep down what she really wants in life is freedom.
Parenthood on the whole is a crazy adventure. New parents turn to their own parents for advice and tips on child-rearing, they don't always agree with the advice, but often take it with a grain of salt. I know there are many of us out there who don't turn to good ol' ma' and pop' for parenting tips, there's not a lot to be learned from those who abused or neglected us. My mother was not a good parent, she wasn't even really a parent, but my dad on the other hand was pretty amazing considering what he had to deal with.
What kind of parenting skills did I learn from my dad? The important one's. First, I learned that spanking isn't necessary, I received two spankings from him that were very well deserved, but that was it(My mother on the other hand, practically beat me on a daily basis before she left). I also learned that children are not stupid and should not be treated as such. My dad hated the word stupid, so he never used it and he never once talked down to me or my siblings. I always felt special because my dad not only talked to me like another adult, but also because he'd debate with me about social and political issues, even though I was only 11. In contrast, whenever I voiced my opinions about similar issues with my mother she would tell me I was too young to understand what I was talking about. My dad never grounded us, he thought it only encouraged rebellion, and he was right as far as I'm concerned. My dad only ever told us to do something once, we were never allowed to debate his decisions, he stood firm at all times. My dad let us question authority, I was always encouraged to be outspoken, especially when it came to ethics. My dad was supportive as a father, but there are some things I learned he didn't intend to teach me. My dad swore too much and yelled too much, I do remember being scared of him for a time, especially after my mother left us. My dad wasn't home enough; between working long hours or working out of town for months, we sometimes only saw our dad half the year, but he didn't really have a choice. My dad went out too much and put too much responsibility on me at too young of an age.
My dad is amazing and I love him, but he always went to the bar to "sign in" after work, and on weekends he would leave the house by 2pm to go "run errands" and then not come home until 11pm or later, my siblings and I missed more then one activity as a result of our dad's drinking habits. I learned that you really have to pay attention to your children and what they're doing. I was very depressed for close to two years as a child, I would fake sick on a daily basis, I would stay home after my dad left for work, I even did self-harm and had thoughts of suicide. I managed to figure things out for myself, but my dad didn't understand what was going on, he wasn't around enough to see that I was depressed and suffering from extreme social anxiety.
Everyone has their challenges in life to deal with, I'm thankful for my experiences, good and bad, because I know that I will be able to help my children the way my mother, and my dad, couldn't help me growing up. Thankfully I have the ability to empathize to the nth degree, I don't really have any questions as a parent to ask my parents, but I do wish that I could talk to my mother about challenging situations and know she was telling me the truth. Instead I get to listen to her "helpful" advice about what I "need" to do, along with what she tells me she believes she did with myself and my siblings. I guess the only truth I can really count on is my own.