Being a parent is a troubling experience. There are no lessons you can take, no exams you need to pass. The only thing you can do is your best, and hope that your child or children survive childhood relatively unscathed.
In my own case, I'm big on discipline. By discipline, I mean that the children get encouraged or told off according to their behaviour. I try not to be too focused on their autism, and instead treat them as I would neurotypical children. They do have certain allowances made - I know that it will take many more times for them to listen and act on what they are told. I also know that they are the only children I have met that actively encourage their peers with "well done!", "good try!" etc.
Our house is set up for their convenience. It is a child centred environment. No one is allowed in if the children do not want them to. It is as safe an environment as I can possibly offer them without calling in presidential levels of security. They are well fed, allowed both terrible junk and food with food in it. They play in the garden, they make my walls a terrible mess with paints, sticky fingerprints and beans (courtesy of Lid who appears to be going through a "little shit" period), we play a variety of games.
They are, by and large, passable as well adjusted small people. I would give everything I have to ensure their happiness and success.
I never forget that I chose to have them both, and that I am privileged to have been able to have children.
This is not the case with my own mother. My mother and I have what you may describe as a "troubled" relationship. I can't really pin my finger on it, it's not because of a horrendous level of abuse I have suffered at her hands, it is, quite simply, that she didn't want me and has always made that very obvious. By telling me same.
Since I was very small, I have been told that I am "just like my father". That's not the greatest compliment a girl can receive, but it is less so when you consider that my biological father was physically violent to us all, and sexually violent to me. He "abandoned" us when we were small (my parents divorced when I was 18 months, so it's not hard to guess that I wasn't planned, wanted or consensual considering the divorce laws 35 years ago). This was used whenever I showed any sign of what she considered as non compliance.
She has constantly told me, through the years, that as far as she is concerned, she has a favourite son (my elder brother), a favourite daughter (my elder sister) and a friend (which is me, apparently). She didn't act like I was her friend though, and she still doesn't now. I couldn't imagine saying to my friend "it doesn't matter that your sister is the pretty one, you've got a nice personality
which is exactly what you want to hear at 13.
So it has continued through the years, her lack of expertise or interest meaning that I was dumped on my grandparents at age 4. She would be about, but disinterested and dispassionate at my existence. That she would constantly be unencouraging about anything I loved to do, unless it was something that her beloved son and beloved daughter was doing. I constantly flew under the radar, so much so that she didn't notice when I tried to kill myself, she didn't notice the mad bouts of depression that have followed me since I was young, that I had developed quite horrific bulimia and that my weight had dropped to under 6 stone. She never noticed that I loathed myself, could find nothing good to say about myself. She never submitted anything positive about me, never said anything loving or encouraging to me, and could barely tolerate my presence, which irritated her enormously.
Her contribution has been the constant erosion of my confidence, the constant destruction of my happiness; constant cristicism, and constant competition against a child who was desperate to be loved, liked, or merely looked at by her mother and thus conceded to be the loser, everytime.
Who thinks that their mother, having abandoned her own children, will expect to be able to settle with the one that she treated the worst and can still emotionally manipulate? That she will say "I am too old to be childrearing" when she obviated her own duty? That she will bring up the grandparent that you cared for, that you left university to look after, who you sat up with through the night, brought to the toilet, fed, covered up for, that you carried when she couldn't walk, who you devoted years of your life to, and claim that everything that was done, everything that you sacrificed, was performed by her?
Anything that can be has been made to be about her - when The Boy was hospitalised, I was told by her colleagues that it was an enormous worry for her, "your poor mum having this to worry about". This was despite her not having seen The Boy for two months beforehand. She missed his second birthday, which happened six months after his stint in hospital, as she "was too busy". My miscarrying Lid's twin somehow was made about her, athough even now I struggle to see why or how. When I was pregnant and homeless, she wouldn't help me, but instead told me to "crack on with it". Every dream has been pissed on, every aspiration crushed.
Why I let her move into my house, free of any input whatsoever, I am not entirely sure. It was to give my niece and nephews a rest from what appeared to be her constant criticism of them, made harder for the fact that they live in the house she holds the title to. Surely she wouldn't try that in my house, would she?
Since she has been here, I have returned to my old habits of depression. I am back to secretly vomiting. I am back to self loathing. I return, at times, to that synonymous crush, on a person who uses me and treats me like shit. Again, I have a woman who is only interested in undermining me in my home.
I have been subject to the old criticisms - my cooking is bad; (this from the woman who hadn't cooked for us since we were 11, as she was too busy "having her life" so it fell to me to run her household, with no consideration that I hadn't even started my life at that point); my weight ("You're putting on a lot of weight there"; "Ooo, you could have this jumper but I imagine it will be too small for you"); my intellect; my choice of work (and it is a choice to do the job I do, I chose my kids over anything else because that is what they deserve) - the old sniping nastiness that she has always brought to our relationship is back and more prevelant than before.
I have noticed that she is now pointing the sniping in my daughter's direction, and I rather think we shall be having none of that. It is attempted criticism of The Lid on a constant basis - yes, she is quite a naughty young lady, but I can't shout at her for emptying a packet of fake snow all over my bed when I let her go to my room on her own, unsupervised, can I? That would not be fair, and neither is it fair to tell her off because she acts, in many ways, like a neurotypical three year old; she wants attention, she gets jealous, she is loud for no reason, I have to tidy up after her, she won't clean her room - but these aren't things that my daughter is doing, these are things that my MOTHER is doing, and refuses to amend how she acts.
I have spoken to my mother nicely and poiltely, I have spoken to her away from the children. I have enquired oh so very discretely as to whether she may want to see a counsellor, if she thinks there are any underlying matters that she is so vehemently bitter at a comparatively young age, have phrased it delicately and kindly, much more so than I have here. I have been told in return that I am the family nutter, and to mind my own business.
I have explained that this is a house that belongs to the children who live in it, that they are afforded every possible respect. This has fallen on deaf ears.
It is now at the point whereby I tell her off as if she is an additional child. A month or so ago, I pointed at her and said "You. Stop It. She's 3, you're 63. Act it and grow up." Who envisages having to say that to their mum?
This is whining, I know. I haven't had a terrible childhood, merely an unpleasant one. In the grand scheme of things, this is nothing. The years have passed, and there is much I could say about her lack of care, her lack of interest, but the buck stops here.
There will be no more unpleasantness directed at the younger Wiltshires by the elder Wiltshires. There will be no stomping of dreams, there will be no destruction of hope. There will only be love, and if The Mammy cannot abide by that, then The Mammy must leave. Our job is to do better than our parents did, to try harder, and always the aim is to not be the mum and dad that fuck them up.
In the end, it comes down to this : "'You. Mother. Sun of your child's life. Remember that joy, that special privilege. Act accordingly."Read original post