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Too Much Honesty?

Maybe some information is better left for husbands, best friends and therapists’ offices. But, if you know me (even from the blogging world) you know I can’t help myself. I have a problem with keeping secrets or feeling like I’m the only one who feels the way I do. So I put it out there; lay it bare and then reap the reprecussions later. A blog is a dangerous place for some people; some writers parents read their blogs or co-workers read or husbands feel uncomfortable etc. Me? The most that’s happened is my blog was tried to be used against me once in a deposition.
But even if none of this is true for you, it just may not be the safest thing to put your innermost thoughts out for people to judge, but again, if you’re anything like me, you crave that connection with other human beings who “get it” that you’ll do almost anything and admit to almost anything to hear an “oh yeah, me too” above the chorus of “you feel like that? You must be a horrible mother.”

Let me backtrack a little. I recently had been feeling depressed. Like a balloon filled with more and more air that even the slightest bit more would surely shatter it into a million little balloon pieces. A lot of circumstances were contributing to this feeling. One was trying to start writing my book. It always brings out the self critic in me, the feeling of being a fraud who has nothing new to say about parenting etc. but bigger than this is something I want to share with my readers. It’s a big part of parenting I didn’t know I’d be in for. The part where all the past hurts from your first family start to take over your current parenting and threaten to turn you into a crockpot of emotion that is constantly simmering and threatening to boil over.

I am currently not in contact with any of my parents. But no worries about them reading this, they have no interest. I always swore to myself that I would keep that part of my life private in a Meg Ryan sort of way but minus the huge lips. To be fair, and because I’m 40 and have had a shit load of therapy, my mother did her best, and I do have happy memories of her. I remember the taste of her lipstick when she was going out for the night, I remember her reading me my favorite books over and over, but another thing I’ve been left with is a legacy of narcissism that is so severe it colors over everything. I mostly remember a feeling of longing. Longing for my mother in a way that was so strong I don’t know if anything can fill it up and God knows I’ve tried. But, here’s where it needs to stop. It affects my interaction with my beautiful baby girl. It actually makes it harder to parent because I’m constantly judging my own parenting, watching as if from outside myself, to make positively sure that she feels safe and loved. Here’s the problem, she does feel safe and loved and is thriving and chatting up a storm and knows who her family is without a doubt and as far as I can tell, feels no sad longing and will never .

But I am not thriving.
I used to think it was just because parenting is such hard work. And it is. Let’s face it, life will never be as we knew it. But I finally am coming to realize that I am not my mother. Far far from it. And I will not make the same mistakes and leave my child alone in the world to fend for herself EVER. And even if I put her in daycare a few days a week or God forbid had some fulltime help for awhile, it would not make me HER. I’m not going to bash my parents on a public blog but let’s just say there is very good reason we are not in contact, and that’s hard for me EVERY DAY. Believe me, I’ve tried. I’ve tried limited contact just for my daughter, I’ve tried to work things out but she’s not intersted.
Everytime, I’m there for my baby, everytime she has a boo boo or a nightmare and needs me to hold her, there’s a little girl inside me that still grieves for her own mommy. And that’s when I realize, it’s simply not about me anymore. All I can do is the best I can for my child, which may not be perfect all the time and know that with love and attention, she will have the resiliance to be her own strong, beautiful person. And maybe that doesn’t take the all consuming neurotic attention that’s in my head. Maybe, just maybe, parenting is hard but I’m making it a little harder and I can let go a tiny bit. Baby steps.

Posted by Stefanie Wilder Taylor on March 31, 2007 3:43 pmUncategorized22 comments  

22 Comments

  1. PDX Mama said,

    I do enjoy your blog because of your honesty (and humor). I’m sorry about the issues with your parents and the depression. I wish you peace with it all some day.

    I know very well the need/desire to make sure you’re children feel secure and loved. I will probably never talk about it on my blog b/c my mom occasionally reads it, we have a good relationship now and I don’t want to hurt her. But there are still times that I revert to that scared little girl of 13 who didn’t feel she could trust or rely on anyone in the world and I never ever want my children to experience that. And maybe I end up overcompensating a little :-), perhaps why the grandparents call the kids spoiled!

    | March 31, 2007 @ 5:33 pm

  2. Suzy said,

    My parents are the reason I never had children. I was so afraid I’d become the withholding non-affectionate Dad or the critical narcissistic Mom.

    Here’s the scary part, I actually attracted those very two qualities in my life with mostly everyone I knew because it was all I knew. I was ‘home’ when someone ignored me or when someone criticized me.

    I cry a lot for the little girl lost in me. Kisses and hugs to you. I think a lot of us have been there. Unfortunately.

    | March 31, 2007 @ 5:50 pm

  3. gmcountrymama said,

    Many times I have thought, breaking all ties with my mother might be easier than dealing with the emotions I feel, mostly sadness and anger, when I am around her. But for me, that would just bring on a whole bunch of other troubles I don’t want to deal with.
    I am also hard on myself and critical at times of my parenting and nobody would say I am like my mother (at least I hope not). Fortunatly my children, so far, are more secure and have more self esteem than I ever did.
    So sorry that you are still going through this. Thanks for sharing your feelings with us. Hopefully you can take some comfort in knowing there are other women with similar feelings regarding their parents.

    | March 31, 2007 @ 9:59 pm

  4. Laural Dawn said,

    All the stuff you put out there is so much braver than the stuff I write on my blog.
    I can’t relate to your parents. But, I’ll tell you that my mom went through exactly what you are going through now. But, she parented through it – and my sister and I are very close to her.
    She wasn’t perfect – but we always knew we were loved and that we were never alone in the world. All anxiety aside, that is the best gift you can ever give your child.
    I know – it’s the gift my mom gave to me.
    My struggle is trying to live up to the example.

    | March 31, 2007 @ 11:10 pm

  5. neuroticMom said,

    My best wishes go out to you. Your blog cracks me up. You are extremely talented! It’s nice to see you blogging more recently, kind of my therapy.
    Your honesty and sincerity are above and beyond. Keep up the excellent work with your daughter and know that, that was then and this is now…you have a chance to break the chain. Are parents were so unaware of so much of the damage that was done to us (or maybe they weren’t).

    oh, yeah…stay in therapy, or just blog more often…love ya!

    | April 1, 2007 @ 12:55 am

  6. clickmom said,

    I always knew I wanted to be a mother. However, I was petrified of having a daughter thinking she might feel the way about me that I do about my mother. When I was pregnant with my first I prayed and prayed for a boy. At the 40 week sonogram I found out that I was indeed carrying a boy. I cried tears of joy.

    That night I dreamt that the technician said I was having a girl and I told myself that I every thing would have been just fine. When I woke up in the morning I knew that boy or girl I was going to raise healthy emtionally whole children wether they were boys or girls.

    | April 1, 2007 @ 8:19 pm

  7. surcie said,

    You’re so insightful, Stefanie. And I think the fact that you’re aware of your behavior/negative self-talk is HUGE. You write about it so well, too. Keep downloading those feelings from your brain and onto paper or your computer.

    For the record, I have a wonderful Mom. But I’m neurotic, anxious, and terribly hard on myself when it comes to motherhood. Go figure.

    | April 2, 2007 @ 12:07 am

  8. L.A. Daddy said,

    I didn’t have the same experience but I do understand the nervousness of being a parent. My dad died when I was 6 months old so I’ve never really known what it was like to have a dad or be a dad.

    Now that I’m a dad, one down and one on the way, I’m constantly worried if I’m doing it right or doing what I’m supposed to. Worried about what the consequences will be for each of my little actions.

    But I also know that the kind of people who worry about these things (and even the kind of people who blog) are the type of people that probably shouldn’t.

    Because you worry means that you care and understand and will make a difference more than any parent who doesn’t think (and/or write) about these things.

    And also… I like you. And that’s all that matters :)

    | April 2, 2007 @ 1:53 am

  9. Jane is Dating said,

    IF you have a sec- http://itsmylife51969.blogspot.com/2007/01/looking-for-family.html
    like you, I had no choice than to break up
    with my mother. She was toxic to my being
    and everyday the minute my daughter cries
    because of something I do (make her clean her room, make her organize her shelves)
    hits me like a ton of bricks because I wonder if she’s thinking what I used to think- that I don’t love her except for making her do chores,keeping her room clean, etc. I always wondered if my mother loved me because her interest was mostly in men and finding a good catch. It’s really a long story- but I struggle with issues similar to yours. I fear I’ll end up being like her…so far however, I’ve not even come close.

    | April 2, 2007 @ 2:15 am

  10. rivergirlie said,

    oh dear – sounds like the only person who is suffering here is you. your beautiful little girl is clearly thriving with the love and care of a wonderful mother who needs to let up on herself – just a little.

    maybe you can explore some of what you’re feeling in this book, or a subsequent one. i think your insights would help lots of women.

    | April 2, 2007 @ 7:32 am

  11. Shannon said,

    You know, since we’ve talked about this a bazillion times that we shared alot of the same experiences with our moms. I remember having a conversation about whether we wanted a boy or a girl when we were pregnant with our kiddos. You told me you were hoping Elby would be a girl. I remember thinking how brave you were because the thought of a daughter terrified me. As for the constant anxiety about parenting, I have that raising a boy, too. If I raise my voice or am not infininantly patient I worry I have damaged him. If I am too laid back, I worry I am raising a hellion. It is so hard to find balance when you didn’t have the greatest role model.

    You are doing a great job though, and that is what matters.

    | April 2, 2007 @ 2:38 pm

  12. Patti said,

    you’re not alone in this at all. I cut all contact with my own mother 3 years ago when it was clear her poor judgment wasn’t confined to raising me. She and my Dad adopted me when I was 7, so from the first moment I remember all I’ve ever wanted was a Mom. She too did the best she could with the issues she had but it was woefully inadequate and downright harmful.

    There have been times when I’ve held one of my children or chosen to do something important to them over something I wanted and felt that pang of wishfulness. I wish I had a Mom like me. I guess that’s just as much a regret as a compliment LOL. I’m not a perfect Mom but I’m there for my children in many ways that count.

    | April 2, 2007 @ 4:38 pm

  13. kiwidebra said,

    I know exactly what you mean. Both about blogging connecting you to people who understand and about parent issues. But I’m with LA Daddy, the fact that you’re even worried about screwing up your kids means you’re NOT!

    I know you’re working on a book so may not want to color the waters, so to speak, but I read a terrific book while I was pregnant that I loved. It’s “Hello, My Name Is Mommy: The Dysfunctional Girl’s Guide to Having, Loving (and Hopefully Not Screwing Up) a Baby” by Sheri Lynch.

    It’s really helpful and funny for anyone who grew up in a dysfunctional childhood. And really, who didn’t?!

    I used to worry that maybe my mother was normal until she had kids, maybe it was childbirth that did it. Apparently not, as I’m still (fairly) normal. As hubby and I joke, until I tell Baby Girl to go make mommy a screwdriver, I’m doing better than my mother.

    | April 3, 2007 @ 1:43 am

  14. Meegan said,

    12 years of therapy has allowed me to understand that my issues? They may have started w/ my mom but I own them now. I’m fortunate enough to have a great relationship with my mother…now. But oh, what a journey it was to get here. When I found out I was having a girl (who is now only 7 months old) I was terrified. I’m still so frightened that I’m going to fuck her up but good. I battled depression, eating disorders and drug abuse to name a few. Throw in a bipolar diagnosis and a bunch of meds and there I am. Guess my point is, don’t beat yourself up because there are so many of us struggling fuck-ups out here doing the best we can to mother our girls. I love your post. It’s so beautifully honest. Sometimes it’s hard and sometimes it sucks and it’s so nice to hear that from another mom. Thank you for sharing and please keep doing so!

    | April 3, 2007 @ 1:44 am

  15. Dana said,

    Sweetheart, I know exactly where you’re coming from. I too feel depressed some days. There are days I want to pack a bag and leave — never to come back. But that mommy guilt haunts me. Leaving my husband and son would be the worst thing for me.

    Still….life, parenting, motherhood…..it all feels overwhelming sometimes.

    | April 3, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

  16. Omaha Mama said,

    Wow. Heart breaking – thanks for sharing. There’s a part of parenting that makes me feel like a little girl too. And there have been numerous times when all I have wanted is my mommy. I can’t imagine if I didn’t have that option, to just pick up the phone and reach her. You are strong to admit it’s affect on you. And when your daughter parents her own babies, she will only remember your love. Let that warm your heart!

    Funny that I was just thinking of the blogging “audience” in my own recent post, it really changes one’s words – don’t you think?

    | April 3, 2007 @ 8:48 pm

  17. KellyA said,

    I completely relate to what you are saying. I don’t know anyone besides myself (in my circle of friends) who has cut off all ties with their family. I had to. For my own mental health I had to not let them be involved in my life or my children’s. It is the best decision I have ever made. Even though they are not nice people I still feel guilty once in a while. After I cut off ties I realized my problems with anxiety and depression started to go away. I still have them, but they are less severe. I too worry about how I am raising my kids. I do know that at their ages ( 7 & 5) I had already been through a lot. My kids are just being kids and thats the way I hope it will stay.

    | April 4, 2007 @ 5:13 pm

  18. JP said,

    aahhh narcisism. Wreaking havoc in lives all over. It taints everything.

    It’s like I can’t escape it.

    Thanks for giving me that “oh yeah, me too” moment.

    | April 5, 2007 @ 12:34 am

  19. just4ofus said,

    I love reading your blog.
    You are so honest and humerous. LOVE IT.
    I hear tumbleweeds in my blog anytime I say anything opinionated or controversial. Everyone only likes People magazine entries.
    I hear ya on the parents and comparison andn parenting.It is hard.

    | April 5, 2007 @ 1:33 am

  20. Victoria said,

    Its so sad that you had to write this post and sadder still that so many people have commented that they know EXACTLY how you feel.

    Well, I’m another of those people. My parents are in my life but (god forgive me please) there are many days when I think it will be so much “easier/better/calmer/i don’t know what but not how it is and has always been” when my mum is no longer on this earth.

    I know, I know, I’m evil and I’m in a place where I understand her past, her issues and all that makes her “her” but the effect on my life and now my daughter’s from her (ahem) parenting skills is a lot to cope with.

    I moved 7000 miles from my mum recently due to husband’s work. Thought it would help. It didn’t. She still manages to suck the life out of me and I still manage to question my parenting daily……

    I’m lucky to have a great husband from a reasonably normal family. He picks me up when I’m down and reminds me I’m not my mother and our daughter isn’t the child I was.

    Good luck and much love to you and yours. You are not alone. You’re doing a great job already as a mum – don’t forget that – EVER!

    | April 13, 2007 @ 4:51 am

  21. Heidi said,

    I know what you’re talking about. All of it, even the need to write about it in a “public” blog. I know it, and I can relate. Thanks for writing it out loud.

    | April 16, 2007 @ 1:52 am

  22. gingajoy said,

    those of us who have not the positive experience with our own mothers, i think we struggle with this all the time. like you, i have learned to look back and understand my mother more, but as my boys get older i also ask the “how could she?” question more often… i also have not given my mother the link to the blog–not because i vent about her in any way, but because her judgement could throw me for a loop once more.

    take care…

    oh. and if you’re a fake, we all are.

    | April 19, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

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