By the age of ten, I had experienced every form of abuse possible at the hands of my two dads (a biological and step-father.) Though I wouldn’t remember some of it until a later age, it certainly affected my thoughts, perceptions and feelings throughout life. The effects of abuse, for me, wouldn’t come to a complete head until I had my own children.
The past couple of days I have jokingly or rather light-heartedly referenced how I can “lose my shit” over someone correcting or speaking to my children in a way that I don’t necessarily like. Some of you may be thinking, “Jeesh, woman! Get over yourself. I would want to send your kids to the corner if I were around them too!” And that may be true.
The thing is, no matter how much my kids may be misbehaving, I never want to make them feel disrespected or small. Do you know what I mean by small? The way a child feels when someone who is twice their size gets in their face and pokes them in the chest with their finger? It doesn’t hurt them or terrorize them, but it makes them feel out of control physically. You’re in their space and yelling and, frankly, when I see it happen to my kids I go right back to being a ten year-old little girl with no rights or respect. Just an object to be yelled at.
I know the people around my kids would never purposefully make my kids feel that way. And hell, my kids may not even take it the way I see it. But when I feel it for my kids, I see red. My mama bear instinct kicks in and I will protect my kids from whomever, whenever, wherever. It’s happened between my husband and I on more than one occasion. He gets stern with the kids and has a gruff voice and all I want to do is protect them. I know I’ve undermined him and pissed him off beyond words, but I can’t help it. I know he would never harm our children and has no intention of making them feel small, but my knee-jerk reaction takes over and it happens.
There are some things that I definitely have to get over. And then there are some things that I know may not be the big deal I make them to be, but I don’t care. I will always strive to make my kids feel respected and safe. They may be little hellions in the process. They may piss everyone around them off, including me. And I will deal with that too. But I hope to do so in a way that creates a conversation, and understanding. Not in a way that just scares the shit out of them.
I don’t want to be my kids’ friend. I honestly don’t, but I do want to have open lines of communication that stems from mutual respect. If they can’t respect me without fearing me then I don’t know what to do. But I don’t really want to be feared. I spent my life in fear of the authorities in my life. I don’t like the insecurity I felt from that as a kid and I don’t like who that made me as an adult. There has to exist a happy medium somewhere. I know my kids’ grandparents and older people in our lives absolutely don’t agree with me. They think I’m soft and a less than great mom at times. That bothers me, but I’m not sure it bothers me enough to want to change it or apologize for it.
My kids aren’t out skinning cats or flaunting their boobs. If that starts, I guess I’ll have to reconsider.
I know this is a break from my usual irreverent and childish behavior. I just want my voice to express from time to time the things that are important to me. And, right now, my kids and their state of well-being are heavy on my heart. I want them to know that their mom believes that kids are people too dammit.