The one about my fear.
I’ve been spending more time with my own mother recently. She’s (kindly) been spending one day a week with the Tiny Dictator while I work from home. Though, lately, I’ve been escaping to the office. Partly because of commitments there, but mostly because I can’t spend any more time with my mother.
I moved out of home when I was young – I hadn’t yet finished the HSC, and didn’t have much choice in the situation. At this current stage in my life, I’ve very nearly spent more time NOT living with my mother. Things were pretty tense when I was a teenager – perhaps most would attribute that to adolescence – but, I’ve long known my own mind, and could always tell that we didn’t share values. We had very different ideas about the world, and our places in it.
There have been periods in my adult life where I’ve not spoken to my mother for weeks on end, and only seen her a handful of times in a year. Pretty much from the moment I let her know that I was pregnant, everything changed. There appeared, overnight it seemed, a sudden need for her to be involved. Some obligation. I tried to set the ground rules pretty early on – I was adamant that she and my stepfather not share their thoughts on birth options with me, I knew we had different opinions and was basically just trying to avoid conflict (when she did find out that I had a caesarean, she groaned, as though she’d suffered a fatal wound). But these early hoped-for boundaries were quickly eroded.
I guess that part of me hoped that this common ground would be of benefit to us – we finally had something to talk about. What I’ve actually come to realise is that I don’t really like my mother. I love her. But, I do not find her company enjoyable. We have nothing in common. She doesn’t know me. I feel like I’m constantly disappointing her in my choices. I can’t agree with most of her views – we can’t even have a rational conversation about things we disagree on.
This terrifies me. My heart breaks to think that one day my son might feel the same about me. There’s that quote about having children: “It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body.” And this is exactly how I feel. It is a love unlike anything I could ever have imagined. I imagine myself without him as some kind of husk – without weight or substance, floating and insignificant. It’s as though he grounds me, not just to the world, but to myself.
I worry that his childhood is going to be full of tiny, incalculable scars that add up to an adult who’s broken. That we’ll grow apart, and that he’ll feel I’m as intractable and unreasonable as I find my own mother. I worry that I’ll make him feel responsible for this. That my own need for validation as a parent will outweigh his needs to be the child. I want to protect him from me.
I’m a bit lost on this one. On this problem, on this post. I wish I had the answers. I wish there was some magic formula to raising stable, well-adjusted humans, who can embrace their flaws and still be functional. So, I’m just going to love him with everything I have.