Picture Perfect (Reprise)

  

My mother has been steadfastly opposed to mammograms since the beginning of time. Not because she thinks they are useless. Or dangerous. Or because the guidelines are changing. She has refused to get one because I told her to get one.

So, I think about this with my own daughter.

She is absolutely going to roll her eyes over how stubborn I am. She will tell everyone who will listen how I ruined her life or at least how I make it sooooo much more difficult for her. And I imagine, right or wrong, that I will be proud of that fact on some level.

Are we meant to have perfect lives and perfect relationships with our parents? I have maintained that anyone who says that they do is either lying or delusional. We have to be screwed up by our parents to some degree. It makes us interesting.

Which gives some new perspective into my own mother’s crazy decisions. She is loony as hell and that’s OK because it is supposed to be that way.

I thought I would repost this from last year as a follow up to my post yesterday. I think about the things my mother said and did and how they affected me and I worry about my effect on my own daughter quite a bit. Truth is, I cannot be perfect. I cannot save her from all trauma at my own hands. But I can make sure she knows that I love her above all else and pray everything else sorts itself out like it did for me.

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71 thoughts on “Picture Perfect (Reprise)

  1. My relationship with my Mum is different every time I see her as I adapt to her ‘day’ and how she is. It’s one of the reasons we don’t usually advise anyone of our intentions to visit as I want to see Mum as she is, not how people think I should. Also, I am better at dealing with situations ‘on the hoof’ and if she doesn’t know I’m coming, she can’t fret beforehand or worry if I’m late, or worse feel abandoned if we can’t make it for any reason after all.
    I was so pleased we had such a wonderful day last Sunday. She knew immediately who I was and we were able to talk about a lot of things without her having to try and remember the occasion I was talking about. I love her dearly and it’s upsetting for everyone on a bad day, most of all her as you can see she’s having trouble with her memory and getting anxious because she can’t remember.

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  2. I am actually really, really glad to have a forthrightly imperfect parent. Her willingness to apologize and/or say, “I don’t really know what’s right to do here, but this is what I’m trying” had a much more powerful impact on me than I realized before I had kids.

    I have seldom been driven toward perfection but toward better, which I discuss with D and will someday discuss with J. I hope my openness about some of my shortcomings impacting them will steer them away from tying up their own sense of self worth in perfection or freedom from error. (The learning is from the errors!)

    And so, as I think about these things, I am steadfast in my commitment to apologize and rectify individual issues, but never to regret or apologize overarching for doing the best I could with what I had at any given time. And I am heartened to imagine Li’l D as a 36-year-old, taking a walk and thinking how he didn’t do so hot today … but that tomorrow will be better for what he took from it, imperfections and all.

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    • My mother never apologized or admitted she was wrong about anything and so recognizing that I make a concerted effort to make sure that I do that with my own kids when it is warranted but you are spot on about making sure we do not take it too far. All we can do is our best. πŸ™‚

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  3. My mom was evil and hated me — and oddly enough, that was a huge break for me. I learned to exist — persist — anyway. And, I loved her. It was like, “Well, OK, your feelings toward me are YOUR problem, mom.” I don’t know how I reached that conclusion, but I did. It was more necessary for my mental and physical health that I love my mom than that she love me.

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  4. Love is the key – for sure. I wouldn’t say so much that parents are meant to be flawed but rather, from the other side, it is not possible to be perfect and so they are bound to be flawed. Interactions with a universe and another person , none of which we will ever completely understand.(as we will never completely understand ourselves even) is bound to lead to some experimentation and errors. It is how we address those errors that says so much about who we are.

    Life is a super-wicked problem = a real area of study in math in which the solution to the problem is only possible when the question and answer are both known ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem ) and is categorized as such when the poser of the problem is a part of both the problem and the solution. Mathematically these problems are solved using iterations- often millions of iterations-personally they are solved by guessing, then trying it,making a mistake, fixing it and then starting over again. Hence the art of living is basically the art of handling mistakes – not the art of being perfect. By definition – because life is a super wicked problem..

    Given that then parents can never be perfect – just go in the direction of perfection. If, course it also means that kids cannot be perfect either and the parents job is to teach kids how to make good mistakes, πŸ˜€

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  5. Parents can really screw with our heads can’t they, but I think you are gonna be okay, unless there’s a very dark side to you that you haven’t revealed here πŸ™‚

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  6. I try so very hard to not repeat with my kids what my mom did with me. I dont have a daughter (yet…) but I look at how much my husband dislikes his mom and I worry that my boys will grow up with disdain and run away to be in happy bliss with their wives’s families…

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  7. I do not believe that pure peer friendship is possible between a parent and a child. The nurturing role ( if taken seriously) would seem to preclude it. Just delivering our children to the doorstep of adulthood will involve much wailing and gnashing of teeth – even in tge very best of homes.

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  8. You recognize that you do not want to repeat the pattern, and that is a huge first step. Our dad often admitted he made mistakes with us, and apologized for it, saying he did the best he knew. Those were such welcome words, and changed the dynamic of our adult relationship with him. Our mom died young, and never had that same realization. Sad.

    Just love them, Doc, and express it however you can, but often enough to make all the rest not really matter.

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  9. Some one once said something along the lines of – Your parents ruin the first half of your life, and your children ruin the second half. Great post, I always enjoy reading them.

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  10. Relationships with parents constantly change, I know i was dramatic as a teenager, but now we are kinda friends (unless of course I disagree with them on something). I always envied those kids growing up that seemed to get along with their parents so well or that had parents that always praised them even in their parents.

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  11. Hi Victo,
    I agree with your mother about the mammograms. My reasoning is that we under estimate the effect of low level radiation on crushed breast tissue.
    As for what we do to our children, well that is just part of the learning process. The parents aren’t the only influences in their lives. We just got their first. Hopefully, we will have instilled the core values that they will eventually claim as their own.
    Leslie

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      • Yes it is a learning process, and I think we are pretty good at parenting inspite of the fact there isn’t much training for the job. Being a grandparent is just plan fun. However, you worry about your grandchildren too.
        Leslie

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  12. I wish I had embraced my mom’s loonyness more when she was alive. I tried so hard not to be like her, not to be loony. I think my daughter would say, “Give it up, Mom. It’s not working.”

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  13. Our way in the world with our parents our indeed our first imperfect relationships, Doc, and teach us what to expect for and from ourselves forever and ever. Scary, yes, but more and more clear as life goes on and then we establish the next set with our own children hoping for better and seeing many of the same reactions in them as we had … and some of the same behaviors in ourselves that our parents did. Have a good day, Doc. I love your eye on life because you always help me reflect about mine so well. πŸ™‚

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  14. One of the differences, I think, is that our aren’t a never let us know through words that they loved us. That wasn ‘t how they operated. Our generation is very different.

    Whenever I say or do something, ahem, imperfect, I tell Jacob, “another year of therapy!”

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  15. “Perfect” is the word I avoid because it confronts me with standards that might not even exist but in my own mind.

    People have their quirks, it makes them more human than anything. I appreciate a quirk more than “perfectly normal behaviour.” How silly…

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  16. This is so true! My father was a difficult person while I was younger, there were hundreds of situations where he would freak me out. But growing up and getting older puts it in a different perspective. It took me a long time to understand why he raised me like that and after all I’m glad he did. I wouldn’t do it differently with my own kids I think. As long as they get the love in addition to that they will be fine. Only love will bring them nothing, and without love they will be nithing as well.

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  17. I love both my children beyond all reason. Their shortcomings don’t concern me, yet I know this is not what my children see and hear. I think my daughter sometimes hears hears her thoughts instead of my words.

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  18. Pingback: My Article Read (5-22-2015) | My Daily Musing

  19. My husband has parents that were, and still are, emotionally abusive. They are very unpleasant to be around. That being said, they love him as best they can in their immature narcissistic way; they are simply incapable of seeing anything from any perspective other than their own. He is a fantastic Dad and husband, though he is still damaged by them and hurt by them. relationships with your children. Don’t forget, the true payoff is not until they are adults.

    I am sorry your childhood was so damaging, you can never undo that, but you can rise above it and be rewarded by

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the fun things about this post seeing how many other people had similar experiences. It can be so isolating when you are living it, but believe me when I say I do not carry it around with me all the time, now. πŸ™‚

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