If you have never been hated by your child you have never been a parent. ~Bette Davis
Unless we are criminally neglectful or abusive or just plain bat-shit crazy, there is really no protection from us as parents. And even if we are any of those, chances are we are not permanently divided from our children. Should we live, we leave our mark. Should we die, we leave our mark. We are the reality that our children must learn to acknowledge.
It would be wonderful if as children we could foresee the damage to be done to us, have money in our therapy bank from the time of our birth and deal with all issues on an ongoing basis beginning with the perverse emotional impact of life in the womb. Unfortunately, we are often in our 20s before we begin to realize that the insanity in our own homes may not be the norm all around town. We are in our thirties before we discover that we are not concrete statues perceived (as opposed to conceived) by our parents. And in our forties and fifties many of us are still trying to discover how to change what is.
As a child of the equation, I took an unduly long time to appreciate the good that I got from my father and, especially, my mother. I was caught up in bemoaning who she was, what she had done, and how she had failed me. I worried much more that my feet were dry and crackled when I put on my nylons (like my mother) than that I should learn to stand on those same two feet; looking in the mirror and deciding to buck up and be an adult.
As a parent in the equation, I see my children bouncing about in their decision making about me. Am I the stinking mother who tries to control just by being alive, the proof of all of their illusions of cause and effect, and the picture to hold up as a constant reminder of who not to be? Or am I a somewhat silly old woman who has some okay traits, who makes them shudder wryly in anticipation of future behavior, or who has lived through many years and might be someone with whom to discuss issues and answers?
As a grandparent and no longer a part of the equation, I still have wishes. I want my grandchildren to be real. I want them to jump ahead in the learning process in order see their parents as people. I want them to realize that these people have formed the basis of life for them and have created a springboard from which they may leap into their futures. I want them to realize that they are individuals who have choices. And the grist for those choices comes from information they have gleaned, but that they must still separate the wheat and chaff.
I want my children and grandchildren to know that their genetic and environmental heritage is there for them to draw upon but it isn’t their destiny.
Our parents are with us in body or in spirit for our entire lives. We can decide whether this is a blessing or a curse. Children are much more likely than parents to adapt to change. So we can yearn or we can accept. We can resist or we can learn. Maybe I would have saved a lot of time if someone had just said to me, “This is the way it is. Deal with it.”