There’s a lot that parents don’t tell their kids when they grow up. This is a thought that I have been going over for days now.
Growing up I always had this lovely, flowery idea of myself as a child: that I was a kind, considerate, helpful, always-smiling semi-angel. And most of this perception was built with the aid of my mother’s anecdotes about my early childhood, especially the parts that we don’t really remember when we become older.
I had lived with this perception of child Halima up until I had my own child. The days and nights that we have and the things my son does and the things I do and the semi- catastrophes that we clean up and the days of utter frustration when nothing goes right and Yunus couldn’t be any less cooperative made me sit down one day and think.
Seriously, was I really such an angel and there is something wrong with MY parenting or is there something that my mom didn’t tell me?
Having to deal with the thought that I was doing EVERYTHING wrong was too heavy so I decided to look somewhere else.
Recent, long conversations with my mom revealed so many concealed realities of mine and all of my siblings’ early childhood that left me speechless.
Let me give you an example.
It was a trip to the Zoo, sometime in early 2000s that involved mom, me and my 4 other siblings.
My memories of what happened: it was super awesome and we saw all kinds of exciting animals and ate yummy home made pizza and treats midway through the trip while running after seagulls.
My mom’s memory of what happened: 25 % of the trip was whining. When stepping to the store to buy snacks my brother had a huge meltdown in his stroller about a candy he couldn’t have and while swallowing her tears and trying to collect what we needed, the stroller tripped over and tripping my brother and the store items on the floor in front of everyone. She swallowed her tears, soothed my brother, collected the items and managed to get us out of the store and into the zoo.
Stories like this from my mom’s perspective were eye-opening. We might have some of the most amazing memories but that didn’t mean that making those days happen was easy for her.
After the zoo story, I asked her: “Why didn’t you just give up and go home?”
“No, we had to go to the zoo. I promised you. And it was going to be fun because I decided that it would.”
Her resolve and decisiveness left me in awe.
So basically, doing anything with kids, especially young ones is and will be hard. Things will go wrong and kids don’t always behave for whatever reason (needs to pee, eat, sleep, sit, run, hug …) but what is left is you and your decisions.
Will you DECIDE that it will be a happy day? Or will you wait for the first thing to go wrong or a child to whine to give up?
I noticed that I have been the latter for a long time. Naturally this quarantine situation doesn’t really help, but still, I feel like I have been to quick to just give up.
When talking to my mom made me realize that I wasn’t always (nearly ever) perfect, and that I was also a child who made her mom cry and frustrated her and didn’t always obey, I felt calmer. I felt calmer because even though I made her feel all of those things, I know she still loves me.
So just because my son and his actions make me feel all those difficult feelings from time to time doesn’t mean that he isn’t a good child or that there’s something wrong with him and that we aren’t going to give him amazing memories and that we, as parents, can’t be happy.
And also, my mom helped me realize that HAVING those feelings sometimes towards your child, doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. Kids DO make us exhausted, frustrated, sad, and even depressed sometimes. But it doesn’t mean we love them any less. I know for sure that my mom didn’t.
Waiting for things to go right to be happy… Well, you’ll have to keep waiting, especially if you’re a parent.
I wasn’t perfect and neither is my son. But seems like when time goes by, from that HUGE scale of feelings, what is left to a parent is the happy scale: the successes, the firsts, the cuddly moments, the spontaneous “I love yous” and the images of the kids smiling and the sound of their excited yells and laughter.
Humans seem to celebrate and highlight the positive, rather than the negative.
However, I am a darn realist and I can’t get rid of that. So I am going to tell my kid (s) when he/they grow up, about the times they did everything right and were happy and made us happy, but I’m also going to tell them about the times when things weren’t so flowery. I feel like it’s important for them to realize when they grow up that life has a huge spectrum of feeling and events, so that when one day, they have to deal with a day with their kids that nothing goes right, they don’t resent that child or even the child’s behaviour, but rather look at the situation as something that passes and that can be learnt from.
Tell me what do you think. Should we share with our grown up kids the whole past, with the whole truth or should we leave it in the past?