Of late, I have been thinking about this a lot. Not in respect to friends or aquaintances, but rather with regards to myself and my brother.
My bro and me are 7 years apart, with myself being the elder.
By the time my brother was born, my parents were already living in seperate homes. By 1982 they were divorced, truth be told I believe in was as early as 1980 but that is neither here nor there. What happened was, our dad took a long walk off a short pier. No, he did not commit suicide, but he dove into a bottle and remained there until the day he died. My brother and me, blips on the screen and only when our mom really stuck to her guns. For the most part, she allowed his parenting responsibilities to slip because well, he wasn’t a parent. Or rather not a great one.
So, I was an only child until I was 7 years old. Than he came along. LOL yes, I am referring to my brother. I was ecstatic I had a brother. A wee part of me, okay like a massive part of me wanted a sister, but hey what do you do? Once they come out it isn’t like you can return to sender, according to my mom, it just does not work that way. So I made do. Yeahhhhhhhhhh a baby brother.
And I did love him. I protected him. I raged for him. Until the day he decided he was smarter than me. Than the war was on. And well, I am the knowledgeable fount of information that no one wants to know, so that makes me so much smarter. I am laughing and digressing at the same time.
And than things happened. I got older, he got older, but I was a teenager. Do you know what it was like to be a teenager in a single parent home in the late 1980’s? If you weren’t born than, than no you don’t. If you were, you remember it was unpaid hell. You had to look after the younger sibling sometimes up to three times a week for free! And not only that, they could say you twisted their ears off, and despite evidence to the contrary because they still have both ears, you were the mean one. And the infant child is coddled while he/she smiles the evil smile of all younger siblings.
I use to swear up and down that our mom parented my brother and me differently. With me she was strict. Bedtimes, weekends home by 8:30-9 p.m. and no later. I was tangled in the leash as she tried so hard to protect me. And than there was my brother. Oh how my mom and me fought about the differences in parenting. I screamed and raged that she was so much tougher on me. That she allowed my brother to get away with murder. She did. And even when she did put her foot down, it was kinda like my bro knew how to talk his way around it.
All of this is not a criticism of how our mother raised us. I am the woman I am and I have the morals and a compass by which I lead my life all because of her. Essentially, how would my mother deal with this. My brother, he too has morals and a compass that guides him, and he would not be the man he is without our mother. Having said that, my grandmother (mom’s mom) and my mother had/have both apologized to me for how a) grandma always insisted that mom treated us equal when she so did not and b) mom apologizing because she admits to having been more permissive with my brother than me. But she was playing the role of both parents and it is a heady one.
All of this leads me to my current topic. The differences in how myself and my brother and me raise our children. Despite the fact that he is younger than me, my niece is now a teenager with my nephews coming right up behind her. T is 8. The one thing my bro will ever be able to hold over me for being first, having kids.
And suddenly I see the differences. My brother and sister in law, they are hands on parents. They know what their kids are doing morning day and night. They know who all their friends are. They spend their time with their kids. My niece watched Netflix one morning without permission and my bro wrapped her device in layers of tape and bubble wrap. Yet she spent the afternoon at home with him unwrapping said device.
Their boys are in baseball, basketball and play video games. All with their dad and mom, in their corner, being there for them. Bro and nephews play a lot of video games together and yet all three of those kids are verocious readers.
Part of me wonders, is he so reactive and so involved because our mom was permissive? Do not get me wrong, she was involved with his sports and encouraged him. But in some cases, there were parameters that were missing.
Than I look at myself. I talk a lot to T. I am always talking and bugging him to talk to me. I tell him that us having conversations is how I know what is going on in his day to day life. Never mind that I miss two weeks of that life every month. I sit outside (now that it is warmer) reading and watching him play. Because that is what he wants of me. Not to hover over him. Not to intrude, but just to be there.
Inside, he likes to play with lego. Watch Youtube. Play his Scrap Mechanic. He creates, and draws and I am there. I have asked him about that. I will say to him we never do anything and he always responds to me with the same thing. Mom you are here, you are beside me. You are always in the same room as me, always within reach, what more do we have to do?
And we are happy with that.
For the longest time I have compared myself to my bro and his parenting style.
I also know that our mom, and my bro, they think that I am permissive. And I am. Which leads to the whole point of this blog. Which actually has just turned into a reminiscent of my childhood.
Our mother was very strong handed with me. Curfews, knowing where I was and who I was with. My bro, he went where he wanted and came and went as he pleased. And I truly believe this has lead to how we each parent. Neither one of us is better than the other (although were you to ask the bro he would tell you it was him) we are just different. And there is nothing wrong with being different. In fact, it is how come each and everyone of us is unique.
There are truths that you cannot see
Oblivious to what is in front
Seeing only what you want to see
Blinders worn with complacancy.
No questions asked, assumptions only
Pain gathers, tears sparkle
One at a time, falling, trembling
Heartache as I watch you crumble.
Once upon a time, long ago
He rode to the rescue, a handsome knight
The princess awaited, believing with all her heart
That this was it, the happy ending that she wanted.
Gone are the days of grassy glades
Gone, the dreams of yesterday
Forge onward, a path in glass
For nothing was ever real.
All day long I have been trying to rationalize, look at it from every angle, but still at the end of it I am totally flabbergasted. I was not even aware that there was a problem.
I was a small nugget of success for a short while today. I was feeling good, hell I had not even shed a tear yet. And than things happened.
And culminated in a man I do not know tell me in a very loud voice how I was mean and despised and the Wicked Witch of the West. The loathing that enveloped me from this human being almost sent me to my knees. I could only stand there wide eyed and aghast. My worst nightmare had just come true. Someone literally listed all my faults, out loud, in public, to my face.
I moved on. I gritted my teeth, and with only a few chin quivers I did what I had to do. Barely. The urge, the need to scream my despair, the tears that battered to be let loose, were violent lashings against my psyche. The psyche that this morning was a rosy pink but now was more of a brownish yellow sludge.
I was finally relieved and able to fly off but it was an ugly cry. I shuddered, snot running out of my nose, I couldn’t see I was sobbing so hard. Have you ever had a man who is not a relative or married to you try to comfort you? LOL while they have the best intentions they just don’t know what to do.
Girl posse to the rescue. One made me sit on her lap while I sobbed and snoted on her shoulder. She than ran off to get girl #2 cause as she put it she was sick of my snot on her sweater and she was sharing the wealth. And they raged. And they roared. And they gave me back myself. They rebuilt what had been shattered.
I still wasn’t perfect. Tears still leaked from my eyes. But they gave me back that sense of pride in myself. As did the man attempting to comfort me who is neither relative nor husband and he did a good job. I will not allow one small person to derail my progress. I will not allow one small man to have this much control over how I see myself. No more will I fear being too strong, too harsh, too unforgiving. For I have been and I ended up being kicked in the teeth.
I take deep breaths. And I let them out. Tonight I am going to obliterate. I am going to sink into decadence and pleasure and wash the negativity of the day away. I will burn my incense and melt my scented wax, and I will not allow this to drag me under. It nearly did, I nearly drowned in the undertow, but I have a crew who dragged me back and I love them for that.
I hate anxiety. There is no insidious beast like anxiety. I am not helpless. I know how to raise my child, I know how to do my job. But in the early morning hours, when said child is screaming at me, I begin to wonder, what the f*** man? Can I not do this?
On my best days, the days where I am snapping and I am rolling, where my customers and my son are feeling great because they are so important to me, I can do no wrong. My swag is shining, my words are poetry and everyone who meets me is game. And than the rush fades, I start to think about the next week, the next sale, the next hour, and wow, I am fucked.
Anxiety eats at you. Anxiety makes you believe that you do not have the ability, the time or even the understanding……anxiety makes you doubt every aspect of your being…..anxiety makes you doubt the truth of your being…….
So I have made a rather startling discovery about myself. Sometime, without my knowledge, I have matured. I mean, age wise I am 44 years old, in my head, I am in my early 20’s. However, recent conversations have made me realize that I have accepted difficult situations and learned how to deal with them. And I am trying to teach T that as well.
Exhibit A: T and K are best friends as concluded in previous blogs. And than there is K2. K2 is an interloper, he has no holding in the friendship of T and K but as the other neighbor, he is used as a stop gap. When T or K is not available to play or hang out, K2 will do. Today I made T and K go outside and play. It was only -3 and the sun was shining. As they race out the door, T states that if K2 comes out they are going into the house. And I called him back.
I explained to him, that I understood, he and K go to different schools. He and K2 are in the same classroom and see one another every day. He and K only really have weekends and Wednesday to play. And Wednesday is for like a half hour. However, if K2 came out to play, I felt that they should play with him because it was not nice that they only wanted to spend time with him if one or the other was not here. T got it. He did come in but that was just because he was cold and refused to put on a real jacket.
Exhibit B: I no longer hate my ex. I no longer blame him for the choices that I made. I want us to be friends, not only because we share the most brilliant son but because we shared a life together for 20 years. There are certain things that only he is ever going to understand about me. There are certain inside jokes and bitching that I miss because he gets it. I fell out of love with him, but not the life we once shared. Those memories are so important and it has taken me a long time to accept that.
So I have matured. I have taken yet another step along the journey of my life. I am just not sure when or how it happened.