Parenting Styles

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.

 

 

Who I am

“You haven’t seen the raving me. The belligerent me that pushes the limits. The dark and despairing me that can’t stop crying. I don’t share those facets with people because look what happens when I do.”

I have been doing a lot of thinking and redefining myself this week. I am not only my illness, I am a wonderful vibrant woman with a lot to offer. But what exactly is that?

I do not know who I am. Who at the very core of me, is me. I have always been somebody;  child, daughter, sister, friend, wife and mother. Co-worker. Boss. Those are all designations that describe a being but they do not describe me.

The first time I should have been diagnosed with depression, in looking back with my great wisdom and knowledge of behavior, was in my early teen years. Oh the rage that I exhibited, the anger, the hatred, the words that streamed from my mouth ripping into the souls and hearts of those nearest to me. I indulged in self-destructive behavior, attempted suicide, not successfully nor even whole heartedly once my imagination kicked in. For in one moment I lay in a coffin looking up at the haggard and weeping features of my mom and my brother, and knew that I could never inflict that pain on them.

The demons that I fought throughout this time, while not the same demons others faced, were still just that. Demons that had some how found their way into my brain and their words were chillingly accurate with regards to how I felt. A failure, unworthy of love, so stupid, the ruiner of all that is good. I did not know than that it was a tape on a loop. Words spoken to me as a child that buried deep in my psyche would reappear when things got tough and I was unsure of my ability to handle the situations around me.

The second time was when I lost my daughter. I was five months pregnant. She was still born. I remember a lot of drugs, a doctor who wanted me to carry my child to term or rather until my body went into labor on its own. Despite the drugs I was coherent enough to tell that doctor that there was no way I was going to carry my dead child in my body awaiting nature’s course. No one knew what I was going through. I pulled into myself, slept twelve to thirteen hours a day, stayed up at night reading until my eyes burned. I was afraid to live, to be alive. I could not move forward nor was I willing to accept the help that others offered to me.

I wrapped myself in pain and misery. I refused to speak of her. I cried a myriad of tears for her and pushed my than companion away as he tried to comfort me. Again the words that cut flew from my mouth, darts finding the target and puncturing, tearing away the love and relationship we had.

My early twenties forward becomes a blur. I self-medicated, alcohol, drugs, men, anything that would fill the void that yawned within me. I looked everywhere for satisfaction, for fulfillment that can only be found when you look within. When you accept that those warts and funny bumps are all you, good, bad, facets of your being that become melded into the core essential being of self.

My thirties are a longer story. Marriage, a child, the first diagnosis of depression. Counselling and a better understanding of what was going on within my head. But even with medication it was not getting better. I was still seeking, still yearning for that elusive something.

Three years ago this summer I crashed. A variety of external circumstances colluded with my growing despair and belief that I could not do anything right, lead to a deep depression. I awoke one Saturday afternoon after a night of drinking and the blackness was there gathering around. I despised myself. I sat on the toilet, wrapped in a towel, shuddering sobs wracking my body and chanted over and over how I hated myself.

Monday I saw the doctor and was immediately placed on medication and sent off. Tuesday saw me unable to function. I had consumed muscle relaxants with my ativan and I could not even remember my name. How I got home I have no idea. Wednesday I was on leave. My than boss exacerbating the feelings of ruin and unworthiness.

It took two weeks for me to stop crying and sleeping all the time. My son worried nonstop about me. Trying desperately to make me feel better, to cheer me up. I would fall asleep on the couch at 7 p.m. and not awaken until 9 or 10 a.m. the next morning. I had no desire to eat. I took my pills, I counted the days and I began counselling. Slowly but surely, I began the road to recovery.

I faced some of those demons who had been getting a free ride all these years. I forgave and released the hold my father had on me. Even in death he was still whispering his vile words into my ears. I allowed myself the freedom, the ability to be angry with my mom for things that occurred and we did not speak for months. I needed time to grieve and heal. I began to realize that I was a good and decent person. That the looped tape and those others who tried so hard to put me in a box of their devising, it was alright to ignore them, to move forward and leave them behind.

So well was I doing that I stopped taking my medication in October of 2015, and for awhile there it was good. I was doing well. And than began that slow and inevitable dive into the waters of pain, fear, self medicating, the disbelief in self and worth drilling through the facade I had erected. And I fell. But that is okay. I had a safety net this time. I became aware of what I was doing, how I was sabotaging myself and I needed to stop. A visit to the doctor and the conclusion that this was to be the last time. No matter how great I feel, no matter how well the world connects around me, I must remain on my medication. I do not want to fall further, I do not want my son to feel as though he needs to be my caretaker.

This continues to be a journey of wonder and exploration. To finally see who I am. To see once the layers of all the characters that I am are peeled away; who I am at the core of my being. A writer, a dreamer, a prankster. A reader, a designer, a mother of one. The facets of me are varying and bright, dark and dangerous, and I look forward to seeing how they will all merge, becoming me. I await me, with hope and bated breath.