As we know, one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to our children. Parenting Perspectives is a blog series which aims to share posts from other parents that take an alternative view to “traditional” parenting, whether by choice or not.
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This week, Elizabeth from http://thedarlingdiariesblog.com/ shares her story of the abuse she suffered at the hands of her own mother and how she will not allow being a victim of child abuse define her.
Becoming a mother is a tough transition for any woman. No number of books, antenatal classes or advice from other mothers can prepare you for the hurricane that is about to enter your world. Meeting your child for the first time begins a journey of self-discovery and sacrifice. You never know quite how much you are willing to sacrifice up until that moment.
There comes a time after the baby’s first photo in it’s car seat, followed by the first night in their new home where the enchantment becomes overwhelmed by fear. You begin to doubt your thoughts, hope you are doing everything right and are desperate for someone to confirm your decisions. This is where our mothers often come in to save the day. Many stay for a few days, or are at least close by to save in a moment of crisis. They are there to offer a reassuring ear, comfort you in the overwhelming moments and let you know you’re doing ok. For myself, the victim of an abusive mother, there is no such salvation. You start motherhood not only without a reassuring brace to hold you up. But with the weight of the world on your shoulders. You must do everything you possibly can to ensure this child never ever feels as lonely as you did.
I became a mother with more gratitude than the average new mom.
Not to negate the thankfulness a mother feels when her child is born, but mine was a little more reflective. Finally, I felt really appreciated. Useful. Worthy. My daughter might have been small, blotchy and barely able to open her eyes, but she showed me enormous gratitude nonetheless. To my profound relief, she still does till this day, as an incredibly accepting six-year-old.
Becoming a mum validated for me that the years of childhood abuse I endured were worse than I previously thought. I can still hear chortles of ‘You’ll understand why I’m like this when you’re a mum’. Let me tell you straight off the bat, I’ll never be telling my children I wish they had never been born or that they ruined my life. I won’t be telling them once, never mind the monthly reminders I was given. I won’t be threatening to commit suicide if they don’t bow to disturbing demands. I won’t leave them without food or heat, kick them into corners or join in with their bullies.
Discovering the route of motherhood alone rests strongly on the foundation of who you are as a person.
With guidance, you have the affordability to make mistakes and are told everyone makes them. When you’re twenty, on your own and were ‘raised wrong’ you have everybody’s eyes on you – expecting you to fail. I discovered how strong I really am. I see a psychotherapist for ptsd, and he commended me for being tough enough to make the right decisions in life. He told me stories of drink and drug abuse and the statistics relating to victims of child abuse. I could relate. In low moments, I could understand how easy it would be to comatose myself with substances, so I didn’t feel the loneliness that child abuse leaves you with. The main reason that I kept going, and kept fighting – I wanted to be a good mum.
I live my life with a never-ending point to prove.
I feel like people expect me to be a write-off. I was bullied at school, I was a geek, I was known for coming from a less than normal home. I was different. But I’ve used that. I’ve taken the hand that I was dealt and fought to not let it define me. I started writing to use my experience to educate others about child abuse, mental health issues and the highs and lows of motherhood. I want others to find the power to fight the negative in their lives too.
I give major credit to the online community of mothers for guiding me through the moments when most women would ring their mum. It started as a forum chat for ladies due September 2011, and extends to us in 2017 looking at pictures of one another’s six-year-olds and wondering where the time went. I now have a second support group from my pregnancy with my second daughter, born September 2016. Another gathering of incredible women, who have gone so far as to raise money for individuals in the group who have fallen on tough times. It is remarkable to see the lengths many women will go to, to help their fellow woman. My experience of a mother figure growing up was conflicted. So, it is extremely comforting for myself and my recovery to see such kindness in other female figures.
This alternative parenting has led me to truly trust my instincts as a mother.
I make many decisions without any guidance because it stems from knowing the worst things that affect a child. Often people around me don’t see the things I see in my children. Sometimes it is cited as me being overanxious, I prefer the word attentive. There are also areas which I am highly opinionated on because they have affected me well into adulthood. Something that seems small and insignificant to an adult could mean everything to a child. It is understanding and accepting these attributes of children which will pave the way for a strong relationship.
I am a huge advocate for eating healthily. I wasn’t fed well and battle a chronic addiction to sugar used to supress emotions – just like I was conditioned to when I was a child. I want to form habits that were so abstract to me but will be normal to my daughters. I will never berate them for doing something wrong, I try and teach them how to do it right. I would never expect them to be perfect or to be the best. I want them to give their all, and enjoy it while they’re is doing it. I will always be there to congratulate them at the end. They are the simplest of things, but the things kids will always remember.
As for me, looking back, they are the things that stand out when looking at my friends’ relationships with their mothers. With all the abuse at home, I could hide. But standing at a school event, watching my friends chat happily with their mother, whilst mine flirted with a male teacher with no interest in me made it all so very real. I couldn’t hide from my appearance of being a burden to my mother.
I am filled with unquantifiable joy in the knowledge that my daughters go to sleep at night feeling safe and loved.
I am comforted by the fact my six-year-old knows she can come to me anytime for a chat and a cuddle. She runs to me to tell me what she has achieved, to share a funny story or to just be my baby. They are the simplest of things, but they mean everything to me. To know I bring that much joy to a person’s life is overwhelming. It is what gets me through my toughest days.
As much as I have learned from my experience, and used it to ensure my children have a happy childhood, I will never quite understand how it came to be that I experienced the childhood I did. The only conclusion I can come to is that some women shouldn’t become mothers. As a mother, I don’t get perplexed by this, I don’t wonder how they cannot want to experience the incredible joy my children bring to my life. I am happy for those that are aware they are not cut out to be a mother. I am grateful that contraception and abortion is in place to prevent unwanted children from being brought into this world, and suffering the same fate as I did.
I was the unwanted child, then I became mum.
You can find Elizabeth at the following:
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