Time and time again I’ve heard people say the longer they are a parent, the more they understand theirs. Unfortunately, the opposite sentiment is what rings true to me. With each passing year that I am a parent, the less I understand the choices my parents made.
My understanding of parenthood is quite simple: you sacrifice yourself so your kids can have it better than you. You work harder so they can go further. You give more so they can get more out of life. You become better so they can become more. These are the things I learned from my parents.
They raised me to be someone who will sacrifice the things I wanted for my kids in order to ensure they grow up feeling loved, secure, and protected. The one thing I wanted for them was to have my mother as their grandmother. I always assumed that she would have been an enthusiastic, loving, and wise influence in their life. I was wrong. Its not that my mom is a negative influence in the lives of her grandchildren, it’s that she is NO influence.
It is possible that my mom and step-dad parented themselves out of my life. It is possible that, for 17 years, they became the best versions of themselves in order to raise me to be the man that I am today. It is also possible that they could not maintain this version of themselves and reverted to a state that I can’t recognize nor associate with. In other words, they raised me to be better than them.
Isn’t that the whole point of parenthood? Isn’t that why mothers and fathers sleep less, work harder, grow wrinkles, and turn gray? Shouldn’t I be thanking them? Yes! Absolutely, and I have sat down with my mom and done exactly that. I told her that I am the man I am because of her efforts and hard work. For that I thanked her, and I am eternally thankful for that. However, things have changed since my childhood. I have changed since my childhood.
The efforts of my mother developed me into a man who is a faithful husband, a lovingly-engaged father, and a hilariously awesome individual. I am also protective of who gets to spend time with my kids. This means that you would need to have my children’s best interest at heart, but I just don’t trust my parents would.
When my daughter was about to turn 2 years old I set up a chance for her to meet my mom. The experience was not a good one. My mother was cold, closed off, and acted as if I owed her this opportunity; the complete opposite of the woman who raised me. Because of this and several other interactions since, my mom and step-dad still haven’t met my 4 year old son. As I said, I am protective.
I do my best to be thankful for those who are a part of my kids life. In fact, they spend lots of time with cousins, their other grandma, and even their Great-Grandmother. There are just a few times each year when I feel the loss of my mother in their lives, and in mine. However, what I’ve seen is that the woman that raised me is not around anymore. She has been replaced by someone has lost my trust, is manipulative, and not the same caliber person.
The older my kids grow, and the more I continue to see my wife show me what it really means to be a mother, the less I understand mine. I am thankful that I ended up the way I did, but unfortunately my parents raised me to protect my kids and family from people just like themselves.