The strongest memory that I have of my mother is from when I was about four or five years old. Now, this is two years before she chose to leave us, permanently. She committed suicide when I was six years old and my brother only four.
So back to that memory. My brother and I were reading, well not exactly reading, but looking in cartoons. I remember we used to like this particular cartoon called Asterix and Obelix. By the time of this memory we have already read all those cartoons several times and I remember thinking that we needed new ones. My mother was in the kitchen by the stove, cooking something. I was telling her that we needed more Asterix and Obelix, and I was standing behind her pulling her shirt or sweater or T-shirt, repeatedly telling her that we needed new cartoons to read.
I don’t remember her responding at all, but I have a clear visual of her slamming the pot on the stove and running out to our small toilet just by the entry of the apartment.
My all grown-up mind knows that she didn’t stay in there for ages, crying her lungs out while I was standing outside saying sorry and asking her to open the door. But there is still a little girl inside of me that has her heart broken. A little part of me, subconsciously, is still in that moment, feeling she will never ever forgive me or want to see me again.
Why am I telling you this? Because this memory came up recently when I found myself on the hot floor of my own bathroom… on the verge of crying, feeling overwhelmed and annoyed. While I was in there I had the realisation that this was not the first time I’ve escaped to the bathroom, but one of many in the recent years. And something else that has been going on the recent years is becoming a mother. Is this a coincidence? I think perhaps not.
Initially told you that my strongest memory of my mother was standing outside the bathroom listening to her desperate cry. I don’t remember every aspect of my feelings at the time, except from heartbroken, but I can imagine I must’ve been incredibly scared and confused.
I am telling you this, because I am telling myself… I don’t want my daughter to feel confused and scared and wondering what she did to make me so sad that I couldn’t even stand staying in the same room as her. Because that is not the case! I don’t want my daughter to think that any reaction is ever her fault. I don’t want my daughter, my sweet, innocent, funny and smart little offspring to take on responsibility for my well-being.
After she was sleeping soundly in bed that day, me and hubby were talking about our day and I told him about the realisation that I had in the bathroom earlier that day. I told him that I am awfully sorry for putting him through that and that I really, really don’t want our girl to experience that again. Through that talk we agreed that I probably carry out some learned behaviours and patterns in my new role as a mother as this behaviour is something I have been having more after becoming pregnant and a mother.
I am walking in my mother’s shoes, unconsciously, even though I had a very short time in my childhood to get to know her and her patterns. What an awful behaviour. I feel sadness and shame and frustration. Just because my mom dealt with many issues and lacking the tools to cope with stressful family situations in an uplifting way, that doesn’t mean that I can’t. I want to change this. I want to be the mother that I never had and I want my beautiful, perfect little daughter to feel a strong and loving connection from a strong and loving mother who deals with stress elegantly.
I also want to be kind to myself and stop beating myself up for not being my best all the time. I want to acknowledge feelings of frustration and fear and I think it is perfectly fine to let my daughter see that I’m sad and also let her comfort me instead of pushing her away.
I have always had a strong need to support and care for my closest friends and family and help them grow and deal with hard feelings. Being pushed away by my mom, just to hear her cry behind a locked door, was completely devastating to me. I wanted to hold her and run my fingers through her hair and pat her cheeks and tell her that I loved her and ask her if she loves me back.
I promise myself, my loving partner in life, and most importantly, my wonderful daughter that I never, ever want to push her away again. Even though I didn’t physically push her anywhere, acting like that creates distance and confusion and hurt on the behalf of the very people I love most in this world. From now on I will find tools to deal with stress better, I will breathe deeply when I feel the urge to escape and if I really need to cry I will do it with my family and let them understand what is going on and that it’s not their fault.