I grew up with words like don’t be dramatic, you sound silly and look stupid, you look anemic…. you are still young and inexperienced and I do and always will “know better”. I grew up with implied notions that I’m a terrible decision-maker and nothing I ever do will be good enough… that no matter what I did I am reckless and irresponsible! Even as a small child and until today, my mother would role her eyes when I’m about to cry. Showing emotions was neither understood nor cared for. The best of her compliments was you look like me, but I was way prettier. She always insinuated that everything good in me is from her and because of her and anything bad is because of other people, which somehow in my head translated that I am negligible in my own equation. My mother did not know praise nor words of love… she didn’t know how to hug or kiss or how to be warm.
She did other things though, like making sure that I am always well-fed and healthy (yes food was of utmost importance and her synonym for love) and that I am well-dressed and well-behaved… that I am always safe and protected… that I had the best education and that I never ever felt the burden of money. My room was always cleaned up for me, my clothes always well ironed and tidy, my meals ready and medications timed and that I was never exhausted nor over worked. That was her way of pampering. She was at the end of the day a single parent who tried to do it all and that was her definition of love… being over protective, though in an emotionless and over-possessive way.
She thought that saying words of encouragement would make me arrogant and overconfident and which alternatively and obviously resulted in my low self-confidence and non-existing self-worth… I never did understand self-worth and how it’s supposed to come from within… anyways!
But I do believe that no matter what, we all unintentionally fuck up something in our kids somehow. However, I do consciously try not to do so.
I try to be aware about what I say and do and I react and to think years into their future and how that will affect them as adults. I try to pay attention to their phycological and emotional wellbeing as much as I can. I try to foster their independence and teach them to be responsible and empathetic. I try to show unconditional acceptance. I also try to be disciplined in disciplining them and neither to helicopter nor make them feel neglected. I try to be their friend and them mine. I constantly make myself aware that they are not mine to keep. I praise. But most of all I try to be loving and warm and emotional and be their definition of love. All, of course, in an attempt not to fuck them up.
Over and above, no matter what happens during the day and no matter my mood or how over-exhausted or stressed or in hurry I am and from the day they were born… I have affirmation I whisper to them as I put them to sleep every night… words to make them feel safe and loved and believed in.
You are loved, you are safe, and you matter
You are strong, you are brave, and you are worthy
You are wise, you are beautiful, and you are calm.
You are happy, you are empathetic and I believe in you