Being an only daughter amongst four boys did not make my childhood rosy or full of attention, rather I was constantly at the lime light. I was constantly reminded to sit, eat, speak, walk and dress like a lady, this I resented. My resentment of these constant “dos and don’ts” made me behave at variant to my mother’s bidding and teachings. I just wanted to be like my brothers! I sometimes still picture that angry and frustrated look on her face when I acted below her standards; which were (to me) exceptionally high.
My mum’s greatest desire was to raise a daughter with right morals, attitude, poise and good character, despite being surrounded by boys. She unconsciously went to the extreme to achieve this. She believed that being strict and overly religious will make me the “good girl” she expected of me. She did not believe in showing her emotions, saying that children easily exploited emotions shown to them for their selfish interests, as such when we (my brothers and I) met her “standards” she rarely applauded nor verbalized her feeling.
Love to my mother was best displayed in gifts and good food, never with words. Whenever she wanted to show us love, appreciate a milestone achieved or an effort, she would prepare and serve our best meals, then take us out for shopping. “I missed you and I love you” were strange words in my home. In spite of this emotional distance, I did believe that we were a happy family as I fondly remember the jokes and laughter shared by my brothers and I.
My mother is a strong woman who was raised in the village. She fondly joked about how the smell of fried onions from her neighbour’s hut would tease her nostrils such that she often said to herself – “when I’m rich, I will fry onions” (don’t laugh). Her marriage to my father took her from the abode of poverty to a hall of affluence but that did not change her mentality. She believed every thing must be planned and accounted for; and an only girl must be handled with strict hands and not “spoilt” with the grandeur that comes with wealth.
When I became an adult, I realized that my mother learnt her parenting style from her mother (my grand mother), who had ten children to cater for. And as such, had little or no time and strength for emotional display or attachment. Life was a constant struggle for my grandmother. My mother who was the sixth of her children grew up in an environment devoid of emotional display of love and the attendant display of affection. She bequeathed this emotional coldness to my mother who unconsciously transferred same to her children.
I grew up believing that emotions were best concealed than displayed. I ended up being emotionally very cold. I found it strange and difficult to comprehend tearful display of “I miss you” and the likes. It took me about a year of dating the man I eventually married, to be able to utter the words “I love you” to him. (*rolling eyes* he had been that patient).
We now expect our first child, I am so scared that I might not make a great mother, say less of being capable of showing my child much love. I fear my marred childhood might replicate in my child’s life.
This is a friend’s true confession. Post your advice and suggestions.