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.
Trendy MotherAugust 30, 2012 at 9:44 pm
Omalichabeke! thank you for your comment. The verbal rebuke works, i do that a lot.
But fixing the "disconnect" where will she start and how?
Trendy MotherAugust 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm
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AnonymousAugust 30, 2012 at 9:35 pm
This is a healing process for her and all who can relate to this situation. The first step is a realization of the disconnect and try to fix it. We should learn to talk to ourselves, when we catch us derailing. For instance if there's something I didn't like in my mum, and I catch myself unconsciously doing same. I verbally rebuke myself, I say Oge this is wrong and I correct it immediately. This becomes a reminder not to return to that act or line of thought. Omalichabeke
Trendy MotherAugust 23, 2012 at 7:32 pm
Ola, your advise is soo full of wisdom. Thank you.
I trust my friend has read all these comments.
I constantly tell her that she will make a great mother. God is on her side, the love she will feel & express to her children will be exceptional.
OlaedoAugust 22, 2012 at 10:12 pm
The fact that she already knows that there's something she wants to change about her life is great. However, it's one thing to know that a habit needs to be broken and another to actually do something about it. It may be hard for her relationship with her mother to ever get warmer but with a new baby, I suggest that she just lets the feeling flow naturally, without trying to stop them. You want to smile? Smile. You want to say, "I love you"? Go ahead and do it. You want to hug your children and tell them just how special they are? Go right on and do that. Even when you feel like rolling about on the floor with them, don't worry about getting dirty or what anyone would say. Just do it. Most importantly, tell God about it and ask him to help you with this transformation.
Stopping that cycle won't happen by wishful thinking but by a total commitment to making it happen. This is because, at the end of the day, no matter what your life was growing up, it is your choice to change it or not.
UnknownAugust 22, 2012 at 9:55 pm
That you had such an experience while growing up, doesn't mean its going to be a replicate when it comes to ur unborn child… i believe you will be exposed enough to make a difference. Believe me i had something close to this but i know i will make one of the worlds greatest father. i wish you the best though…. think you are gonna do just great….
Trendy MotherAugust 22, 2012 at 8:50 pm
Thanks for your comments, let's remember that change is the only constant thing in life; so let's all take full responsibility for the events in our lives (Galatians 6v5) and decide to bequeath wholesome experiences to those we love!
AnonymousAugust 22, 2012 at 8:38 pm
Truth is, we are expected to learn lessons from the the events life throws our way, rather than allow it replicate or define other relationship.
I would suggest she consciously take baby steps towards loving her baby, besides every child has a way of winning the mother's heart!
i wish u luck
AnonymousAugust 21, 2012 at 8:06 pm
Sounds like this is all about me cus I am always acting like a man without the lady-like stuffs except in dressing. Thanks to d only girl strict upbringing. This strict childhood upbringing is really affecting my relationship now and the bad part is that it feels so odd to learn and effect change @ this time of my life. I think I need help.
AnonymousAugust 21, 2012 at 5:15 pm
The blame game…if u feel ur mum didn't treat u well enof, then take corrections and get it right urself!