I had a good life growing up. I have two sisters (one older, one younger…yes the power of “3″!) and a younger brother. My parents were married young, following the discovery they were expecting my sister.
Being a mother myself I can appreciate how challenging it was to be a “new” mom. A confusing and paralyzingly frightening at time. You follow the path your mother left, duplicating her applications because…that’s what you learned! So, I believed my Mom and Dad did the best they could.
We all turned out responsible, well adjusted adults so obviously they did a lot of things well. However, the way of handling challenging were not met with what could be learned, but rather with personal frustration and need for control by my parents.
I was around 13 years old. My older sister and I were getting ready for school with the normal regimen. What was also a normal regimen was my parents arguing…this morning was no exception. They were fighting about something I had done…which was also fit into the regimen. I was the black sheep of my four siblings that is until my younger brother came of age! I avoided doing chores, pushed curfews and procrastinated on work in general. I don’t remember what the catalyst for this particular fight was, but it was most certainly about me.
My mother was the everyday disciplinarian and used physical punishment. When she became so frustrated with handling her own anger it was time to force my Dad into the situation.
My Dad was my advocate. His option was my Mom was to hard on me. Almost always! The debate was on…Dad pro for Catherine, Mom con. As I sat on our rocking chair putting my shoes on to get out of the house my Mother stormed into the dinning room, pointed at my face and said “if your Father and I ever get a divorce, it will be because of you!”
I have been spanked, slapped and even disciplined with a belt throughout my childhood. I can tell you that one comment hurt me more than them all. The weight of my family was heaved upon my little teenage shoulders. I can’t imagine a more damaging thing to say to your child.
I too have felt the boiling of anger and frustration as a woman and mother. I too have erupted with a comment or a word to my daughters and once it was said I wanted nothing more than to physically wrap my hands around them pulling them back! But I discovered a miracle reversal…saying you’re sorry. By apologizing my daughters it taught them that I was fallible and allowed me to relieve the pressure of being perfect. (to some extent!) Redirecting my anger came later but a simple “I’m sorry” was a definite building block!