This is a post that was difficult to write, but one I have always kept in my drafts to share when the moment felt right. Sometimes I wonder what value there is in sharing such personal and challenging things about myself online, but then I remember a time I read a blog post or article by another woman that made me feel supported, understood and validated, and I strive to be authentic and vulnerable because I want to do that for others, too.
I’m writing today about parenting when you didn’t have a picturesque childhood or had/have a toxic parent(s). As an adult, I continue to feel a sense of loneliness and shame about the fact that I have no contact with one parent and limited contact with the other. I still feel pangs of jealousy and desire when I see friends who are close with their families and siblings and I imagine what my life might be like if I too, had that kind of family. I also feel judged sometimes – I wonder if people who don’t know me intimately think there must be “something wrong with me” or why I just can’t “get it together” enough to have a strong relationship with my parents. Before I continue – I want to acknowledge the incredible family and friends I DO have in my life, and how grateful I am for them. I truly believe my life path took me where I am today because God knew these people are who I needed.
The truth is that when you have zero or limited contact with your parents as an adult, it becomes part of your identity (at least it is for me). I’m open about my childhood and upbringing, but it’s still painful to wonder about the what ifs…knowing deep down that there are no “what ifs” because you can’t change who someone is.
Before I had children, I remember always saying that when I became a parent, it would be my chance to do things differently. To give my children the childhood I never had. I strive for that each and every day and I’m so lucky that I have a partner to help me through the hard moments (and in todlerhood, as you know, there are many).
My struggles as a mother are so deeply interconnected to my childhood, but I didn’t realize this until a therapy session I had months ago. I’ve seen therapists on and off since I was about 17 years old (both on my own and some with my mother) and I have been in cognitive behavioral therapy for PPA/GAD for over a year (read more about that here). In that therapy session, I became emotional when I described some moments where I was not proud of my parenting or how I reacted to something. I even went as far as saying that it reminded me of how my parents would act, which horrified me.
My therapist explained that your childhood memories and learned behaviors are so deeply ingrained in you, that it’s not uncommon for adults who had parents that physically and emotionally abused them carry out those same behaviors when they have children – it’s all they know. It’s how they were taught by their own parents to react. They never saw what normal discipline or reactions were like because everything was explosive, dramatic and violent.
She also reassured me that what I was describing to her was in no way even remotely close to what I went through as a child – but that I might feel it is because I am so anxious about my parenting and my reactions when I have to discipline my children that I become extremely hard on myself if I yell or lose my patience or temper. We have never spanked or hit our children precisely because of the fact that my parents hit me (and not just a spank on the butt). We don’t believe it’s right for our children or family – I don’t want my children to feel like I felt – afraid and wondering when the next violent outburst would happen (and over what). There were days where I would pray on the school bus all the way home because I knew I would be hit for a bad grade on my report card (I was supposed to get all As, of course).
Like most parents, sometimes I lose my temper and I always feel horrible about myself when I yell at my children. My therapist said it’s a good sign that I feel a sense of remorse for my actions (something my parents did not feel and to this day will not in any way take responsibility for) and I, in turn, have apologized to my children if I over-reacted to something (something I also never experienced as a child – I cannot think of one apology from either parent for their behavior, that was genuine, and not prompted by my begging).
Parenting when you didn’t have good role models is incredibly complicated. It’s like a constant battle I have in my own head – I have to stop my reactions sometimes and take a moment to think before acting. As a child and teen, reactions to things like spilled milk, washing the dishes the “wrong way” or losing a sweater at school amounted to explosive screaming, horrible things said about me and sometimes, violent behavior. I will NEVER forget the kinds of things I used to get into trouble for because I couldn’t comprehend why they ever warranted such a reaction. I always knew that my parent’s reactions were irrational and not normal, but when you grow up in that kind of chaos, it also becomes your normal. I still feel the knee-jerk reaction sometimes to make a big fuss over spilled food on the floor or when something breaks – sometimes I’m successful in just cleaning up the mess or reacting appropriately (let’s be more careful, I asked you not to touch that) and other times, I have become angry and yelled.
For me, being a parent involves a constant merry-go-round of examining my actions and reactions, evaluating my response and then being hard on myself when I have the moments we all do – when we’re not proud of our reactions. Many mothers that grew up without emotional and physical abuse can have bad moments and tell themselves that tomorrow is another day, while I tend to dwell on it (though, I’m getting much better about it – read 7 things that make me a better mom, here). Growing up with parents who did not model appropriate parenting behaviors has made me both a better parent and a parent who struggles immensely. I wish I could wave a magic wand and make those memories and learned behaviors disappear, but I can’t. I can only continue to work to find the strength and support I need so that my children can have the childhood they deserve – filled with unconditional love and feeling safe.
I think a lot of people would be surprised to learn that even though I’m over two years postpartum, I’m still in therapy. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy isn’t an “easy button” to mental wellness. It’s a continual process of learning, challenging yourself to think differently and taking “baby steps” towards better mental health. I know that I will never be “cured” of my anxiety – it’s part of who I am – but having the support and tools I need to overcome challenges has been paramount in feeling like I’m doing all I can to be the best mother, wife, friend, etc.
If you’re struggling in this way, know that you’re not alone. If you look at my life and think it must be pretty perfect, remind yourself there are things you’ll never see and pain you’ll never know about– and that even these snippets of vulnerability sharing my oftentimes painful childhood, do not paint the full picture.
Thank you for reading and for showing your compassion and support towards content that isn’t easy for me to publish.
Thank you for being so candid and vulnerable. This article resonates so strongly with me and I think the fact that you are taking steps to be the best parent/person you can be means you already are doing a great job!
Thank you so much for publishing. I also grew up with toxic parents and I desperately want to be the best parent possible to my girls. The feelings of guilt when I do get angry with them are unlike anything else I have ever felt. Sometimes it feels like a constant battle but my girls are worth the struggle ❤️
While I did not have an abusive father, we had a rough relationship in my childhood and even into adulthood. I so wish that I had a good relationship with my dad, but I don’t. I have struggled with that until just recently (I’m 34) but I really am at peace with what our relationship is and isn’t after years of prayer. I’ve prayed for God to change my dad, but in all honesty he has not; He has changed ME. I see my dad differently. I can see why he has trouble expressing his love (it stems from his childhood) and God has given me the ability to show my dad grace. I see others relationships with their parents and it used to make me SO sad that I did not have that. I’m honestly at peace with it now. Try praying about it. 🙂
This is a beautiful and courageous post. Thank you for sharing. Many of us had childhood trauma and are still coming to terms with it.
This was a really great post. I’m sorry you had those experiences. Harper and Lincoln are lucky to have such a thoughtful, determined parent. You’re doing great!
Hello – I’ve followed your blog for some time. I’ve never commented on any post before but felt compelled to do so after reading your post. I can only imagine the bravery and courage it took for you to share such a personal post with us. Although it sounds as though my childhood experience was quite different from yours, I experience the same thoughts every day with my son – was I patient enough? Did I overreact? Thank you for putting yourself out there and reminding us all that we’re not alone! 🙂
I needed this today, at this very moment. I am sitting in my cube, at work, crying feeling such a sense of relief. My childhood very closely resembled yours. My mother is very unstable and selfish and has driven away members of our family. I have a 22 month old and a terminally ill husband and yet it is still ALL about my her. I often reflect on my childhood and make parenting decisions that are different from how I was raised…and at 34 I still get angry and embarrassed at the choices my mom made while raising my brothers and I. Thank you for posting.
Jess Beer says
Oh Veronika, I totally understand why this was so hard to publish. I had no idea, and it’s so amazing you are doing everything you can to change the pattern. Therapy is such a needed thing in this world and I’m so glad you have a therapist you trust to help you work on things. Please know that we all struggle in one way or another, and you are not alone. Keep doing what you’re doing and being the amazing mom you are – it shines through in your posts and your Instagram stories. Hang in there, momma.
Thank you so much for sharing! I can relate to this so much. My mother acted in similar ways you described. I look at the faces of my two children and want to love and support them no matter what. I hope my children always know how loved they are. Thank you for your courage and strength. You are an amazing mother ❤️
I don’t have any contact with my dad- it was a decision I made a few years ago! It was what I needed to do to heal from past hurts. I completely understand feeling that pang when I see others post about their dads and their relationships with them. Love that you are sharing your experience with others- it helps knowing we aren’t alone!
Wow!! THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for writing this as this brought me to tears. Why did it? Because you described almost to a tee how I grew up with my parents and how I feel, pretty much on a daily basis, being a mother and the “guilt” when I yell sometimes, etc… You are right, YOU ARE NOT ALONE and we just have to push forward and be the best we can be on a daily basis. You are a great woman and mother!! Thanks again for writing and posting this 🙂
I never comment but wanted to thank you for this post!
Thank you for putting yourself out there and publishing this post. I can relate to so much of this, trying so hard not to follow in the mistakes of your parents and beating yourself up if you find similarities. Thank you for using your public platform to talk about such an important topic.
That was actually pretty eye-opening for me. Thanks for sharing and greetings from Germany!
Hi Veronika, I’ve been a silent reader for a really long time (since Harper was a baby), and this post really hit home for me I just had to comment. It’s like you took the words right out of my mouth and I was literally in tears while reading this.
I, too had a very painful childhood although it was only because of my mom since my dad was always away for work. I’m the middle child and somehow I was the only one that was treated this way. Too many times I remember hiding in my room counting the number of bruises on my arms and legs and crying myself to sleep praying for anyone to come and save me. I never understood how anyone could be so cruel to their own child that I convinced myself I was adopted. (HA! jokes on me thought I’m the spitting image of my mother)
I now have a two-year-old son and I’m only really learning to control my temper. Like you, I suffer through constant guilt and anxiety, always rewinding everything that I said or done. I have no idea how to discipline my son without feeling like I’m being too hard on him. It’s a constant struggle but slowly I’m learning to control those knee-jerk reactions you talked about.
So believe me when I say I know exactly how you feel. I only just realized how messed up (I am) my childhood was until I had a kid of my own because it brought back so many painful memories. The only way I found to really get me through those nights when I was crying and being too hard on myself was to write letters to my mom that I never send.
To this day I don’t have a good relationship with my mother and I have to try really hard to be nice to her. Guess it’s true what they say, people may forget what you said or did but they’ll never forget how you made them feel.
Sorry this is way too long! But I hope you know that I really appreciate you sharing this post. Love & kisses from Toronto!
Nicole Farris says
This is probably one of the best posts you’ve written. Genuine, heartfelt, and just super honest and raw. I think many readers would like content like this more than you think. So sorry you have had these sorts of issues, but very good on you for getting help and trying to change things. You’re doing a great job!
Thank you for sharing this, Veronika! I too have a toxic parent, and the feelings and guilt it has brought up since my son was born can be overwhelming. It feels almost unnatural to not have a camaraderie with your parent as an adult and to not trust them as a caregiver. I don’t know if other people truly understand. But it helps to know other people feel the same way.
Thank you for writing this post. I grew up with a toxic mother. My husband has amazing parents, so he doesn’t understand my struggles sometimes. I try my best to be nothing like the parent I had growing up, sometimes I fail. ❤️❤️❤️
Thank you for being so real and honest. There is so much more I could say….but just thank you. I am a long time blog follower and have so appreciated the direction you have been going over the last few months with the blog and IG.
This is an amazing post.
I too suffer from GAD, as well as PTSD from childhood abuse and neglect.
As a mom I question every move I make. Am I turning into her? Was that too harsh!? Do they know how much I love them? Will one of these outbursts turn my babies away from ME for good? The list goes on…
My therapist always says, just the fact I second guess these things (that my mother or father never thought twice about !) puts me in a whole different ball game. Like you say remorse alone, makes us different then them…
We are not our past. We are amazing Mamas.
We are doing much better than them…
Thank you for sharing…
Excellent post and thanks for sharing! I too had toxic parents that I am not in contact with and for me, the loneliness and resentment actually got worse after having kids. They should be here, they should be involved, but I cannot put my kids in that type of toxic and manipulative environment. In the end it is their loss, but it’s too bad they don’t even realize that much.
I don’t currently have children but I’m going through some pretty rough things with my dad that have led me to question if I want kids because I don’t want to be like him and it scares me. I grew up with his parents in and out of my life and I always was told it was their fault. Now, as an adult, I realize it’s his and I struggle with it because I’ve always been told I’m so much like him and I don’t want to be. It’s such a strange feeling to not have a relationship with a parent or to have a very minimal one – so even though I can’t relate 100% to the parenting aspect, I definitely can empathize with the lack of a parental relationship part. Thank you for opening up and sharing.
How brave of you to share. It sounds like you have incredible insight and are a great momma. ❤️
I have followed your blog for quite some time, and I always admired what a perfect looking life you appeared to have. It seemed well deserved, as I sensed a kindness in your writing. Although I have read and identified the journey you shared regarding PPD, I did not realize this extreme background. I am so sorry for this past that you have.
I had a similar childhood, and have always wondered exactly what you say here…what if? What if my life was “normal” like my friends’ lives? How might my life be different? Would I be able to shed this anxiety? So much time has been wasted wondering.
Thank you so much for being vulnerable and sharing this. It is such a relief to hear my own thoughts from someone who has been through a similar situation. I am sorry that you struggle, but I do hope that the glimpses of perfection that we see on the blog are moments you truly enjoy and feel happiness. You absolutely deserve all the joy, and peace.
Thank you for this. So much of your post resonated with me – remembering the fear of yelling and violence over “poor” grades and feeling like walking on eggshells, not knowing what would set my parents off, and when the bottom would drop out and the next session of abuse would come. I confronted my parents once, as an adult, when I was feeling courage and developed some autonomy, and their response was to deny any occurrence of abuse with “that never happened,” “you are remembering it wrong,” “you are too sensitive,” or “you deserved it at the time.” It was hard to come to the conclusion that I would never change them, but I’ve come to terms with that. I’m 32 now, married, live across the country from my parents and most of my family and consciously limit contact/contact them on my own terms. With that, and professional treatment for depression/anxiety/self harm, and I am in a better place now. My husband and I are planning on having children soon and I am nervous that I will resort to similar behavior of my parents when things get tough. I completely agree that, ultimately, I want my children to be loved unconditionally and feel safe, like you do. I want them to be confident and happy, knowing they have support from their home base, and will never have to worry about their security. Your strategies are helpful and give me confidence that one generation can change the behavior of the previous generation. A big THANK YOU.
I’m not close with either of my parents and my “messed up” childhood actually contributed to my decision to not have children. My parents had me when they were pretty young and got divorced shortly after. My mom drank a lot and I practically raised my brother since she was out most nights of the week. I’m always blown away by people who talk to their parents on the phone several times per week. Like, what do they talk about? I text my mom maybe once every week or two and my dad very rarely.
Thank you for sharing your story. Our upbringings sound similar in many ways. I struggle with parenting in a loving and nurturing way. Therapy and a supportive partner have really helped, but there are still days I feel like a failure. It helps to know I’m not alone.
P.S. EMDR therapy can be really helpful in dealing with childhood trauma. It’s been incredibly helpful for me.
First let me say I never comment on ANY post but this is different. As I read your post today I couldn’t help but to get emotional. Your childhood mirrored mine, full of emotional and physical abuse. I no longer have any relationship with my father. My relationship with my mom is superficial. Therapy has helped but at 35, I still struggle. I am afraid to have kids because I’m scared I’ll be just like my parents. I know I’m not them, I could never be them. But the anxiety is real. So thank you for sharing your story, because today I don’t feel alone.
Thank you for sharing your personal story. It must be very hard. As a mom with similar ages children, I can understand how challenging it is to be a good parent and to model good parenting behavior. I’ve always admired your honesty and vulnerability. Keep these stories coming.
I started BBG per your recommendations:)
I don’t comment a lot on blogs but you are spot on with how parenting is with a toxic parent. I had great parents who spanked but only did so if something was so wrong, so I didn’t get spanked much. My husband on the other hand was in trouble daily for silly things and didn’t grow up with a dad. He resorts to angry yelling and spanking for the simplest things and threatens with spanking all the time. He’s gotten better as I have told him time after time that I’m not a huge fan of spanking and that our son’s action didn’t warrant the reaction but it still happens. I’ll show him your page and hopefully it breaks through to him.
I could have written so much of this myself. You are not alone, mama. And posts like this let me know that I am not alone either. Thank you so much for sharing.
You’re an excellent mother and we are privileged to hear your story. Thank you for sharing. I didn’t have an overly traumatic childhood (an alcoholic parent and the other was abused as a child [and tried desperately not to continue that pattern]), but there are definitely some things I picked up or learned that I wish I didn’t. It certainly requires taking a step back and re-evaluating, “No, I don’t want to lash out every time I do so-and-so just because that was modeled for me.” And abundant grace, both for them (one imperfect parent looking at her own imperfect parents) and myself.
Thank you so much for sharing this. Last year I made the incredibly painful decision to take a break from interacting with a narcissistic parent who has extreme jealousy and anger issues. I too feel shame and loneliness and I feel like my sister is the only person who truly understands. It’s very hard when people say “but it’s your mother” – and that is the exact reason that I had to step away. As a mother myself it’s incredibly difficult to understand how a parent could want to hurt their child. I too want to be a fun, loving and relaxed parent since I didn’t grow up with that and it’s been challenging for me to discipline my own kids at times.
I really appreciate you sharing this and also how therapy has helped you.
Thanks for sharing, Veronika. This made me teary. I wasn’t raised by abusive parents, but I lose my cool with my kids often and feel so much guilt that I am emotionally hurting them. You seem like such a present and involved mother and your kids are lucky to have you as their mom <3
Erica Nicole says
Thank you for sharing this! I honestly have felt similarly in my parenting. So many emotions brought up based on my past whenever it comes to disciplining my children as well. This was beautifully written and composed and I really appreciate you sharing and opening your heart.
Lauren H. says
Oh my goodness! This is so me! I had no idea other people felt this way. I just thought it was my overactive brain. Thank you for sharing. I know it wasn’t easy.
P. S. The guilt about not having a relationship with a parent is REAL.
Katie falco says
I also have followed you for quite some time and wanted to thank you so much for sharing this 💜
This was an incredible read! I have no kids but I really appreciated your introspective approach. xoxo
Britt | southern Mama guide says
You are such a strong and inspiring woman. I’m so glad you wrote this post, V. I know it was also therapeutic to type it all out. Lincoln and Harper are so lucky to have you. You’re an amazing mom and wife! You are helping others by sharing your story! Love you sweet friend!
I’m so sorry this happened to you. I hope you can feel proud of the job you’re doing with your own kids❤️ Thanks for sharing ❤️
Glad I am not alone. I too grew up with toxic parents and siblings. Difference between me and my older sister is 12 yrs. Thank you for sharing.
I think you should be so very proud of yourself for breaking the pattern with your kids. It takes a cognitive effort to be different then how you were taught. Thank your for being so relatable on a regular basis and sharing something very personal.
Wow, Veronika, I can’t imagine how hard this was for you to publish. Thank you for being vulnerable and sharing more of your story with us. I love the reminder for us all to remember that behind everyones social media pages, we have no idea what they may be going through or struggling with. I try to remind myself of this often in my daily life.
NANCY OLIVAS says
Thank you for posting this personal history of you. I, too, came from a dysfunctional household. My mother was a very needy alcoholic and abandoned me several times throughout my childhood. I just couldn’t wait to grow up so I could be completely independent of her and other toxic family members. The only positive impact is that it has taught me to be a loving mother with my two beautiful gifts, my children. I sometimes lose my cool and yell (toddler phase), but sometimes I’m firm, and sometimes I apologize to them, and admit I was having a hard day and took it out on them. I’m conflicted sometimes, when people meet her, she seems so cute and put together, but they adore her. Little do they know she is the source of so much of my childhood pain.
Inspite of all your struggles and challenges, you have always come across as a positive person and I applaud you for that. This post has made you more relatable to us and your refreshing honesty in discussing the not so perfect aspects of your life shows your courage and the trust you have in us.
Thanks for the post and All my love.
I feel very similar to what you have expressed. My dad just never really liked children I think from facts that I have heard from family and also his actions toward me. He was 19 so he was a baby having a baby. (Me) He was never really a father to me, I hated going over every other weekend for shared custody because I knew I would be so bored and feel out of place spending the weekend over. I would spend it more with his mom and dad (my grandparents) and my aunt than with him. I vaguely remember me asking to go to the park and he said okay but fell asleep. When I was older it just felt awkward and I didn’t feel any love for him. He made excuses not to go to my high school or nursing graduation and he didn’t walk me down the isle nor attend my wedding. So I gave up trying and now it’s just awkward if I see him. I feel guilty not feeling love for him but it’s not there. I also get jealous of every dad/daughter dance in a wedding or just while observing other dad/daughter relationships of other friends or even in movies. (I cry in during the movie lol) .. I also married a great person and is on the same page with me in many ways and especially parenting . I try to be the best mom I can, even though I fight with anxiety daily. Yes I do yell and I have even spanked but have felt completely horrible and like a terrible person . So I try not to and just figure out another way to talk to them or calm them down . Anyway thanks for posting. You seem to be a great mother, wife and friend.. those are my goals, just to be a better person, wife friend and especially a better mother everyday for my two little ones. Xoxo
I had a similar experience. Thank you for sharing yours ❤️ Your ability to be real, and honest has drawn me to your blog for the past 5 years!
I didn’t have a bad childhood at all but now as a adult a have memories of feelings in the time, the feelings of fear of my parents specially my dad. I was yelled at for bad grades, or bad mood, or even that I didn’t understand math… I wasn’t abused but I got hit several times pretty hard, they never apologized. My parents come from poor families and work hard their way to have a good life and to provide me and my brother a good life which they did, but they constantly made me feel gratefull for what I have because they didn’t and for such a small kid it is an abstraction… my mother is a person who has strong life vision, things have to be certain way, and when She was disapointed in me She showed it to me, very judgemental and made me feel „less”… and to these days, I am 32, I struggle with it, not to fell less, to think I am good enough… I struggle the need to be perfect with everything specially with parenting, and then I get really frustrated and angry and I lose my temper. My children are everything to me and I promised myself that they won’t experience such situations I had that will glue to them forever, to have a great bond with my daughter one day, that She knows that She can come to me with every possible thing… I never had that. That’s why I am an one man army. Thank you Veronica for this post. It means so much to me…
You are amazing. Simply amazing ❤️
I’m in tears reading this. Gained a lot of respect for you V. I only know you can through the one cooking event we did with our kids and from following you on IG. This right here is so brave!!! I have been holding onto a “draft” I’m hesitant to hit publish on… but I know if I do, even if it can help one person that makes it all worth it.
Thank you SO much for sharing this very deep, and vulnerable part of you with so many of us. And for helping me to get the courage to hit “publish” on something I have been holding on to.
Much love to you!!!
(FYI, I had no issues at all with your website. Popped right up for me🙌🏻)
Thanks for sharing. I feel identified with what you wrote and I understand how difficult is to share with the world these types of life experiences.
I’m a pretty new reader and very rarely comment on blogs. You’ve had an outpouring the comments already but I still have to add one more. As a mom with two totally stable, comforting parents I of course STILL have so many of the feelings you describe. Parenting is so fraught with worry and I’m so glad you’ve opened my eyes to even more complicated stories. Thanks to all of you in the comments for sharing your experiences, too.
Thank you for sharing this. I too have a estranged relationship with my mother and I sometimes feel guilty for how I handle things when it comes to parenting my children. I wrote a book about growing up in a world of mental abuse from my mother and somehow, even being a married woman, I’m afraid to publish it because of what she might say. Your words though speak truth and encouragement at the same time and I truly needed to read your story. I appreciate the words that you were so willing to share with all of us.
I’m so sorry. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I too had a traumatic childhood and hope and pray that I will be different with my children. We all deserve love and kindness. Xo.
barely getting to read your post Veronica thank you for being so honest and open and from what I see Your a beautiful and caring mother and your children are incredibly blessed to have you for a mama!
Angela H says
I cannot tell you how moved I was by your blog post re: your parents and your childhood. Almost word for word, this could have been written by me, because it so closely mirrors my experience. The irrational, violent outbursts, the emotional distance, the feelings of insecurity, the envy of people with “normal” or closer knit families, the therapy. This is my story as well. And like you, the parent that I work so hard at being to my Clark is in direct response to the parenting, love, support and security I longed for in my family, and still do to this day.
When Clark was younger, I had to fight the natural parenting urges that would surface when I faced his normal toddler behavior and rambunctious little boy behavior. Although at first I struggled to do what I knew to be best against what I had learned from my parents, it became easier to go my own way and to love him in a much healthier way.
I remember years ago when I had returned to work full-time after being home with Clark for two years. I suddenly had this corporate job where I had the commute from hell every day, driving downtown. And being in my office immediately removed me from my experience of being ever-present in Clark’s little preschool classroom and being involved in all of his activities. I hated it.
And during this time, seemingly Clark’s behavior had declined, and by my estimation, he was becoming so unruly that he needed to be spanked frequently. One day in my frustration, it hit me. He had not changed. He was my same lovable little boy. I had changed. I had this new job and these new responsibilities and demands that took me away from him, and that frustrated me. It shortened my temper, and I was taking that out on him. Having that moment where I could recognize the reason for my behavior, and subsequently make a conscious decision to change it was incredibly cathartic for me. I knew in that moment I would NOT become my parents, that I was in control of who I would become and how I would love and raise this little person.
And quite honestly I realized it was just so much more rewarding to see the response of a little boy who knew he was loved. The way their little faces look (probably the same as ours did all those many years ago) when they are confused and don’t understand mom’s anger is a face that breaks your heart. Fortunately for us and our precious children, we’ve made a choice to respond differently and to parent lovingly. We’ve made a commitment to learn and not expect perfection, to apologize and to teach our babies. We are NOT our parents.
Thank you for this reminder and for such a courageous post. Hugs to you V. ❤️
I don’t have children yet, but sometimes I find myself being harsh or judgmental of my husband, over seemingly tiny things. And I see a flash of my mother in the actions and it drives me crazy with anxiety too, heh. But of course, like you mention, just because I’m showing a hint of my mother in no way means that I am anywhere near her levels. Plus my awareness of it is something she never achieved and obviously a step in the right direction. I imagine the stress of this all will be way worse when we get around to having children!
Thank you for sharing this!
I want you to know how much I value this post. As a child of severe, scary punishment and now parenting two little girls, I’m terrified of becoming “scary” or “unpredictable”. Which sadly is exactly how I feel sometimes. It’s so wonderful to read about a mom trying to be better, for this generation. Thank you. So much. For sharing.
V I’m very sorry you had to grow up in this way- I can somewhat relate. I have a good relationship with my parents now, but my father had a HORRIBLE temper and I feared him yelling at me and threatening to hit me with his belt or the yard stick. My mom had her own issues she needed to work through. There is a lot more I could talk about but I won’t here. You’re not alone. I don’t have children (yet) but this does haunt the back of my mind. I think you’ve been very proactive with therapy to help get through the trauma you experienced and to ensure that you and your children have the relationship you didn’t have. God bless girl xoxo
Thank you so much for writing about hard things.
My daughter is 7.5 years old now and I am still on medication to help me deal with my PPA that started when she was 3 months old. I have two supportive (although very strict) parents who raised me to be independent and to take ownership of my life and actions. Unfortunately, I think that led me to a lot of self-disappointment and the feeling that I had to be strong enough to get through things on my own. Despite having a great partner and continued support from his family as well as my own, I still have had some big struggles over the past 7 years going through PPA. I’m very thankful that I recognized the symptoms immediately and was able to start medication and CBT very quickly. I continued CBT for close to 3 years after my daughter was born and with the exception of a short, 3-4 month break last year, have also continued my medication. I am still working on forgiving myself for not really remembering that first year of my daughter’s life. I was highly medicated just to be a functioning individual, able to go to work every day and address our basic needs. It is still my biggest regret that I was not able to be fully present during that time.
We’ve added marital counseling to our repertoire as well, which has really helped with our communication as a couple and to help each other as we are going through stresses in our lives. It has also helped us parent better together so we can continue raising our daughter in a way that encourages her to accept herself, love herself, and forgive herself if she needs to.
I am proud of how far I have come and my ability to accept myself for who I am, physically, emotionally, biologically. It sometimes feels like the work is neverending and I can’t let my guard down or anxiety might creep in. But here I am, still moving forward. I am upfront with my PPA to anyone who asks why we don’t have more kids and hope that by continuing to talk about it, it will help normalize it for all of those who are still scared to acknowledge it or seek help.
All my love and support to you as you also continue to move forward.
I appreciate you sharing this. A lot. I have a very toxic relationship with an alcoholic father and it has challenged me in tons of unexpected ways as I navigate raising my kids. Especially my son. I often snap at my kids too much (all the while feeling intensely remorseful given the emotional abuse in my childhood) – and I question my ability to raise a well-adjusted kind man when I have not had any positive role models. The good news is, like you, I married a WONDERFUL man who is patient and kind – and, together, we will get through this. And hopefully enjoy it along the way.
I had to stop numerous times to wipe the tears off my face. Thank you for sharing. Remember you are stronger than you know.
Be careful. I now have toxic adult children. I try not to blame myself but it’s hard not to wonder if really saving them from all that toxic parenting wasn’t really enabling them. In the interest of full disclosure I did divorce their extremely personality disordered father who engaged in alienating behaviors. And the things my family did weren’t even on my radar. Just don’t over compensate. You are modeling the world for your kids and they need to understand respect and boundaries for you.
Thanks for your feedback! I’m still strict and discipline my children/set boundaries, but I will not resort to abuse. I think any child growing up with a parent that has mental illness will likely suffer in big or small ways from it. That’s why it’s so important for me to evaluate myself, knowing I have this history, to seek the support I need so that I can be the best mother I can be for my children.
Reading this bring my tears!!!
It is a good post Veronica!
I just wanna say you are an amazing mother and a genuine person… I love you sooo much
as a mom of two daughters I am so proud of you
With love Ruba,
You are so brave and generous to share your story. I love following your adventures of daily life. I have a whole new respect for you. Thank you for your honesty.
Thank you for writing this. It sounds familiar to me and it’s reassuring to know many of us share the same struggles. God bless you
Thank you so much for putting yourself out there . You have no idea how much it helps to read your words. I have my mother close but we are not, and as much as I want to have her in my life I do not feel like it is healthy for me.
You are such a strong woman for sharing these life experiences so publicly. It says a lot for your self awareness and care for others going through a similar situation. Your kids are lucky to have you and your husband <3
I have just read your post and it echoes my own childhood experience and how I feel about my own anxiety about being a good mother to my own children and my reactions which I beat myself up about thank you for making me feel less lonely I also totally get your feelings about your lack of relationship with your parents I don’t currently have any relationship with my own mother and have chosen to make that decision to protect myself but it’s still hard and I feel so guilty thank you again it gives me some support emotionally