10 Ways Not To Parent

This is probably the hardest blog post I’ll write.

The reason I’m doing this blog is because I want to write. I have always wanted to be a writer. I have always loved books. I have read books that have literally changed my life and the books I read as a child and then a young adult shaped my world and the way I viewed the world. To be able to write a book and send it into the world and have someone read it and be moved by it would be the ultimate accomplishment. To be able to write something that touches someone’s heart and makes an impact on them even if it is only one person, that would be enough.

So that brings me back to this.

I have read a lot about writing over the years and the one thing that really stuck with me was that you have to write what you know. What I know is my childhood and my life. Then the difficult bit. How honest to be. How far to put myself out there. I have wanted to write about my childhood for nearly 20 years but have always been too afraid.

I’m going to be forty this year. If ever there was a time to be brave its now surely?

Our parenting style is heavily influenced by the way we are brought up. We either swear to do it completely differently to the way our parents did it or we want to be the parents for our children that ours were for us. I’m in the first camp. My parents were so messed up. I couldn’t think of two less suitable people to put in charge of children. Like asking two toddlers to organise a school trip. Reader, that may sound harsh but read on.
When I was nine years old I read a book called “It’s Not the End of the World” by Judy Blume. The book was about a young girls parents who were getting divorced. I didn’t really understand what divorce was just that it was a terrible thing and the girl in the book clearly did think it was the end of the world. Sometime later my mummy asked me to go shopping with her into the city. I was still nine years old, the same age my daughter is now. This was the day that changed my whole life. My mummy sat me down on a bench in the shopping precinct, burst into tears and asked me if was okay if she left my Daddy. I was terrified. The girl in the books world had ended when her parents split up. I loved my Mummy and my Daddy. I didn’t want to have to choose who to live with. I was frightened. I burst into tears and told my Mummy that I didn’t want my parents to split up.
They didn’t split up, then.
Every day that followed that day at the shopping precinct and everything that happened therafther was my fault. When my mother became so depressed that she attempted suicide that was my fault “because you didn’t let me leave your father when I wanted to”. Anything that didn’t go right was my fault because I did not give her permission that day to end her marriage .  I made a decision that I was not emotionally or mentally mature enough or prepared for. It’s not for children to worry about adult matters.

I understand mental health, I’ve had mental health issues but there is a difference between illness and responsibility. I have been ill in the past. Mental illness and relinquishing all responsibility for your behaviour are different. Don’t misunderstand me, if you don’t have capacity to make your own decisions I’m not condemning you.
What my 39 year-old self is able to rationalise is that this wasn’t personal. This and other things that happened was the behaviour of someone who was a damaged child who happened to grow up and have children of their own.
I can’t take it personally. I won’t take it personally. Not anymore.  There it is. It’s out there.

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