The Damage We Cause To Our Children

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The Damage We Cause To Our Children

“She never loved me,” Savannah sadly said to me as we walked through the field of wildflowers. “She would kiss my brothers good night in the rooms next to mine and as I heard her voice reading to them I  imagined her caressing their hair. When she finished she would pass right by my door saying good night as she went by. I would cry out to her, ‘Mama, kiss me and love me too,’ but she never came in and I would fall asleep to the deepest pain, a pain that would never heal.”

Ever since I met Savannah I knew that behind her effervescent facade there was a deep loneliness. She was beautiful in a classic, Audrey Hepburn sort of way with great style, thick glossy black hair, mischievous brown eyes and long, thin, shapely legs. Her energy was magnetic and she lived to make the world smile. But her destiny, given to her by her mother, was to live a life searching for the love that she was robbed of as a little girl.

As Axel lay sobbing in bed his pain became my own and I worried about the life wounds I was inflicting upon him. He is a lot like his father, my Axel, quietly absorbing his pain until he can no longer. He is wise like the elephants he adores and he is able to express his sadness in a way that I can understand, learn and change from.  “I feel like you don’t love me,” he cried. “You put me in camp all day just so that you can get rid of me. You’re always tired, always mad, always working. When I try to help you all you see is the mess I make. When I make my invention that everybody is impressed by, you scold me for breaking a toy that Grandpa gave me. I feel like I’m living with an Ogre.”

Savannah’s anguish resonated deeply within me and even though Axel had closed up to me and was trying to push me away I embraced him in a hug and held on to him until he calmed down reassuring him that he, his brothers and his father were my sun, my stars and my moon. I explained to him that sometimes the external environment was what caused me to be that Ogre and that I would listen to his eternally wise words and remember to not let the weight of the world enter our house any longer. I also told him that it would really help if he didn’t make such a complete mess wherever he went in the house. Brevitt walked into the room, “Axel, cry into your pillow, you’re so loud and Mommy, you can’t both cry,” he said with his gorgeous smile. “But Axel’s right, I am an Ogre,” I replied in tears.

As Axel’s sobs quieted into silent tears I sang to him my favorite song, “Everything’s Alright,” from the play Jesus Christ Superstar and as he fell asleep I hoped that loving him so completely would indeed make everything alright.

The next day the boys had a lot of play with my new nickname and we laughed all day on our road to recovery. After Lacrosse practice Axel got into the car with the rain pouring outside and I couldn’t help staring at my beautiful boy with his long hair swept to the side to stay out of his eyes, his big, gapped teeth, long eyelashes, smiling eyes and incredibly knowing smile. I apologized to him for my behavior the day before and  as he balanced his body like an angel on top of the seat he said, “You know Mama, when you’re mad, you get really mean and you sound like this, “Axxxxellll, you didn’t ussssssssssse the sssssssssssssssssssplattmat!”

I couldn’t help but laugh at his interpretation of his now Medusa mother. I guess I transform into different monsters depending on the moment. I can thank my father for handing down to me all of these wonderful traits but the reality is that I must not place all the blame on my genes and I must take some responsibility for the pain I cause to both myself and my children when I am bad. I need to always remember my friend Savannah and know that we are all fragile and need love and if I am feeling like an Ogre or Medusa or that little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead than I need to listen to my children and learn how to stay good when I’m very, very good and quiet when I am feeling the urge to be horrid.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Oh, now I’m crying!! Children make us so extremely vulnerable – my heart breaks every day with my kids ups and downs, and yes, I worry often about just how I’m emotionally scarring them… I just keep loving as hard as I can and hope that will make up for it.
    .-= parenting ad absurdum´s last blog ..Ouch, my uterus =-.

    • Hi Peryl,

      Yeah, I actually was sobbing while writing the post because whenever I hear that song I burst into tears.

      You’re damned if you give everything you have and leave nothing for yourself and you’re damned if you give nothing of yourself.

      I guess, love is the answer as always.

  2. I really was not in the mood to start sobbing.

    I remember Savannah telling me that story of her childhood. It always deeply effected me and I think of her time to time and hope she is feeling loved now…… at least she knows she is loved by you and Michele. Your description of her is beautiful and accurate.

    Savannah is such a beautiful, outgoing woman who always caught the attention of everyone and deserves love, like everyone does. How could a mother be so cruel? It is so disturbing.

    Jillian, you are way too hard on yourself. You do not talk about what an incredibly loving mother, sister, wife, daughter you really are. You do everything for your boys. You take them on adventures, daily, you shower them with kisses. You laugh and joke with them. you are serious and explain to them every little detail about every little thing. You ski with them, do sports with them. You are not an ogre 99% of the time. Asa parent, we have our every lives we have to deal with on top of children. We cannot be perfect all the time.

    The fact that Axel could voice his opinion to you, and cry to you and to reach out to you says he is a very well adjusted child and knows he is loved….just needed more, and you gave it to him. Brevitt is an intuitive brother and by acting so lightly about Axels tears knows it was probably just a metdown on Axels part!!!
    You are such a wonderful mother and so “there” for your children. We all have our ‘Medusa” side. I get so upset Hayden and Tasha that I find myself mumbling under my breath obsenities and my children laugh at me at my crazyness.
    Maybe you are just over sensitive from the wrath of our father, but that is a good thing because really you are so intuned to your children. Maybe you didn’t get daddy’s temper, maybe you just are self consiouse to never be like that to your children
    Michele is calling. Must go
    xoxo

    • Mouse –

      Didn’t I just call you sobbing a week before this incident telling you about how I needed to stop being so ill tempered? I get it right at least 60% of the time, but you’re right, we’re all human and doing the best we can.

      You are the one who made me feel so much better about everything with your positivity and love that you spray on me after every post.

      I also just spoke with Michele and I said, “Mommy will really appreciate her birthday gift because sometimes she feels that you distance yourself. That’s better than me who…,” “Gets too connected?” she said filling in the blank. She’s funny that sister of ours!

  3. Dear Jillian. I think this is the curse of motherhood in this day and age. Yes we are responsible and yes we are not. Look around you, we are dealing with so much, how can we be peaceful and attentative all the time?
    This time is very demanding on us, we feel responsible for too much, we are responsible for too much so no wonder we crack.
    It is good to notice though and you are doing a terrific job for even noticing and acknowledging;
    ON top of everything else that is good work.
    Do not take blame for things you cannot take blame, we are currently overloaded, and yes you do the best you can. No it is not perfect, but these times are not perfect, but we are working on it.
    Be gentle on yourself, the times will come right but acknowledge they are not perfect right now.
    Hugs to you, Wilma
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..We are looking for our new home the WomenLikeMe way. =-.

    • Yes Wilma, you are right but being a mother is such a tremendously huge job with so much responsibility. If I really thought about the importance of my role I truly might not have plunged in the way I did.

      I sometimes get completely overwhelmed by the attention that my family, and my dog, needs from me but in the end I know that I would be nothing if I wasn’t needed.

      Hugs to you back my friend!

  4. Hi Jillian! I know you won’t believe this, but I had such angst, such frustrations, yelled when I shouldn’t have, didn’t listen when I should have – all the stuff you are torturing yourself about now. I know it goes with the territory of motherhood but having adult kids now is a wonderful relief. They don’t remember much! What a relief! Neither are scarred for life over my hysterics.

    Having said all that, please remember that children have unrealistic expectations of parents. Period. They have none of the adult stress, responsibilities or anything to deal with and cannot possibly understand your life as a parent. They are really kind of selfish in that they expect your world to only revolve around them – and while it does SOMEwhat, you still have a lot of other things -like being an adult-they don’t have to deal with.

    My son (28) said he didn’t know if his girlfriend could handle having kids nearly as much as I did! I was floored! Apparently he’s forgotten all the tirades – trust that yours will too!
    hugs
    suZen

  5. What a timely post for me to read. I’ve been an ogre myself. I am busy, tired, and completely burned out. I will need to take a day and enjoy the kids. I am not the mother I once was…haven’t been that fun and laughing mom for a while. Instead, I yell, I look angry or tired, and I am always in front of the computer. My little girls are bored, my oldest stays in her room and my son is bored which causes him to get in trouble. Geesh….it’s been a rough few months. I am horrified because I know it does not show how much they mean to me. Yeah…I need to get back to being mommy and cut out things that interfere or learn to balance better. Thanks for your brave post.
    .-= Richele´s last blog ..Nature Study the Charlotte Mason Way =-.

    • Richele, what I really think is that we need to hide together in a closet while the children learn how to use their imaginations and entertain themselves.

    • Hi Melissa,

      So glad to be sharing our sites with each other. Imagination Soup is all that I need to help me get back in touch with my children over the summer.

  6. I think all parents screw their kids up one way or another (SMILE). What I mean is that we do inherit the good, the bad and the ugly from our parents and I suspect out kids will do the same. But when the good outweighs the bad, what is remembered most and what produces most in their lives is the abundant love that was given. The soft words, the laughs, the hugs and definitely the singing of the special songs. My dad was a little on the crazy side and could truly be harsh. So I can be a little sensitive to blunt criticism. But what I do know is that he loved me and my family more than anything. So I have faith that my kids will turn out all right. But I have a savings account for thier therapy just in case!

    CJ
    .-= CJ´s last blog ..Show Me…Me. =-.

    • CJ, you are so right. I can already see the temper rising in my ten year old and I feel guilty as charged.

      I think that our father’s were similar. My sisters and I are very adept at tuning people out when they are criticizing us or being too loud.

      If only I had a savings account for therapy. Unfortunately, because I don’t, it is my readers who have to suffer through my therapy that is my writing!

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