When I was a little girl I was very spirited. I would do rascally things and generally cause havoc. I remember on many occasions my mother would look me in eye and say ‘I wish one day you will have a child just like you so you know what it feels like’. This wasn’t a one time wish – she’d tell me repeatedly right up until my adulthood about how she wished I’d have a difficult child.
I’m sure she isn’t the only mother in the world to make that wish. And sure enough, in one way or another, she’s got her wish. There are times I find motherhood and my children stressful (but doesn’t everyone?). In different ways my children have given me many difficulties, probably much more than I ever gave me own mother.
I never became a mum expecting to have it easy. Ok, I did until about 2 seconds after I gave birth then realised I was wrong. But that’s not the point – it’s the impact those words, which my mother repeatedly told me, have had on me. When my sons were little their father left and I was faced with bringing 2 toddlers up alone – I did find it very challenging and I would often think it was ‘my punishment’ for not being a good little girl to my own mum.
And then there’s my eyesight. Time and time again I’d hear from my mum ‘if you don’t brush your hair out of your eyes you’ll wear glasses’. By the time I was 13 I had my first pair of spectacles and a ‘told you so’ speech.
Another one of my mother’s favourite things to tell me was that children ruin your teeth. I was very fortunate to have good, straight teeth and each time my mum had to go to the dentist she’d remind me of how having children sucked the goodness from her body and that’s why my teeth were good and hers not.
It’s amazing how those seeds get planted during childhood. I’ve only had 3 fillings in my teeth – each one needed during each of my pregnancies. And each time I had to go to the dentist I heard those words my mother said to me. Unfortunately, the last one was a root canal and the tooth has now cracked. It’s incredibly painful and I don’t go back to the dentist until Monday.
I’m sure I’ve made mistakes raising my children. I know I have, I’m human. But I’ve always been very conscious of what I’ve said to them. I know how easy it is for children to take words from their parents and make them into little family curses that come back to haunt them through toddler and pre-teen temper tantrums, bad eyesight and painful teeth.