Series

Life Traps | Pt. 35: If I was a parent

Posted by Maria

This post is a contemplation on the things I would do differently if I was ever going to be a mother. About the things I’d teach them, the ways I’d try to educate them, and how I would act in contrast to the adults in my childhood. About the kind of things I would like the child to take with them when they leave the house and go off to live their life.

A child’s Interest

I think I would’ve liked it if my wishes were heard more when I was a child. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think badly of my swimming days most of the time but I do feel like I missed out on some of the things I could’ve/would’ve done had I not been training 5 times a week. It almost feels like all of my childhood was about swimming, especially when we had training twice a day on the weekends. I was a child, with a child’s aspirations.

I would not impose my own aspirations on my child to the best of my ability. I would do my best to showcase things I’m interested in, in ways that are comfortable and playful, and not get discouraged if the child didn’t feel as passionate as I do about them. Not everyone is a writer, a reader, nor into half of the things I’m into – why would my child be any different?

They would have their own freedom in the things they like, and I would try and support them in finding their own way in life. It matters not that I can’t live out my goals through them, that is not the parent’s job, to begin with. What matters, is that my child would find a path they can walk with confidence and pride and that they can be content with. I would let my child walk freely in the directions their nature takes them, guiding them when they are about to fall into the shadows.

Realistic encouragement

The path a child chooses might not last, or it might seem overly difficult. However, we need to remember that most things have already been done, and so, it would be quite hurtful to instill a mentality of “you won’t make it anyway” into the child. This is what I feel happened to me and writing, and it is for that reason I am so hard on myself and find myself beating myself up for indulging in such a ‘’fruitless’’ effort.

I would have been happy if I was told it is hard. That I could overcome with proper support from myself and others. But the way the adults in my childhood (and even after) tried to mold me was “It is a fine hobby, but be sure to get a real job too!”. What is a real job then? Is it the job you take just for money’s sake, the one you hate to get up for? The one that you feel is suffocating you, trapping you in a place of taint that you don’t belong to? No. I would rather think that the ‘’real’’ job is the job that allows you to breathe, to use your unique strengths. It will nourish you instead of slowly making you wilt and turn grey. It will give you energy and inspiration instead of sapping you. 

I would help my child find what they enjoy and are good at and help them walk down the path they chose for themselves. But make no mistake, I would also give the reality of things; After all, not everyone is a nurse, or an astronaut, or a movie star. It is a hard road no matter what if you want to excel at something. There will always be hurdles in life, no matter what way you decide to go. But hurdles can be overcome.

Respect & Openness

I don’t get the feeling I was respected much as a child, nor did I have talks about taboo topics like sexuality or periods. It was more or less my job to show respect to others, and when the time came that I finally found out I’m actually quite rebellious, I had to take off and hide for a while. I just recently learned that yes, while respect should be earned, it is not anybody’s job to prove to your their worth. And even more so, it is ok not to have respect for someone. Behavior has a tendency to pay back in kind – If you are a terrible person, you will find yourself without playmates.

While it is important to know that it is completely fine not to have respect for something, it is ten times more important to still keep in mind that so long as the person has not wronged us in ways that are beyond grace, we need to respect them as a fellow human being. We are all flesh and blood, we all have feelings and shadows in us. We all struggle in our own way. And that is ok, showing we are not fine in a safe way is completely and utterly fine. We deserve to be given some slack because just as we all know, everyone makes mistakes. 

That being said, you should have respect for yourself as well. Don’t let people trample all over you, don’t become a slave or a servant unless that’s what you are into. Your own choices matter more than someone else’s, you are the one you have to live with, so you better be fine with who you are as a person. Respect your life and the lives of others. Good things come to people who know how to be graceful.

Consequences

I was quite a problematic kid, I think. I was often late, misplaced my keys too many times, slacked in school, and took the liberty of causing hundreds of euros worth of phone bills by texting. And I kept doing it despite being spanked for missing the curfew, and despite my SIM cards being repeatedly cut in halves. 

Physical punishment did nothing for me, I learned nothing from it. Neither did taking things away or grounding. A fun fact about grounding someone who already enjoys being alone and being with nothing but their mind in their room is that it is like a breath of peace. I think I actually liked being grounded and not being able to go anywhere, it was a privilege to be left alone.

I wonder how I would “punish” my child? 

Other than teaching about limits and boundaries from the get-go, I would need to somehow showcase consequences without taking away my love and affection, or using physical discipline where it is not needed. And by discipline, I don’t mean I would beat the child senseless, just putting it out there before someone goes ballistic. But I should be able to stop destructive behavior in ways that are safe for the child and for me. Nobody should get hurt, neither me nor my child nor anyone else.

Consequences are a truth of this world though, and we need to understand it. If you don’t take care of your phone, it will break and you won’t have one. If you play with the candles, you will get burned. If you behave badly and hurt someone, they will not want to play with you. This is just a part of the natural cycle of things.

The value of work

In the line with consequences, good things can happen too. But most of the time those rewards of life need to be earned one way or another. Nothing in this world is free, there is not even such a thing as unconditional love, no matter how hard you might want to believe in it. Everything living is selfish at its core, and from that selfishness, both good and bad things can rise. It’s up to us to choose what kind of selfish we want to be.

We all have goals in life, but we often get baffled by having to choose the best route to the destination. For our goals we need to work, often harder than we’d like, and even through the struggle of sabotaging ourselves while we are at it. You want something, you better make sure you are willing to do what it takes to get it because ain’t nobody in this world owing you any favors!

Just as nobody owes you anything, you don’t owe anyone anything either. This is a lesson I also took a while to learn. It is ok to say no to things that don’t suit you. To walk away and not go back. For me, I got busted in my mentality so badly in the past that I don’t feel like anything I do is worth anything on my bad days. It used to be like that all the time. But you know what? Turns out there was one thing I couldn’t really dispute that helped me start valuing my own efforts a bit more. Maybe this realization that my husband passed down on me could help others too.

If there was nothing else I could leave to my child, this would probably be the one thing I’d choose over anything.

You were born. I don’t care if you wonder for what reason, or if it was for no reason at all. I don’t care if you feel worthless or even think the world would be better off. You were given the gift of life. You were worthy of that gift. Nothing you can do or say will ever make it anything other than that, since your existence proves it on its own. And if the most powerful thing in this world, Life itself, chose you, you must be worth a mountain of things. Even if you have not figured it out yet yourself.

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