I remember my mother expressing her anger to me in this manner growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I was a good kid. I was an athlete, a star student and I rarely did anything worth getting in trouble over. I did, however, have a bit of an attitude. Of course, what teenage girl doesn’t? My own mother and father were so out of touch, not cool and what did they know about being a teenage girl and all that went along with that? They knew nothing; they’d never been teens, they’d never been normal. They were parents. Which, at that age, was a fate worse than death.
And honestly, I would have loved a daughter just like me. I was cool.
Fast forward 14 years and I now have three daughters (and one son) just like me. And while I love them all, I do note that they have each taken on a different personality trait of mine and amplified it to a sort of magnificent glory – and that’s not always good. My oldest daughter is 7. She is just like me in that she is a total perfectionist and neat freak. Except she’s the high-strung almost completely anal version of me. It’s annoying at times. My 4-year-old daughter is a little bit devious and mischievous, and she’s just like me with her stubbornness and her independence. Except that she’s literally so stubborn she actually never backs down and she’s so devious she makes us want to tear our newly gray hair out. And then there are the twins – only 16 months and still very sweet. We still have hope for them (misplaces, I’m certain).
One thing I can tell you is this; my own kids have made me view my relationship with my own parents in a completely different manner. Completely different – and mostly for the good, though sometimes for the bad. If you have kids now, or are going to soon, go hug your parents. They need it; and I’ll tell you how you will come to this conclusion no matter what type of relationship you do or do not have with your parents.
You realize that they weren’t so bad
For me, I realized after having kids of my own that my own parents weren’t that bad. For example, my mom and dad preferred that my friends came to our house, and they would talk to my friends, make jokes and butt in. My friends loved my parents; I thought they were hideous. I now see that they were doing that for me. They were making our house the cool house so that they could keep me close, and safe. They were being cool with my friends so that they’d want to come over so that I wouldn’t go out. I get it, and I do the same thing.
You see what they meant
My entire life my parents would say things that did not make any sense to me. They’d tell me things like “One day you’ll have kids of your own and you will understand,” and I’d roll my eyes and think, I’ll never treat my kids like this. And now I see what they meant. There is nothing like being a parent, and it really does change you. I see what they meant because there is a truth to the fact that you really have no idea what love is until you have children of your own.
You understand them
I remember my parents telling me no on several occasions when I wanted to spend the night with a friend of mine. I thought they hated me. I would ask why they were not letting me go, if we had plans or something, and they’d say, “Nope. You’re just not going,” and I’d be furious. Now I get it. Parents know other parents. There are kids my kids like that they will never get to visit at their own homes. Why? Because I know their parents and it’s not happening.
You appreciate them
I appreciate my parents so much more now than I did growing up – if I did growing up. I appreciate them because I know what it’s like to have kids. I know it’s hard to discipline kids and tell them no and see them hurt and hear their harsh words. I understand how difficult it is to stick to your guns and make the right decision when all you want to do is make the fun decision. I get it. I see that it’s not easy, and that there are so many sacrifices you have to make. I appreciate the fact that my mother, a teacher, made sure I was at cheerleading practice every afternoon my entire life and that I made it to softball practice after that. I appreciate that my parents were at every single game and practice I ever had. I appreciate it, because it’s not easy. My oldest is the only one involved in sports so far, but that will change in a year when our middle daughter is old enough. Our oldest is a cheerleader, and practice is 4 nights a week, 2 hours a night. It’s from 6-8. I get home from picking her up from school at 4:45 and have to get her fed, her homework done and her clothes changed in less than 45 minutes so we can leave, and we don’t get up until 8:30 every night. It’s a lot of work, commitment and it kills my husband and I and our own schedules.
You become them
I hear my mother come out of my mouth so much more often than I used to. And I kind of like it. I like getting to say things like “Because I’m the mother and I said so,” and listening to my kid’s frustrated sighs. It doesn’t mean anything to them and seems like a non-answer, but I love it.
Essentially, your relationship with your parents changes when you have kids because you now understand every decision, statement and feeling they once had, and you understand what was the driving force behind it.
Photo by Jason Merritt/Getty Images for WIF