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Kitchen Sink

Another Day

August 31st, 2011

{{Another re-post.}}

 

Mommy? Do you love me?”

 

I cringe. Not because I hate the question, but because I hate she has to ask it.

 

I used to ask my mom the same thing, over and over again, every day, and I never received a satisfactory answer. Seems my daughter isn’t either.

 

I’d always thought my mom was too guarded, too closed, too unaffectionate to give me the love I craved, but now I’m beginning to think my constant need for reassurance were — is it possible? genetic.

 

As a child, I was painfully unsure of my lovableness, much like I am now. I was raised by a mom who was underconfident herself and a dad who made sport of teasing us. He didn’t mean any harm, but he didn’t affirm me, so busy was he poking and pushing my buttons.

 

I overcompensate with my own children. I slather love on them daily. I snuggle, kiss, hug and rock. I’m often reprimanded by my oldest that I’m “smooshing her,” but I can’t help it. I love my kids something awful. But some days, I think it’s more about me, than them. I crave overt validation, I push and push as if I can force them to love me back.

 

Either way, despite my best efforts at constant loving, my four-year-old is as I was, or am.

 

So I’ve been giving a lot of thought to where and how we end up these days. What makes us who we are, what we become, that kind of thing. It’s nothing new, but now with two children of my own, I am painfully aware that every little thing can have an impact on them. And that despite everything we do, sometimes a trait is just imprinted in our DNA.

 

Like I said, I always imagined I was a product of my environment. Up until recently, I believed with every fiber that I didn’t get enough love as a child. But after hearing Toots ask me the same question — Do you love me? — that I did as a kid (and still do as an adult, God help me), I think maybe despite my far-reaching validation and daily affirmation of her beauty, her lovability, her herness, just maybe, she’s going to be like me.

 

And I hate it. I don’t want that for her. I want her to be comfortable in her skin. To not need to be loved, or at the very least, to not care. To be herself and let the chips fall where they will. To be confident and secure. My heart breaks when I see myself in her. Other things — my love for the spooky, my crazy imagination, my empathy — she can keep. But that insecurity? I want to break it wide open, scatter the pieces to far corners, sweep them up and throw them the hell away.

 

It’s not as if she sees my insecurity. I’m not a role model for it. First of all, I’ve come a long way, and feel much stronger and valid than ever before. Secondly, I’m hyper aware that what she sees is what she does. I never let her see me doubt myself or question my right to be loved. Rather, I conduct these things in secret. Sure, I bet some of it seeps through and she picks up on it, but my husband cancels so much out. He’s just as loving as I am, and our girls have no reason to wonder if we love them.

 

So why is Toots asking?

 

I pore over photos of her. Looking for something. So many pictures show a girl with a thousand-mile-stare, an intensity a four-year-old shouldn’t know. I remember this girl. I am this girl. And perhaps I should be thankful that she has a guide, a mom who understands. I can downplay the doubts, pump up the confidence, minimize the thoughts that plague her. Or maybe let them play out, and continue to love her as I do, and know it all turns out OK.

 

Because it does. And she shall.

 

Toots in repose

 

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On August 31st, 2011, W.C. Camp said:

You are a good mom and doing everything right! Don’t get hung up on ‘being a perfect parent’. You are doing fine and providing the solid foundation which your children will rely on FOREVER no matter how far they wander. Nice post – W.C.C.

On September 1st, 2011, Slow Panic said:

I smother my kids too. And the other day my kid asked me if I left his swim team practice early because he wasn’t doing well. LIKE I WOULD BE ASHAMED OF HIM. Ugh. He is me. That’s what scares me most. I know he’ll be OK. I’ll be OK. We’ll be OK. But it kills me to see him have the same insecurities I had/have.

On September 1st, 2011, julie gardner said:

I know that need-to-feel-loved of which you speak. Intimately. (My knowledge is intimate; not your speaking. For now.)

I’ve lived it and see it in both of my children but manifested differently:

My son tests me constantly – pushing my buttons, doing what he knows annoys me most to see if I’ll still love him, if he is worthy of the “unconditional” thread of a mother’s love.

conversely, my daughter submits to everyone around her. She is a please-er who subjugates her own desires/wishes to be sure others want/like/choose her… and this too worries me. Almost more than his behavior. Definitely more. Because to earn love, she doesn’t advocate for herself; while he spends his life making others prove their love to him.

Still, I can’t help thinking their opposing actions come down to this: Insecurity.

Crap.

If you someday discover how to MAKE your kids feel confident and loved forever and ever, please share.

But I’ll still be your friend either way…

On September 1st, 2011, Marta said:

I’ve been thinking and writing a lot about that lately. About the things my parents did that shaped who I am. Often I think about how I never want to do the same for my kids. I do it too, the constant need for affirmation. I didn’t feel like I got enough either. I find myself asking my son if he’ll still love me when he’s all grown up. A question I wish I had never posed for now, he often tells me (which I sort of love) that he’ll always love me even when he’s grown up.

On September 1st, 2011, Frelle said:

Im so glad I came to read tonight. This is so deep and transparent and honest… what you see, and what you recognize, because of the girl you are and the woman youve become. What you know you needed as a child and what you hope to give your daughter. Wow. Really, this was excellent writing, and a very specific look into your life. Thank you for pouring your heart out here.

On September 6th, 2011, Mama Mary said:

She is beautiful, and she is you. I look at my Lily, who is EXACTLY like me, I worry for her knowing how hard things have been for me being an overly emotional, sentimental, SAP! But then again I am also happy for her that she has those traits. They are a blessing and a curse. You are a blessing to me! xo

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