Most oldsters carefully edit their past, forgive themselves for personal transgressions, and leave some stones unturned.
It’s only human nature; otherwise old folks would live their remaining days out hopped up on antidepressants.
Older writers do they opposite.
We not only take the stones and upturn them, we also shake them around a bit to make sure there’s not a spot of dirt left.
It’s what makes us neurotic.
Those who read this blog know that I’m very hard on myself. I have a poor body image and I have tremendous guilt over the myriad mistakes I’ve made in life — especially those made under the influence of controlled substances.
But there’s one thing I know, as we approach Mother’s Day.
I’m a good mother.
Maybe too good.
Number one son and I had a discussion over breakfast yesterday about why he’s made so many mistakes in his short life. Let’s see: drug and alcohol addiction, petty thievery, losing my laptop while stoned at a party, letting his best girl get away, not completing university, not being gainfully employed and thus working occasionally at ghetto jobs. I could go on.
That said, Nick has many great qualities including: outstanding kindness and thoughtfulness. He also has his own unique take on life.
Here’s what he said to me: “Our problem was we were given everything.”
So there is was. Out of the mouths of babes.
My one massive failure as a parent.
Now some people might applaud themselves. Some parents actually say that very thing back to their kids.
“How did you turn out like this? I gave you everything.”
Yep, Nick would say. That’s what ruined us.
I would add that, not only did I give them everything, I also picked up the pieces, sheltered and protected them, paid off their bills, let them stay rent free in my house for years and years, cooked hefty meals for them and allowed their friends to live at our house.
I went to court for Nick to get him off a shoplifting charge. I picked him up from the shelter when he was living on the street. I saved him from imminent harm after an ill-considered sojourn to Barrie. In short, I’ve not only given him everything, I’ve also kept him alive.
Why? A mother’s love, of course, but mostly a single mother’s guilt. Guilt over not having given my three children the perfect upbringing under a roof with two parents. Guilt over disappointing them when they were little because I could barely get out of bed, I was so depressed.
I gave them everything, also out of fear. Fear that they would unmask me and see me for the simpering weakling I really was. Fear that, like their father, they would cease to love me and abandon me because I wasn’t good enough.
I have a lot of issues and I make up for them by going to the extreme. Extreme kindness, extreme humor, extreme generosity, extreme worry.
Extreme tolerance. Extreme forgiveness.
It’s how I roll.
I always thought that was a good thing.
Apparently, giving them everything has damaged my children as people.
Oh, well. It could be worse. I’m going to try to take this as a compliment, see it as a “glass is half full” kind of moment.
No point worrying over a spilled childhood.
So I will do what I do best.
Pick myself up, dust myself off, clean up the children’s downstairs lair and take it over.
Give Nick the back bedroom.
Make him do the dishes and pay rent.
Thanks for the talk, young man.
I needed a new perspective.