And when your small child reaches in his nappy to explore his own excrement and wipe it on the sofa, well bleach is really only thing for it.
I write not to vilify her. I write because I own my story. I write to assert my existence. I write because silence around abuse, even emotional abuse, gives it the authority and space to continue.
Agency was conspicuous by its absence in my upbringing. My adoptive mother neither trusted in me, nor in my agency and this might be regarded by many as wise. After all what can a child know about the consequences of their decisions?
Because the non-violent lessons I have taught her meant that I neglected the most important one. The one about respecting your own boundaries and protecting your own body. Instead I apparently encouraged my daughter to be a good cog in the kindergarten system, to report it to an adult and in doing so taught her to go against her instincts and passively accept violence on her body. She became a victim, because I taught her it was the right thing to do.
My children do not count in his eyes as ‘proper’ because I did not grow up with our mother. Nor presumably, does the son of my step-sister, their half-sister who grew up with her mother.
I would like to tell them about the wonderful man who gave to the poor. I would like to show them the legend of the Yule Lads from Iceland and get excited at how they have 13 Santas, not just one. I would like to explain how Coca Cola pulled off the biggest marketing marvel of all time and popularized him in red as opposed to blue. It’s pretty amazing if you think about it.
When I’ve said this in the past, there has always been a follow up question. ‘So you, who believe in honesty… do you lie to your children? Do you expose them to the harsh realities of life?’
My way, would be natural I’d decided (with not a little smirk of superiority). A water birth, maybe with a kick of gas and air to get me laughing like Uncle Benny in Lethal Weapon.
The question of what a ‘real’ mother means, is increasingly relevant. What does it mean to be a mother? Who is the ‘real’ mother?
Then the Iraqi war comes. And with it Americans and British soldiers with their feet on naked men wearing hoods over their faces.
When I grew up and found my natural parents, there was of course no gold crown waiting for me. Just a realization that I was the rather ordinary product of a tawdry affair where responsibility for my presence was passed off to a childless married couple desperate for a child of ‘their own’. I was a possession.
When I see their confusion and upset, I feel as if it would be better simply if I were not there. As if I am not fit to be a mother. As if I should leave the parenting to healthier adults.
If there’s one thing abusive parents have in common, it’s an inability to control their stress levels. Don’t be that parent.
You make the choice of restaurant based on how big the pram parking area is and the quality of the play activities given to your children beforehand. The food will probably be shit (but that’s not what restaurants are about nowadays).
You’ve felt it your entire life, that there’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but its there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.