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on parenthood

November 18, 2016

I heard the Jamaican man shout before I saw him. From my vantage point, snooping from the living room window like an elderly lady with too many cats, I saw him yank a 3-year-old boy out of a car while shouting at the girl — presumably his girlfriend — with ridiculously long fingernails and breasts pushed up so high that they nearly touched her chin. He opened the door on the driver’s side and lunged at her and she tried to back up with the door wide open. The little boy was stood behind the car and she very nearly hit him, which led to another barrage of insults, the likes of which I couldn’t understand, but which ended with fassyhole and dutty stinking gyal.

He walked off, pissed off, with the poor kid trailing miles behind. And I thought, “What kind of a chance does this kid have?” I’m very much aware of how habits and words and negative behaviours trickle down from one generation to the next. His anger was probably his father’s and his grandfather’s before that. My grandpa’s impatience was my dad’s impatience, is my own. It takes a lot of hard work to break the cycle.

I often think when I shout No! at Wren after she’s tried, for the fourth time, to rip the nose off my face, “Hey, could be worse, my kid could have that Jamaican guy for a dad.” Or I could be the mom who only feeds her sugar and let’s her sit in front of the TV all day. But that’s just me justifying my own behaviours when they don’t feel right, when Wren pokes at that Caron impatience, which I’m working so hard to eradicate from my life. I’ve always said that she’s my little guru and I have a feeling she’ll keep poking until I sort it out.

And yes, Wren could have that dad. And yes, she is far better off than most. She’s privileged compared to so many other kids, even compared to me when I was a child. But no amount of privilege is going to teach her patience, humility, resilience, confidence, compassion, kindness. These things I have to teach her.

And in this world, where (some of) our leaders, let’s be honest here, haven’t evolved much past the Cro-Magnon age, and represent the very opposite values of those that I’m trying to teach my kid, I have my work cut out for me. I must lead by example with a huge, open heart, and hope that the seeds I plant today will grow into something beautiful tomorrow. And it’s not easy to have an open heart. Over the years, things happen, hearts calcify.

I don’t know why I started to write this post and I don’t quite know where it’s going. I just know that I’ve never had to take such hard looks at myself as I have since becoming a mother. The consequences of my own short-comings and inadequacies used to only affect me (and my poor husband). This is no longer the case. I now have a little pixie following me around and imprinting on me every second of the day.

My cousin and I often joke that the Caron impatience gene stops here, with this generation. When Wren sees me react to something in frustration, disdain, fear, anger, impatience, she is learning that’s how one must react in that situation. I have to constantly keep myself in check while also accepting that even though I’m trying to react to situations the “right” way, they may not be the right way for her. Holy fuck, eh?

Compassion, love, acceptance. Repeat.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Johanna permalink
    November 18, 2016 7:43 pm

    Thank you so much for writing and letting us read. You absolutely nailed it.

  2. November 18, 2016 10:24 pm

    Re-writing history has been part of my journey of parenthood. It makes me happy to know I’ve broken the cycle. xxx

  3. alison permalink
    November 18, 2016 10:32 pm

    Oh how I wish I’d had your insight when I was raising you girls. I “knew better” deep down inside but knowing and doing are two very very different things. I do really know though that you are a wonderful mama and I know Wren is blessed to have you and after all perhaps she chose you. Some say that. If by you teaching Wren all of the good things about reacting and about life you learn at the same time well then it just can’t get better than that can it? Like an alcoholic needs to admit first that he/she is an alchoholic before being able to change we too need to face up to our “shortcomings” before we can begin to change. I will never stop trying. Well, except maybe in the kitchen. Huge shortcomings there. 🙂 Aw heck, I’ll keep trying. I know I don’t have to “try” to love my family. That comes as easily as breathing and yes I am aware that love is not always enough and sometimes I will need a gentle guidance from my children to help me be a better person. xxoo

  4. November 19, 2016 2:38 am

    There is so much responsibility when raising a child. And the fact that it is a 24/7 job makes it absolutely impossible to be perfect. I know that I am impatient. And complain-y. And irritable. And sarcastic. And…and…andddddd….. But, I try my best. And apologize a lot. And try really hard to stay out of the way. Let my kids fail, and be there to help them through it. Give them words to help them sort out what they want to say. Stop talking all together and listen. These are not as easy to do as you would think. Especially the stopping talking part. So. I am flawed. So are they. We will muddle through and hopefully all be better in the end. 🙂

  5. Karin permalink
    November 20, 2016 1:20 am

    Dear Alison,
    I love you and I love the daughter you raised!

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