Childhood trauma is something I’ve been thinking about lately, and figuring out how to avoid unnecessary anguish in my children’s lives is at the forefront of my mind. I know I can’t control every aspect of life and society that will impact my child – but can I steer around some of the homegrown traumas that could leave a scar? That’s the plan.
Anything that makes me assess my own childhood inevitably finds me shifting the lens to assess as a mother as well. An example of this was an episode of one of my favourite podcasts, The Friend Zone, called Theater Masks. Co-host Hey Fran Hey led a discussion on the patterns we recreate in relationships – either attracting the same types of people who don’t serve us well, or feeling the need to act a certain way in relationships to receive love. The question she posed was hard-hitting:
Who was the parent whose love you craved the most? And once you have that parent in your mind, ask yourself ‘what was the performance that I had to put on to receive that love?’
Mind = blown.
I’ve thought about the ways to protect my child from abuse. We’ve made the decision to not spank or “give licks” as punishment. I try hard to not raise my voice (and fail often) and I monitor my frustrations so that I don’t take something out on my child that she didn’t create. HomieLuva and I work hard on our relationship so that we’re healthy as individuals and a couple to support our family structure. We’re trying to nourish our child with the skills, confidence, and self-love that will hopefully provide a buttress against those things that seek to chip away at her. Our children’s wellbeing and potential is paramount in everything we do – but am I missing something? Will she struggle in future relationships because of something we’re unconsciously teaching her now? Those insidious things are where my mind focuses these days. I don’t have a crystal ball to see what’s to come, but that episode of The Friend Zone put me on to a new level of awareness as I move through this mommy game.
The other side of the coin is that no matter how perfectly we create a safe space at home for children to thrive, you never know what they may face once they step out into the world. Additionally, is it viable to consider a life where a child faces no hardship and doesn’t carry any kind of negative experience with them through life? (No.) Is it realistic to think that Little Magician will always look back at memories of her father and I without saying “I wish they had done this” or “I wish they hadn’t done that”? How do we balance out the fact that bad things do happen in life – and definitely have a crucial role in shaping us – while still avoiding those superfluous traumas that didn’t need to exist in the first place? And how do you navigate trauma as a parent if you experienced trauma yourself – particularly if you haven’t worked through it yet?
As you can clearly see, this post is more question than answer, because that’s all I really have at this point. Even with the multitude of unanswered questions, I’m thankful for the reminder of awareness. Even moreso, I’m thankful for the fact that I have never worked so hard at something while knowing that I have no clue what I’m doing – but I’m accepting that as what motherhood is.
Maybe I’ll do an interview with Little Magician when she’s older to see how she feels about it all. Stay tuned.