Sometimes parents just don’t understand, sometimes they do

January 18, 2011
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With the help of my younger brother, 30, and sister, 28, I have spent the last month nursing my mother back to health after she had surgery. Her doctor found a tumor in her stomach, and she had to have her stomach taken out. The surgeons connected her esophagus to her intestines.

She’s doing well now.

But it was through this experience I learned that the real cancer in African-American culture, or at least for me, is the pain suffered at the hands of parents. I learned that pain is recycled unless confronted, acknowledged or somehow resolved.

I thought I buried those issues.

My mother lay in the hospital for seven days. For seven days I had the responsibility of making sure my younger brothers, 8 and 13, got to school with lunch in tow. I then had to go about my routine, go back and pick them up, take them to the barbershop, make sure they did their homework, ate dinner and went to sleep. And I had to visit my mother at the hospital. Finally, I had to finish whatever I couldn’t finish during the day time. I even updated my Facebook status as: “New found respect for mothers, esp. my own. I did it for a week and I am knackered and not to mention that my lil bros are 8 and 13.

By Day Four, I was exhausted. I started to resent my mother, not for the cancer, but for the fact that hardly anyone else came to visit. I started to feel upset about nights during my teenage years when she chose to spend time with other men than with me, times when she left me to the elements of Austin. I started to think about all of the other things that I could have been doing with my time besides taking care of her children while she was recovering.

I think parents sometimes forget that children have feelings, too. I think they dismiss the notions of individuality. My parents were ones who didn’t take kindly to asking the reasons behind some actions. They always used some generic term: “Because I am the grown up and you are the child.” Or if you had really religious parents, they would beat you, then quote some scripture about honoring thy mother and father, or spare the rod spoil the child.

I learned that I still resented her for some decisions she made that affected my life.I realized that unless I dealt with these issues they would manifest in other ways, against other people. And I’m sure I have done that a lot already (I apologize).  Some people say that the way a man treats a woman is dependent on the relationship with his mom, I don’t know. But I do know that for the first time I think she dug deep to hear me and not listen. And maybe those times when I spoke out or acted out was to get her attention. Either way, we got what we needed.

I forgive her now, but it wasn’t until her hospital stay that I had to confront issues that I still harbored. I finally found time to express those feelings to her just recently. She acknowledged them and said where we both went wrong. We understood where we both took each other for granted.

We are both still healing.

austintalks.org@gmail.com

5 thoughts on “Sometimes parents just don’t understand, sometimes they do

  1. Thank you for this. As a mother of seven, I find myself scampering for some time alone. It pains me to admit that I, too am guilty of forgetting that my children have feelings too. I find myself making the same mistakes that my mother made when I was a child. So hungry for love and attention, that children have to compete with the arms of lover. I also feel the anger of caring for someone who has made your heart bleed more than once.I remember when my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, I felt numb. I wasn’t at all they way one should have been when a loved one has been given such grave news. I remember a time, long ago, when I used to love her. My first pregnancy and subsequent others brought a torrent of insults and put downs that numbed my feelings toward her. I could go literally months without calling. She hurt me deeply.I took her death strangely in stride…at first. Sure I cried a little here and there, but it wasn’t until I was at a live Tyler Perry play, Madea’s Big Happy Family, that I really mourned for her loss. I cried from deep inside me. Finally, the little girl who always wanted to spend the night with grandma, weeped at what our relationship used to be. I weeped at what it had become, and I weeped at the treasure I’d lost. She, like her mother before her, had been mistreated and hurt. She was strong, but didnt realize just how strong. She endured pain and maltreatment that she did not have to withstand, but she felt powerless to change anything. I look at myself and find that I am so much like her. I miss her dearly. I dont thinl I will ever stop missing her, but I feel that, right at this moment, I have forgiven her. Sometimes parents dont understand, and most of the time the children dont either. However, I am learning to embrace my mistakes, and forgive others for their mistakes that were made to me. Thanks for writing this…….

  2. I just wanted to comment on: “Or if you had really religious parents, they would beat you, then quote some scripture about honoring thy mother and father, or spare the rod spoil the child.”
    Spare the rod, spoil the child relates to desipline, NOT abuse or beating your child silly. I grew up in a home that honored GOD and His Word and yes we did honored our parents and yes they did discipline us when we were out of line. When I reflect on my childhood it was the BEST! My siblings and I often talk about the times we got in trouble and was disciplined never in a way of regret but in appreciation. I pray that your mother heals quickly as well as your relationship with her.

  3. Taurus,

    Thank you for reading and sharing your story as well. I believe that it is a healing process. We have our ups and downs, but it does get better.

  4. RW,

    I understand exactly what you mean. It was not meant to imply abuse. I didn’t get abused, but I didn’t get spared either. Thank you for reading and your well-wishes.

  5. Can I simply say what a relief to find someone who actually is aware of what theyre talking about on the internet. You definitely know tips on how to carry a problem to light and make it important. More people must read this and perceive this aspect of the story. I cant consider youre not more well-liked since you undoubtedly have the gift.

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