Article by Wendy McCance
I was never close to my family. Growing up, I often felt isolated. I was the odd man out, the one who got blamed for any problems if my sister and I were fighting. My dad used to be on the road a lot. He was an insurance salesman and he would be gone for weeks at a time. When he came home, I was always so excited to see him, but I was often ignored. I would wake up in the mornings and end up crushed finding out that he had left the house, my little sister in tow to go out to breakfast. He never asked me to go with them. When I confronted him years later, he claimed he didn’t ask me because I didn’t like to go out to eat. It wasn’t true and had never been said.
There was always a strange competition for my little sisters affection between my parents. My dad was very close to my sister and my mom would try to find ways to get just as close. It was a really strange dynamic. I was the invisible child.
I remember being in middle school and one particular incident when I got in a fight with my dad. I finally said out loud what I felt for years. I accused my dad of having a second child because he had been so disappointed after I was born. The words came out of my mouth, my dad stopped and gave me a long, hard look, and then, he said nothing. It was the worst moment. I was stunned and repeated the accusation as though he hadn’t heard me right the first time. Once again my dad didn’t say a word. I was crushed. Tears streaming down my face, I ran past him and my heart hardened. From that day on, I knew I had no one I could count on but myself. The days of wishing for any kind of relationship with either parent vanished.
Growing up, I never wanted to have children. I was afraid that I would end up treating my own kids the way I was treated and I couldn’t stand the idea of creating misery for someone else. Those feelings slowly fell aside as I got close with my ex-husband’s family. There were 9 kids, most who were grown and had kids of their own. It was a close-knit bunch and I got a lot of time around many little kids. I realized that I could be different than my parents and that I had the ability to show love and tenderness. I truly loved those little kids and felt the closeness of that big family that I had wished for all my life with my own.
Three kids later and it was the best decision I ever made. My own children mended my heart. I have the relationship with them that I wished I had with my parents. There is so much joy in our house. I am there for each child individually. Each one of my kids knows that I love them, that I genuinely enjoy them and that they will always have my support.
After my first child was born, my parents showed an interest in being grandparents. I had the first grandchild and they both gave their grandchild the love I had always personally hoped for. In a strange way, it helped keep a crumbling family from falling apart altogether. Thankfully, each additional grandchild has been treated to the same kindness without any child seeming favored. Their love for my children helped me heal as well.
Even now, there are still so moments that mend corners of my soul that I didn’t realize needed mending. Moments where I am amazed at how much my kids know about me and how well I know my kids.
The fact that as an adult, you can be the parent you wish you had as a child is incredible. I will always be grateful that I let down the walls and decided to have kids of my own. I love all three of them with all my heart. They mean everything to me.
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