it's a resource, not just a source of pain

If I ever have a dream about any school I have ever attended, I always wake up and feel unbelievably happy that I am all grown up. Then I feel even more happy that I am married to a wonderful man and we have our sweet boy. I never have good dreams about school, even though I did have some good times. I rarely have any dreams about my university days and I have wondered why that is... But, I think I know now it is because being at University was on my terms.

I went to a small, private grade school (age 3-10) where I got limited social development because for the last two years I was the only girl my age at the school. All the boys my age wanted nothing to do with me unless it involved things like lying to get me in trouble. I had a best friend in my grade who moved to Texas when I was 9 and after that my best friends were five or younger. When I dream about my grade school, it's always in the setting of those last two years and I am constantly yelling at the teachers and my mother things like "can you not see that I am unhappy here!" "why don't you help me?!"

Of course, I suffered the effects of that lack of social skill in the public middle school (age 11-13) I attended, but I did have some good friends. There were many two-faced kids as well, but that comes with the age. I think I only had one true mean girl who harassed me, and I still relish shutting her up in grade 8 by calling her a bitch to her face in front of her friends and asking her what she thought she could do to me, really? She had no reply. She picked on me because she thought I would never stand up to her, so after that she just talked about me behind my back. I was also still tormented by boys who thought it was funny to play with my affections, but this time they were at least nice to my face. When I dream about middle school, it's always me on the basketball or volleyball court playing against the girls I used to play with, the tormenting part being that people think I should be back on their team! yikes!

And high school (age 14-17). I had to change high schools because my mom remarried and we moved into my step dad's house on the other side of town. Both my mom and my step dad worked at my high school. After two years at the school, I basically decided to be myself and not what other people wanted me to be. I spent those last two years alienating all the friends I had made in the first two, and I still don't care that I did that. The teachers and staff always treated me like my parents treated me special so they had to make up for that by giving me a hard time. When I dream about my high school, I'm always walking the hallway after the class bell has rung... trying to avoid being caught by a teacher or security guard because I would get in trouble. My torment is less about the people and more about the place. Regularly, I will plant a person from later in life in my high school, and even if we're not students, we can not be caught in the halls!

For every set of school years there are things that consciously bother me now that I am an adult. And they all boil down to why was I there? If I could go back and tell my mom what she should do for me to make school the best for me, I would make a lot of decisions that are basically the opposite of what she made. I've realized that is because my mom made decisions as a parent that were best for her first, and then convinced herself (sometimes) why they were best for me as well. I am not mad at my mom for this, I know she did the best she could. But I realize that this mentality that she had, putting what was best for her in the primary position, it hurt me. I have pain from it, significant pain. I really can't think back on any part of my childhood and not know that this pain was there in some form, building and building as a grew up.

I have realized that every time I make a choice for E over one for myself, I'm healing that hurt inside of me. It is important for me to be at home, not in an office. It is important because I want my child and all of his future siblings to know they can always come home and I will always be there. I want the flexibility to work with my child as he grows up. I want the time to be able to explain to him the complexities behind the decisions that are being made on his behalf. I want to allow myself to answer to my family before a boss or a bank account- I can't do that unless I am working for me. So, the value in what I am trying to do may not be reflected in dollar signs. I'm ok with that if it means I can be the mother that I didn't have.

I cried when I walked home from dropping E off at dagplejer the morning I made this revelation. As we walk along the main road that connects our street with the street E's dagplejer is on, E always has a great time. There are big trucks and tractors to see, there are little stones to pick up and storm drains to look in. Without fail, E starts to cry at some point between when he sees the dagplejer mor's house and when I bring him inside.
This morning E started to get upset a bit sooner. He was clearly anxious about what he knew was coming. I told him it was ok to be sad because it is hard to leave mom and dad during the day. I told him it was hard for mom and dad to leave him too. But, if we didn't leave him, he wouldn't have so much fun with all the other kids. I told him if he ever was not having a good time, he could always come home. These are things I have said to him in some way or another every time I have dropped him off, but today he heard me and he calmed down. He didn't hesitate at the driveway and he knocked on the dagplejer door. He wasn't happy when I was taking his shoes and jacket off, but I was able to get him excited to show off the toy car he brought. For the first time he walked himself into the playroom and left me at the front door. No tears (and he was hysterical the day before). After his dagplejer mor and I exchanged a celebratory face, I said "bye babe, see you later" and left.

I cried on the walk home because it is all I have ever wanted: easing a child's pain with understanding; an understanding that puts them in the important place, an understanding that their best interests are the main focus. I cried because I am better than my mother at this, and that makes what I went through as a child a resource not just a source of pain.

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