Our Sentiments

Mothering and Life in General

Gramms

The strongest woman I know passed away nearly 17 years ago. She had her faults, but through a granddaughters eyes she was nothing short from perfect. A woman who had 8 children, suffered from a loss of a 2-year-old, a neglectful husband and through it all put herself through nursing school. Although her husband left her and her children while probably kicking the dog on his way out. She survived, and became stronger.

She had 22 great-grandchildren and knew each of them by full name, which is hard because family tradition is to have titles rather than names. She knew each individual child’s interests, eye colour, real hair colour and their clothing sizes. It might not mean much to others but it made all of us feel valued, and wanted. It was a feeling of hope and love entering in her arms. It did not matter who or what we’ve become, she loved us anyway.

Gramms taught me the value of people and of family. She enforced the right for every person to know each individual person in their family. Family was roots, and roots were important. Although, you might not like some members in this small society called family, you had to respect their position and their title. You don’t have to visit them everyday, but once a year to get together to see how everyone is doing.

It was her belief that the adults can be angry with each other but she would only step in when they brought the children involved. Tolerance, lots of tolerance, was practiced growing up. It was not that bad though. I grew up with cousins I may not have otherwise and the feeling that I can be free to get to know someone even if my mother or father did not personally like them much.

Gramms was the glue of my father’s side and when she passed away so did most of the family structure. Gramms’ motto lives in me, family is the foundation in which you were built. That foundation does not result who you are going to be, just how hard you need to build and repair. You need to know what it’s made of before you can fix, mend and construct the walls.

I have lived my life by this, and have always felt that I can’t turn my back on any members of family because my daughter has a right to know who they are. Of course that does not mean I can’t set boundaries over the dysfunction. I have that right. I just do not have the right to make a  permanent choice to those who are supposed to be close. She can have a general relationship with some people, but I as her mother, can make sure the emotional and physical safety of doing so.

This belief has been the major reason I still have my mother in my life. I may be ticked off with her, she my have failed me, but my daughter has the right to know her and know who she is. My daughter has the right to want or not want people in her life. She has the right to know the background of people and where she fits into it all. It’s been really hard to have my mother in my daughter’s life, because I can see that my belief may cause more damage then what it’s all worth.

Because I put stipulations on where my mother can see my daughter, my mother retaliates and only comes on an average of 3 times a year. It was fine with me, up until K2 asked me why her Nan does not come to play with her. I can see the thought process and where this is going to go. I don’t want K2 to internalize things, but I don’t want to tell her the full truth of who her Nan really is, but I wont lie either.

Since my Gramms is gone I can’t confide in her. I can’t tell her that this one time I can not follow the belief I have been raised to know. I can’t watch this happen to my daughter, I can’t allow her to feel that it’s something wrong with her and that is why Nan does not come to visit. What advice would she give me? I have reflected back on the years of when she was alive, I don’t know how everyone made it work, but it did. I guess it worked, because they also grew up with this teaching.

The best thing I could do was to sit down and speak to my father. I told him how conflicted I am, how this belief is still burning strong, yet of course the need to protect my young was even stronger. It’s important that K2 have the teachings from my Gramms, the stories and the love I had from her. It’s important that K2 knows that her being is important and treasured and most of all respected.

Sitting down with my father and telling him the bind I feel about this all, I was made clear of three things:

  1. You can only welcome someone into the child’s life, if they want to be apart of it;
  2. You can only allow a person to be in your child’s life, if they are deserving of it; and
  3. This belief will only work if you have two adults who are willing to set aside their dysfunctions for the greater good of getting to know the child.

I have had this believe all wrong. It was not about the children respecting the adults and knowing your relatives, although that came with the territory. It was the right of the child to have others learn and know about them. That was the feeling growing up, I just could not put my finger on it, nor had the words to describe it other than love.

We were important enough to get to know and in that feeling we felt loved.

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