Now that I'm a mother, I see how difficult parenting is. It feels nearly impossible not to fail or make mistakes regularly (and I do). I've also realized that my childhood versus the way I'm raising my children now are vastly different, and that's a good thing. I never want to recreate the toxic environment I endured, so I'm careful about every decision I make. However, I can't help but think of the way my parenting might be different if I grew up without a toxic parent of my own. For one, I wouldn't second guess speaking the truth, just as I'm doing right this instant, because I'd have the confidence in my ability to use my voice (something I was indirectly taught to hide).
When I was little, my parents fought all the time before they finally decided to get divorced. I honestly can't remember a single day they didn't fight, actually. They weren't small arguments either, but the kind of screaming you'd be able to hear if you were a ways down our road. It was humiliating and created this reckless, free-falling feeling I've carried with me through adulthood.
Even after my parents divorced, switching between two parents with separate sets of issues didn't make matters better. The father who raised me (though not biological) never seemed to like me. My brother was his trophy child while I was pushed aside. He was always screeching, cursing at me for the slightest mistakes, while my mother battled an alcohol addiction and abusive relationships that left me afraid of going to sleep every night. Neither situation was ideal and yet, now that I'm a parent, I sympathize with both of my parents. I don't think most mothers and fathers would intentionally infuse toxicity onto their own children and, at the time, I didn't realize our circumstances weren't "normal."
It wasn't until I grew up enough to recognize all the ways my childhood changed the person I was meant to be, did I resolve to be different than my parents. I love my parents and I'm grateful to my grandmother for being the safe place I could run to when things got tough, but here are some of the ways I'd probably be a different woman if circumstances had been less volatile and toxic. Then again, and honestly, I'm grateful. Without any of it, I might not be the devoted mother I am to my own children, and I'm pretty happy with who I am today.