I’ve always been told that my children are a reflection of me. I like to think of that reflection in flattering terms. A few weeks ago, I was hit with the reality that my children are indeed a reflection of me—a reflection that embodies the good and the bad parts of me. And just like how I cannot change my appearance in the mirror by saying “I don’t have wrinkles on my forehead,” I cannot change my reflection in my children by saying “Don’t feel like you aren’t worthy of love.”
We are having a hard time with Veronica. Sure, it’s normal for an 11 year old girl to be emotional and dramatic, but she seems to carry more baggage than normal. She just started a new school and it’s an art school that can kick her out at any time if she can’t pull her weight with grades and her artwork. That’s a lot of pressure for a kid. She also has the added pressure of wearing leg braces and using a wheelchair. That’s tough for any middle school student trying to fit in.
But for the first time, I noticed something I had never noticed before—she has picked up on a habit that I have been trying to overcome for several years now. She feels she is not worthy of love. I think she probably doesn’t even love herself that much.
It’s frustrating because I have done everything I can to make sure she feels love. I am happy now and I have the love of a great man who adores the children. Being happy helps, but I cannot undo the damage that was done to her. Feeling like someone you love doesn’t love you back is one of the most painful experiences anyone can have. But when a parent makes you feel this way, it affects every relationship you have for the rest of your life. I experienced this as a child. I never felt lovable. My parents have apologized for making me feel this way and I am working on putting this behind me, but it’s obvious I have passed this onto my daughter.
But I realize how that feeling of being unworthy caused me to make the choices I made in the past. I continue to make mistakes and allow people to bully me and make me feel guilty in an effort to keep the peace and make the children happy.
I know I have to change these habits in order to reflect a different person on my children. I have to reflect exactly how I want them to be treated by other people and how I want them to treat other people, but more importantly, I have to reflect how I want them to treat themselves.
Veronica is lovable and I love her dearly. Every time I feel myself get weak and begin to give in to the bullying, I just picture her face. I tell myself, “We deserve better than this. We deserve to be loved wholeheartedly, not when it’s convenient.”
To hear my child say, “It’s okay, I’m used to it,” breaks my heart. No one should have to be used to being treated badly by someone they love. And yet, I have allowed it in order to keep the peace and to do what I think is best for everyone. But it’s not good enough and I was wrong. Perhaps if I stand up to the bullying, then one day she will too. Until then, I have to find a way to make her feel worthy of real love.