Reflection: Ponderings for parents

Rasharra Smith PHOTO CREDIT: Contributed

I planned to make every article this year a poem. The March publication is the Mom Edition. This month, I am supposed to speak on parenting and motherhood. I do not have children, so my intention was to write a poem about my parents like I did last year. Unfortunately, when I sat down to get the words out, nothing was there. Writer’s block is not new to me, of course, but this time felt different.

So instead of a poem, I thought you all would not mind if I just vented to you a little this month.

When I decided to write another poem about my parents, I tried to decide on the tone I wanted to write it in. I tried to decide what experiences I needed to paint through words. When I sat down at my laptop, I could not even decide what I was feeling at that moment.

Grief is weird.

When I think about my parents, sometimes it makes me sad, and I can get really depressed. Other times, I feel nostalgic, and happy that they are not hurting and that I have the memories to remember them by. This time, I felt nothing.

Grief also can be numbing.

I came to the conclusion that I felt nothing when I began to write another poem because I honestly believe I said everything I needed to say in the last one, to deal with the relationship I had with my parents.

It is no secret that my feelings for my parents were conflicted. I did not have great relationships with either of them growing up. I did not know my dad until I was 16. I always was around my mom, but somehow, she never was there.

It is strange, I know. I hated them for it. Their lifestyles ruined mine. Their lifestyles also are why I give them grace now that they are no longer here.

February 27 marked four years since my dad passed away, and March 14 will mark six years since my mom passed away.

Some days, I feel like I am healing and like I finally have found the strength not to let the pain consume me. Other days, I feel like I am breaking and like the cracks in my heart have reached every other corner of my body and are ripping me apart.

Grief is complicated. It never goes away. You just learn how to live with it.

The thing is, when I was younger, I was angry. When things were not going right for me, my parents were to blame. Maybe I would have had a better childhood if they had been responsible adults, if they had made better decisions and had stayed on the right track. I would not have experienced some of the things I did. I would not feel so damaged and traumatized.

Now that I am older and I understand the world a little better, I understood that the cards already were stacked against them. They are to blame for their decisions, but I know how this world and our trauma can turn us into people we do not like when we look in a mirror.

If I have to talk about parenthood this month, then I want to talk about healing. I want to talk about the generational trauma that gets past around like candy. I want to say that my mom was hurting, and my dad was hurting, and in the process of dealing with their pain they caused some of mine.

I do not feel I am in a place to give advice, though I know just enough to say this: I will not be having kids until I have healed from the things I do not talk about. I want my child to feel my love, not my trauma. I do not want to bring a child into this cruel world if I am only going to make their lives even harder. I will not have a baby if I cannot afford it and if I cannot give that child a life it deserves — a life I deserved. I want to find my healing and my happiness first, so I am not living my life through theirs but giving them their own.

To parents who already have children, love on them. Talk to them. Notice them. Notice your behavior towards them. Are you healed or healing?

Rasharra Smith is a graduate student at the University of Dubuque.

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