What Fridays mean to me as a stay-at-home mum is a day with my girls.
It’s a day that brings me four brave ladies in my mothers’ group on a consistent basis. Our little ones run around together while we get down to business.
We talk about whether our toddlers are sleeping, learning new things, their challenges and ours as they grow and everything is new once again. Most importantly though, we share how we feel.
Are we tired, overtired, cranky?
Is family walking all over us?
Any disappointments we’ve faced because perhaps we set our expectations too high on how clean or neat our houses should be or how much understanding we’re getting from our partners and other family members, these all get aired out, dusted and off we go into our weekends with a boost of energy and a new (sometimes higher, but not always) perspective.
Last week, the topic of conversation wasn’t my two-year-old. It was my mum, almost 70!
We kept having toxic arguments over silly little things like what restaurants are good to go to in Istanbul with kids. You see, she’s a highly emotional and volatile person (she is very creative and when she hasn’t had a chance to create something that energy within her turns to poison against herself and others) and though she and dad have been separated for five years, they’re still all in each others’ business and all of the qualities she hates about him, she sees in me.
This is a tough emotional neighbourhood to navigate.
The Wisdom of Rafiki
One of my favourite scenes from the Lion King is the one where he’s attacked by that wise baboon Rafiki.
As Simba sits on the fence on whether he should give up his little slice of heaven to return to his kingdom under the rule of his evil murderous uncle, Rafiki hits him with a stick. Why did he do it? Rafiki says “it doesn’t matter, it’s in the past.” Simba says it still hurts. Well, the past can hurt and then Rafiki swings his stick once again and Simba dodges it showing that he’s learnt his lesson and off he goes running to reclaim what’s his.
Up until a few years ago, I wasn’t communicating with mum or dad on a regular basis. I saw no point in it as they both appeared as self-centred as each other. Whenever I approached them, I had an agenda. I wanted them to notice that I was writing and wanted their praise for this shit. Writing’s a tough gig. No one really notices it and you never know who’s reading your crap and then of course, I fell into the trap of thinking that at least my friends and family should read my stuff.
It’s their moral obligation, isn’t it?
Not everyone enjoys reading. Not everyone is into this emotional stuff that I write.
The catalyst for restarting my relationship with my family was the birth of my two-year-old and then the recent birth of my four-month-old is what brought mum to my side ready to help and enjoy her grand-daughters.
She didn’t stay with us for one-month or two but three whole months and I think that was what brought on the emotional breakthrough I had to have to start shedding the tears and feeling the love once again.
I’m sorry if the confession below offends anyone’s ideas of what families are but here’s my truth.
Since my teen years, the love I felt for both mum and dad had ceased. I felt they didn’t hear me, so I stopped trying to communicate with either one. The whole family fell into dysfunction and throughout this chunk of time, I had no idea what my brother felt because I was too self-absorbed during our obligatory catch-ups to hear him out. Up until a year ago, I thought he carried on without any trauma as he’s always been a happy-go-lucky kinda guy like the “Hakuna Matata” singing version of Simba.
He’ll be a Fine King!
My first clue that my brother hadn’t exactly sailed through those years of mum and dad’s fights, the tension in the household, both parents turning to us, the children, to complain about each other, came in the form of a phone call last year. He’d been having trouble in his relationship. When I thought about it, I realised that he had a pattern in his relationships. He seemed too scared to move forward with the women in his life, perhaps thinking and fearing that this would bring on the sort of love/hate relationship and fights without any resolution that our parents had us suffer through unconsciously.
To those who study Jung-ian psychology or for that matter Tarot cards will be familiar with the King archetype. The King is the mature male. He’s centred. Think of all the kings and rulers you know. They all have palaces and houses in the centre of town. They’re not self-centred but because they’re creating more than they’re consuming, events and people revolve around them.
Whereas my brother had trouble last year and needed my guidance (I’m grateful that he turned to me for this) this year I turned to him to help me with mum. In order to do so, I had to overcome my jealousy and thoughts that mum always loved my brother more.
Again, this competitive dynamic was instilled in us from having been raised in a patriarchical, scarcity and fixed mindset family. My father has trouble believing that people change or more accurately develop into their conscious true selves.
It was good to slay my jealousy dragon, as my brother turned out to be a valuable ally. He comforted mum in a way that I never could by acknowledging that she felt pain (whereas I’s judged her a drama queen) and she’d been exceptionally strong for she didn’t shed any tears in front of us children and never let us in on how she was feeling in her relationship with dad. Yes, she pointed plenty of fingers and nitpicked his every shortcoming, but never once she talked about what was happening with her emotionally.
What if mum had acknowledged her feelings? Talked about them? Would her relationship with herself and dad be different?
We may never know.
I only know what happened in me when my brother stepped up. I saw him transformed into a king as he created a solution that reconnected mum and I.
Rejoining the Circle of Life
I rejoined the circle of life, that is, a way of feeling (not just love, but a whole spectrum of feelings) when Lucy came into my life out of intense pain and pleasure. She’s added so many more dimensions to this wondrous thing called life. Her name means light. She shed light into whatever lurked in the dark side of me like the sun eclipses and brings the moon to view.
Zoe, whose name means life, brought serenity and calm. It must be in her soul contract to sleep and leave me alone when I’m writing as she doesn’t make a peep when I have to do this work I’m doing now.
One of the things I told mum was a vision I had. Our “aslan parcasi” her nickname for my brother, which translates to “piece of lion” would hold up his little one with pride in front of us one day as I feel he too has joined the circle of life with all its light and dark and in-between.
To clarify with you and to place no pressure whatsoever on my brother to sire offspring, the baby he brings to life could be a business, an invention, heck even a piece of turd if he’s so proud of it that he wants to show the world this new thing he created.
In April, both my brother and I are traveling back to our kingdom, Istanbul, where dad met mum, with our own families.
This time I have no expectations from anyone. The one thing I have is a little bet with mum that dad, who’s extremely cheap, will pay for a family dinner, but that’s it. I’ve got all of $5 riding on it.
I’ll be present. No pressure. No expectations.
Over to you…
When was a time a family member surprised you with their maturity? How has that changed your relationship with this person?