It’s often said “Hurt people, hurt people” but we often forget that parents are people too.
I see ads all of the time about how Fathers should be Super Man and the first person a daughter should fall in love with is her father. I don’t remember the first time I was ever upset by the reality that Buddha wasn’t Super Man but I remember slowly learning the layers of him.
Today is the first Day of October, the first day of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and Buddha’s mother’s birthday.
I was a pre-teen when I first became aware that Buddha’s parents were no longer married to each other because his father was abusive. I was an adult long before anyone ever let me know Buddha ever laid hands on my mother.
I was exposed to a lot as a child, both positive and negative, but I was never made to believe that abuse was acceptable.
When I was about 9 years I spent the weekend with Buddha and his short-term “fiancé” and had a pretty good time; until I was ready to go home and he didn’t want to take me back. He decided it was a good idea to throw a knife at said “fiancé” because she had sense enough to tell him “If you take her back she’ll want to visit again. If you keep her like this she’ll never feel comfortable going with you again.” He didn’t listen.
I later came to realize that maybe all he knew about fathers is that they should have “access” to their kids. Maybe all he knew about women is that they should be quiet before they were MADE to be quiet. Maybe no one ever taught him not to repeat the violent acts he was exposed to.
Before I could come to understand Buddha as my father I need to understand Buddha as a child.
From what I’ve heard he was smart, ambitious, well-liked by his teachers, but overlooked at home. Having been a teacher for a short while I’ve seen versions of Buddha sitting in classrooms; naturally a teacher’s pet desperately pursuing a career as class clown fighting for their parents’ attention any way they could get it. I’ve been told his mother’s absence at award ceremonies poked holes in his pride, and sometimes having six siblings and a single mother drove him to weave tales of life as an only child, which is the story he told my mother when they met and she pointed out his resemblance to a classmate of hers (his younger brother).
I can’t rewind time and watch Buddha grow up and struggle to create an identity apart from being the 3rd of his mother’s 7 children. I do know what it felt like trying to remain relevant after my mother gave birth to her second child. I remember praying that my sister wait until after my class play to be born, because I had a big role and I wanted my mother to be there.
I used to tell people I wanted 12 children. Now, every time I think of why I haven’t started, I remember it takes a whole person to love a child; and sometimes hurt people can’t be whole.
I don’t want to start a new cycle of Hurt Parenting.