There has been some talk in the media and it has been the subject of some novels and a recent play in the UK that children often feel they have been brought up badly, or let down by their parents. I can see how many youngsters could feel like that, especially the children of parents who drink a lot or take drugs, or gamble.
However I can't really complain about the way my mum brought me up. She was generally good and kind except, I supposed it would have been the mid 60s when doctors were prescribing all sorts of pills to housewives for depression, when taking her funny blue pills that made her into a bit of a monster. It was then that the cane, that sat above the pantry door was most used. I hated that cane, mainly because the end was split and if it caught the back of my legs just so it could be exremely painful, leaving red welts that sometimes lasted for days.
In general my mum was always one for keeping the peace, this was because of my dad. I remember her behaving as if she was treading on eggshells, especially when dad was on nighshift, and this may be one of the reasons why I don't recall her shouting at me or my sister very much, She was meek and mild and just wanted a quiet life. Something that was not possible if my dad was roused. I wasn't very good at school and mum used to sit with me when I got home and go through extra lessons with me. I must ask her why she did this. Was she asked to by the school or did she just think it would help me. Was I particularly dim or just uninterested. The only thing I really remember doing at home was a nature project when I drew paw prints on the front of the book that was covered in wall paper that had been put on with the plain side on the outside. We often covered our books with wallpaper. No sticky back plastic available in those days. Mum was never sentimental though, and no reminders of my school life exist apart from my school reports. My sister is similar to my mum in that regard, although she doesn't have children which may have changed her mind, but I am a sentimentalists and have kept some of my daughter's school work. I wonder how she will be, she keeps some of her sports paraphenalia but does not seems to be interested in keeping her later school or university work, whereas some of my peers have every exercise book they ever wrote in. Does it have anything to do with being proud of what you write, I don't think so, its more to do with whether or not you can be bothered with the clutter of the past.
Back to mum - As I grew older I don't remember her laying down too many laws. All the law laying came from my dad and this is not his section. she obviously wanted to make sure I was safe and worried when I was out late, but didn't interfere. She says she always felt I was a sensible girl, and to a large extent she was right. I did some naughty things but nothing downright bad or dangerous, but even some of the naughty things would have upset her I know. Perhpas this is why she didn't ask questions, she had enough on her plate keeping the status quo within the household.
My sister and I never got on. I often blame her asthma and excema and the fact that she was spoilt by my mum, but to be honest, even if she had been fit as a fiddle I do not think we would have ever had that warm sisterly love you read about in books. We were just too different and after a few hours in each other's comapny just became irritated to the point of screaming. I used to think, and so did mum, that we would grow out of our mutual dislike and become friendlier as we grew older, but this has never happened and, if anything, we are more estranged now than ever.
I did feel hard done by as a youngster. Although I knew that my sister was very ill when she was about five, I too was young and didn't have compassion. All I saw was a sister that was often allowed to stay away from school, was given comics and grapes whereas I was told that there was nothing wrong with me and to get off to school. It also got to the point where our arguing was so bad that mum couldn't bear to take us both on an outing together so in the summer holidays she would take me shopping one week and my sister the next. I should have been more caring towards my sister. I got more excursions that her as she was not allowed to get excited. Even the thought of a trip to a pantomime could work her into a state where a major asthma attack was on the cards.
It must have been dreadful for my mum because I feel my dad did not love my sister as much as me because there was something wrong with her. He wanted perfection and she didn't fit the bill. However, he then turned his attentions to me and expected me to be something I wasn't ever going to be. He was good at telling me what to do but no good at showing or setting an example. One of his favourite phases was 'don't do as I do, do as I say'.
My sister was born at home, in my parent's bed, on the day that the telephone men were installing a phone. She was perfect and all was well. However, two weeks later she started to develop breathing difficulties accompanied by irritable flaky dried skin. The doctor announced that she was suffering from asthma and excema and gave my mum some cream and suggested that the baby's nails be kept short and that she wear mittens to prevent her scratching. Both ailments got progressively worse and, by the time she was five the doctors only gave her a few years to live. How awful must this have been for my mum and, I suppose my dad, but I never really think of him having a heart. She had blond hair and this, combined with her pale dry and flaky skin made her look skeletal. In all her early school photos she looks extremely ill. We had a three bedroom house but for some reasonI remember that we shared a room. this may have been when my nan lived with us though. The asthma attacks were dreadful to listen to. She fought for her breath and the rattling noise in her lungs is still with me today. This was in the days before individuals had defibrulators. People say they have asthma - I want to shout at them that they have no idea what asthma is really like. One of the things my mum used to have to do was to put a cushion on a chair and lay my sister over it with her head and chest as upside down as possible with a bowl under her,then she would bang my sister on the back to try to loosen the phlegm and ease her suffering. This usually took place in the living room, in front of the fire.
Thinking back, I feel really bad about how I behaved on so many occasions, however, and while I feel sorry for the pain and torment my sister experienced I still can't bring myself to feel the love that I have been led to beleive that sisters should feel for one another. My only saving grace is that I am sure my sister feels the same about me. Yet I wish I could have felt differently not for my sister but for my mum. She was right when I went back to help sort out her house when she had her brain tumor. I went back for my mum's sake rather than my sister. I didn't tell her that I would have gone back even if mum hadn't been around because even though there is no love lost, we are still family.
It must have been difficult for her when my dad wouldn't talk to me. Trying to please everyone but usually failing. It must have hurt her to see me being ignored.