When you're raised in a family where the parents are a narcissistic alcoholic and bipolar who never had a childhood, you learn to take care of yourself.
Scratch that. You learn to take care of everyone else BUT yourself.
You tiptoe around the house trying not to set off the alarms. You roll along under the radar behaving yourself but for your back talk, which, for some reason, is mostly tolerated in this family. You may even scream and scream, literally, to be heard, but you wont be. But you don't learn that taking care of yourself is of prime importance. Because the whole family is about taking care of your sick mom.
And when your brother dies, and your mom falls apart - more - you grow up fast and take on more responsibility. And more. You collect friends around you who are dependent upon you. You attract needy people like flies and wonder why you're so tired all the time. And why you're depressed too.
And then you have a family of your own. You frantically run around (figuratively more than literally) trying to be everything to everyone. Sure, you get a massage now and then. And you do sit on your butt after everyone's asleep instead of doing laundry or cleaning the house. And you make your children crap for dinner instead of real meals, but in your mind you are constantly on guard. You don't know how to let them take care of themselves. Not even your grown husband. You are afraid to sleep train the baby, even though you did ok with the triplets. You are concerned you're messing them up for not having dinner with them at a table every night instead of eating later when it's quiet. There's always something you could be doing.
In theory, you have to run out of energy at some point. But in 38 years I haven't. I do take care of myself in certain ways. I am pretty good at fighting for a few minutes to myself even if it's at the expense of couple time. But I am afraid. Am I going to go so far in the other direction from my parents that I actually create narcissists in my own children? Will they learn that they have to take care of each other, me, their dad or grandparents and themselves in fair amounts? Will they turn into the opposite of me like I did my parents? Is it possible, in the first generation, to create a different story?
And when things come out of my mouth that sound just like my mom and dad like "what is wrong with you?" can they forgive me? Because nothing is wrong with them. They're just being 2. My mom watches them and shakes her head with the honest belief that something is wrong with them. I merely have a momentary thought of 'what has gotten into you' and I can see the difference, but can they? Will they think I think poorly of them because I do too much for them? Will they think I think they're stupid because I help them do things?
How do you parent well when you have not been parented well? How do you not go so far off the other end and create a whole different set of traps? Therapy is helpful, but when those kids have driven you to the edge of your sanity and you haven't slept in weeks and you just want to sit down and eat some damned lunch if they would just nap like they're supposed to......how do you not yell the things you grew up hearing at them? "Why are you doing this to me?" "I'll give you something to cry about" "Don't talk back to me missy!"
I know no one is the perfect parent but I'd like to be middle of the road. Is it possible?