I recently began a new series about how upbringing influences parenting. It remains to be seen whether it has as great an impact as I imagine, but that’s why I find these interviews so fascinating! I hope you will too.
(If there are any guys reading, please don’t be put off by the title – you’re more than welcome to get involved! I apologise for the un-PC title, but quite simply, I love alliteration. If you have any less sexist suggestions I’d love to hear them!)
This week, we have Jade, the person behind The Parenting Jungle.
Jade (who also answers to OI screamed at an inaudible pitch) is an award winning family & lifestyle blogger to a cape-wearing six year old and lover of brightly coloured photography. She shares her wild and wonderful adventures of finding her feet as an imperfect mother over at The Parenting Jungle where shared parenting, superheroes and sarcasm appear regularly.
1. Can you describe your relationship with your mother today?
My mother’s number is one of the most commonly dialed in my phone. She does not bake, can crack you up in 6.4 seconds, and has tribal spears on the lounge wall. Our maternal bond has been all different colours. Wartime in my teen years. Our current relationships is kind of Gilmore Girls-esk. With less coffee. We live hours away but I have definitely become a Sunday night caller where we chat nonsense for an hour with my younger brother piping in in the background. We love each other.
2. How does this differ/is this similar to the relationship you had growing up?
Growing up we were always close as a family; it was just her, me and my brother. She took on two parenting roles. Squinting through the hazy memories as a child she is always on the peripheral of my vision. Busy at parties, driving me to my grandparents, her hand as she passed me a bowl of bananas and custard. Stern words more than smiles. I feel these recollections are tainted by a child’s singularly focused viewpoint. With age comes understanding, how hard she must have worked, how much she shouldered raising two feral kids solo. When I got pregnant with my son and ended up a single mother, she stood by me. I understood her so much better and we had something in common. Individually we are polar opposites; I am fair and she is dark, I am a bookworm she is not, I am highly strung she is chilled. Me becoming a mother, made us the same.
3. In what ways has your relationship with your mother influenced your character and outlook on life?
I have inherited so many positive characteristics from my mother; humour, generosity and appreciation for life. And her frankness. Our relationship, the ups and downs has undoubtedly shaped me but I cannot find words to specify how. I am me for so many reasons, one of them being her, and I am grateful.
4. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve taken from your relationship with your mother?
Fight and try. Work at things. Even the most natural bonds are not always simple.
5. In what ways has that affected your parenting style?
My mother’s parenting style was based on Cher’s character from Mermaids. Fun, relaxed, but then she was really strict when it came to things like me being exactly on time being collected from shopping etc. I think I have gone the opposite way. Our relationship is one I want to replicate with my son. The strength of it. I am trying to create memories, I too am busy with work and house jobs and life but stop still ensure we have pajama days, cuddles in bed in the morning. Laughter.
6. What’s the best/worst piece of advice your mother ever gave you?
I don’t remember sitting down by a fire and her imparting pearls of wisdom but treat others as you wish to be treated yourself is something I try and live by. I don’t know about worst advice but I asked her to read through my Year 8 speech on animal testing and she said, ‘ahh it will be fine.’ The next day I stood up in front of 30 13 year olds and talked about how an alternative to animal testing on mice was on human foreskin. Damn Google. My teacher cried with laughter and asked me where ‘foreskin’ came from, I pointed to my forehead. I thought it was an abbreviation and still die inside at the memory. Let’s just say I learnt quickly about anatomy after that debacle.
7. How do you hope to influence your own children as they grow up and become adults, and does this reflect your relationship with your own mother?
I will be there to guide and support but not overwhelm or forcibly steer my son’s life. I want to give him the tools to make the right choices but those choices will be his own, it’s his life not mine. That said my mum was pretty chilled in regards to academics where as I do push my son to read in the evening, to do well. I would like him to train and have a set profession to fall back on and then he can wander the world if he wants. My mum was much freer, do what you want. Of course when you are young that changes like the wind and sometimes I found myself without direction.
8. Based on your relationship with your mother, what has been your biggest surprise/revelation/epiphany when you became a mum yourself?
My mum used to get annoyed and shout. I hate confrontation and nothing makes me angry, well except spitting in the street. I swore I would be a Zen mum. Nope, my son drives me crackers more than ANY one or thing else and as much as I dragon breathe and think of unicorns I do lose my patience. That said I know it feels crappy when you are a kid and get shouted at so if I do turn into grumpy mum then I always apologise after talk about and how its behavior I get angry at, not my son and how I am a person too.
9. Has your mother’s relationship with your children followed a similar pattern to your own relationship with her, or is their relationship very different? How do you feel about that?
My mum is fantastic with my son and he adores her. I think she is more mellow with him but I am pleased and also look forwards to the day I can be a grandparent. You can love and play and stuff a child full of sweets without the parental pressure. It is only delight I feel in watching them. I am sure they will have a strong relationship. We live 4 hours away so they only get to see each other in school holidays which does make me sad and I know my son misses my family dearly. As do I.
10. Can you share a memory about you and your mother which illustrates your relationship?
She was with me holding my hand when they told me I was pregnant, barely in a relationship, unmarried, young, the baby unplanned. So many people were disappointed but she never had a negative word to say and supported me all the way, her strength kept me sane through some very dark patches.
If you’d like to take part in the series about how upbringing influences parenting, please email me.