I was blessed to have two very different mothers when I was growing up. (and no, I don’t mean my mum had a multiple personality disorder. I really don’t mean that at all. Really.) First there was my mum. The Pacific’s version of Martha Stewart. And then there was Peka – our babysitter/ Nanny/ housekeeper. Both women love us very much. Both women, pretty much devoted their lives to raising us six (spoilt)brats. But each in their own way.
*Peka never yelled at us, ever. Even when we were awful.Mum smacked us with the wooden spoon when we were naughty. (which was quite often) Peka would sit in the next room crying. And when mum was done, Peka would give her the silent treatment. And at the end of the day, announce she was never coming back to work because Mum was soooo mean to us. (and mum would roll her eyes and set about trying to appease her because heaven forbid she be stuck with six kids on her own.)
*Mum read to us, pushed us to succeed. Made us do our homework. Told us second place in class wasn’t good enough. If we came first in anything, she dressed in her finest Vogue fashions and came to see us get our prizes.(once she wore a hat. Like those Buckingham Palace people hats? Yeah. Did she stand out? Yeah.) If we weren’t getting a prize, she was too busy to attend.Peka thought everything we did was wonderful.She made frangipani leis and brought them to give us at every Prizegiving. She would hug us and cry proud tears. Even if we came second in class. Got ‘Most Improved in Handwriting’. Or even if we got nothing at all.
*Mum made the rules. Peka helped us hide the evidence when we broke them. We weren’t allowed in the living room because we were too messy. Peka cleaned up the vases we broke and hid us when mum found out. Mum told us we couldn’t eat dessert until we ate all our vegetables. Peka made us chocolate pie and cinnamon buns whenever we wanted. When we grew up and found unacceptable boyfriends, mum disowned us. Yelled at us. Told us she was ashamed of us.While Peka cried. Pleaded with us to “be a good girl”. Hugged the unacceptable boys and told them to “be a good boy. Please look after Lani/Pele/Rebecca…”
Yes, I am blessed to have been raised by two very different mothers who each have taught me very different and precious things. I love them both and am grateful for all they have given me. My dilemma now is, how can I take the best of my two mothers and combine them as I try to parent my own children? I want to be loving, kind and gentle. But I also want to be – firm, authoritative and give my children the skills they will need to succeed in an often cruel, frantic world. So I’m (trying) to walk that fine line, walking in the footsteps of my two mothers.
Parenting is tough. How mean is too mean? How nice is just being a pushover? Do you ever feel like you get it right? Do you think YOUR parents got it right?