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Was my childhood strange?

Tagged as: Big Questions, Family, Health<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (4 December 2017) 7 Answers - (Newest, 6 December 2017)
A female age 26-29, anonymous writes:

Hi Aunts and Uncles!

I would really appreciate your help since I need some perspective on the relationship I had with my mom.

I know she loved me and did the best she could, but I sometimes felt abandoned by her.

She decided to have a child when she was 39. She was single and had a career. When I was born, instead of living with her, I lived with her sister (who never married) and my grandparents. My mom would come everyday, but when I would go to bed, she would go to her own apartment a couple of blocks away.

When I grew up a bit, she started taking me to her work, but otherwise, we basically didn't live in the same home. She would take me to her small apartment from time to time. And I would even sleep over sometimes, but I had no place there. All my stuff was back at my aunt's and grandparent's place.

I can say that our family dynamics was such that my aunt was like a mother to me, while my mother was like a busy father. I still knew that she was my mom and I missed her. I would even wake up in the middle of the night asking for her. Apart from that, she would give me her full attention when she was home. She would take me places, help me with my homework, play with me...

We started all living together when I was about 9. We moved to a bigger house. But she kept working a lot. And when I was 11 in less than a year, my grandparents and my aunt died. So it was just mom and I. I took it really hard. I must have gone through a period of depression. I can't imagine what it was like for her. It's then when I developed fear of losing the ones I love. And somewhere around that time, I started taking the role of a carer. I would always make sure that there was a meal for her waiting when she would come from work. I also did everything I could to be a problem-free kid, excel at school, make no demands, make her proud, without her even asking for anything.

Anyway, she died when I was 21 and I didn't have the time to ask her anything about her past, or what it was like when I was a kid.

Now, I can't help but think that I grew up in a pretty weird situation and that even though I know I was loved and cared for I feel abandoned and have pretty emotional reactions to irresponsible parents, children burdened with adult responsibilities, abandonment.

Am I exaggerating or was my childhood strange?

View related questions: her past, period

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A reader, anonymous, writes (6 December 2017):

Oh dear,

You remind me of myself. So much so. I already have goosebumps. I wish I could express well but I'll try as much as I can.

As I read through your question, it reminded me of myself. The pain and wishing for attention and being a nice kid. Everything seems like this. I am sorry you had to go through this and I wish there was a way I could communicate with you and help you out. I exactly had a very similar experience to that.

Lost parents at 2 and lived with granny sister till six when she passed away. and later lived with grandparents till 11 and around 11 my aunt took me in. I was very close to my cousin and she died when I was 13-14. She was with me at my granny's sister as well. It really hit me and I got depressed.

Later , my aunt died on 14Nov2010, and I never went back to grandparents and lived with a foster family whom I call my family now. Mostly because I felt my grandparents could have kept me with them all life like my brother but they didn't. So I never went back. I can't tell you how much I miss my aunt and how much she meant to me or if I could give everything to get a chance to be with my mom and my aunt but I know I can't.

I made a phrase to carry in my head : for the best or the worse, life goes on and kept it with me whenever I felt lost.

There were many ups and downs but I am fine now by God's help.

I travelled countries in the end but I think I found my peace eventually.

The worst of all , my grandparents never told me who I was till my 18th birthday. Although they had their own reasons but all life,

Moving places, lived with people whom I never thought were my relatives but turned out to be my real family.

Life is strange. Remember we need to keep fighting and keep living forward. We are stronger and we all need our peace. I found my peace somewhere and I wish I could help you somehow.

I'm sorry I'm inundated that I can't express well . All the memories are back and I can't write more.

I hail from the UK but I haven't been there in last few years and I never thought of going back. I'm planning to go back to the UK after a year to train in my major but I'm not sure if I'm ready to go through all of the memories when I walk the same country without everyone I admired. I still don't know !

All I know is we all find out peace somewhere... I hope you have find yours. All I Can say is the real strength is not to cry or to shake but standing up and keep on walking even with all those thunderstorms you never want to relive through.

walk forward for the best or the worse, life goes on !

You'll find your peace , I'm sure !

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (6 December 2017):

Thank you all for your kind words and support. I've completely forgotten that it's "that time of the year" when we are constantly reminded how happy and perfect other people (in commercials :) are!

Thank you for reminded me of a simple fact that I was loved.

Been There, Not Over It, I can imagine how you feel. Realizing that our parents made wrong decisions and maybe even hurt some people is always hard.

I've been seeing a therapist for a few years now and it's been of great help.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (5 December 2017):

Yes I think the other posters have touched on the important issues. You grew up in a different kind of household. However there are so many stories similar to yours it would surprise you! I am friends with a girl in a similar situation, living with her father and grandmother- however her mother is out of the picture completely. I am friends with another man who grew up raised by his cousins. Perhaps you could join a support group for people who grew up as adoptees...as essentially you were adopted by your grandma and aunt, so perhaps you could get a support network of people with similar situations and who also have similar lingering questions/ feelings of abandonment.

I would say it sounds like your mother had to work hard to earn a living, and instead of leaving you in daycare or with babysitters, had the foresight to have you be cared for by people who loved you. In this way it made sense to let you live at your grandma's where she and your aunt could take care of you around the clock.

As much as we can reason it through, it still makes sense that you struggle at times with feeling abandoned. Perhaps your mom didn't make the right decision, but as you say she probably did what she felt was best at the time. It must have certainly been hard on you as a little girl missing her at night-time. Nonetheless, it seems like you have come out of this situation with a sense of gratitude for all the things she WAS there for, and that speaks to the fact that you are a wonderful person and strong. You suffered a lot of grief in your young life already, losing your family to death so early. I wish you the best, and hope that you can find comfort in close friends, and eventually by making your own family.

On a final note, you might also consider a support group for young grieving people, as some of your issues relate to the "double loss" of your mother as a child and again by her death, as well as the death of your aunt and grandmother.

Websites like "Meetup" (and you input your city) usually have a number of options for support groups near where you live.

We are thinking of you.

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (5 December 2017):

chigirl agony aunt" As we enter the Christmas season, we see endless commercials featuring what appear to be happy, well-adjusted and prosperous families that fit the ideal...kids with both parents and both sets of grandparents, everyone happy and healthy in their warm and cozy two-story houses as they open endless beautifully-wrapped gifts. I don't know any of these people."

Hahaha! This is great. Exactly this. I don't know any of these people either. Who are they? Do they even exist? Or is it just an urban legend?!?

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A female reader, chigirl Norway + , writes (5 December 2017):

chigirl agony auntYour childhood was strange by comparison to some societies (western societies). Compared to other societies, it was normal. It all is relative to who you compare yourself with. which is also part of how we define ourselves. To understand who we are, we look to others and identify likeness and differences.

So my advice to you is to not look to those who had a different upbringing than you, but look to those who had the SAME upbringing as you. Because even if you had a strange childhood compared to, say, closest friends, your childhood will be perfectly normal compared to that of others.

If you experience problems emotionally or mentally, I highly recommend seeing a therapist. In fact, everyone would benefit from seeing a therapist, because it is a great relief to not carry so many burdens on ones shoulders. And people in general do tend to carry burdens. We all have our burdens in life.

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A male reader, Been there Now over it United States + , writes (5 December 2017):

There's no doubt that it was unusual. At least you had people there to care for you while your grew up. I thought my childhood was fairly normal until I got out in the world and realized that it was strange...my mom had made enemies of all my dad's family including his brother (who was in business with my dad and lived only blocks away) and my dad's two daughters from a previous marriage. None of them were allowed to step foot in our house! And they were fine people. They are all dead now but in the past few years I've become upset that my mother would have treated my dad like this.

I've come to realize that nearly everyone has something strange in the background. As we enter the Christmas season, we see endless commercials featuring what appear to be happy, well-adjusted and prosperous families that fit the ideal...kids with both parents and both sets of grandparents, everyone happy and healthy in their warm and cozy two-story houses as they open endless beautifully-wrapped gifts. I don't know any of these people.

Given the time of year, it is normal to feel lonesome, vulnerable and generally annoyed with Christmas commercialism. Last year I left in early December to spend five weeks in Australia and New Zealand, the timing intentionally aimed to avoid the greedy Christmas hype.

You were loved and - judging by your writing abilities - received a good education. That's a good start. Yes, you'll wonder about your background. But you aren't alone. It is best to take it in stride and not let it keep you back in life. We won't relive those days...everything is now and in the future.

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (5 December 2017):

mystiquek agony auntI think almost anyone can understand why you would feel confused about your life as a child. At the very least I would say that you grew in a non quite conventional situation. Its really a shame that no one is left that you can talk to because there is probably no way that you are going to get answers. Have you considered talking to someone professional about your feelings? I certainly do not know what you experienced but from you have written I would say that your mother did love you, cared for you and wanted you to be happy, safe and well cared for. She apparently felt that her sister and her parents could give you what perhaps she could not. It sounds as though you were well taken care of and your mother did not abandon you. I can't explain why your mother set up this arrangement but do take comfort in the fact that she was looking out for you. I'm sorry sweetie, I would be so confused too but you were loved. No matter what, don't forget that. Seek out professional help if you want to work things out. I wish you all the best.

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