I used to be very critical of my mother and her mothering skills. At a certain point in time, my mother couldn't do anything right. I was so critical of my mother that I would swear that when I became a mother, I would do exactly the opposite of what she did raising me. I was very critical of my mother up until the point that I was a Mom myself.
It's probably normal to be critical of our mothers. Human beings tend to focus on what we didn't have rather than what we did and to concentrate on what wasn't done rather than what was. The truth is, I didn't know how hard it was to be a mom until I became one myself. My mother had 3 kids under 3 by the time she was 24 years old. It wasn't until I became a mother that I realized how much work that is. In all, my mother had 6 children over a 17 year period of time. She started having kids at 19 years old and had her last at 38 years old. She spent 20 years of her life, just having kids and about 35 years raising them. I've raised a child for almost 4 years and thinking about that now brings so much perspective to what that actually entails.
Being pregnant is no easy task. The fatigue and many symptoms that come with it alone are enough that most women can't wait for their pregnancies to be over. My mother was pregnant 10 times and lost 4 of her children to miscarriage. As moms, we're expected to get on and live with that loss and don't really get the time to mourn them, especially if there are other children at home that still need us. I can't imagine how it must've felt to have to summon up the strength to put those losses in the back of her head so that she could be there for her children.
We live in a world that romanticizes the role of motherhood as one of perfection. You become a mom and you're automatically supposed to know what to do, always. That maternal instinct switch is just supposed to turn on. When you become a mother, you're supposed to become the ultimate example of selfless and dedicate your entire being to your children. It wasn't until I became a mother that I realized how unrealistic this is. Mothers are human, which means we're flawed. We're capable of being jealous, we feel resentments, and we have moments where we're miserable. Becoming a mother doesn't change who you are at the core.
It wasn't until I became a mother that I realized, I was holding my mother up to these unrealistic expectations. I was asking her to not display her undesirable human emotions, just because she was a mother. I was asking my mother to do the impossible and as a result, setting her up for failure.
I'm not saying that there aren't things that my mother could've done better, just that I'm a lot more empathetic to her experiences now. There are definitely things that she could've done to be a better mom (as we all can), but she was never going to be perfect. I now know that she did the best she could with the resources that she had and if I'd been in her shoes, I may have made exactly the same choices that she did.