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Dear Mom and Dad, Now That I'm a Mom, I Resent You Even More

I stopped being the woman who whines about her childhood, but now that I understand at the core of my being the sort of attachment you feel for your own baby, I am incredulous all over again at all the slights I had put behind me.
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Let's just say your crappy childhood was a few acres of dry foliage, just there, not lush, but not dangerous. Having a child is the casually flicked, still burning Camel Light of a half-drunken hobo that sets it ablaze. Call all the helicopters you want, this fire won't be contained any time soon.

What I mean is, what was once the imperfect but mostly benign landscape of your psyche, is now a raging fire of newly searing childhood grudges.

I suspect I'm like lots of new moms. We love our babies fantastically and unabashedly, but they are that hobo's cigarette butt, igniting old feelings. If your childhood was less than perfect, you are probably following me with the fire thing. You spend a lifetime processing anger and resentment at your parents if they phoned it in (or worse, just plain stank) and you think you're a grown-up now, and they did their best, and you can move on and make peace and let them stay in your guest room and send them baby pictures and email them with updates and maintain the desiccated but basically comfortable relationship you had with your earliest caretakers.

Except the second you find yourself changing a diaper, calling a pediatrician in the middle of the night, figuring out when to wean off the pacifier, picking out a toddler bed, wrestling with tantrums and time-outs and scouring your world for bouncy houses and play dates, the minute you start folding loads of newly laundered swaddle cloths, interviewing sitters, making your own toxin-free cleaning products, you will put yourself in a new position.

So, this is how it felt, you will think.

And now you know. And you will find yourself feeling as broken as you have ever felt.

In my case, my mom lost custody of me when I was three years old, just a year older than my son is now. My dad gave me back to my mom, separating me from my brother, who was five. My mom lost custody for a reason, because she wasn't perhaps perfectly suited to motherhood. My dad, for his part, married a woman who was such a shrew, she told me that seat belts were for suckers and that she wasn't sure whether or not I was adopted. They were both deeply flawed parents. These are just a few tidbits to give you a taste. Any more and I'd owe you $120 and have to stare at your amber beads and bad Matisse prints as you nodded in agreement.

You aren't my therapist. But maybe you get it.

There is something so sad about a grown woman who won't stop whining about her bad childhood. That's why I stopped being that woman, but now that I understand at the core of my being the sort of attachment you feel for your own baby, the worry, the bond, the worry about the bond, I am incredulous all over again at all the slights I had put behind me.

How could they have made those lame parental choices, we ask ourselves? It isn't theoretical anymore; it's now five alarm.

My actual therapist says that this new forest fire is good -- that healing hurts, and it feel like this. The healing I thought I did before? That's nothing. If it bleeds and burns, that's good, she says, because it has to gush before it can scab and fade. If it's true that this reigniting of old hurts will cure them, stitch and seal them, I look forward to some eventual resolution that's maybe something like my c-section scar -- pale, only slightly raised, hidden, low enough where only I can see it -- which beats a nasty open cut.

Plus, I've always liked scars. They make you look tough. You took a punch, or a blade, or a fall, or a bullet, and you're still standing, looking just like you did, but in a way, better. Stronger. More like a character on "The Wire." Either way, if your recent parenthood makes you resent your own parents worse than ever, join the club. Let's compare scars.