I would love to read this. Why? Because I can relate to it although I cannot say that I have had the same exact experience as the daughters of the author but in a way, I was raised in a family where we were never to settle for nothing but excellent.
Perfection is something not foreign to me. It was my goal for many years when I was much younger. Although my dad was careful enough to stay away from directly telling me that he wanted nothing but perfection, I could read in between the lines. The way he would make me repeat things if he didn't seem pleased with the way it was done, to his facial expressions that painted disappointment when I would present him with my scores of schoolwork / homework that weren't perfect or his rhetorical dispositions when he would be intoxicated where his tongue loosened up and finally expressed his desire for perfection in everything.
My parents always made me feel loved. That is not a question and never will be. But please don't ask me why love and acceptance do not quite add up - in my case, that is. I always felt loved but I never felt that I was good enough. When I would do something wrong, I would never hear the end of it. If I did something good / commendable / that deserved recognition, I would never hear appreciation. Like it was nothing special.
Criticisms never ended. When I was criticized for something and would do my best to improve on it, my Dad would move on to the next. It never ended. He would tell me that he always believed in me, that I was talented, that I had so much potential. As I look back on those times, those things he told me is what I believe carried me through. I may have used those to build my confidence.
I know my parents wanted me to have a normal childhood as possible, given that I was an only child. My playmates were mostly my cousins. Unlike kids in my 4th grade class, I never owned a Nintendo. I only had 1 Barbie doll while my other classmates had at least 5. I also took piano lessons. I was enrolled in ballet and taekwondo. When I got to highschool and felt a bit too old for ballet, I wasn't allowed to stop until I reached toe class. In taekwondo I got my blackbelt as well.
No matter how much my parents would tell me how much I could achieve, there would always be the phrase "if only you would be..." attached to it. So despite the slight morale boosts once in a while, I was more insecure than confident. I always found myself unsure of myself. I always craved for assurance that what I was doing was right, that what I was doing was correct, etc. And when I would "fail," instead of taking it on as a greater challenge, I would tell myself "that's what you get because you don't deserve it anyway."
For years I have been battling with so many insecurities. I find it difficult to believe in myself even when people around me say otherwise.
It's a choice I guess on how a child will take on how his/her parents raise them. I chose to rebel although not intentionally. I found myself drinking and smoking at the age of 14. I skipped school. I got myself pregnant at 19. And in my mind I thought, there, see? I am really not perfect.
So maybe the choice I made is one of my bigger regrets. Young and impulsive, I chose not to see it as something for my own good. I didn't choose to find happiness in how my parents were raising me. I decided to go the other way. The road usually traveled. I ended up lost. And there, I brought more disappointment to my parents, my Dad especially. And in a way, I paved my own unhappiness - at that time.
At almost 30, I am just slowly starting to shake off the excess baggage. I have so much. I am slowly trying to accept myself for who I am. I want to be able to say that I can do so much but I am taking those steps rather slowly. I know I don't have much time to wallow in my past. I have 3 kids to think of. I need to discover how I will raise them. Hard as it is to admit, I have developed some "Chinese Mom" characteristics (more on that in another post) and I am battling with whether I should try dropping those practices altogether.
I really don't know if it has done me any good. I would want to believe that it has.