Memories of childhood are a fragile thing. The good things slip away while the negative things are enhanced. History is revised and pain is magnified. We carry a lot of baggage from our childhoods and struggle to let it go.
I spoke with one of my closest friends and, naturally, we spoke about motherhood and our children. “You?” she said, “You were the Martha Stewart of mothers!” Me? She recalled the baking, the art projects, special foods, clothing, the trips and other things forgotten by the wayside. She said she was there all along and saw how much I did. She said that she wished that my children could hear the love that I speak with for them and the sorrow that little of it seemed to be remembered.
We have photos, emails and witnesses to our efforts to succeed as parents. But, layers of fear and insecurity lodge deep in our hearts and minds no matter how old we get. Sibling rivalry seems to continue and anger blossoms. We replay and repeat stories until they intensify in their importance or we create “new” memories.
As young adults, we seek to do everything differently than our parents and cover up the psychic wounds with activity. As we get older, we doubt the level of love and connection to our family members. My parents certainly didn’t love every decision or behavior of mine, but, thankfully, we had open dialogue about it. Did they love us enough? Was their love “unconditional”? I don’t know anyone who is loved unconditionally. Loved fiercely? Absolutely. But, while we love deeply, we do not always agree with the choices made or individually developed personal philosophies. We are separate persons with different experiences and opinions. These ideologies are just not our own, so our understanding differs.
Our children never stop being our children whether young or old. I still get a thrill when I get a smile from my father or hear a shared memory. But, I can also flinch when I hear his anger and feel like a young child again. It takes a lifetime to figure out who we are within, and without, our families. We don’t always remember the same moments from a single event, but we love.
We have layers of history and time that cannot be replaced. No one will know us as long as the members of our family. We create many friends who become like family. But the bond of parenthood goes deep. We never want to hurt our children and struggle to communicate this.
“Life is like an onion. You peel it off one layer at a time, and sometimes you weep.” Carl Sandberg
Our words are misunderstood as judgmental or disapproving. Our tone, our words, our actions, and our motives are questioned and doubted.
I only have so much time to impart lessons and envy those with symbiotic relationships with their children. My hope has been that my children turn out to be good people, kind and empathetic, in and out of the home. I don’t expect them to live near me, but I do hope that they succeed in whatever it is that they do. Whatever “happy” means, I want them to find it.
It takes a lifetime to be a parent, but we keep trying to show them the depth and layers of our love no matter how long it takes.
Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope that you enjoy your visit.