As young adults, when my sisters and I got together we would often talk crap about our mom and her parenting. We had plenty of crap to talk about. My mom hadn’t always given her best when it came to parenting. Once anyone of us looked old enough to fend for ourselves she left us to do just that, and additionally left our younger siblings in our care. None of us was adult enough to do a good job and we all suffered because of it.
But every life has millions of experiences and opportunities to create memories. The memories we were using to define our lives weren’t the only ones we had. There were the days when our mom just wanted to be with us. She would take us places like Old Town just to hang out (it still holds a special place in my heart). She would celebrate our birthdays with us individually and cook a meal of our choice for dinner. We created family traditions that I still hold dear and have passed along to my children. There was never a time when we doubted that we were loved. I still remember a day in high school when I purposely stomped through rain puddles on my walk to school and then turned around and headed home. Cold, wet and manipulative, I got a day with her all to myself. I treasured those memories.
My mom’s life had plenty of it’s own heartaches that as young women we hadn’t yet acknowledged. She had a broken heart. She was in love and betrayed by my step dad over and over again. So many nights his late and rowdy entry into our home would wake us from a deep sleep. The arguing would start and his persistent drunkenness would permeate the walls and our souls. I remember one night I woke to the sound of his car screeching across the front lawn. The car door and the front door slamming open and shut. Sounds of the kitchen drawer being rifled through reverberated down the hall to my top bunk shelter. These were followed by my mom pleading with him to stop. I crept into the hall just in time to see him push my mom aside and vanish into the night; large butcher knife in hand.
I don’t know when exactly it happened but at some point we stopped telling horror stories of our childhood. These were replaced with memories of our good times: go carting, picnics, camping trips, drives across country. We established an adult loving relationship with our mom. And suddenly our history was different. It was no longer overshadowed by our disgruntled voices.
How and what we focus our attention on can define our experience. We all know the phrase “the glass is half full or half empty. But what if it’s both. We tend to remember “emotionally charged events” over boring, mundane ones”. Those negative experiences we had growing up are only part of the story. When we begin looking for the good, we often can find those memories as well.
What about you? When have you looked through the glass half empty to the other side, acknowledged the rest of the story and rewritten your own history?