What’s the Story Your Kids Tell About You?
I have daughters entering puberty while I simultaneously enter menopause. It’s an occasional Shitastrophy and I expect even more Punji Stick booby traps as their estrogen escalates and mine deteriorates.
It was during my pubescent years I began to shape the story I told about my parents to rein them in, make them smaller, more manageable, to quantify and diminish them so I could disempower their impact on who I became.
Before my adolescent cynicism kicked in I described my mom as the ravishing, raven-haired Beauty men could not resist.
Police officers pulled her over not to give her a ticket, but to get her phone number, even with my 7-year-old self riding shotgun giving them the stink eye.
My dad was larger than life. He’d pitched shut-outs in the Little League world series at age 12, winning the championship with his hurtling fast ball.
He’d won Handsomest Boy in high school and trod the boards as a thespian in college.
But as 13 approached, my perspective shifted.
My mom became the woman who chose to love difficult men. She cried too much, was unreliable, not solid.
My dad became the guy who talked, but didn’t listen. Who had to always be the center of attention. Who gave up pursuing baseball for a safe job at Hallmark cards.
By 20 they were no longer my heroes, but the characters in the uncharitable stories I told about them.
Life is giving me a taste of my own medicine, because I feel (or think I feel?) the story my children are just beginning to tell themselves about me.
At this adolescent crossroads, they still want to snuggle at night and be held, more or less, but I catch glimpses of that jaundiced, critical eye laser-focused in my direction.
I’m the woman with the Big Personality who always has to be the center of attention by wearing shirts that show just a bit too much cleavage, inappropriately vertical high heels, long bushy blonde hair and a dollop of make-up every day.
I’m the mom who’s just a little bit scandalous. A marriage between Auntie Mame and Mae West. And, coming from my kids, that’s not a compliment.
As they enter puberty I find myself more self-conscious around them, not wanting them to label me, put me in a box and make me manageable the way I did my own parents.
I want them to really see me. To really know me. To understand my struggles and my victories. To feel proud of me.
As I write this, I realize these are the exact things they most likely want from me! But that’s for another post.
In the meantime, I’m trying to accept that it won’t be me who writes the narrative of my life story for them, rather they will edit and re-weave my story however they see fit.
I’ll have to accept whatever it is they must do to individuate from me and forge their own paths. defining their own lives.
And that self-definition will be only theirs … right up until they have children of their own.
Parenting Issues. What are the stories you tell about your parents? And the stories your children tell about you? How do you not take it personally and sell them to gypsies?