In a life we dream, fantasize and eventually live out what we believe or know to be true. For some their life seems to be 'magical', others it is always hard and then there is Annabelle, the mother, soon to be grandmother, discovering she never left her lover from her past, until the two meet in her present reality. I read the book, "The stuff that never happened," by Maddie Dawson, pretty much in one sitting, and yet I have been thinking about the ideas it has portrayed for the past few weeks.
I have been thinking about the past and how it tries to push it's way into the present. I know, it seems like a Zen thing to say, or maybe not....perhaps that is just reality. How do I avoid my past determining my future, as so many pop-psychology books outline. How do my husband and I, avoid being an 'old relationship' as our 14th anniversary sneaks up on us this year? How do I parent my 6 year old daughter so she does not grow up to make the same mistakes as myself?
Seems dramatic, I know, but I really did think about these concepts even in the midst of taking little Margo swimming, to art camp, grocery shopping, and all the other things mom's do when their child is 6 years old. And what I discovered is that I have chosen to live and embrace the past and present. I figure the past has worked its way into who I am, even the sad experiences of friendships made and lost, or pregnancies enjoyed and ended before their time. I think that is a little secret to making an enriched life. I do not separate my past from who I am, but create a patchwork quilt, of the choices and lifestyles I have lead, and find in that way, they have no power over me now.
I and my husband have found it challenging, and engaging to talk about our relationship every so often during the past 14 years of marriage. Some discussions have gone by the wayside, other's are looked upon with a smile and satisfaction. Margo is 6 years old, and it gets a little more difficult to keep those heart to heart conversations coming throughout the weeks. You know, too tired, or one of us is distracted by our 'attention starved' child. But, we do work at it. Really work at it, even if it means the conversation creates a temporary wrinkle in our relationship. Learning to listen to each other, and continuing to discover about each other, is our key to not becoming an "old relationship" to each other. I love to fix things, ha!!! I love to fix people too!!! That can be dangerous, so I have to learn to listen, even when it feels uncomfortable.
Upon occasion, I ask Mark, "honey what is it that bugs you about me?" I know that can be a loaded question, but I was thinking I could work on changing that part a little bit. So the list starts, "you fly by the seat of your pants when embarking on doing something new, ..." etc, etc, etc... So when he ended his commentary, I took a deep breath and whispered, "So what do you like about me?" And the list started again, "You fly by the seat of your pants....you stretch me and make me take risks...." And we both realized, all the things he thought he didn't like about me were and are the things he likes about me in the first place. Yes I drive my husband crazy at times, and he does the same for me, we are very very different from each other. Perhaps that is what creates an adventure for our present and our future. It is just good to be reminded of this every so often. That keeps us young.
I have come to realize I cannot protect my daughter from everything, or even the ups and downs in life. What I can do is help her learn how to process her feelings and the things that happen about her. It can be very messy at times, especially when she just breaks down and cries and nothing seems to comfort her. Those are the times I look her in the eye and just say, "ummhm, oh...that sounds hard..." and eventually she calms down, and we snuggle. We try to provide her a host of experiences in her life, in the hopes these become a rich treasure chest from which to find answers to her own questions about living. Yes I limit her T.V. and movies when at home, and I also find she is making choices about movies she thinks would be appropriate for her to watch or not watch. She is actually self regulating, "Mom, that movie about ghost busters, has too many guns and it is too scary, so I do not want to see it." She is regulating her world. And I am guessing that is the best way to protect her. She learns as we provide a bit of guidance rather than just control.
So yes, I indulged myself into some thinking after reading "the stuff that never happened" and have decided, I have a very happening life.
The book "the stuff that never happened," by Maddie Dawson, was provided free by the From Left to Write book club.
PS...I just read this to my husband and he now denies any knowledge of the list......I gotta love him and his humor.