Remembering vs. Imagining

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Making decisions both little and big traumatized me during the first 30 years of my life. I relied too much on my mom, and she knew that. So she stopped being part of my decision-making process, crushing me.

“I won’t be around forever. You have to learn how to make choices and move on,” she told me. I still can’t believe she cut me off.

Initially my disbelief focused on her betrayal. How could she leave me hanging? While I was certain every choice―be it a job or a wardrobe decision―would seal my fate, she knew all too well of the many other variables we can’t control. And she knew I had to let go of that part of me that depended on her.

Looking back, I’m amazed at her insight and the foresight she practiced by cutting me off so I would learn to fly on my own. I did pretty well for myself, although you couldn’t convince me of that at the time. But I have proof:  two daughters who certainly don’t depend on me to make decisions. They’re independent, successful young women who are incredible in their jobs, in sports, in how they interact with the world and give back to it. It blows me away that I had something to do with shaping them and can’t wait to watch them become ever better versions of themselves.

We are works in progress. As mere mortals, we can look at ourselves in hindsight but have difficulty imagining our futures. This week’s Brainpickings email includes Daniel Gilbert’s TED talk about how our allusions about time can make us believe the moment we are in right now “is the final destination of our becoming.” Sounds like heady stuff but if you have five minutes it’s worth a listen. I’ve embedded it below.

You never know where you’re going to get great nuggets to make life a little clearer. Earlier this week TMZ Live’s Harvey Levin said his father told him to take big risks until you’re 35. Then you have to get a little more serious. Brilliant. On a radio series yesterday a character talked about how no longer having a family of origin eliminates the gift of walking backwards into our past to remember how we were molded. A beautiful sentiment.

With or without that family, our personal journey keeps us forever morphing. Thank goodness. New beginnings every morning.

“Stick with me,” my mom always said. And I do. Each new start always includes a piece of her, wherever she is.

The Benefits of Children Duplicating

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Recently I asked my oldest daughter if her oldest child, 6-yr-old Caitlin, could stay over one more night. I adore Cait like I love her mother. She said “Yes,” and I continued, making sure she didn’t mind her dad and I consistently stealing her away. They have a 3-month-old son now, and she said, “No, we don’t mind at all. But I hope one day you’ll do the same with Patrick.” The “Of course,” was out before she finished the sentence. I don’t get to see much of Jill now, or at least not enough of her. It dawned on me as we spoke how much I appreciate her reproducing since she is so busy with her own life now. Aha—the very core of why grandchildren are so wonderful: duplicating so grandparents can still hold on to our kids! So I thanked Jill for that, and, naturally, she laughed, reassured I am becoming a crazy old woman 🙂 Interestingly, her daughter looks, acts and feels just like Jill’s younger sister and our only other daughter, Jackie. It’s irony at it’s peak. They’re eight-years apart, and she thought a baby sister was great for Jackie’s first maybe three weeks. Jill then caught on we all wouldn’t be spending the future staring solely at her anymore. Not until they became adults have they learned to love and appreciate each other. I. Am. So. Relived! Cait sees the likeness with her aunt as well. When Cait was three and four she’d nab pictures we have around our house of Jackie, thinking they are her. Not that we don’t have dozens of her everywhere, too. I’d come home and hear them arguing over them, and the fact that “Pox,” (Papa X, my husband’s ‘grandpa name’ as translated by Cait), is Jackie’s dad and Cait’s grandfather. Cait wasn’t going to share him any more than Jackie. Two stubborn girls, aunt and niece, mirroring each other to such an incredible degree. Incredulous, even scary. Blood is thick. The capacity to hold people together as family  astounds me. I’ve written before about my family of origin all being gone, so watching future generations fascinates and holds so much meaning to me. Not only is Cait like Jackie. But Jackie has so many of my mom’s characteristics, I’ve noticed. How I wish my daughters remembered my parents. Their love for those two girls underscore their infinite love for me. They taught me more about love in their way-too-early passing than I would’ve learned in a long lifetime with them. That fact gives me no solace. But I can’t dwell. I hear my mom’s “knock it off” from wherever she is. Yep, blood is thick and omniscient.

And Still I Rise

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When Maya Angelou was very young she didn’t speak to anyone but her brother for five years, and it is because she learned the power of words. She was raped, told the name of the rapist, and he was killed. Mortification upon horror. We do not learn without pain and grief. Yet, without them, how would we know happiness? To be human is a difficult proposition.

Ma