“Remember the good times. Have that life.” Just recently heard that and talk about an “ah-ha” moment.
Between the years spent as not-the-most-observant (a polite way of saying oblivious to things around [and inside] me) and quick to beat myself up (metaphorically), I could easily have been an Olympic Gold Medal contender for self-flagellation (were that an Olympic sport).
Say something nice to me or about me and I’ll reply “Thank you.” However, I’ll be tuning you out while tuning into the big movie theater of my mind. The lights dim. The credits roll. Then begins “I’m a Fraud.” There for all to see, in high-resolution, graphic detail, vibrant color and clear sound, are all my wrongs, errors, and wish-the-ground-would-swallow-me-right-now moments. “Evidence” which “proves” I don’t deserve the compliment (or anything good for that matter).
Since the self-flagellation and “beatings” are automatic, accepted as “the way it is and has been,” and/or unconscious, breaking the cycle seemed overwhelming, if not impossible. With outright change appearing non-viable — at least for now — I asked myself, “What else can I do to have ‘that life’?”
I decided to find a moment I’d classify as a good time. (I knew there had to be at least one, even if buried and unrecognizable.) Turned out though I’d traipsed this earth many years, I couldn’t find a good-time memory because I was immersed in the bad-time memories.
Finally I remembered. My daughter was four. We were driving back from preschool when she asked to do something. I said, “No.” She said, “But so-and-so’s mom is letting so-and-so do it.” Here begins the “moment.”
As soon as those words left my daughter’s mouth, I pulled over, turned off the ignition, yanked the keys out, faced her and said in a low, you-better-pay-attention voice,
“You listen to me and you listen well. My life would be so much easier, MUCH EASIER, if I gave you what you wanted, when you wanted. But I’m your mother. I love you. I will do what is best for you, whether you like it or not. Whether it’s easy for me or not. And believe me, it would be MUCH EASIER to give you whatever you wanted, all the time. But then you would grow up to be a really rotten, horrible person no one would want to be around. Even you wouldn’t want to be around you. That’s not going to happen on my watch!”
Sometime later we were at a park. She ran over to ask if she could do something. I said, “No.” Turning to the child standing next to her she said, “My Mommy loves me. That’s why she doesn’t give me everything I want.”
While it might be a stretch to call that a good time (as it lacks sun, sand or paper umbrellas), it is a moment I am proud of. A moment of pure certainty. Of clarity and rightness in my actions. I felt good about myself and my role as a mother. I had purpose and felt worthy.
I want more of that feeling. More moments like that to remember. For this coming week, each time I catch myself slipping into self-flagellation mode and/or screening the old movie, I’m going to change movies. At present I have one scene in “That Life.” It’s a start. I’ll be culling more of those well-hidden good memories and adding new scenes. Let the cameras rolls.
Have you a good-time memory you’d like to share?
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