“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into little jagged pieces, beyond repair.”
I read these words in a beautiful book written by Mitch Albion, the acclaimed author of “Tuesdays with Morrie”. This book is called “The Five People You Meet in Heaven.”
I had been searching for a particular book to give a friend for his birthday and the young girl serving me pointed to the two books written by Mitch, this one and its sequel. With tears in her eyes she told me that these two books moved her more than any others that she had read. I am not sure what stirred me most. I didn’t feel that they were for my crusty ex journalist friend, but for some reason I felt that I must purchase them for my granddaughter.
The result was that I read them through myself and they are now neatly packaged as a Christmas present for my lovely granddaughter. I wonder how she will receive them. Something tells me that she will be moved in a similar way to me.
When I read the paragraph above, I had to concede that there was truth there. I began motherhood at the ripe age of twenty, desperately wanting to give my child a better life than mine. I loved her, and the two brothers that followed, with a passion that I had never previously experienced. I was determined to be the best mother ever and I even smugly convinced myself that I was – until I had to face the fact that I wasn’t. Yes, I had done the best I knew how to do but it took quite a few years and tears to accept the fact that I had inadvertently damaged them in some way. I hope just smudged but I suspect a few cracks along the way.
During my years of teaching I came across children who were smudged and working with them was comparatively easy. There were many who were cracked and much harder to break through but often they just needed to be recognised and given some guidance. Sadly, there were a few that appeared to be shattered into jagged pieces but I never wanted to see them beyond repair. My own childhood probably left me cracked, although there were times that I felt shattered, as many of us do.
I grew past feeling bitter about my childhood when I learned about my own parents’ childhood experiences, which led me to dig deeper and recognise that they did the best that they knew how to do. I thank them now for all of the experiences I have had, all of which have helped me in the work I now do.
For some reason I felt to attach the graphic that was going to be used for the cover of a book never completed. Ande and I certainly navigated some rocky roads as we worked together, but were able to celebrate that we did indeed get up again.
Recently I sat in circle with much younger people and was quite chuffed when they saw me as a wise elder. I hope I earn that title. I know that without life’s tough challenges – the school of hard knocks – I certainly could not have gained the wisdom – and there is still more to be gained.
This Christmas we will have a rare opportunity to all be together, apart from my grandson and family who live in Cairns. I am not sure that my family see me as a wise elder, having seen some less than wise behaviour over the years, but I know that I am loved and that is the most precious gift they can give me.