Two stories

“There are two stories of your life. One is the informative, and the other is the narrative…” -Mary

She says the story I like to tell myself is that I’m ridiculously happy and I play with my kids all the time, “But the informative story is that you spend most of your time working really hard, and you deal with so much heartbreak and sadness…”

I have no idea how a good mother should respond when her eight year old says something like that. Maybe a good mother would never have to, because her girl should only ever see a strong, happy woman. Still, I don’t think my reality is as rough as she perceives it, and if it is, I don’t know that I want to believe it. But I don’t want to be dishonest, either, with her or with myself.

Maybe the trick is to find magic even in the difficult facts, and to remember that the best stories are always tough in the middle.


  1. Janelle

    Actually I think a lot of good can be done for children who see their parents struggle. My girls have seen me go through all sorts of things physically and emotionally. As long as I pay attention to a few details I have seen a lot of positive outcome. The problems come when the kids feel that we expect them to fix our problems or when they see the problems as insurmountable. That is too much stress on any child, of course. As my daughters have seen me struggle at things they have learned that growing up doesn’t fix everything, we can face our trials with hope and faith, it’s okay to cry, it’s the little things that count, and life is just hard sometimes,
    I’ve had a friend who has asked me several times how I have taught my children to be so tender and thoughtful and polite. I wish I could say it was awesome parenting, but truly it is in part because that’s just the way they are, and in part because they’ve had to deal with a lot and we’ve managed to do it from a place of love. In the end my trials have helped me be closer to my children and have helped them learn ways to cope with “disasters” (of some scope at least).
    I also am a big believer in parents apologizing to their children. I try to apologize whenever I blow up at my kids for something that isn’t their fault. I try to apologize when I blame the wrong person for doing something they shouldn’t have. I try to apologize when they point out I’m not doing the best job I could. This has seemed to open a line of communication for them to express frustrations. Since they know I can apologize, they feel like they can bring up something I am or am not doing that is bothering them. That doesn’t always mean I will or can change things the way they want 😉 but at least I can understand better.
    I truly believe that a “Good Mother” is NOT always strong or happy. What sort of skewed perspective would that send?
    There *should* be buffers, of course, in how much we share with our children. Kids don’t need to see or deal with everything from an adult perspective. Especially in certain situations. But I think that acknowledging feeling and expressing them can help open a dialogue to improve our parenting skills in areas the kids may be worried about. I have simply said “I’m dealing with a lot today and I’m feeling really frustrated. Please will you do your work quickly without arguing so I can do a better job of not getting angry?” all without saying anything about what exactly may have me out of sorts. As they see me talk this way I have heard them use these same sorts of methods. “Mom, I’m really frustrated today because things were hard at school so I don’t want to try to do _____ with my sisters.” or something along these lines. This helps control problems before they happen or at least understand them better so we can manage them together.
    I do agree that finding magic in the difficult facts would be brilliant. I am just not always very good at that. 😉


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