Sometimes I look back and realize things I've done right. That's the kind of retrospect I like.
One of the events I've thought of recently is when I wrote a letter to my ex-husband about eight years ago. I wrote it because I realized something from 30 years before that I had to clear up. I was writing my memoirs for my kids, and there was one section that I kept coming back to, rewriting, editing, yet it never seemed to be quite right. I'd been repeating this process for probably four or five years, and I couldn't figure out what wasn't right.
When it finally struck me, I knew I had to clear the air. You see, the section in question was a period of a couple years before we divorced. It's a long story and personal, too, but I can recap it, I think. I was severely depressed because I couldn't have more children. I'd wanted a big family, lost several babies, and although I had two beautiful kiddos, I felt like I was less of a woman because I couldn't have more babies.
This was in the era of hot pants, mini skirts and go-go boots. I wore them well. And at this time, I flaunted it. I didn't realize it then, but suddenly as I re-read my accounting of that time, I suddenly realized that I did so to make up for what I thought was a shortcoming. I didn't feel like a "full woman" but when men's heads turned as I walked by, I did feel so for a short time. And OMG .... I realized what that might have looked like to my husband. That's when I wrote the letter.
I explained what had happened to me. I reminded him that we weren't the best communicators back then, both of us fairly immature. I didn't express my needs well. He didn't talk much. So this went down, in his head, to say I had been unfaithful. Oh, wow. I hated what he must think. And since the marriage dissolved a couple years later, it looked bad.
My letter went out to him with this story in fuller detail, and I also touched on some of the good things that had happened in our lives after the divorce that wouldn't have happened otherwise. I apologized for what appearances were and for not realizing it until that later time.
It cleared the air in a marvelous way. We had had a good relationship for most of the years after the divorce, but this ended any remnants of pain. I was very glad to be able to do that for both of us.I think of this occasionally, and it is reassuring to know I was able to do that, to set us both free from an old misconception. We grew apart, but I will always love him. We share two children and over ten years of marriage. I'm glad this was settled before one of us leaves this world. I'm so glad I was able to explain that part of the goodbye to him.
Another thing I've reflected on in the past few days is the success of my kids. I don't mean financial success. That's always a nice thing, of course, but what is important to me is seeing how good they are at being human beings. I've seen them both at their best and at their worst, and I don't have to cringe when one of them opens his/her mouth or acts on something.
What I see in my kids, how they conduct themselves, is something I'm very proud of. I think I did several things right, but one that I think is most important is that I taught them to do things on their own before asking for help. I never wanted them to feel deserted, but I also didn't want them to be unprepared to do whatever they needed to do in their lives if I wasn't around.
My own parents made a point of teaching us life lessons as we grew up. I was given responsibilities gradually, increasing in importance as I matured. They never left me holding the bag, but they also didn't rescue me from my mistakes. When I had a car wreck, that made me figure out how to resolve the necessary details, supporting me, of course, but teaching me how to problem solve at the same time. I tried to pass that on to my kids.
When my son was starting 6th grade, he became anxious because his classroom reading program was the same one he completed in 5th grade at his old school before moving, I didn't rush to the teacher. I told him to just explain it to her, see what she suggested, and I would go to school if it didn't work out. He came home delighted that he had followed through and got a positive resolution on his own! At a time when my daughter was having problems in her cheerleading squad, we talked about how she could handle it without me being the helicopter mother. She did so, and there wasn't a clash between parents or kids feeling incapacitated.
Now, as adults, they are both strong and handle situations well. My daughter sometimes calls me to talk things over when she is frustrated, but she has handled things in her life with grace and poise. My son? Oh, he doesn't call me like that, but he occasionally includes me in a conversation without asking for advice, but presenting things in such a way that my comments answer unasked questions. He's a man, after all. And, as I said, both of them are successful in life. I can enjoy knowing I did some things right in raising them, and they continue to do right things as adults. What else could I ask for?
I'm still musing about the past. I might be back with more. And I might not. Who knows? [grin] So tell me, what are you mulling over in your mind? Does the New Year make you melancholy or do you roll over the happy times?
You can't succeed by relying on others.
You must do it yourself.