This evening as the girls were starting dinner I picked up a book that was on the table and closed my eyes and asked to be taken to a page that was right for me in this moment. The book is "Heaven on Earth" by Sharifa Oppenheimer which i used a lot when my oldest was even younger but havent looked at in many years. It is a treasure and proved itself again this evening. I turned to a page on telling stories, not only the soul quenching fairy tales of old but stories about me and my early days. Sharifa mentions to tell stories in sensory detail; tell of the textures, the sounds, the smells, of days we remember of our youth. Tell our children about the little things that we liked and didn't like, give them tastes for what it was like to be us and small and how we navigated our worlds.
This reminds me now that Aiyana often ponders "i wonder what its like to be you, mama". So giving her these little stories of little mama megan is the tastiest little treat. I found that out tonight. I closed the book and started talking about "when i was little"......And the first thing that came to mind was what i got to eat when i visited my dad in Michigan in the summers. I told them that my mama and papa didn't live together and i got to fly from California to Michigan with my older sister and order anything I wanted on the plane and also at restaurants the entire summer with my dad. It felt sweet and tender to talk openly about my imperfect family situation. In that, it felt so perfect. No shame or wishing things were different even though i felt i had never been able to speak so openly about the dynamics growing up.
I went on about my dilemma at most meals of whether to have the grilled cheese or the cheeseburger with french fries and ketchup. I reminded them that their Oma, at the time, was back in California and was a super healthy, wheat grass drinking vegetarian and I had an unrequited love for cheese. I told the girls that i drank a spicy pop called vernors almost everyday and many of these little things made my days special and easier to be away from my mom.
I told them how my dad's shirts were so perfectly pressed and tucked into his shorts and his top siders were scuff free. I remembered how he smelled of fresh soap and cologne and how he always had extra baseball caps in his sparkling clean convertible to keep our hair from getting all tangled in the wind. I told them through teary eyes how i loved seeing my dad and how i felt like the whole world stopped when i was with him.
When i put them to bed tonight they wanted more, especially my older one. "Tell me more about when you were little". I found it so nourishing for all of us. It felt good to remember.
"The very best gift we can give our child is the gift of ourselves. One of the most satisfying ways we offer ourselves to our children is in telling them stories about ourselves......You can tell her silly little goofy things you like to do. It will make you that much more human." (page 137)
So often in parenting we take on the role of the teacher, the guide, the healer, the knower of all....and what i love about this sweet practice is that in telling our children about "when we were little" we are telling them that we are on this journey together and that is so fortifying for us all.