Between this book and my psychologist, I have a lot to think about. Chapter three is entitled I Want What I Have and I Want What You Have Too. Can you guess what it’s about? I didn’t grow up in the picture perfect fantasy family of my dreams and I have harbored resentment and anger about it since my mom moved away and I became a nanny (my parents were divorced prior to this). I’ve been upset with my parents (how could they do that to me?) and especially with God (how could He let that happen to me?). I have spent so much time looking back that I missed a whole lot of looking around. I’ve spent my time and energy focused on giving our children a very different childhood and myself a very different marriage than what I saw growing up. It has been wonderful, but I’ve carried these broken and painful wishes into my family just as assuredly as if I have had them sitting on the couch watching a video of it all – of my pain, my fear, my loss. They may not have known what they were watching, but it’s always been there hovering on the fringes.
Regret is a big bad word and those feelings are just as powerful as those words. I talked a bit with my counselor this morning about letting some of this go, even before I read this particular chapter. She reassured me that, when I am ready, I will. She used her fingers to show these feelings just fluttering away, like on a breeze. I can’t even imagine that happening, but I am hopeful. I want to stop looking back. I fear that I may have spent so much time fighting those “first family” regrets that I wasn’t always paying as much attention as I could have (did you see that? I just added regret to my regrets, no wonder I’m in counseling!). Of course, I am feeling all of this in the midst of huge family transistions and the realization that two of our children will not live in our home as children ever again. Our third youngest moved out last year for school, which didn’t feel like completely moving out, but then decided to actually move out. That meant her stuff leaving our home. That’s a good clue they aren’t coming back, don’t you think? Now, our second oldest and his girlfriend have moved on.
This is where I find myself now. I want to cling tightly to what we’ve had as our children have been small and needed me so much. I’m not ready to let that go and trust that there might be something better to come in my relationship with each of them. I hope there is joy and harmony and a close relationship, but what could that look like and how could it be any better than what I’ve had?