Becoming a parent has come with a lot of surprises. Some good, some bad. This week, I was surprised again, and it damn near brought me to tears.
Both kids were home sick with Covid. They got bored quickly and hauled out the legos, then started roasting marshmallows in the fireplace. I don’t think they brushed their hair or teeth for a few days. They looked pretty mangy as they ran all over the house, singing loudly off key and making a mess of their rooms.
I started to hear a familiar voice in my head. “Clean up after yourself. Wash your hands. Quiet down.” The voice was stern as hell, and just as I was about to use it, I stopped. Which was odd. (I usually chide without thinking.) But this time, it struck me: I’ve been developing that voice for decades. It was brought about by shame. Shame for my own unkempt hair as a child. Shame for my own messy bedroom. Shame for my own off-pitch voice.
And so instead of lashing out at the kids that reminded me of my younger self, I took the opportunity to heal a little bit of the child in me that was still broken and embarrassed. I took a deep breath. Then I softened my tone and joined my kids in torching the marshmallows. And I talked to them the way I wish I would’ve talked to myself back then.
Reader, having kids has given me an opportunity to revisit a lot of old pain, but I don’t think we need to have kids to do it. We've all been hard on ourselves, and I'd wager that a lot of us haven't recovered. If you’re carrying around shame from the past, try going easy on yourself this week. It’s cathartic.
Wishing you a week of healing and humor. See you next Monday. -Em