I am the memory keeper of the family, ever since I can remember. There are moments in my life that all I did was focus on the bad and what was done TO me. It wasn’t a healthy place to be. As I mover further away from the past and move toward the future, I have begun to look fondly at the good moments in my life that have brought me to the place I am now. There were a lot of happy times to remember and those are what I choose to revisit and share with Mina.
I feel that as we move through the divorce transition into a new life, it is important how we, as parents, speak of the other parent in front of the children. It became clear to me over the past few months that Mina understands shifts in my relationship with her father, but she yearns to hear of happy times and happy memories. I was surprised at how easily those memories flowed, without anger, hurt, or any residual negative emotion. I had moved to the other side and could now, happily, relive some of those memories and share them with her.
“Mama, tell me a fun story about my dad”, she will say sometimes at dinner. She wants to feel the goodness and the love he and I shared through the stories. She needs affirmation that there was once love, even though that has shifted and changed. Why not share these times with her? When I think on old memories, my heart fills with acceptance and peace. I love to sit there and tell her the time her father helped me collect fall leaves by lifting me up to the tallest branches to reach the most colorful ones. Its fun to revisit the time he had his wisdom teeth taken out and insisted, strongly, and still a little loopy, after the anesthesia that he wanted a BIG JUICY STEAK!!
We have made a conscious choice, Alex and I, to always speak of the good in the other parent in front of the children and support their relationship toward them. That has instilled trust within their little hearts. It creates a foundation for them of how to speak of others when that person(s) are not present. It enables them to better recognize when that respect does not happen in other outside situations. Each of the girls has felt comfortable to come to talk with each of us, Alex or I, individually, when things are said that they may need clarification on or help with articulation. Monday, Mina came with questions on how to make herself heard. Wednesday, it was Allegra’s turn talk about how her parents fighting make her feel sad, how can she speak to them and make them understand that. By using open questions such as “How else can you express yourself?” or “what can you do to feel heard?”, I hold the space for them to come up with their own ways, their own answers without any of my input or judgement on the situation. It has been interesting to hear their answers. They have been able to draw back to other situations and apply those possible solutions to this current issue. In this way, they have started down the road to self-empowerment and accountability. They have learned that they have a voice and have ways they can determine how best to express it.
Full circle moment: It comes down to trust, respecting others, and holding a space for growth. Everyone has the capacity to either hold on to the negative or celebrate the positive. Which lesson benefits the child? What lessons shall we pass on to the children which will enable to make them stronger body, mind and spirit?
I look forward to taking a trip down memory lane with Mina because I know that it will only help me to grow as well as help Mina better understand who she is and where she came from.