How much do we really know about our past? Of course, we know what we ourselves have been through (some memories are more prominent than others, but they’re all there somewhere), but what about our history and our true origins? Who were our parents before we came into their lives?
We know all our parents were the best students, the most well-behaved children, the most respectful young adults, basically a 10 out of 10. We believed every word they said. Until we didn’t. (I mean come on, not ALL our parents could have been A students who ate their vegetables and never ever got into trouble!) We have all lived that moment when we realized that they are not the superheroes we full-heartedly believed them to be, that they don’t have the answer to everything, that they cry when they are sad, that they have their own insecurities or that they are, well, human.
All parents teach their kids the value of honesty and openness, but are we reciprocating? Are we role modelling what we think our children should look up to, or are we showing them who we really are, imperfections and all? At the beginning of their lives, children think of their parents as the chauffeurs, the doctors, the chefs, the clowns, the multitaskers, the photographers, the teachers, the coaches; anything and everything they need them to be. It isn’t until they are older and more mature that they grow out of the natural belief that the world revolves around them and start taking real interest in their parents as individuals, not just as mom and dad.
It is during those moments of truth that the walls that parents build to protect their children start to crumble, revealing a new more profound dimension of themselves. Behind the shielding façade, we begin to realize that they had dreams, some achieved and some never realized. We start seeing beyond their roles as parents and discovering them as people. This revelation is where the truth lies.
I had my first baby a few months shy of 36. That’s 36 years that I existed in this world without her. 36 years of memories, of studying, playing, loving, crying, making wrong choices and drinking cheap wine. 36 years of long lost friendships, heartbreaks, root canals, fake IDs, bad haircuts, a questionable fashion sense and many other things that I can’t publicly admit to.
She was not there for any of it. People often say that having a child changes a person and while I don’t feel like I have fundamentally changed, I have definitely started to be more careful in the language I use around her (admittedly, some words still slip out of my mouth more often than I’d like), I try to eat healthier food, I am more aware of my tone of voice, I am trying to be more patient and I am generally much more cautious with my words and my actions. In short, I am gradually and spontaneously adjusting my life to fit her.
I can’t help but wonder, how much of the “me” before “her” will she ever know…