Saturday, May 9, 2015

Memories Distort our Perception

I had a thought about memories.   As I pondered this I realized that there is a huge gap between the memories I have of my children growing up and the memories they have of growing up.  What we remember creates our reality however distorted that may be. 

I remember my children best from the early golden years when they were gentle, loving and eager to learn and grow.  They were these delicious morsels of innocence and wonder.  I filled their days with learning opportunities and cherished their growing and changing into little persons.  I think back to my own childhood and realize I remember very little of those young years in my own life.  So how can my children remember their “golden years?”  

The adults my offspring  have become  have few memories of their own golden days, just as I do not remember mine.  Their history is distorted because all they remember are the turbulent teen age years when they caused trouble and we had to discipline them as part of our job to guide them toward a path of responsible adulthood.  They remember these battles as restrictive rather than instructive.  Now they base their opinion of me on those years, naturally not a time when I was at my shining best as I navigated uncharted waters trying to do right to mold responsible and good human beings.

As long as I see myself as the nurturer of the golden childhood years and they see me as the prison guard of their teen years, how can we ever possible see eye to eye.  After all a point of view is all about perspective! 

They must get to the point (if ever) where they realize that the golden years of childhood was where they were nurtured and cherished and that the teen years of rebellion are but a stepping stone to mature adult lives and not the sum total of their upbringing. 

If they never make that connection, they will always see me as the bad guy of their teen years and never see me as the simple human being, striving to do right, that I am.  

Maturity does not follow a chronological number. Rather, maturity comes when an adult is able to see the human in the parent and not just the mistakes of the parent.

When we arrive at that place, our own parents become people who did the best they could with the knowledge and skills that they had.  When our offspring take that step, we too become people in their eyes and not the evil characters they envision us to be. 

The problem is that in the absence of regular communication and relationship building, estranging adults deprive themselves of the opportunity to learn that in the end, we really are, only people.  It is so easy to ‘demonify’ us when they never have the opportunity to see us as humans with human virtues and human failings.   

They never get to hear the stories of their golden childhood years that leave a lingering glow even in the retelling.  They deprive themselves of opportunities to see themselves through our love filled eyes.  They miss out on these moments of storytelling recollections. They miss out on opportunities for hearing stories of validation and love.  They miss seeing that part of their lives which their memories have not preserved. 

At gentle nurturing moments like this, I realize that they lose as much as I do.  I miss the opportunity to give them these precious gifts and they miss out on the opportunity of receiving them.  The big difference is that I see it and feel the loss, whereas and they don’t see what they are missing because they don't see their lives as a collection of all memories, but rather as a holding on to the bad memories.  

The lesson to be learned is that relationships survive or crumble based on the memories we choose to hold on to and the actions we choose to take based on those memories. Now if only there was some way to teach estranging adults that life lesson.  Add that to my list of things I would teach my children if I had it to do over again. 

Renate Dundys Marrello 
2015 – 05 – 09

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