“365 Days of Mindfulness” [Day 63] What Young People Never Realize About Their Parents…

When you think of me I imagine you see me as the woman in the banner at the top of this website. Well, yes, that is me, the woman who will turn 60 in April, but a whole lot of the time I feel just like the little girl above with the pony tail and bunny slippers, in fact, I feel like that a whole lot!

It is not about being immature, it is about retaining a kind of innocence, a child-like sense of wonder, no matter what you may have been through in your life. I truly believe if that child stays alive inside of you you can make it through anything, you can be anything, DO anything, and keep moving forward, if not physically anymore, jumping rope, doing cartwheels, and running faster than the wind down the hill with your little dog on your heels you can do those things in your mind (I do!). That little girl is still very much alive in me. And she is very present. All children are. I often think about taking a walk with a little child and a block can take forever. They stop to look at a bug on the sidewalk and then stop to look at a tiny wildflower growing up between a crack. Then there is a pretty little rock, and Oh! Lookie! That lady has a little puppy. And on they go, and on I go every time I go outside with the dogs. I often come in with pretty little rocks and treasures and wildflowers (I love to pick bouquets of dandelions. I just love dandelions!) and even nice sticks to use for nature art or weaving. Little handmade looms are wonderful. The world is so full of so many wonders. Every day I am amazed by the things I find.

Sometimes I sit at a family gathering where I am the grandmother and watch all of my children, in their 30’s, and their wonderful spouses, and my grandchildren, 20 months and 9 years old, and I can hardly keep from giggling. I have my Grandma clothes on but that little girl inside of me is about to BUST OUT. One of my children said to me, years ago, “Mom, you’re the youngest kid in the family.” We laughed but it is so true! (Well, maybe I’m a little older than the grandkids, at least the baby!)

I am smiling so big writing this I wish you could see me. I am filled, most of the time, with pure, unadulterated JOY. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense, I suppose, having spent a few decades in therapy and having a basket-full of peculiarities that seem always to be part of the landscape of my life, and I can have some hard, sad, teary, falling-aparty days, but they pass pretty quickly. I return to the things that make me feel safe in this world in this life I have designed that is odd to some but just right for me and then my little girl can come back out to play. I really like her. A lot.

It made me think about a couple of things. First of all I feel sad that I had so many problems with my mother our whole life together. There were some pretty serious difficulties, and things were never able to be resolved enough for us to have ongoing peace between us, although I think we both wanted it, in our hearts, and we both tried, and we both made peace at the end before she died and had a very few loving months of communion between us which I will be eternally grateful for, but I feel very sad that I could only ever see her as The Mother. The one who could get mean, angry, abusive, who frightened me, made me so fearful I didn’t want to be around her. Now, today, I realize how much fear and pain were behind all of that for her but as long as your mother is alive, even if you are in your 50’s and she is in her 80’s, it is nearly impossible to break free of the place where she is the mother and you  are forever the hurt, angry, disappointed, sad little girl. Lord what a messy heartbreaking dynamic. And the sad thing is that there is no one left to ask. Finally when you are the older generation all of the people you might have been able to talk to about these things are gone.

I wish I could have seen the little girl in her. The one that was afraid herself, but also the one that still had dreams, and in her mind laughed and played, and did hopscotch. I bet that little girl was still inside of her somewhere, I’d like to think so. I used to watch her and she could really laugh and she had a wonderful laugh. She always seemed so happy with her friends and was much loved by them. This was never true between us because we both tried too hard, or were uneasy or walking on eggshells with one another, or simply not getting along.  She’s been gone 4 years now and I feel wistful when I think about her.

One of the things about living alone with animals is that you can be silly and goofy and they don’t mind, and as pugs are kind of silly and goofy dogs we have a wonderful time together. I think it’s easier to be mindful, or so I imagine, if you live alone with a house full of animals because animals live absolutely in the present, they are my greatest teachers and often bring me back when I am going adrift. They eat when they eat, play when they play, sleep when they sleep, and love when they love (which with pugs is all the time as long as they are awake!). The pugs are the little Buddhas in the house who remind me to be mindful.

I am doing a lot of very serious, very deep work now, and this is the predominant part of me. My work is my heart work, the reason I am here, I truly believe this. For balance I need to let the little girl come out to play. I think next time I am able to go to the Dollar Store I will have to get a few things to put in my little girl basket, things like crayons, bubbles — I love bubbles, I usually have bubbles! — and OH! I love Play-doh. It’s the smell of the Playdoh you know. There is nothing like opening a can of Playdoh. That smell. It takes you right back. And the smooth brand new mound of playdoh. I think it is very therapeutic, just to moosh and putter around with it. And I love dolls, tiny ones, and especially handmade ones.

I love to make dolls. This is Leonardo, I love him, I made him years ago and I still have him. I used to go to yard sales that had baby clothes and buy piles of the little soft cotton corduroy overalls and cut them up and use the material to make little dolls. And I like featureless dolls, and Leonardo’s hair is dyed wool locks. I have tons and tons of wool because I am a handspinner and fiber artist. I love to spin and plan to start again soon, just for the sheer joy of it. Spinning, all fiber arts really, is a very mindful activity. But here is Leonardo…

I think you must never lose your sense of childlike wonder and if you feel like you did lose it along the way I think you should do everything you can to find it again. Open up the secret door to that lost world and invite her (or him) to come out to play…

 


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Comments

  1. Sometimes I think that there is no relationship more complicated than the mother-daughter one. Seemed that way for me too. When mother became more and more incapacitated with dementia I learned the huge responsibility of being a caretaker – pseudo parent. I’ve never been so overwhelmed. Our inner little girl is an important part of us. I think the connection to her is the center and source of our joy. I think that is part of my love of sewing doll clothes. I can “play with dolls” and no one would think it odd. You are so right – animals are perpetual children. My animals are such an important part of my life. I can’t imagine not having a pet in the house. My cat, Gracie, often brings me her ball to play fetch (She has an inner puppy). Your post really did make me smile.

  2. Dear, Dear Paula…

    Oh, the complex nature of the mother-daughter relationship, I know it so well. My mother fought a terrible 5 year battle with cancer, Multiple Myeloma. She was diagnosed in February of 2005 and died in December, 2009 almost 5 years later. The day she was diagnosed they told her to go home and put her affairs in order. It could be weeks or up to 3 months that she had left, and that would have been a blessing. MM is cancer in the blood and bone and she wasted away almost to nothing, went blind and was in terrible pain. She was ready to die long before she did and she was very much at peace with dying, but even a few months before she died she was raging at me in a terrible way. My friend Jeff, whom she very much liked, called her to try to smooth the way between us and he said he was absolutely shocked at the things she said. He knew from me telling him that she could get that way but he absolutely couldn’t believe the things she said and in her condition. I was so grateful in those last 2 or 3 months things has calmed down and as is so often the case in the last weeks when hospice had come in and she was on so much medication she got very soft at the end. It was a blessing.

    I really think it was this inner child that somehow stayed alive during the years of abuse, so long, from 4-18, that kept me alive. I could escape, pretend, be in another world, and today that little girl is safe and free. I think sometimes she needs to come out and play because now she is safe. And I love dolls, and it is very therapeutic to make them. I would love to make more some day. And our animals, oh, we could talk forever about them, couldn’t we?

    I’m glad the post made you smile. I am still smiling…

    Blessings to you dearheart…

    Maitri

  3. I’ve sworn for many years that I might not be able to stop growing old, but I sure as *hell* don’t have to grow up. And I haven’t, pretty much. One of my favorite things as a young girl was playing with paper dolls. I didn’t care for real dolls much — I grew up a tomboy in a houseful of animals, and if you’ve got lots of cats around why would you chose an inanimate doll? — but I did love the paper dolls. And a game I invented that my friends and I played outdoors, especially in the fall, called “stick dolls”. You’d find a stick maybe 3 or 4″ long and dress her (or him) in leaves, berries, flowers, feathers, whatever you could find.

    When the weather turned bad and drove us in doors, we’d get magazines and design and cut out our own fashion creations, and dress the sticks in those. Haven’t played stick dolls in 50 years. But to this day, I love paper dolls. Yes, I’m in my 60s, and yes, I still play with them. I call it “art” now of course, but between you and me? It’s just paper dolls!

  4. I love crayons, bubbles and playdoh too! Remember Colorforms? Sweet post Maitri and so true. <3

  5. I recently found a stash of jacks and a ball in a drawer. I was a jacks whiz as a kid. I sat on the hardwood floor of my living room and threw the jacks. Apparently even my almost 70 year old self remembered all the tricks to picking up jacks. What a thrill!

    When my daughter was young we used to skip together. Skipping is as close to flying as you can get. It makes me cheerful every time I remember to do it… It’s especially fun to do with a girlfriend — or a child, of course.

    When I was a kid, i used to jump rope, play hopskotch, roller skate (another thing Alana and I used to do together),turn cartwheels, and play kick ball and tag in the streets.

    I’m so grateful to you Maitri for reminding me of girlish pleasures. After signing off,
    I’m going to skip around my yard!

    xo
    ka

  6. I too can relate to this most and all the comments made. As a child I was so free when I was outside riding my bike all over! I loved the feeling of my long hair whipping all around me as I sped down hills on that turquoise bicycle with the little white basket in front. When inside the house, I could play for hours with my dolls…baby dolls, Barbies, paper, you name it! I had loads of friends and was very social. I was outside more than inside, because I felt safer there. Hoola hoops! Forget it, I was the reigning champ on my street! I often feel sad when I think of that brave, fun loving, active little girl…I know she is there inside me, but I think my fears keep me from connecting to her and remembering she is still a part of me. Thank you Maitri for bringing me some forgotten joyful memories with this post. Having a difficult relationship with both of my parents much of the time, it was so enlightening to think of them as children, growing up during the Depression, and what their little lives might have been like….I know for sure it was hard, but they surely had times of laughter, joy and hopefully lots of love. Blessings to you, Maitri, for helping me remember that the brave little girl who loved life and adventure is still very much inside of me <3

  7. Oops! Didn’t proofread….in first sentence, most should read post.

  8. Susann! I LOVED PAPER DOLLS!!!! (I still do!)

    And while I never had stick dolls which I just love! What a darling idea! It applies to the Nature Fairy that lived in me today! 😀 I am always collecting sticks and twigs and little things when I’m outside with the dogs.

    Paper dolls, sigh… I remember the ones I had when I was young with such fondness. Thank you for sharing the memory!

    Hugs,

    Maitri

  9. JOANNE!!!!! COLORFORMS!!!!

    I always thought so wistfully of the Colorforms I had when I was young, the plain ones that came in shapes and you made your own things with them, and then later it was just all cartoony stuff, and THEN a few years ago they came out with the 50th anniversary edition of the original ones and I bought it for my little grandson who was just the right age and loved them. Those Colorforms are among my fondest childhood memories…. 😀

    Thanks for that. I am just smiling ear to ear thinking about it!

    Maitri

  10. Oh Katya! What a fun post to read AND I can just see you in pigtails playing hopscotch AND SKIPPING! And oh, I was a roller skating maniac when I was young, there was a roller rink nearby that kids would go to on Saturdays and I loved it and we took our kids to a roller skating rink when they were young.

    Did you ever have those roller skates when you were little that were those metal ones that slid apart and strapped over your shoes? I just LOVED those!

    Ah, the memories…. 🙂

    Hugs,

    Maitri

  11. Donnnnnnnnaaaaaaaaaaa! HULA HOOPS!!!!! I loved those!!!

    Oh and Barbies. Of course I’m old enough to have had the original Barbie with the pony tail, did you have her? I can still remember some of the clothes, and then she came out with that bubble haircut. I had a little trunk for her clothes and just played for hours.

    Maybe we need to have parties for the little girl that still lives inside of us. I think we should!

    A warm hug and love to you…

    Maitri

  12. Maitri, what a lovely post to read just now. I’ve embraced the “green thread” that’s connected me from childhood to my present, recognizing the little girl who loved learning about plants, making a bark collection (!), and learning about birds, as well as the girl who loved art, being creative, and singing (my sister, the musician to be, was REALLY good at that!)

    But moms — mine was wonderful, fierce, and independent, and very bossy, too. She had “issues” but lived way beyond that, too, in a life beyond what my father circumscribed for her as a wife and mother. She was brilliant.

    But my sister and I lost her ten years ago (she was 62), after more than a decade of significant disability (with a LOT of caregiving that stretched us to our limits); she was just a few years older than I am now.

    So I’m mindful this evening of the possibilities, but also of being grateful, too, for the time and blessings that we have.

    Thanks, Lisa

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