10 March 2007

Childhood Memories

*This post was awarded an honorable mention by Scribbit in her March "Write-Away Contest".

I stare at the faces peering back at me. I smell pizza. The lunch bell is going to ring in 30 minutes. I repeat the word I've been given to spell in my mind a couple more times. Goddy. Gawdy? Seriously, how hard can it be to spell gaudy? I feel weak in the knees. This word does not ring a bell. Images of late nights, homemade spelling tests and a variety of dictionaries whiz through my mind. My mother encourages me with her eyes. Although the butterflies are clearly about to fly right out of my mouth I take another minute to compose myself so that I do not stammer. "Goddy, g-o-d-d-y, goddy".

"I'm sorry, that is incorrect."

All the butterflies flop back down into my stomach with a hard thud. I take a step back and sit down. There are only 4 students left. I'd won the 4th grade spelling bee and made it past 40 some odd 5th graders only to lose to the word "gaudy". And now I wouldn't be representing the school in the district spelling bee. Great. Just great.

I avoided my mothers eyes now. I'd disappointed her. And embarassed her. And I wanted nothing more than to disappear and show back up sometime next week when this was but a distant memory.

I don't have a lot of "fond" childhood memories. I came from a home where perfection was demanded and the repercussions of not attaining perfection were what I did not realize was "child abuse" until I was in my 20s. I've used what memories I have left (many have been stifled) to define my approach to motherhood. I feel that the best measure of how well I do as a mother is going to be what my children remember of their childhood. So, I am constantly asking myself, "Do I want them to remember this?" Do I want them to remember losing sleep night after night to the point of nausea to win a spelling bee? Or that I was the fun, spontaneous mom that let them have a camp in?

Thankfully I've chosen not to let ill childhood memories consume me. I am not bitter and I have forgiven my parents. I have instead chosen to find the good part in it all and use it to my advantage. Because of my mother's demands, I have interests and strengths to suit any fancy. And when I'm in desperate need of an outlet, I can choose to dance it out, play it out, or paint it out. I figure that in turn encourages my children to work hard to become good at what they love for themselves.

The curse that was my childhood has become a rare blessing, and because of that my memories have helped me hold onto the things I love. And I can wear them "around my neck like a rainbow, instead of a noose." (Hortense Calisher, Queenie, 1971 )


An Ordinary Mom said...

What a beautiful and touching post! I think it is remarkable how much you have overcome, but it is even more remarkable that you have forgiven, moved on and made the best out of your situation. You can be an example to many who hate their life and blame everyone else for their woes. We all really need to take responsibility for who we are despite the things life and others in our life might throw at us.

You are a strong woman and an AMAZING mother to your children. They are so incredibly blessed to have you as their mom!

Morning Glory said...

One would never guess there are memories like this when looking at your face in pictures. You radiate a serenity that apparently has been painful to reach. This was really beautiful, Lei.

Susie said...

lovely blog! I also checked out your other blog and I also paint and scrapbook and do altered art!

Tracey said...

Thank you for reminding me to let go of the stupid stuff more. I'm sorry you had such an awful time growing up. I can only imagine that it has made you into the strong person you are today.

Anonymous said...

This was very well said. My entire childhood was repressed until I went through an intensive therapy a few years ago called EMDR. Once I was able to reprocess my early childhood I was able to reprocess my life up to this point. It was a long road to forgiveness but it was an even longer road to admit that there was alot of good to be found also as it relates to my purpose today. Now I am able as you say...'to wear it as a rainbow rather than a noose'. I love this! I understand the road you have traveled, I appreciate having 'found' this post today.

Char said...

Sometimes I'm amazed at some of the similarities in our lives....right down to the spelling bee angst. I understand that expectation of perfection. I admire the woman you've become and your perspective.

utmommy said...

You are an amazing woman to overcome all that you have and to be so positivie!

utmommy said...

You are an amazing woman to overcome all that you have and to be so positivie!

Amber said...

Wow, what a powerful post. And what a strong motivator to build beautiful memories for your children and not painful ones.

Kudos for a job well done!

Emily said...

I'd admire you a lot, Lei. Just another great example of how and why :)
Thanks for sharing.

Terina said...

i have also recently realized that what i experienced in childhood was a sort of abuse. someone recommended this book to me, and it has taught me so much about my own life. and how to let go and how to deal with my mom. the book is "how to hug a porcupine" by john lewis lund. best $20 i ever spent! you can get it at deseretbook.com. its cheaper there than at amazon.

Xun said...

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Xun Liu
Ph.D Candidate
Mass Media PhD Program
Department of Telecommunication, Information Studies and Media
Michigan State University

Jenn in Holland said...

An excellent post. I love the lead about the spelling bee and the tie in later on in the body. So beautifully written and so very honest. That's a good reminder for me, that being open and gut-level honest in my writing and in my life.
BTW, at the spelling bee championships at my school I went down on ELASTICITY. Still am not sure if that is spelled right. For good or bad some things in childhood just stick don't they?
Love your blog. Thanks for visiting me too!

Fiddledeedee (It Coulda' Been Worse) said...

I really did love this post. You are a very descriptive and talented writer. You made me feel as though I was there. The job of "judge" over at Scribbit's was so much harder than I anticipated. The stories were all so wonderful. I enter those writing contests occasionally, mostly as a writing exercise. And I have yet to win anything!!!

I just love your blog. I'll be back!

tongue in cheek said...

Beautiful example of healing and forgiveness.