“I have been reading my 1985-86 journals. It seems all I do is worry about Auntie and the children. I’ve got to stop and start thinking about me. They have a life of their own and it doesn’t include me. Once in a while they think about me. I’m sure I did the same with my mom. Why should they be any different. I wish I could change, but I probably won’t. My kids are my life. I have no other nor do I want one. I know I’m grieving. I just want to cry and cry.”
In 1985 at the age of 18, my cousin went into a closet in his basement bedroom and hung himself. My Aunt’s family was already falling apart at that point. Her husband and her had a tumultuous marriage at the best of times. I know there was violence. I know there was alcohol. I know that my cousin was just short of entering college and he was lost. Looking back at my own life in this context – I’m glad I got out of my marriage when I did. I’m glad I’m in a solid marriage now and that my husband and I are both working together to make our children feel safe.
Gran wrote this in her diary in July of 1987. I don’t know if I have her 1985-86 journals – 1987 was the oldest of the handful I pulled out of the box. After reading this, I’m glad I didn’t start with them. I’ll get there eventually I’m sure…but those will be painful to read.
“My kids are my life.” I related to this statement so much. As a mother, as a daughter, as a granddaughter. As a mother – my kids are my life. But as a daughter and granddaughter, like Gran, I know that I won’t always be their life. As Gran acknowledges “I’m sure I did the same with my mom” – I know that my mother isn’t always my first thought every day. Nor was my Grandmother.
This project has been about learning about Gran’s life. Her words make me feel closer to her. Like her, I worry about my children. I worry about how much I’ll be involved with their lives once they fly out of the nest. I’m working hard now to forge close bonds with them. To make the most of the time I have. I want them to feel comfortable leaving – but I also want them to feel like they’ll always have a home with me. I don’t know that my own father ever felt that way. He and his sister escaped the nest as soon as they could. His relationship with my Gran was strengthened by my mother’s efforts to keep them together – but I believe that he was mostly motivated by guilt. I don’t want my own children to ever feel that way. I don’t want to burden them. I want to strengthen them.
This has been a bit of a jumble of thoughts – but each time I delve into Gran’s diaries, so many different feelings emerge.
What stage are you at? Are your children still safe in the nest? Are they getting ready to fly? Have your children left the nest? Can you relate to my grandmother’s words? Tell me about your experiences.
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