I look at this photo, and it reminds me of some very happy childhood memories. That’s my younger brother, Don, and I perched up on the front of our folks’ car. I’m guessing we were probably 3 and 5, or maybe 4 and 6.
We loved going to this farm! It belonged to our great aunt and uncle — Aunt Annie and Uncle Homer. They were two of the sweetest, most loving people, you could imagine. When we were there, we were constantly exploring and having great adventures.
That’s the first thing I think of when I look at this photo. Then I look at it, and I think about how young and innocent we both were. We had no idea at that time how our family would be turned upside down a few years later.
I look at the little girl in this photo, and I think about how trusting she was that life would stay happy, and that the adventures and fun would continue. It wasn’t to be. When I was 12, and my brother was 10, our mom had what they classified then as a complete nervous breakdown. She was hospitalized, and with the exception of short visits, she was not a part of our daily life, the rest of our growing up time.
We didn’t have a bad life. We always had a roof over our heads, plenty of food to eat, and loving people around us. But there were radical changes in our day-to-day life. I had to instantly grow up. I had a younger brother to help look after, and household chores to do. We were alone quite a bit. Our dad worked nights, and had to sleep in the day. I think my brother and I were pretty sad and lonely a lot of the time.
More changes came after awhile. Our parents divorced. Mom, for the most part, regained her emotional health. Both remarried, and each had another child. Mom wound up moving to California, while we stayed back in Illinois, with our dad and stepmother.
The reason I’m sharing all of this with you is because it’s important for all of us to have a sense of caring and compassion for our younger selves. I’m sure that there must be some who have had picture-perfect childhoods, but that isn’t true for many, or maybe most, of us. Our childhoods mold and shape the adults that we later become.
Think about yourself as a young child. Imagine pulling your young child-self closer to you, and whispering your love and acceptance of her/him. Cherish that young, innocent being that you were. Recognize your wonderful qualities, and celebrate your resilience and victory over any adversity you might have experienced.
You’re here today. You have a purpose for being. All of the past ages you’ve been have carried you forward into this time and place. You matter! You’ve always mattered!
Until next time,