My daughter turns twenty one this week. Every year I retell the story of her birth, well I try to. Usually I get a groan, but I believe that my children really are interested in their story.
Today at work, one of the kids told me how when he was young, his father didn’t live with him and his mother. His parents live together now, but this boy doesn’t know why they lived apart. Perhaps his father had to work in a city far away, or maybe his parents were separated. His parents won’t tell the story..”it’s not important now,” his mother says. But it is important.
Our stories, our histories, however subjective they are, matter. Or do they? I have met people who are so invested in their story that they become that story, rather than who they genuinely might be. I have done it myself. The story becomes a role.
There is a place between the two..between the holding on too tightly to the past and the discounting of it altogether. I am not sure where that is, I feel as if we might float back and forth between the two. My Grandmother once told me that her mother, my Great Grandmother, never spoke of her life. My Grandmother knew none of her mother’s history. As such, I know nothing about her as well.
A few years ago, I sat with my mother and asked her questions I have never asked her before. Sometimes I forget that before she was my mother, she was someone else entirely. I wanted to know my mother outside her motherness. Just as I want to discover who my daughter is, outside of her daughterness.
I am not sure we can ever really know anyone. We seem to be conditioned to view others with the lens of their relationship to us. I would like to find a way to know someone with out that bias..but perhaps that’s impossible.