My mother made a suggestion the other day that caught me off guard. And the more I thought about it, the more important it seemed. Believe it or not, I’ve never been a very good journal keeper. There was a two year period, before marriage and kids, where I was a faithful journal keeper. But other than that, my journaling has been sporadic at best. Back to the point, my mother said, “You need to be telling your stories to your children.”
The featured picture is of my Grandfather who served on an Air Force base as a mechanic. He is holding my three oldest when they were 4, 2, and newborn.
She was right. Mothers and Fathers need to be telling their stories to their children. Whether the stories are written or verbally told, children need to hear about the time when their parents were younger. Telling these stories helps children know about life and how life was different, yet the same. More importantly, it helps make parents real to their children.
Stories from the past help teach many important truths about life. I remember speaking with my Grandmother when the US was in the middle of the recession in 2009. She lived through the Great Depression. She spoke of neighbors reaching out to neighbors to help each other through the lean times. She spoke of having one precious pair of shoes. And she spoke of a carefully created and cherished doll. Not that the recession was anything like the Great Depression, but being able to talk to her about her experiences and how her family made it through gave me a much better perspective on how minor my family’s issues were at the time.
Similarly, my parents had their first three children one year apart. After the birth of my first child, my parents talked about how those first years went for them. My father was an Air Force Policeman during the Vietnam War. My mom talked about how they ate hamburger tacos and homemade canned green beans almost every night. They got the hamburger from my grandfather’s cattle ranch, and the green beans from the garden. The story sounds a bit familiar, having lived through some of those years in my own life – although, my children are two years apart.
These stories helped me to better understand life and what life was like for my parents and grandparents. But, more importantly, stories about my parents and grandparents make them concrete and more than just the title of “Mom” or “Dad”, and “Grandma” and “Granddad.” My stories will help my children do the same.
Offering glimpses into our past life makes us more approachable and human to our children. If I share my stories, my children will know who I really was. That I not only was a mother, but that I was also a daughter, sister, aunt, and cousin.
My children will learn that I was terrible at spelling (still am.), that I spoke two foreign languages, and got to travel to five different countries. But, not only will they learn what I did— they will learn who I am and how I dealt with hard things in life. And those may be the most important lessons of all to learn.