Family / Kids / Parenting

A Toast To Boring Stories

IMG_2436About a month ago, I wrote about my daughter’s frustration with tee ball. She couldn’t get a hit and people laughed at her and I comforted her by telling a slightly related story about my own tee ball experience when I was a kid. The moral of that story was that we are not tee ball people but, of course, there are stories underneath that one – a story about my mother who didn’t know how to show compassion and a story about my struggle to do better.

That night, after publishing that post, my daughter and I snuggled together before bed time and she said, “Tell me the story about tee ball again.” I laughed and asked her why she would want to hear it again and she shrugged and said, “I just like hearing your stories.” So, I told her the story again. When it was over, she said,

“You are such a good mom. I won’t have any stories to tell my kids. What am I gonna say? My mom cuddled me and made me feel better when I was sad. That’s not a very interesting story.”

In that moment, Zeca told me exactly what I so desperately want to believe – that I am unremarkable in the best possible way.

I spend so much time criticizing myself and worrying about my parenting mistakes and figuring out how to do better that I don’t notice all the things I do well.

And it’s true, I have hundreds of stories about my mother and her many mistakes. Some are frightening and some are sad and there is a thread of chaos that ties them loosely together. Those stories are interesting but not in the way anyone would want but I have made peace with my mother and our messy past. The stories are all I have now, my inheritance to spend as I please.

In Zeca’s words, I can see that I am different than my mother. I too make mistakes but, despite them, my daughter knows that she is loved and feels safe with me. I wrote her words on a scrap of paper and it sits on my desk and her words will sit here as well so that I remember that no matter what I’ve done wrong, I’ve done so much right.

That night, right before she fell asleep, I tried to find an “interesting” story of us and said, “I made fun of you for being 1/3 of the Cheshire Cat in the school play!” She rolled her eyes and said, “Yeah that’s terrible.”  I kissed her goodnight and I gave myself something rare – credit for doing my best.

So, let’s raise our glasses and toast to the boring stories.

Sometimes, they are the best ones.

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13 Comments

  1. I find it a bit of a wonder to read your struggle with your belief in the goodness of your parenting. most of the time i am asking you for advice, counsel; using your best judgment when I have none of my own to tap into.

  2. Hey who is the idjet that pushed “done”? My point is that I see you the way your kids do – safe, trustworthy, reliable, compassionate. No pressure of course but you are often my roll model

    • You put me on a pedestal sometimes. Remember that your kids spent the afternoon with me and were bored out of their minds.

      Still…I will try to accept your kind words with grace and courtesy (as you always say).

  3. But what will she talk about in therapy?! Honestly, you’re really putting some people out of a job.

  4. Oh wow, Vikki, Zeca’s words were so insightful and sweet. (And of course she’ll have tons of stories!) I mean insightful in how she was able to name exactly the way you help her when she’s feeling down. I doubt that all kids (or even many) can articulate the precise ways their parents help them. Lord knows I’d be THRILLED if my kids said anything like that. This was such a touching post. Thanks for sharing that experience.

  5. I’ve never doubted you as being anything but a stellar parent, and it’s good to know that the best among us can have doubts. If it makes you feel better, I have loads of stories to write that involve you being unsavory. But you’re not my mom, so that’s okay. 😉

  6. This brought tears to my eyes. My kids have been asking me to tell them stories about my life. I’ve focused on the different birthday parties I had as a kid, because it’s more exciting than boring everyday life, and it brings me gratitude for my mother who helped me have those parties.

    Your post is the first moment I’ve realized that what my kids are doing right now is what they’re going to tell their children about.

  7. grandemocha says:

    My kid already has stories he tells about me.
    Boring is good. Faiqa, come sit next to me.

  8. Yes-boring can be sooo good!

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