To live by grace means to acknowledge my whole life story, the light side and the dark. ~Brennan Manning
Watching the video is a prerequisite for this post so if you don't have the 3:34 to watch right now please come back when you do, or just pass on the whole endeavor.
I'll wait...go ahead and watch.
Okay, so this video was posted in my Facebook newsfeed the other day. It gave me pause and has stuck with me since I watched it. Not because I felt the content of the poem was necessarily a mirror to my own life, or that I would agree with the author's thoughts 100%. Rather, my initial reaction included how impressed I was by her insight and candor...I can tell you right now I did not possess such animals when I was in my 20s.
I take several things away from this young woman's performance, most of all the idea this poem represents a legacy [often unwittingly and unconsciously] passed down from mother to daughter.
The video has forced me to contemplate what I myself inherited from my own mother and grandmothers as well as what impact I am having on my daughter. This poem bring to light a painful realization of the significance in our parents' interaction. From my mother and grandmothers I learned what it means to take care of a husband, children and a home.
The most prominent lines in this poem [for me] include:
1. "She wanes while my father waxes...a new girlfriend who was overweight as a teenager, but now my dad reports she's crazy about fruit."
2. "I wonder if my lineage is one of women shrinking, making space for the entrance of men in their lives, not knowing how to fill it back up once they leave"
3. "I have been taught accommodation"
4. "I have been taught to filter"
5. "I learned to absorb"
6. "I never meant to replicate her, but spend enough time sitting across from someone and you pick up their habits"
7. ..."deciding how many rights are too many"
8. ..."how much space she deserves to occupy"
9. ..."a circular obsession I never wanted, but inheritance is accidental"
(I am going to pass on discussing the first and second statements...it is not an area even I can venture through in this venue. Suffice it to say it resonated with me.)
My parents were married for thirty-nine years. I am the oldest of three children, the only girl. My mom never sat me down while I was growing up to instruct me on what it would take to be a "good wife and mother". Nonetheless, I learned what I know now by watching she and my dad everyday. I was also blessed to have my grandparents in my life on a regular basis, so I believe my grandmothers were influential as well.
Based on my life experience, I would agree I learned not only to accommodate, absorb and to filter, but of more importance, what I wanted out of life should measure up to what my husband felt was a worthwhile endeavor. I remember my dad often asking my mom "what are you passionate about"....my mom's response generally included taking care of my dad and their children. For whatever reason, the answer never seemed to satisfy my dad. He just kept asking as if he felt she needed to find a different answer, one that might impress him more.
There are times I see that repeated in my own marriage.
I know I often censor myself when I talk with my husband. I wonder if it is natural instinct or something ingrained while I wasn't paying attention. I have wondered to myself on many occasions if what I have to say or if whether or not the way I feel is important enough to share. I don't measure my food (that I am aware of), but I definitely measure my words.
I am certain that is why it has always been so much easier for me to write than to confront or to speak in front of others. The simple, gods-honest truth is that I have often wondered if what I had to share was important enough to take up the time and space my offering would fill.
My self-analysis here is by no means an indirect attempt to point fingers or place blame about who I am, it is merely an exercise for me to understand how I may be affecting my own daughter and the way she will navigate her marriage. (Assuming, of course, she marries).
The big question [for me ]... what might I be able to change today to optimize her experience while remaining true to myself?
No doubt this poem will have a different effect on every woman who choses to listen to it.
I attempted to discuss the poem with my husband the other night, but [predictably] I could not articulate the significance of the message or its impact on me.
If you have time, I would love to hear your thoughts and reaction to this work...if not through the site, then via email at email@example.com.