Childhood birthday parties and love


I’m truly grateful for this month in Scholars. The work has been profound for me. I can honestly say that it has changed my life, and all for the better.

My former story about my childhood made me feel ashamed. I focused on the pain and confusion, the scarcity and even the occasional violence. I loved my family but thought that the chaos of our life made us less than other families. That shame has followed me through my life. I’ve often compared my family with other families or myself with other people who seemed to have had a loving, stable, “normal” family upbringing. I always felt like something was missing from me because of this and even that I didn’t really know how to love and trust.

While I was writing my new story – one that I have titled, “My Magical Life,” by the way – I remembered the birthday parties we used to have. When we woke up on our birthday mornings, we saw that my father had made a “Happy Birthday” banner using three paper-towels, strung across a doorway; it was so cool and clever and funny and loving, and just remembering that broke me open. My mother made homemade birthday cake: my very favorite – applesauce cake with walnuts and white frosting and so delicious. My grandmothers and aunts and uncles and cousins would come down to us for presents and cake and ice cream. I loved those times so much and feel so grateful to have remembered them now.

It sounds simple, but somehow remembering those times has completely changed the way I’m thinking about my childhood. I see now how much love there was. I see that my parents really tried hard to give us a lovely time. And I also realize that many, many people never had a family birthday party in their life – that they would have TREASURED that experience and that it would be enough for them to say, “I was lucky to have the family and childhood I had.”

Since that day of writing, I have found myself reflecting on even more things my parents did to help us and to show their love to us. I wrote this morning in my journal, “It’s like I’m having a little love affair with my parents now. They just seem so dear to me.”

This is a miracle. I’m crying as I write this to you – grateful, happy, relieved tears. A huge blessing!

Thank you with all my heart for giving us the opportunity to share in this work and in the freedom and joy it makes possible. I’ve gained something immeasurably precious and I cannot thank you enough.