They say that parenthood can help you heal your own wounds from childhood. I always assumed that applied to extreme situations. People who were beaten as children - they can cuddle their kids instead! Or people who were called bad names - they can use gentle words with their kids! And their inner child is healed! Huzzah!
But what about the tiny wounds? The minor ones we forgot about? The ones we do to ourselves?
Can those heal too?
I still tell Z stories about me when I was little. And they often pertain to issues of our time together. It is not lost on either of us that I sometimes make them up or at least embellish, and thankfully she no longer insists that they "actually happened". But more often than not these days, I have real stories to tell. Because I struggled with many of the same things, little and big, that she does.
Watching her wrestle with similar challenges can be painful. But healing to, as I relearn what I forgot I knew.
Sometimes, I learn something new, for the first time.
When I was in middle and high school, my two best friends were singers. They sang in church and choirs and school musicals. I joined them at the tryouts for our school musicals, because I wanted to dance and because I wanted to belong to the chummy theater-kid group.
Unfortunately, I had to sing to gain entry.
Though I eventually made it in, my audition keep me up at night for days beforehand and the resulting squawking played in an endless loop in my head for years afterward as part of "Why I Suck, The Greatest Hits Edition."
One day, the week before opening night for Hello Dolly, I was asked to mouth the lyrics, as I often stood front and center as a dancer but my off key voice was hopeless and distracting to the other performers.
I never really sang in front of other people after that, unless I was intentionally singing terribly, which I always do during Happy Birthday. Because it's my signature, you see! It's not because I'm trying to cover up my discomfort! I swear!
Other than that, I rarely sang as an adult. Not even all by myself in the shower or the car.
Then I had Z. I was supposed to sing to her, the books said, and there were all those Mommy and Me-type classes where I felt a little sorry for the teachers belting out "Old MacDonald" for the 1000th time, all by themselves, as I mouthed the words along. So I started singing to Z, quietly, privately at first, unsure how I'd sound or how it'd feel. Eventually, singing became part of our daily lives. It's a veritable tuneless Sing Off in here.
Z hated being strapped into her car seat and stroller as a baby and toddler and would scream and scream, unless we sang to her. So we did, endless rounds of every song I learned from Mommy and Me. Somewhere between "The Ants Go Marching" and "The Wheels on the Bus", I discovered something that surprised me: I LIKE to sing. Like, REALLY like to sing.
I'm still not great, I know. But I do it all the time with my girls now. Even in front of other people.
"Mom? I love to listen to you sing!" Z says frequently these days.
Every time it's like a healing balm on a tiny wound I had forgotten I even had.