The question: “What is YOUR Story?”
I wonder which of my own stories altered the path I was already on? At times I seriously think every action is similar to the old fork in the road – go one way and you arrive at “A”. Go down the other fork and you arrive at “B”.
Of course we all have a story – actually we all have multiple stories, upon stories, and more stories – maybe call them crossroads?
I realize those multiple stories made me who I am today. So how might I have been different if certain reactions, actions or emotions had been different ones?
Pondering this question took me back to when I must’ve been about 3 to 3 ½ years old. Previous to that time I don’t recall making conscious choices. What I mean to say is I have no memory of such decision making.
So despite all the stories lurking in the background after more than 60 years on the planet, I kept thinking back to the “7-Up bottle and egg salad sandwich” event. I still wish that young girl who was me had behaved differently.
My mother was ill during many of my baby and toddler years so we missed out on some bonding time. Maybe that explains why, contrary to the unconditional love I felt from my paternal grandmother, it felt as if I frequently disappointmented my mother. I suspect she wanted a girly girl. I was a tomboy who preferred trailing alongside my dad whenever possible – gardening, fishing, hammering things, even exploring the surrounding woods.
During week days my father was at work and my mother and I were on our own. She had to rest alot and take long naps due to being ill for so long. I was not a napper but had to stay in bed for at least 2 hours every day following lunch while she napped. That is when I remember first making up stories in my head to entertain myself.
But I hated those afternoon nap times. I wanted to play!
So one sunny day I was occupied with some activity on the front lawn. Mom had been nearby resting on a lawn chair in the warm sun. So far so good. Then she got up, announcing it was time for lunch. Looking at my face she must’ve recognized my displeasure, so she offered to make lunch and bring it outside, like a little picnic for just the 2 of us. She went inside to prepare our picnic. I started getting upset at the prospect of lunch in ANY location because I knew that after we ate I would have to remain in bed for at least 2 hours of mostly boredom. I knew the drill. I was not looking forward to what would follow lunchtime.
The brat part of me kicked in.
Mom came outside and created a space for the 2 of us to sit and eat companionably. She held out my piece of sandwich. Yuck! It was egg salad, which I happened to dislike under any circumstances. Who knows why – I’ve eaten and enjoyed it many times over the course of my life. But back then: it was throw up inducing stuff to me. She told me I had to eat it as it was “good for me”. To sweeten the deal, I suppose, she then produced a green 7-Up bottle filled with milk. Since 7-Up was a very rare treat in our household, and one I liked, she probably thought it would be a fun way to drink my usual glass of milk along with the sandwich. More yuck! The milk inside the bottle was no longer cold. It was nothing I wanted to drink despite being in the green glass bottle.
The strike marks were adding up.
Here is when I made a choice that I wish I hadn’t. I refused the milk (it was just too warm). Her face showed her disappointment. After all, she’d only been trying to give me a treat. Seeing her face made me dig in and complain more vehemently. I cared not that her feelings may have been hurt. I cared not that she’d taken the time to make up some egg salad and cut the sandwich in nice little triangles. I produced gagging attempts when she insisted I take a bite, chew and swallow. While sitting there I banged my feet up and down on the ground in protest. My mother began crying. Instead of relenting or feeling bad for my actions or her hurt feelings, I felt GOOD that she was upset. That was what she deserved, my naughty little brain figured. She knew I disliked egg salad and she knew I hated the enforced nap time. So no way was I going to relent.
I still had to do the dreaded nap time, but on a hungry stomach.
She told my dad about my bad behavior when he came from work. I thought I detected understanding in his eyes as he looked at me (at least HE remembered that I disliked egg salad), but I recall nothing else from him about the incident. My mother was a bit moody all the time, so I was not surprised that she did not want to be friendly with me or speak to me except when necessary for the rest of the day. To me, it was just another day of living with my mom, and feeling I was the source of her unhappiness. Which it seems I really was on that afternoon!
Over the years such situations came up over and over, and my stubborn little self never gave an inch. The chasm only grew as I matured.
I cannot help but wish I could do a retake of that one incident. Perhaps then I would have realized how much better it is being considerate of another person. Certainly I am now! To my own detriment I often consider the feelings of others before my own. These days, that is – but not in those formative years. Perhaps our personal dynamic would have played out differently over the years. No way to know, of course, but it still feels like that one choice set a course that allowed no backtracking. I’d still like to rewrite that story.