Whenever I think about my early childhood, say to about age 6, I remember it as
being idyllic. My parents had household help, my personality was such that I was
not scolded or punished often and I remember being able to play as much as I wanted.
The days of being bullied by an older sister (whom I think about often) had not
yet materialized because the housekeeper made sure that didn’t happen and I can
remember sitting on the grass on a sunny day eating a freshly peeled orange with
just the right amount of salt to make it taste even yummier! I can feel the sun
on my face as I sit with no important thoughts of tasks to be undertaken.
Everything changed when we went to live in New York, far away from family and
friends and certainly in no economical shape to be hiring housekeepers to take care
of us or household chores. Very quickly my life changed from one of being pampered
to being a latchkey kid with lots of responsibilities at a young age. I look upon
my childhood with a mixture of anxiety and nostalgia, blaming no one really but
hoping that one day I can write all these feelings and stories in a book that will
be worthwhile reading for my now-adult children.
I have always felt that my paternal grandmother loved me without reservation.
It made me feel safe, secure and happy to know that someone was always in my
corner no matter what. In speaking with my aunt the other day, I realized that
my grandmother lost one of her children when I was only about a year old…I
suppose this is the reason she lavished her love and attention on me, love
and attention that had previously been showered on him because he was born
with a multiple of serious health issues. I never realized this before and
it was a surprising revelation that is allowing me to understand the reasons
my aunt has always been reserved in her praise of her mother.
I am a mother. As a mother, I have been very aware of the important impact
we parents have on our children. I try not to judge other people’s parenting
styles because I know how often I have made my own mistakes. As I always say
though, children are resilient. When I tell my own story of childhood, I am
shocked at all the things I have lived through which did not seem monumental when
I was living them but which now seem like very difficult challenges for a child to
go through. However, here I am, strong and happy for the experience.