Growing up, on the morning of my birthday, mom crawled into bed with me and told me the story of when I was born.
They drove to the hospital early in the morning for a scheduled c-section. Mom wore an ugly hospital gown that said “Mommy.” Dad wore scrubs. When I was born, they counted my ten fingers and ten toes. My dad was so thrilled to have a baby girl after two sons that he was practically dancing around the delivery room.
Dr. Dilts asked my mom, “Is that the same man you were married to before?”
Dad took me into the hall and asked Uncle Steve to guess boy or girl. Uncle Steve said, “I think it’s another boy.”
“Wrong! It’s the baby princess,” Dad said gleefully, presenting me to my uncle and grandmother. “And I’ve already got her a gold card.” (A reference to an AmEx commercial, where a new dad in the hospital has visions of birthday parties and ponies, and realizes “I need a gold card.” I learned this last detail today, since Mama Rote is visiting us this week.)
A question stood out to me in a recent article in Parade Magazine about happy families (I always read Parade on Sundays, unless someone steals our paper.):
When a team of psychologists measured children’s resilience, they found that the kids who ________ were best able to handle stress.-Ate the same breakfast every day
-Knew the most about their family’s history
-Played team sports
-Attended regular religious services
Today a good friend reminded me about my identity, who I really am, utilizing more of a modern medium. She attached a bunch of pictures in a birthday email to me—pictures of me and our group of college friends, some from weddings, mostly silly. This was one:
I thought, “That is me. That’s really me.”
There were many more [worse] pictures she could’ve chosen, which only reinforces the sweet, secure feeling I had as I looked at them. These friends know who I am, for better or worse, and they love me. My family, far from perfect, is mine. They know me, they love me, even though I don’t return phone calls very well. When I feel as if I’m drifting, floating, out of control—these stories, these pictures become a happy anchor.
Tell the stories, good or bad. Tell the stories.