My Daddy thinks I’m pretty great.He always has. And if that wasn’t always the case, he NEVER let on. I was his “Sunshine Girl” and my little girl me made him happy. But, if you listen to most of my extended family or old neighbors tell it, you’d get a different story.I must of been a pretty horrible, rotten kid. Rarely do they share a story about how much I brightened their day, was their special girl, or made them smile. It’s usually about how I was stubborn, sassy, got in trouble, cracked some one’s head open, broke something, or how I cried a lot. Other than my parents, and a few uncles or my Aunties J & L, there usually isn’t much good being shared.What can I say, I guess I was born a “Steel Magnolia”. The Lord knew that in order for me to face some of the challenges I’d have to face, that I’d have to have the will to fight.But, I’ll be frank, the difference of childhood stories between sunshine to Satan has really bothered me the past few years, especially since I had my oldest daughter.Why? Because she is me, with my husband’s face. She is strong, sassy, beautiful, creative, witty, at times obnoxious, incredibly powerful, and bright. She’s full of sugar and vinegar at the same time. My family calls her “Stinkerbell” because she is a dead ringer for Tinkerbell, only taller.
This past Saturday, an amazing thing happened.
I ran into a man who had been my primary teacher, when I was about 7 years old. His name is Ron Halls. He is a quiet, calm, kind, gentle man with glasses. I remember always feeling his love and concern as he taught our little class. He was a fantastic teacher.
He and his wife, Karen, shared with me a story that I can’t stop thinking about.
They told me that when Brother Halls was released from his calling as our teacher, he received a little envelope from a little girl in his class. In it was a letter telling him how much she loved him and what a wonderful teacher he had been. It also said how she would miss him and wished he was still teaching her class. He put that letter in his journal and has kept it there for 23 years. He said that it was a source of strength and happiness. Then he gave me a hug, thanked me for my letter, and for being the kind of little girl that I had been.
I’m embarrassed to say that I was flabbergasted!
It couldn’t be true! I was a naughty, smart-mouthed snot who nobody wanted to be with, wasn’t I?
Or…was I really a rambunctious, fun, loving, strong little girl who sometimes had hard moments? Was I really all that bad? Or was I just like any other little girl, sugar one minute and spice the next? I guess we’ll never really know.
It’s so easy in this life to pick out the negative.
To focus on the bad instead of the good. We see everything wrong in everybody else and rarely in ourselves. It could be the most gorgeous day, and then rain for 5 minutes, and all we can talk about is the awful weather. Remembering the guilt, disappointment, or hurt comes natural. Remembering the shining moments takes work. It is easy to remember the time my cousin painted himself blue and streaked across halftime of the football game and “embarrassed me for life.” It’s harder to remember all the hundreds of times he picked my grandma’s irises and gave them to me, just because he knew I loved them.
For the past few days, I have been thinking about that letter. I have realized that I don’t EVER want my little Tinkerbell clone to feel that she wasn’t incredible, because she is. I don’t want the memories shared about her to be the kind that have been shared about me. With all my heart, I want to make my children feel the way my father always made me feel. I want them to know that they are each someone special and that this world is better because they are in it.
What does that mean for me?
It means a mental shift.
It means not focusing on how my baby screams louder than the banshee on Darby O’Gill and the Little People. Not whining about how whiny my son is. Not wasting energy on the fact that Miss June wet her bed… again. It means paying attention to the made up dances, silly songs being sung from the bathroom, extra effort that was made on this week’s spelling test, the big wet kisses, and the happy times, because there truly are many. It means more unconditional love and more patience from me, and from those around me.
So, here is my goal for the month of June.
For one month, I’m going to write down one awesome thing about each one of my children in a notebook. I’m going to take a moment to reflect on something that made me giggle, brightened my day, or gave me a glimpse into their sweet little souls. I’m going to look for the sunshine instead of the rain. I’m going to focus on the good.
Maybe, then I can be like Brother Halls, and see the incredible gifts that a sassy little girl has to give.
*What are you working on this month?*