Monday, November 7, 2011

Better People

I had a fantastic weekend with my birthday girl and my family at the center. I lived in the moment, I celebrated my blessings. I saw the good in all things.

In doing all of this, I was struck by the fact that my little girl has grown into a wonderful person. She's funny and kind. She writes in a journal almost constantly. She draws, better than her momma. She says please and thank you. And she's adorable.

At one point, she wanted me to write in my journal while she wrote in hers. I was trying to nurse a fussy baby to sleep and led her on and on to believe I'd write in my journal with her, but--oops--fell asleep myself. But before I did, she was finding my place in my journal, and we came across a note in her writing. It was found by Daddy in August on the living room floor, and I taped it into my journal for all time. We read it together: "I snuk a book from my mom's closet. It is a high school musical Book. She was maybe saving It for my Birthday But to Bad I Have It."

And we laughed and laughed.... "Too bad, I have it!" she laughed.

It appears my girl has learned how to laugh at herself. And, while that might not seem monumental, it is. It took me a long time to not take myself too seriously. And sometimes I still have trouble with that.

Another thing happened this past week that got me thinking. I was in the basement, putting away clothes, looking for others in sizes and seasons I knew existed, and I ran upon a Pandora's box. It was a tote full of memories, mostly from my teenage and college years, but also an 8th birthday card from my Grandma and Grandpa Strahler, a letter from me ("Two-Ton Tony") to my dear Grandpa ("64-Ton Tony"), my First Communion Bible and all sorts of other precious things.

And that box grabbed me by the heart and wouldn't let go. I stood and read and cried and remembered for more than an hour. My knees begged me to give up but my heart gave in to the memories. In that box was a smaller box of letters from my father during a very pivotal part of my life. Reading them was like reading them for the first time. They were wise and sad and full of humility. And it reminded me of a driving force in my life, a hand that shaped me. There were lines of advice in there, in my dad's somewhat backward way and script, that showed me that, in spite of our differences, we both want the same thing: for our children to be better than we were.

These two events together tell me it's true: I've been saying, and others say it too, that I want a better life for my children than the one I've had. But instead, I think maybe I want my children to be better people. The life, the house, the wallet, those are all details. But If I can have a hand in making better people than I am, now that's something. Those better people will weather whatever they must. They'll shine up their places in this world, and they'll find a better way.

Here's to birthdays, to this day, eight years ago, when I became nearly everything I wanted to be. Here's to raising better people.

And to my mini-me, who spiked a fever on her birthday: Feel better, girlie. I love you!!

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