Friday, January 14, 2011

A little story about a little owl

When I was a very little girl, I had been out doing errands with my mother and in the course of these errands, she bought me a little ceramic owl.  I don't remember it being bought, but I remember coming home with it... it was so cute and I was so happy to have it.  Happy to have it that is until I accidentally dropped it and part of its head broke.  I was understandably upset and my mother carefully picked up the pieces and glued his little head back together.  The problem was that some pieces had shattered and so he was left with a small hole in the back of his head.  Gluing the pieces back didn't cut it for me.  I didn't think he was as cute anymore and I didn't want him unless he was like he was before, and I told my mother so.  In a moment of parenting brilliance, my mother told me it was too bad I couldn't love something that wasn't perfect, and said she would take the owl for herself.  And she did, taking it from my hands and carefully putting it on the window sill by the kitchen sink.  I was immediately ashamed of what I had said and begged my mother to have the owl back... that of course I would love it, I didn't really mean what I said.  But my mother stuck to her guns and kept the owl, leaving it sitting in plain sight.

That owl sat there for years and I could never look at it without feeling ashamed at caring more for appearances than I should have.  Once, a few years later, I asked my mother if I might have the owl back now.  I had learned my lesson, after all.  But still she said no and the owl continued to sit on the windowsill.  Many, many years later I happened upon it again and mentioned it to my mother... about what an impact that one small incident had had on me and how I viewed the world.  If my memory serves me correctly (not a given, though), she didn't remember the incident and I was a little surprised because for me it was one of the defining moments of my childhood.  She even offered me the little owl, but I didn't feel right in taking it and left it with her.

My point in all of this?  That I am often struck by what immense responsibilities we have as parents.  That we are really responsible for so much of what our children understand and believe.  It can seem like an overwhelming and awesome responsibility.  I pray that I am able to parent  my children with the same grace and wisdom I received as a child from my parents.  I wouldn't be truthful if I didn't admit that there are many days where I fear I don't even come close to reaching my goal.  Perhaps that is why this prayer that Anne (of Green Gables) offers up in the last book struck such a chord with me.

"... Dear God... help all mothers everywhere.  We need so much help, with the little sensitive, loving hearts and minds that look to us for guidance and love and understanding."  -from Anne of Ingleside by L. M. Montgomery

1 comment:

sandwichinwi said...

What a sweet story. I have many moments like that from my childhood, too, that stand out so clearly. My mother has no recollection either. And I'm sure it's the same between me and my children.


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