Mommy, Tell Me a Story

Recently one of my kids has started to ask me the same question every night before going to sleep: "Mommy? Can you tell me a story from before I was born?"

It’s made me realize that to this little person, my life is a story. Every decision I've made until this point is now part of a narrative. What I view as a bumbling series of random events, decisions and mundane happenings means so much more than that to this tiny being.

When I was a kid, I relished hearing my mom talk about growing up in an old steel town. I loved hearing about her immigrant grandparents and their trip to America. I loved hearing how she walked to the train station by herself at age 5 to go to school. I loved hearing about her singing lessons and her descriptions of the house she grew up in. I even loved hearing about the darker parts. She hated living in that town and always wanted to live in the country. Her parents fought a lot. She hated growing up as an only child. It didn’t matter to me whether the stories were dark, or light or in-between. I loved hearing about the mythology of it all.

Now each night I am charged with the responsibility of recounting my own epically mundane adventure to my child. I struggle with it. I have accomplished so much and yet so little. I've never really thought of my life as very interesting. What do I talk about? What is the point of my stories at all?

What seems to be the most captivating are stories of when I was a kid. So I tell about bike rides and playing in the woods, and piano lessons and plays that I was in. I talk about old friends, or pets we had or funny clothes that I wore back then, or about big hair-dos in middle school or music that I liked. I tell about holiday dinners when everyone came home, or about lemonade stands I made or places we visited. We talk about what it was like "back then" and about people that died before my kids were born. We talk about dance classes and things I found in the stream out back. We talk about things I learned in school... or didn't. We talk about how their dad and I met. I tell about how we dated and lived in the city and about the different apartments we lived in and the pets we had. I talk about all the different jobs we had and the people we knew. There are tales of hostessing, and waiting tables, and serving coffee, and tending bar and the long, long walks through the city. I tell about the shows we were in and the things we auditioned for but didn't get and the places we traveled to.

And even though I haven't done anything that I feel is really worthy of a story at all, it doesn't really seem to matter. Or really, I guess the point is that is does matter. My life as I view it, so mundane, is as mythical a story as they come to this tiny person.

It's strange. And humbling. And scary.

As my kids grow there will be new stories about when they were small children, and then moody kids, and cranky teens. Stories about vacations we went on, or the times they got sick. Stories about the friends they had or the people we knew. We just keep living every day in our mundane, ordinary way, but deep down we know that we are crafting a story.

And it's important.

And I guess that's the real point.

© 2016 Krysta Bernhardt. All Rights Reserved.