Mom used to tell of how Gran’ma laughed and laughed the first time I made cupcakes with her. I was two. This might have been the time. Gran’ma really loved that I thought I had to lick the cake decorations to make them stick on the cupcakes.
This is the kitchen in the house where I grew up. I don’t have many photos of its interior. I’m so thankful for the ones I do have. Most of the time that I lived here, my parents were married. Between that fact and what I believe is the human tendency for past unpleasantries to fall much more readily from memory than their opposites, I’ve made my childhood home quite an idyll. My mom hung that towel on that drawer. My mom picked that wallpaper.
I was barely ten years old, and Jenny was seven, when Mom and Dad told us they were divorcing (at that very table). It surprised me as much as anything possibly could have. At such an age I certainly had no great insight into human relations, and can I really say anything reliable about the fidelity of my recollections?
But it didn’t seem to me we lived in a household of particular strain. And, though I certainly noted idiosyncrasies in my mother and father as I grew and matured, neither seemed incapable of relationship maintenance and mechanics. Our home fractured and split in early 1982 anyway.
I remember one night gazing at mine and Lea’s children when they were just about the same ages and considering that’s where Jenny and I were when it happened. Even now I tend to measure the timelines occasionally: my 15 years old vs. Nathan’s 15 years old; my two years into having a stepmother vs. Nathan’s…not.
I think we—the four of us—are doing all right. I think Lea and I are providing responsibly for the human beings we chose to make exist—physically, intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. But, as I’ve said before, relativity can be quite seductive.
“Better than my parents” isn’t necessarily good enough.