I've always had this internal struggle. Maybe not so much a "struggle" as a mean internal voice. The voice that questions everything I do, the voice that tells me I'm doing it all wrong. This same voice has, on numerous occasions, filled me with a heartbreak over the idea that I was somehow "wronging" my children. My heart bursts at the seams when I look at my children. All I ever want for them is to know they are loved, to know I've done my best and to know that their future does not have to be dictated by my past.
Then, one day, this happened.
My daughter, a junior in High School, had an assignment entitled "This I Believe". The students were instructed to write an essay about something they believe to be true, using a personal story as the example for that truth.
I don't read every essay all of our kids write. But I did happen to get to read this one.
This may not bring tears to your cheeks or fill you with hope. But it does for me. This one page of words has caused that mean voice to lose some of it's power over me. This one page of words has shown me the truth that "happiness IS a choice". Thank you sweet daughter, for being the warrior to shut down that mean voice!
Wrong Turns the Right Way
My mom and dad were twenty two and unprepared to be parents when I was born. I was six when they got divorced and seven when my mom moved my sister and I to California. Everyone around me felt sad for us and our broken family but I never understood why. My parents were happier apart than they were together, and I was happier too. No one dreams of marriages that don’t last and families separated by two states and one thousand miles, but happiness blooms in unexpected places. Hundreds of hours of princess movies told me that to live happily ever after I’d need a big house and a perfect marriage forever. Life taught me that happiness is nothing more than a positive attitude and an open mind. I believe that happiness is a choice.
The first month of living in California we spent more time lost on the highway than anything else. Our only GPS was a huge map and a compass on some string that my grandpa had sent. I’m fairly certain we ended up in Mexico while searching for an In-and-Out. On our second Saturday in San Diego my sister saw an ad for the Children’s Museum in a magazine lying open on a coffee house table. Smiling kids were gathered around a beat up old car coated thick with every color of the rainbow, holding paint brushes dripping in bright paint. We begged to visit the museum and after a few days my mom agreed. We piled into our gold BMW and headed down highway 5. We drove, and we drove, and we drove...and we kept driving until long past the marked exit that we did not see. We ended up an hour away from the paint coated rainbow car, in a town that I still can’t locate on a map. There wasn’t time to turn around and try again so we decided to explore the mystery town. That afternoon we found tidepools and starfish and seals, ate a full cup of whipped cream, and met a talking parrot. I played mermaids in the ocean with my sister, did handstands in the sand with my mom, saw the reflection of every color of the sunset painted across an old silver car. It would have been easy for us to get frustrated and write that afternoon off as a waste of time and gas, but we chose to keep a positive attitude and open mind instead. Our wrong turn became one of the happiest days of my life. I believe that things frequently do not work out the way they are planned to and circumstances will not always be ideal but a positive attitude and open mind foster happiness without fail. My broken family is anything but sad; four parents who support me, two stepsisters and a stepbrother to imagine with me, a half brother to laugh with, and one little sister to love with all my heart. Life is broken, messy, and confusing but life is always happy if you allow it to be.
So there mean voice. Take that.