I was sitting drinking my coffee this am as I read this Q & A between one of my favorite bloggers and Anne Lamott, author of Some Assembly Required. The book looks fabulous and I am intrigued by it’s premise- but was even more so after reading this authentic response to one of the interview questions she was asked about what makes a family “successful?”
Q. I wish you’d say something about how children can thrive in all kinds of environments, not just the typical, traditional “happily married couple” kind we put on a pedestal. What is a successful family?
A. That “ideal” is very rare. Most marriages are a mess, and the children get caught between two bitter, antagonistic parents. My parents stayed married for 27 unhappy years, till their kids were grown, and this was a catastrophe for us. I had to be my father’s wife, my mother’s mother — my brothers had to be her husband. We all had way too much responsibility, trying to keep the family afloat. I felt like I had a caseload by the time I was 6 or so. All I needed was a clipboard. All three of us kids could make blender drinks by the time we were 8 years old. My parents’ bad marriage pretzelized us, and stole our true selves away from us — luckily we all ended up drinking and using (we all have 20+ years clean and sober now). This is the far more common outcome of marriage.
My core belief is that almost all of us are pretty ruined by adulthood, and the lucky ones learn that they are also loved out of all sense of proportion — and the lucky ones can be found in any family, single, gay, adoptive, you name it — where one parent has done the work of personal healing and restoration. Having one well parent is the hugest advantage any child can have.
The biggest gift we can give to any marriage, any child, is the gift of ourselves- isn’t it? We can only give that gift after we have journeyed to healing- dared to look within. Dared to have the world- our world, ”revealed’. I think we have to venture outside our understanding of safety and limitation to find our true selves….
I think to KNOW THYSELF
is true success.
Set yourself on fire.