Once you reach a certain age, the adults in my family stop censoring themselves around you. You become privy to all sorts of information that makes you question everything about the family that you hold dear. A tsunami of hearsay, opinion, and conjecture devastates the shores of your once-peaceful island paradise. Then, after being blindsided by it all, you are expected to jump right in with your own suppositions. You see everyone in a bizarre new light. After two decades of “staying in a child’s place”, you find out what’s REALLY going on.
If you think that’s traumatic, just wait until you get married and/or have children. Creating a family of your own is a written invitation to an oversharing soiree. You hear stories about yourself, your siblings, your parents and their siblings, and your grandparents that are not the PG stories you know and love. You are confronted with the fact that your mom is much more than just your mom. She is a daughter, a wife, a niece, a sister, a friend, and most importantly she is herself.
Too often, we neatly categorize people according to their relationship to us. We don’t consider that mom is an individual with thoughts and feelings who had a life before we existed. Old photo albums reveal that Gigi wore stylish wigs, miniskirts and hot pants, and perfected the smoky cat eye (true story!). It blows our minds when we discover that our loved ones operate in capacities other than the position they hold in our lives.
Although I’ve repeatedly voiced my dismay concerning the revelation of certain aspects of people I once held in high esteem, I am grateful for the clarity it has given me. Humans are flawed – each and every one of us. We all have elements in our stories that are unsavory and downright scandalous, but life is about growth. We must cut each other some slack while absorbing the morals of each story, even if we think that auntie is telling us way more than we want to hear.