I wasn’t yet versed on the art of posing for a photograph. I must have just been over a year, walking and talking a bit, but no one had the forethought to clue me in on the art. I don’t suppose it was really necessary at that point, but this is the result. My sister, two years older, knows all the ropes and is so darned cute with her playful smiles and shy demeanor.
The feelings in my expression are shock and mistrustful glances forward at the flashing light and at whomever is outside the booth cheering us on. I’ve had those feelings all my life and have learned how to hide them or set them aside until I can fully address them, or not address them at all.
It’s weird to look back at the little girls and see the glaring difference. I know I was playful, and I remember my sister being playful, too. I can’t say I was happy, except there are some pictures of me as a little curly browned haired baby, dimples glaring out at the camera with gleeful dancing eyes. I was a healthy roly poly well cared for, well-loved little one, breast fed for the first year. Mom said she would have done it longer, like all the Finnish women, if she hadn’t been working full time. Certainly, I got enough early on to take care of any infant needs. I always felt well nurtured in my early years, and I got a lot of special dispensations by being the youngest.
It’s the look of mistrust that bothers me a bit. Why did I look at the world that way? I wonder if that’s normal. I have inner joy now and I believe I had it back then, too. I recall a lot about my childhood with my memory only starting to get cloudy as I began focusing on career in my early twenties. There was so much going on with a young family and new marriage it got harder keeping things straight.
A lot of people don’t remember any aspects of their childhood, but I remember a lot. I learned a lot of lessons early on that are with me today. Maybe it was that mistrust that made me look further to the root of situations and remember the lessons. I remember excitedly telling my mother about things I learned, like when I figured out how to make the bed we shared, all by myself, when I was five. She said, “that’s wonderful, now you can make the bed every day.” Or, when I found out about masturbation a few weeks later and ran to her to share the wondrous discovery. She slapped me on the butt and said, “don’t do that.”
I realized I could learn and accomplish fantastic new things, but she wasn’t the one I always wanted to tell anymore. Except for my two siblings, David who was five years older and Diane, there really wasn’t anyone else I could share those things with, so I simply stopped. With a mentally ill husband, a demanding full-time job, three children under 10, and a burgeoning alcohol dependency problem she had a lot of stuff going on, too. Life happens to us all.
With all the self-care mechanisms I’ve set in place to help me grow through this period of life and in the world, political aspects and a pandemic be damned, I’ve been urged to embrace that little girl inside me. I’m at least 64 years older than the girl in the picture. I guess I’m recreating her to some degree because I don’t remember her as that mistrusting toddler. I remember dancing and feeling happy, exploring, and learning new things. I don’t remember feeling at a loss or that I wasn’t protected. That little one is the person I need to embrace now.
Last night I dreamt I was wearing red lipstick, jumping into the air, flying, and dancing way up in the sky. Everyone on the ground was in awe of my joy and wanted to be near, but no one else could fly. I singled out one little blond-haired girl and lifted her up with my energy. She was happy to join me, her smile beaming joy and excitement. I think she is me, my little girl, taking her rightful trusting place in my embrace.