It’s no secret here – I didn’t have an idyllic childhood. It wasn’t horrid. But it was far from perfect. And it has skewed my view on what’s normal. I remember in my early twenties one of my sisters was bitching (for lack of a better word because that’s all she was doing) about my parents and blaming them for how she turned out and all the bad “luck” in her life. I told her to grow up. She was a twenty year old adult. It’s not like our parents sat in their cozy bed one night, maniacally rubbed their hands together and said, “Let’s procreate and really screw up some kids!” They did the best they could with their limited skills. If you don’t like something about your life then change it. But quit the blame game. Needless to say, that particular sister and I didn’t speak for a while and to this day we’re not close.
Fast forward twenty years and despite that sage advice I still struggle with my relationship (or lack of relationship) with my parents. This song speaks to me in ways I’m sure the songwriters never intended…..
“I’m just a little bit caught in the middle
Life is a maze and love is a riddle
I don’t know where to go, can’t do it alone
I’ve tried and I don’t know why” – I believe in therapy. It has made me a stronger person, a better wife and a much better parent. It helps me put things in perspective and sort what is real from what is imagined. It helps me to solve the riddles and make it through the maze. I used to be ashamed, embarrassed that I needed this kind of help. Now, I proudly go for my tune-ups. Because that’s all I need right now. Thank goodness.
“I’m just a little girl lost in the moment
I’m so scared but I don’t show it” – My friends have called me Super Mom. One friend wished aloud that she had my “Barney voice.” (Although for the life of me, I’m not sure that was a compliment even though she insists it was!) But I am just struggling through like the rest of you. Only I’m one of those who had a horrible example to draw from. I’m petrified that someday I will be estranged from my children – these amazing souls whom I adore. I wait for the next shoe to drop, the next mis-step that will send them running to the Oprah show (thank God she’s retiring next year!) I’m panicked that my daughter and I will end up just like my mother and I, distant and reduced to shallow interaction.
“I can’t figure it out, it’s bringing me down
I know I’ve got to let it go and just enjoy the show” – My therapist once said to me, before an upcoming, much dreaded encounter with my parents, to sit back and pretend I’m watching a play. Be an audience member – not an actor on the stage. And just observe. No pressure to react or respond. Just observe. What amazing advice for me. The pressure it relieved.
“The sun is hot in the sky just like a giant spotlight
The people follow the signs and synchronize in time
It’s a joke nobody knows, they’ve got a ticket to the show” – And it’s all a show out there. Every uncomfortable situation, every dysfunctional family event – it’s just a show. For all of us. You can engage if you want to. Or you can sit back and observe. It’s your choice.
“I know I’ve got to let it go and just enjoy the show
Just enjoy the show, just enjoy the show” – This is the work I do. My role with interactions with my parents is to observe. Don’t get sucked into their crap. Don’t engage if it’s not productive, honest or real. Sit back and enjoy the show.
“I want my money back, I want my money back
I want my money back, just enjoy the show
I want my money back, I want my money back
I want my money back, just enjoy the show” – And this is my private little joke. This part of the song? It’s my ring tone for them. When they call my cell (once – since I made it their ringtone last winter) this part of the song is what I hear. There have been times when I’ve wished for a do-over for my childhood. But I always come back to this – if I hadn’t gone through what I did I wouldn’t be the woman I am today. And I like who I am. Warts and all.