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Family Bonds

“Will you keep out all the sadness?” asked Douglas.  Max replied “I have a sadness shield that keeps out all the sadness, and it’s big enough for all of us.”

Oh how I wish I had a shield that could keep the sadness out, but like Max I do not.  Last night I watched Where the Wild Things Are well after my family had drifted off to dreams.  Sleep did not find me wanting to surrender so easily… In fact my mind floated from thought to thought all on my family and what a lovely weekend we had together.  But like a distant wind-chime on a warm spring night, thoughts of my parents and sisters, tinkled in the back of my mind.  Such a broken group we are…

Recently an altercation between my older sister and my mom has severed their relationship.  This same sister has not spoken to our dad, even after he suffered a stroke for quite some time now.  My two sisters have resentment toward each other, and then there is me, caught in the middle.  I walk ever so carefully on a tightrope web connecting the hearts of those I love.  Who will I hurt if I say this?  What will happen if I do that? So far I have managed to stay comfortably in the middle, but I know that could change anytime.

Maybe this is why I felt so drawn to Max and the Wild Things, a group of misfits that formed a dysfunctional family, all hurting, all looking for something that could chase away the sadness that lurked in their hearts.  Max promised to protect them, to build a world where they would all be accepted and happy.  But like in real life one person cannot provide all this alone.

Growing up we look to our parents to wielding the shield of sadness, to protect us, to create a home where we feel accepted and happy.  But when the home is a house of cards it is only a matter of time for it to all come tumbling down… leaving vulnerable hearts bleeding.  I know my family was not perfect, but I believe healing can happen if we acknowledge everyone makes mistakes even parents. I have decided to forgive the past, I lived too many years angry and it was destroying the most precious thing in my life now… My family.

I was so busy looking over my shoulder being angry and hurt by things that I could never go back and change it was hurting my husband and my kids.  I see this same thing happening in the life of my sister, my mom, and my dad, so full of regrets and bitterness that they exist in a world of pain.  I try to be there for them all, but Max reminded me no one can heal another’s heart, they must take the first steps toward healing and allow others to simply support them when the trials too hard.

As the movie neared the end my thoughts once again drifted to my weekend with my kids and how wonderful it had been.  I thought of K.W’s words “Family is hard,” her comment so simple and so profound.   It’s not easy, it’s not clean, life is messy and there is no quicker picker upper to come and absorb all of life’s messes.  It has been one of the most important things, for me as a mom, to teach my children to believe in themselves, to give all they can and when they think there is nothing left reach way down and give some more.

I want them to realize their worth is not based on what I think, or want.  My desire is for them to follow their dreams. I want them to know I will love them, mistakes and all, that there is never failure just a bunch of ways to learn how not to do things.   I want the wisdom of Judith the most pessimistic of the Wild Things to be etched in our hearts, “Happiness isn’t always the best way to be happy.”

It speaks so loudly.  It tells us happiness is not some quick fix, it is a journey.  Anyone can put on a smile, but what good is it if the smile is hollow.  Family bonds are one of the most important things in our life.  It is where we start our life’s journey.  It is part of the foundation of how we grow but it does not determine our happiness.   For those of us who come from a past that was destructive we need to see the mistakes made in our past can be building blocks for our future.

We can be like Max, a child pretending to be a wolf, pretending to be a king thinking there is a way to create the perfect family or we can choose to support the ones we love and be the Wild Things each of us are meant to be…