24 August 2010

Letters to my grandchildren: August 2010

My darling children,
Wanja, I want to thank you for all the beautiful photos you have sent! I have posted photos of all three children on my desk at work, and I gaze into all of their sweet faces every day! I know how busy you are, so I am especially grateful that you take the time to remember me and “keep me in the loop”!

Corey came to visit this month for the first time since he left home. It was wonderful to see him, but one thing his visit did was to make me long to see all of you again, too. This old Grandma’s heart is so full of love for you all that it’s hard to be so far from you as you go through all your interesting times and you grow so fast! (Yes, even you, my lovely adult children – you are growing fast, too! Not physically anymore, I hope, but the changes you go through as you mature in your adulthood are wonderful to me!)

Do you ever play ‘what if’? It’s a game that I invented when I was a young girl, though I think many people invent it.

When I was a small child, my family moved frequently and every school year found me “the new girl”. I was also usually “the fat girl”. That meant I was teased mercilessly at school and was usually pretty unhappy until I was alone. And so, at night, before I went to sleep, I started to play ‘what if’. I dreamed a better life for myself; I dreamed of myself as a popular, pretty girl. I dreamed of myself as athletic, and strong. Later, I dreamed of myself as an adult, with great confidence and many accomplishments. Later still, when Farfar Olof and I were young, newly married, and struggling financially, I dreamed of ‘if money were plentiful in my life”. After a while, I started to get too busy raising my precious sons and making a life for us to spend much time in ‘what if’ very often – but sometimes I still play.

Lately, my favorite ‘what if’ is to dream about what I would do if I had the money to buy a house near you and to fly over frequently, so that we could come and stay near you and be a part of your lives for several months every year – and then also to buy a small house near ours and fly you here to visit and be a part of our lives for several more months every year! Perhaps we could also travel the world together, seeing London, Paris, Moscow, Rome, and Athens, Africa, Asia, India…there are so many interesting things to see in the world! It’s never likely to happen, but it’s a fun dream, and I would if I could.

If you were to play ‘what if’, what would you dream for yourself? Would you travel, in your imagination? Would you grow up to have a certain kind of adventure? Who would you be and what would you do?

‘What if’ can be a lot of fun as game, but it can also be used either a tool, or as a distraction. If you use it as a distraction, it can be like too much television – a way to spend a lot of time in fantasy so that you are too ‘busy’ to really accomplish much. That’s a sad way to live. If you use it as a tool, though, you can imagine yourself in all kinds of exciting adventures and try on different ways of seeing yourself. That can help you to decide how you want to live your life and to know what you need to do to be happy. That’s how I like to use the game.

When I was a young girl, everyone around me expected me to grow up, to marry young, and to have many children, whom I would stay at home to raise while my husband had a job and adventures ‘with the boys”. They thought it was sad that I was “too smart”, because they thought it would be harder for me to find a husband, and being smart would be wasted on a girl. It was expected that I would have many children (my mother was one of 11 children, my father was one of nine children, I was one of six children.) and would be too busy raising them and cooking and cleaning to do much else with my life.

I knew I wanted to be a Mamma, but I also knew that I wouldn’t be happy if that’s all I ever did. I imagined myself as a nurse, caring for babies in the hospital. I imagined myself as a cook on a cruise ship, seeing the world as I took care of the ship’s kitchen. I imagined myself in the Peace Corp, going to desperately poor parts of the world to help people to make better lives for themselves. I didn’t actually do any of those things – but I did learn to see myself as a person who does things and can make things happen. That is a skill that has served me well in my life—especially when things have been very hard. Playing ‘what if’ helped me to imagine new ways to help myself out of the difficulties and into a brand new life!

I would love to hear about your ‘what if’ ideas. Perhaps you could write to me, or draw a picture for me of the adventures you like to imagine for yourself!

My fondest love to you all as autumn creeps in. Enjoy the last days of warm weather and the first days back at school!

Be well, be happy, and be good!

Grandma Misti

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