Living Your Life with Your Legacy in Mind, No Matter What Your Past Holds

valeriedenisephotos9of64I don’t share much about my childhood. It’s sometimes a relief to have such a distracting present-_Oh, you’re a mom of five?! What! _-this is how many conversations go, and I don’t mind the diversion.

But there’s a whole childhood resting under the hood of this (seemingly) well oiled machine. It impacts many of my choices, how words and actions affect me, my work and my relationships. It affects how I hear things, how I normalize things, and what causes me stress. No matter if you come from a great childhood or an extremely dysfunctional one like me, our stories effect our present, whether we like it or not. Our childhood can either shadow or haunt us-our perspective is what creates its form.

valeriedenisephotos32of64I wish there was a way to erase every painful memory that creeps in as I go through my days. But it’s impossible. And, honestly…(speaking to myself here)…without the pain of the past, the beauty of the present lacks its luster. I’m able to feel love and joy deeply because I understand deep, deep sorrow and disappointment. I’m able to celebrate today, because I remember my aches from yesterday.

valeriedenisephotos34of64For me, majority of my pain comes from my mom. Abusive, neglectful, cruel…She was all of these and more. I was, I am, her only daughter, and she hates me (like, literally, she hates me. She’s told me multiple times).

And there are days where this reality sinks in and hits me hard-even though I haven’t lived with her since I was sixteen, nearly twelve years ago. Even though I have another person I joyfully call mom, and have been raised by the most wonderful family who have stepped into fill that void. There are nights where my baby has a scary high fever or I just feel alone in this whole mom thing, and, the truth is, I want my mom. I want my _mom. But she’s not capable of being the mom I need or want. _She can’t be my mom.

_valeriedenisephotos33of64_But here’s the beautiful thing that has changed that grim truth into something astounding…my daughters will never go at it alone. I get to answer those middle of the night calls when their baby is sick. I get to sit with them when they’re in the thick of break ups and friend drama and all that comes with growing into your own…Some parents dread those years. I see it as a privilege to be for them what my mom could never be for me. I get to tell them they’re worth it, they’re beautiful, they’re lovely and just plain great. I _get to. _I get to tell them waiting for a good man is so worth it because, I mean, look at the dad they have. He was worth the wait.

valeriedenisephotos10of64I get to take them to fun places for them, instead of convincing them bars are fun for them too and they should learn to enjoy it (welcome to my childhood, everybody). I get to listen to my kids’ laughter and giggles with sober ears and a sober mind. I get to store memories up with them every single day. Even the simplest are worth embracing. Above all, I get to pass on this new mentality to them. There was a path paved for me, and it didn’t include the love of a good man, a career I thrive in, or healthy kids. No-what was spoken over me, what I came to believe from the legacy before me, was a road of pain.valeriedenisephotos37of64

In twenty years, my kids and I (I pray) will be sitting together at Christmas, bragging about all the badass and rad stuff they’re up to to change the world we live in. And I get to well up with the pride that I was a part of that. 

And that, my friends, is a legacy I’m excited to work towards.

Photos by Valerie Denise featuring Nisolo and bracelet by Dear Loves Co. 


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