Everything important in life I learned before I was six.
My Mom and I started off on our own. She was a single mom until I was six. My Dad was a little on the wild side, to put it mildly. She figured that the best place for him was away from us. At nineteen years old she bundled me up and ran away to safety.
I don't have many memories about those first six years - just vignettes and snapshots that are random and out of sequence. When I think about those years I get the picture of Christopher Robin in a rain jacket skipping through mud puddles.
‘One, two, buckle my shoe’
We lived with my Grandparents for awhile. Then we got a place on Park Avenue. That's the Park Avenue in Kelowna, B.C., Canada not Park Avenue, New York, N.Y., USA. There are probably no two points on the Earth farther apart than the two Park Avenues.
Mom worked. I remember a pizza restaurant called the Colony. The memory of this place is the clearest of my first six years. I remember the name of the restaurant, how my mom looked, the smells and the tastes - especially the taste of pizza. Every payday Friday we would have a mushroom and olive pizza. We were vegetarians. I thought everyone was. In the 60's many were.
To this day I associate mushrooms and olives with being safe and happy.
This feeling of safety started to fade when I was six. My mom remarried and I had two half sisters in rapid succession. I was a sensitive kid and I didn't adapt very well. I didn't feel like I fit and I didn't have that feeling of safety any more.
I spent a decade or so chasing my tail and trying to fit in. I all but erased the simple lessons of my first six years.
I was unhappy and unsafe.
I am happy to report my eventual return to happy and safe. The circle is complete. Today these feelings come from within and are supported by a loving wife and three daughters. There is no longer any question of where I fit. Not only am I safe but I now provide safety to others.
Last night my six-year-old wanted to sleep with me. She wanted to feel safe. Sprawled diagonally across my bed, her blanket had fallen off and she'd dropped her stuffy. I fixed her blanket and realised it was the wrong stuffy. I went to her room and got the right one.
In that moment, as she squeezed her stuffy and sunk a little deeper into the pillow, she knew what safe and happy felt like. She didn't know how or why and it didn't matter. It was part of her now. It would kick in when she needed it.
Before the complications and compound complications love was simple, not something that had to be worked on. My Mom taught me all I ever needed to know about love and life in my first six years. She taught me a lifetime of value before either of us ever found out about the things we didn't know.
"One, two, buckle my shoe ..."
Happy Mother's Week.