Reclaiming Pieces of My Childhood (and Mental Health)
What Happens When a Child Grows Up Too Fast?
As a child, there were times when I could not be the kid I was supposed to be.
As a result, I had a difficult time relating to other children and often felt left out.
I was also afraid of rejection and would not ask kids to play with me. I, more often than not, waited to be invited to play.
This left me wondering if there was something wrong that only others could see, like I had some horn growing out of my head that I was unaware of.
I felt isolated and, more than likely, alienated possible friend candidates, though I did manage to make some friends.
Imagination is a great ally
As a child, I had a vast imagination. Before I could read, I would pour over books and wonder what the words were, like a magical mystery. A whole new world opened up when at last I started reading.
It was my one true salvation at a young age.
Music is also another great love. I don't remember ever NOT enjoying music. My mother and I would dance to "Rockin' Robin."
I was completely amazed there was a song with my name in it!
Music and books have the ability to transport me to a different time and place, and it is these reasons that they became my first love.
I would also make up imaginary friends if the place I lived did not have many kids available. To be sure, these friends always agreed with me.
To this day, I still have a wild imagination. I can create images in my head on a whim.
Animated movies and their soundtracks are still a favorite
Cartoons on Saturday morning were something to look forward to back when there were only a few channels to choose from.
Disney movies from the 80s and 90s are an absolute favorite of mine. They still have the ability to make me smile and sing along. Many characters seemed to be without mothers or had an evil step-mother and wicked stepsisters.
Of course, the downside to Disney movies is that the young maiden must wait to be saved by a knight in shining armor. There certainly weren't any princesses saving themselves back then. I'm sure there were many a girl who had this impression indelibly inked on their impressionable minds.
Stuffed animals are still a favorite
Okay, I admit it... I'm over 40, and I still love stuffed animals. Not so much teddy bears, per se, unless they are either really cute or pretty.
I prefer dogs, and I'll even cuddle with them, which makes my son wonder if I'm just an overgrown kid. Especially when we argue over which one is his or mine...or arguing about their names.
Yes, I name them, so shoot me!
Drawing and coloring
My son likes to draw more than color, and I prefer the latter to the former. Plus they have awesome coloring books for "adults" these days.
And of course it's important to have an array of colors as well. I have amassed quite a few of both by now.
Self-care in the form of childish play
One of the great things about having kids is that you get to enjoy parts of your childhood again.
Since I didn't have a regular childhood, I sometimes expect too much from the age kids are at any given moment.
My son's dad will remind me, that it is in fact, completely normal.
I'd be lying to myself if I didn't admit on some level that I'm somewhat envious of children who have a "normal" childhood.
Learning to let go
I also know that as bad as I think I had it, I know, in no uncertain terms, that there are many who fared much worse fates than I did.
I have read many books by Cathy Glass and Casey Watson, who are foster parents in the UK. I am very grateful that I didn't fall prey to some of the atrocities that are mentioned in their books.
I know these stories are ultimately about resiliency.
We could all stand to learn a few things in that department and develop more empathy and compassion for our fellow human beings.
For those of you who may not be fans of Dr. Phil, please bear with me.
This is one quote of his that deeply resonated with me:
"Sometimes, we have to give to ourselves what we wish we had."
So I suppose that is what I'm doing.
It's a form of self-care that I feel is necessary to indulge in at times.
I'm certainly no longer embarrassed or ashamed of it.
Robin Klammer is a stay-at-home mom who loves nature and animals. She's currently working on some projects she hopes to publish in the near future. She's also former support staff in a public school and currently volunteers at her son's school. She's proud of her well-earned dark sense of humor.
You can find more of her writing on Medium.