Sunday, August 10th, 2008 • No Comments on Breaking Glass (5w1d)
Last night, despite being exhausted, I stayed up until 1 AM reading Jeannette Walls’ The Glass Castle. It was recommended to me at least a year ago, but I put off reading it because of the topic—a dysfunctional family. When you come from one, you find reading about someone else’s less than entertaining. Finally, after running across the book on a couple of occasions recently, I decided I needed to read it. I read about a third of it on Friday and finished it last night.
Walls’ family dysfunction is a bit more glamorous than most. Sure, there are the usual hallmarks of a troubled family—alcoholism, poverty and what surely must have been mental illness—but there were also the adventures that took them across the country. Walls writes in a straightforward way without pointing fingers. The book is dedicated to her family, including her parents.
I found myself hating her mother and father. How dare they? I kept asking myself. How dare they risk their children’s lives, health and safety for their own whims? How dare they be so irresponsible with money? But Walls writes of her parents with love and there is forgiveness in her voice. I suppose I can understand that, to a point. She has made a very successful life for herself and surely the strength she gained from surviving a childhood spent in abject poverty living with parents who were unbalanced (though she would likely call them free spirits) is partially responsible for the person she has become. Still, I mourn the loss of her childhood and that of her siblings, who suffered along with her with there was no need to suffer at all. I am not forgiving.
I want to hope the shadow of my own childhood won’t fall on my child. I’ll be a better parent, right? I’ll be more loving and caring, more supportive. I’ll listen instead of yell. I’ll hug instead of ignoring. I’ll say “I love you.” I won’t take my own issues and dysfunctions and fears and disappointments out on my kid. I won’t.