The Stories we tell

I have loved novels since I read my first chapter book, The Phantom Tollbooth, at age 7.  I was hooked.  I read constantly, so much my mom actually took my book away one day to make me go do something else.

I majored in English in college, and loved delving into novels, analyzing and writing about them.  Stories are art; they express emotion and experience that we can’t otherwise explain.  And they allow us to distance ourselves a bit from reality to gain perspective.

Life is about the stories we tell ourselves.  Like a novel, we analyze and interpret everything that happens to us.  This blog is so valuable to me because I am writing my own story.  I CHOOSE to tell my story my way.  Although it isn’t fiction, it is still a story, that I write and voice.  It keeps my sense of humor in the challenges of parenting.  When I am going through something with my children, I think about how it will make a good story for my blog…and I write a funny story.  Is my life always funny and cute and I’m always appreciating it all?  Of course not.  But I choose to make my story one of joy and laughter.  When I look back at raising my young children, this is the story I’m reading.  I’m forgetting the tears, sleeplessness, and tantrums.  I’m remembering the goofy fun.  Life is the stories we choose to tell.

Adrian’s birth was one of the most difficult things I’ve gone through, but I have nothing but good memories of it.  You can read about it here  and here and here.  When I look back at Adrian’s early weeks, I remember God’s provision for our family.  I remember the overwhelming support of my parents, aunt and uncle, and friends.  I remember how wonderfully Eric took care of me and Adrian.  I remember the breast milk donated for my baby.  I remember Adrian’s strength, and I feel amazed at the wonderful, loving boy he is today.

The rest–the part where I broke my tailbone in delivery and was in so much agony I couldn’t walk, or the part where my breasts were so engorged I just cried and cried, or the part where I kept vomiting because of the narcotics to try to control my pain–I’m not telling that part.  That’s not the story I want to tell.  I am telling a story of triumph and love.

Last year, I experienced another of the most difficult times of my life when my mother was very ill.  It’s a story where bad things happened, and good intentioned people inside our family and outside it made mistakes.  These mistakes resulted in significant harm to my mother.  But that’s not the story I’m telling.  I am going to tell a story about love, courage, and sacrifice.  And that’s true, just like all the bad things are true.  I wrote about that experience as a fiction, here.   I still think that’s the best way to tell the story–which still feels raw–with the distance of fiction.  When I look back, that’s the story I remember.

This thanksgiving, I am very thankful for my mother and her health.  I thought I would lose her last year, but this year she is happy and healthy.  My admiration for my father has only grown as I have witnessed the selfless love he has for my mother.

Every story has good guys and bad guys; conflict, sorrow, pain.  But in the stories we love, the good guys overcome evil, courageously fight for what’s right, and live happily ever after.   That’s the story I will be telling.


About jennyvogan

Author of "Stephen's Mom," a blog documenting the funny, crazy life of raising four boys while keeping my day job as an ultrasound tech.
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