I love hearing stories about my parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles when they were younger. It's a sense of connection that creates an even strong bond amongst our family, and I know we aren't the only ones - the wee ones love hearing stories about "Mickey the Dickens" and other characters, too. My parents tend to be the major story tellers right now, but I know that will change and I will be the one someday.
For now, I enjoy listening to the stories of how my parents were once like me. They were young and silly and kids and had adventures and troubles and giggles and more. When we hear new stories, there's always something we learn about personalities that we hadn't known before - something that of course sets of the desire to know more and explore this little tidbit further.
My dad was once engaged before my mom. In fact, he was engaged when he met my mom. Or maybe when he started dating her. I don't really know because I heard those details once upon a time, and everyone's clammed up since. I don't know any of the details, and to me it sounds like it could be such a romantic story. Boy thought he was in love but realized Girl was the one for him, and nothing could stand in the way of their happy ever after. Maybe. But I don't know.
And of course the less anyone will speak the more I want to know. It isn't because I would be judging them, but instead because it provides a window into their personalities. How did they really meet? What was their dating relationship like? Why did he decide to marry her? What was it about my mom - and my dad - that was so special? I'll probably never know, and a part of me is sad about that.
At the same time, there are parts of my life that I'm just as happy if the wee ones were to never know. I'm ok not having them know about the night before my last college final first quarter my freshman year. Do they need to know my entire dating history? Do I want them to know about how my husband started drinking at the age of 12? Or that he drove his then girlfriend home from some party and she was so drunk he just rolled her onto the lawn? Ummm no.
That said, some of those stories would probably be great learning lessons for the wee ones. "What not to do when" type situations that could engender some really poignant conversations. Or maybe there are things we just want to keep to ourselves for other reasons. Family history is important to me, knowing who the people are - not just their names and where they were born and how they're related to me.
Where do you fall? Do you want to know all the little tidbits that make your relatives into real people, or do you fall into the camp of limiting what information you share about yourself?
In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of "The Joy of Hearing Heartbeats" by Jan-Philip Sendker as part of the From Left To Write book club where we write posts inspired by the book rather than traditional book reviews. I was not compensated for writing this post, and all opinions remain my own.