Lessons from Les Miserables

It is #TheYearToBe___ forgiving, and this week I am in the wilds of Arizona visiting my brother and his sweet little family for the Oldest Little’s birthday. (So old! Aunt Lexi’s heart is breaking.)

My brother lives in the middle of nowhere, and, with air travel being the way it is (read: a big fat pain), we typically drive out. Which means I drive to Mom and Dad’s a day or so early and then we tackle the five- or six-hundred mile drive out there together. Sometimes, Mom and I stop in the mountains on the way there for a mini-vacation, sometimes we drive straight through.

This time, we drove straight through.

Optical proof of the middle-of-nowhere-ness. (But very pretty, no?)

Optical proof of the middle-of-nowhere-ness. (But very pretty, no?)

There are many features to the mother-daughter road trip that typically aren’t features of the family-road-trip (well, family in this case means me, my mom, and my dad). Many features of the mother-daughter road trip can end in tears: music selections; volume of music selections; wrestling for control of the phone charger; you’re not taking a picture while you’re driving Alexandra Haughton; maybe you shouldn’t do that while you’re driving, either, MOM; the fourth-consecutive playing of the MAMMA MIA soundtrack. All supervised by a sweet poodle sitting in his comfortable dog sling in the back seat.

Y'all. He's the sweetest dog-brother ever. 

Y'all. He's the sweetest dog-brother ever. 

Mom has a version of “I Dreamed a Dream” on her iPod that is not a Lexi-approved version. It’s a TERRIBLE arrangement—cuts out the best lines, is in a slightly weird key, and is rather unemotional. But she loves it. Maybe not as much as she loves the MAMMA MIA soundtrack, but she loves it. It’s important to her.

I have to try really really hard to keep mean-teenager-Lexi from shining through when it comes over the speakers. (It’s five or six hundred miles, one way, remember—there’s lots of opportunities for it to pop on shuffle.) And sometimes I fail and the petulant and tacky-britches teen-Lexi shines through.

I promise I have a point. Kind of. And it hinges on that one line from the song: I dreamed that God would be forgiving.

I won’t get all religious on you here, I promise. Your non/beliefs are yours to hold close to your heart. But the concept of forgiveness is something that I’ve thought a lot about lately. About self-forgiveness. How I tend to forgive others much more quickly than I (am able to) forgive myself. 

I often joke that I’m a recovering perfectionist. But it’s no joke. And those of you who are similarly inclined to be your own harshest critic will know what I mean here.

So maybe in this TheYearToBe___ week (and beyond), I’ll cut myself some slack. Will put away the magnifying mirror that makes the flaws ohmygravythat'shugeandenormously disgusting.

Let’s all try to remember that if other people who know and love us can grant compassion and forgiveness, then we are worthy of giving ourselves the same. 

Millionth time driving by this great American landmark--first time stopping for a proper photo-op. 

Millionth time driving by this great American landmark--first time stopping for a proper photo-op.