Lately, I've spent lots of commuting time lost in memories of my childhood. I recently discovered a new route to work, which eliminates lots of waiting in traffic, and takes me past two houses that I lived in while growing up.
My childhood memories are mostly of the not good variety. My parents divorced early, and lots of my memories involve moving around to new houses/new schools, various dramatic and emotional parental/custody disputes, stress about money/clothes/food, etc. Look, I wasn't burned with cigarettes or starved in a basement as a punishment, so I had it pretty good when compared to some of the crap that you hear about today. But it wasn't the best way to grow up, and I'm certain that my childhood has majorly influenced my decision to not ever have kids.
There are absolutely good memories. Some just smacked me out of the blue this morning, for no apparent reason. Growing up, my mom would late me stay up late, long past my bedtime on a school night for two reasons: to watch either The Sound of Music or The Wizard of Oz when they came on network TV. This was before the time of VCRs, and before cable, so this was really special. To this day, I love those movies. I can also remember the Christmas that I was seven, living in the one house that I drive past, the last year that I believed in Santa, waking up in the middle of the night, sneaking down the steps, and seeing our tree lit up, with piles of presents beneath it, and just getting this awesome, magical feeling that Santa had REALLY come! The memory of that feeling can still give me goose pimples.
Sometimes, I have to remind myself that my childhood was not all bad. Lots of times, I really wished that I could be sent to a boarding school, which I now understand was my way of wishing to not be involved in all of the drama, to escape, to pretend to be someone else. (This was long before my adolescent "rebellious" phase, when I think every kid just wants to get the hell out of their parents' home, and be able to live their own life. When I left for college, I never moved back.)
I am happy with the person that I have become. I know that the struggles of my childhood made me who I am. Sometimes, though, I wonder who I might have been, if I had the "perfect" life...