07 August 2012

My Own Understanding of What Happened

Why did we leave Poland?  My older daughter asked me this question a few times.  I still don't know what to tell her.  The facts are so many, so overwhelming, so double sided. 

In the end, all that has ever rung true for me is this:  Here I am, Polish born raised and living in Amerika, with two beautiful daughters who I love.  And, really, that's the most important fact.  My daughters. 

I hope one day they understand what I mean when I hug them and say "Life is a complicated, strange thing.  And it led me to where I needed to be so that I could be sitting here hugging you.  That's all that matters, really."

Other subtle facts float by on the edges.  I have an American accent, not a Polish one.  My kids are Polish-American, not just Polish, not just American.  We are the bridge between the two worlds, as there always is in every American family.  At some point in all of American family history, there is a bridge between the two worlds.

There is nothing wrong with preferring a snack of pickles over potato chips, or loving barbecue pulled pork, or not knowing what it means to stand in line for hours for food.  There is nothing wrong with continued contact with the family left behind.  There is nothing wrong with speaking English, the third language of a person's life, better than their mother language. 

So, how to answer my daughter's question?  I don't know.  And part of it comes from the fact that, in order for my parents to answer it, they will have to look back on that time and embrace homesickness as well as the feeling they had watching the news, seeing with their eyes what was happening, and then snuggling their little baby girl after standing in line for food.  They can't answer it all the way, nor can I.

So, I started looking for videos I could save to show my kids later in life to explain.  I found this one.  I'm not sure if I should share it.  I don't fully understand the facts, whether it was really like this, I'm no historian, no sociologist, no diplomat, no expert.  I'm just a Mama.  That's enough.

To those of you who remember this time, or understand it, what do you think of this video?  Does anyone else struggle with how to answer this question when your children ask?

Na razie...


Gala said...

I was the child asking that question, but over 40 years ago. My parents always said it was to build a better life. That if you worked hard, you could accomplish so much in the US. I never really needed/wanted anymore information. Not that I wasn't interested in life in Poland or Russia (where my parents were originally from). The obvious love they had for both of those countries was self evident, but their love for the US was there too.
I honestly think they didn't really agonize over it. It took alot for them to be able to get here, and they never looked back.

Rachel said...

It's complicated being from two places. When we are in the one homeland, my kids ask after the other homeland (and vice versa). It's difficult for them to understand why there are two, but ultimately I think it makes the life experience richer and more interesting...I hope they feel that way as they grow up anyway!