Monday, January 27, 2014

A Mom's Lesson to her Unbrushed Princess

We don’t brush Hollie’s hair on Sundays. Well, not if we can help it.

Every weekday morning after she’s prodded from bed, stuffed into clothing, and dragged into the hallway, Hollie is propped up at the bathroom sink for a teeth scrub and a hair styling.

She hates this.

“I’m sooooooo tired!” she wails.

“You’re hurting me!” she grouses.

“Oowww! MOOOOOM!”

There are no witnesses to this nonsense except me and someday these mornings will be long gone and I’ll get nostalgic thinking of them. But as they’re happening, I feel like Eleanor Bear in Brave.

“Och, you’re acting like a child!”

Of course she is.

I like to let her be one as much as I can. I like to let her be petulant and reluctant and pouty and emotional as much as I can.

There will come a time when she must control these emotions. When she must conceal her frustration, her annoyance, her anger. 

There will come a time when she will be so busy being polite that she’ll forget to be herself.

She may one day catch herself in that moment and think, “How have I become the silly woman who smiles and nods while I’m screaming inside?”

It’s taken me a long time to define the boundaries between being myself and being someone others find acceptable. For years I lived under the mantra of “Be Yourself,” and believed that in all things, myself was good enough.

Then someone told me it wasn’t.

And I believed that person.

I know there will come a day when Hollie thinks being herself isn’t enough. I hope she’ll ask me about it. I hope she’ll say, “Mom, what should I do?”

So that I can say, “You’re more than enough. You’re amazing. You’re brilliant. You’re lovely. If other people don’t like you for who you are, that’s their own problem.”

Because, really, the very best lesson I can teach her is to have the grit to persevere. She shouldn’t kneel before adversity and hope to be blessed by others’ power. She should stand tall, take aim, and loose another arrow. 

Aye, keep shooting until the Self-Doubt and Insecurity are vanquished. 

On Sundays, she gets just a little taste of that. She gets to be a ragamuffin: tangled, tousled, knotty, and free. She gets to be herself in all her untamed glory.

It’s as much a break for her as it is for me. One day a week I don’t have to hold her down and rip the brush through the knots. One day a week where I have to forget about what others might think of the ragamuffin we’ve brought to Applebees or to Publix.

One day a week when I have to remind myself that it’s no one else’s damn business why she looks like a disaster.

Fuck them.

One day a week that I get to remember when I got my tattoos, when I pierced my tongue, when I started cussing in front of grown-ups and stopped pretending to have a faith I don’t.

I know she’s a child. I know it’s my job to teach her how to behave around others. I also know that she’s learning that. Really. 

I get manners. I get polite company. I get that she needs to be able to move among society and that people’s opinions of her will largely impact how successfully she is able to do that.

This un-brushed hair thing is a phase, like wearing two different shoes was. She’s outgrown that and she’ll outgrow this. But I let her wear a boot and a sandal. A flip flop and a sneaker. A sparkly red shoe and a sparkly black shoe because those small freedoms built her confidence.

She’ll match her clothing someday.

She’ll brush her hair.

She’s a child now but she will not always be.

If I have any say in it, though, she’ll always be original, confident, and willing to be herself even when others disapprove.

Just so long as she does not place her weapons on the table.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Going the Distance

We ran 4.5 miles on Sunday, my younger sister and I. We left my driveway, headed East and followed the main roads out of the neighborhood. 

I’m much slower than she but she stayed with me anyway. We chatted a little which is unusual for both of us as we typically run solo.

I told her about our Lean In Columbia group, who had joined, what our plans were, and how excited I am about the future.

We crossed over the community road and into another neighborhood where we ran the back side of the top loop and then down into the bottom loop and made the full circle.

We talked about our running habits, what we like about running, how we motivate ourselves, how we keep warm.

At the bottom of the first big ascent I stopped to find inspirational music. I chose the Rocky song "Going the Distance."

We made it to the top and I said, “I feel lazy today. I really don’t want to run anymore.”

We were in mile three. We kept the pace. At the stop sign we turned right and took the long way home.

“Go that way,” I said, “Just because I don’t want to run doesn’t mean I’m going to stop.”

Monday, January 20, 2014

Bell Jars and Recovery

I spent yesterday in the Bell Jar.
Photo by Camel & Yak via Pinterest

Wednesday morning Charlie left early for Charlotte and I stayed in bed until Hollie came in to wake me. It was 9:20. She had to leave for school by 9:40.

When one begins the day that far behind, playing catch up is futile.

So I crawled back in bed and stayed there.

What my day in the Bell Jar taught me is that nothing makes us immune from low points.

Not education, not optimism, not even ambition. Low points come. Worries wash over us and knock us down and sometimes it’s easier to just stay down for a day and regroup.

So now I’m all regrouped and I have a plan to make a plan.

I said to myself, “I’m a writer. I should write. That’ll get me outta this.”

I didn’t worry about what to write or where I would put it. I just told myself to write.

Later I’ll run. Not worried about distance or time. Just run.

I have faith that if I keep doing what I do, eventually the effort will equate to progress.

It’s the not doing anything that keeps us in the Bell Jar.

So do something resembling anything of value. We’ll worry about how to get paid for it later.

Ever had a Bell Jar day?

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