Tuesday, November 29, 2011
This is me about the age of 3. Yes, I was born a blond. Good thing nature has a way of correcting itself. I was a quiet, timid kid who would do somersaults in the living room to entertain anyone who would watch. Some things nature can't correct. This is who I am. Although I stopped somersaulting in the living room a few years back now, I'm still the same goofy kid who wants to make you laugh, at my expense.
When I was about 5, I was in the backseat of the car with my sister. My mom was driving on Niagara Falls Boulevard when I leaned up against the car door, which wasn't shut properly. I tumbled out of the station wagon and landed on the hard asphalt in the middle of a busy thoroughfare. Obviously, this was in the days before seat belt laws. I picked myself up and starting running after the car. The one that wasn't stopping for me. My mom did have 5 other kids, but I'm pretty sure she wasn't trying to ditch me. Finally, my sister was able to convince her that I did indeed just fall out of a moving vehicle. She pulled into the mall parking lot and that was one of the few times I ever saw her cry. Miraculously, I was perfectly fine, except for my scraped up knees.
I’ve always been a tomboy and that was just the beginning of lots of scrapes and bruises to come. I loved being outside, riding my bike, skating, making worm farms, playing catch with my brothers and adventuring out past the perimeters safety. But even with my carefree ways, I always felt like a square peg trying to fit into a round hole. Because, I was also an extremely sensitive, self conscious kid. A total people pleaser.
But, I didn’t know how to make myself happy because I was always concerned about what everyone else thought. Or telling myself if they knew the real me, they probably wouldn’t like me. So, I also spent my days trying to shave off my square edges to conform to that round hole. Edges, you see, hurt people and caused conflict. Neither one appealed to me. No, it was my goal to make the world live in peace and harmony like a coke commercial. Cause I'm also a perfectionist. And an idealist too.
My twenties were spent in college and grad school, volunteering, working part-time jobs and full-time jobs and eventually becoming a professional in the social work field. Where I could do my do gooding. I was newly married, super busy and making a difference in the world. I didn't know it at the time, but I was still shaving the edges off to try to fit that elusive hole. I was so busy then, I didn't even know there was a hole to fill.
Then, in my thirties I became a mother to four amazing kids. I gladly gave up my career, because I wanted to be a mom more than anything. Days were spent changing diapers, playing at the park, reading stories, picking up little bits of play dough from every surface and watching them grow. This, no doubt, is the best, most challenging thing I have ever done. Even so, there's still a hole. Only now, I'm starting to see it, in all its roundness. And here’s me in all my squareness. And I realize that I didn’t know who I was because I shaved off so much of myself over the years.
To make things peaceful.
To give people what I think they want from me.
To not hurt anyone.
To make a difference.
To be perfect...
And in the process, I’ve whittled myself away.
Now, I'm 42. Looking back I can see it all so clearly now. What the f*&k have I been doing? I have shaved off some of the most important parts. The ones that may sting. The imperfect ones. The ones that make me, me. The ones that make me happy and fulfilled. You see all these years I felt like I was chasing that car in the middle of the boulevard and no matter how fast I ran, I just couldn't catch it.
And you know what? I'm tired! So, I'm done running after the car. Oh, I still want to get in that car. Don't get me wrong. But now, I might skip, dance, long jump, skate or saunter my way to it. What's the worst that can happen? I get bruised knees? I've already got 'em. Plus, now that I'm in my forties, my skin doesn't turn over as fast. So, it's a little thicker.
Wait. What the hell am I doing? You know what? I have my own damn car in the garage. And it's a sweet orange 1969 convertible Kharmann Ghia, my mid-life crisis car. Now why the hell would I want chase any other car?
I am square. The world is round. But at least I'm not a blond.