Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Forty-Two



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 achieve.

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.

The End.


18 comments:

Janine said...

Brilliant learning more about you and where you are now. I so hear what you are saying...I know Im only turning 35 next year, but you really do start to wonder how you managed to prioritise the wrong things in your life as you get older, and then hopefully rectify it!

Thom Brown said...

Ditto to Janine - except the 35 part. When I get to 35, I'll reassess. This is a wonderful post. Thanks for sharing a bit of the story.

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Great post. And I'll bet you are raising kids who will proudly wear a few edges, too.

Sara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sara said...

Oops, didn't mean to delete my own comment. Anyway...You are one of the greatest squares I've ever met! Thank you for sharing a little more of you with us. Great post!

Deb Claxton said...

One of the best parts of getting older is that you no longer care what other people think. I'm an individual and proud of it. Keep being a square!

Rachel Howells said...

The whittling away that happens in youth works to shape the wisdom of later years. The trick isn’t to regret what you did or didn’t do, but to force yourself to every once in a while stop, step back, let the dust and debris settle for a moment and survey what you’ve accomplished thus far. Sure you’ll see imperfections, but if you allow yourself, you can also marvel at the beautiful, intricate sculpture you’ve become or are “becoming”, since we are always a work in progress. We need those moments, though, to stop and reflect because otherwise we might just whittle ourselves away to nothing at all.

Anyway, sorry for my blethering, but your writing is an inspiration! Gorgeous!

Rachel :-)

Leah Griffith said...

I would have taken you for a round peg trying to fit in a square hole because you seem anything but square *grin.
I love this piece, a sort of time travel, and what I love even more is that in the end you wind up intact...smart, pretty, and you even get the car;)

Holding onto ourselves is all we have. I've done some shaving too, and I still do from time to time, only now I catch myself, or a close friend catches me doing it and slaps me out of it.

Great post!

The Loerzels said...

Thank you guys! And Leah, a shaving support group sounds perfect maybe I should start my own...

my3littlebirds said...

Lovely. And how did I not know that you're a fellow social worker? We have a lot in common, you and I : )
Except for the minor detail of you living in Africa and all.

Barbara said...

Many happy returns and it will be getting better each year, for sure! Thanks for sharing your early years and being an online part of your life (hopefully we can change that one day). BTW I was also blond as a child and loved nothing better than "playing" with the cows in the stable on a holiday (not realising that the cow was a bull), no scraped knees but full of sh*t because he did not appreciate my affection (stupid thing).
I am not jumping any male animals any longer but I am not trying to be perfect either.

Lalia said...

I've never been a blonde, a natural one anyway (ha) but I certainly hear where you are coming from. I could have written that list myself from Trying to keep things peaceful to trying to be perfect. Getting into our 40's sure is interesting isn't it? I've learned more about myself since that 4 has been at the beginning of my age than I ever have. And PS hot pic!

Adriene said...

This is a perfect time to come into your own and know that you don't have to play the role for anybody. You don't have to chase cars but you're still a tough cookie!

Anna and Kim said...

Hey there. Happy Birthday! And just so you know, you rock with or without the cars.

You around this weekend? I'd love to call you....

Dangerous Linda said...

Happy Birthday! I have one next week so maybe we are both Sagittarius?

Although I never fell out of a moving vehicle, my parents did 'forget' me at the gas station once...

MuMuGB said...

Happy birthday Marie! I love your post. Strangely, I feel the same way. I used to be a people pleaser and I am now tired of trying to change me all the time. From now on, I will try to be myself -whatever that is!. xx

Zee said...

Random question - have you ever taken a Myers-Briggs test? I was reading about you and kept wondering "Why is this girl describing ME???" Wow... Seriously... It's... incredible.

(I'm INFJ according to Myers-Briggs, btw)

The Loerzels said...

Zee, ok, that's totally freaky! Yes, of course I'm an INFJ to the nth degree!

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