Monday, June 6, 2016

Conversations with a 7-year-old

[Written April 30; not finished & published until now.  Because that's how it happens sometimes.]

This morning the kids slept in.  Which is to say, when I got up at 7:30 this morning (after actually getting enough sleep last night, for a change!), they were still snoozing.  I got a shower without interruption and got dressed, still without interruption.  The baskets of clean laundry which contained the socks I wanted to wear were in the kids' room, though.  When I walked in to get them, I saw Rowan lying in his bed, eyes wide open, looking peaceful.

"Good morning, Mama," he said.  

"You look quite comfy," I remarked.

"Yes," he said.  "Will you snuggle me for a while?"

I needed to work on finances.  I needed to have breakfast.  I needed to figure out the logistics of registering him for school today.  I looked at that happy face, just wanting some time with ME, and said, "Sure for a minute." It was much longer than a minute, of course.  We lay snuggled together and talked about our fun day yesterday, going to a children's museum and his cousins' house.  His eldest brother, Noah, turned twenty yesterday (!), and dyed his hair blue to celebrate.  

Rowan and I talked for quite a while before I asked, "So, what do you think you'd like to be when you grow up?"  

He thought for a while, then asked, "Do the people who work at fairs get to go on the rides?"

 I laughed.  "Well, not while they're working, but maybe after hours."

He thought again for a while, then said, "You know, Mama, when I grow up, I think I'd just like to be me." 

To be me.   Oh, that struck me right in the heart.  How many of us truly just want to be ourselves?  I mean, we talk about it all the time.  "Be true to yourself."  "Be the best YOU you can be."  "Just be yourself."  But how many of us really like ourselves well enough that that is our chief aspiration?   

I know there are parts of me that I really, truly don't like.  There are parts I like, too.  I am (mostly) kind.  I am (mostly) generous.  I am (mostly) thoughtful.  I am (mostly) honest.  But that honesty, that tends to get me in trouble.  Because the thing is, I like to be absolutely, perfectly clear about what I'm saying, with whomever I am conversing.  Sometimes that means over-explaining things.  Sometimes that means saying too much.  One can be honest without spilling everything in one's mind.  So then I try to backtrack or conceal, and I hate that, because that feels like deception.   

I want to just be comfortable being myself -- a bit too open, loving people fully and freely, speaking my thoughts without apology, saying what needs to be said without retracting it if it doesn't meet with the reception I hoped for.  I want to say what I think without worrying what other people think about my words.  I want to be considerate of other people's viewpoints without conceding my own. I want to accept that I am human, I am flawed, I make mistakes, and that's okay.  Making a mistake (or a whole heap of them) is not the end of the world.  Truly.   I want to be so confident in myself that others who are struggling can look at me and say, "If she can do it in her imperfect state, so can I."  

So can I!  I am trying to find the way to being authentic, being true to myself, to be the best ME I can be.  For now I'm here, putting one foot in front of the other, plodding along and trying to stay upright.  And that's okay.   

I squeezed Rowan a little tighter and said, "You know, Rowan, I think being yourself is the very best thing you can be."