Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Just More Me

When I was little, I wanted to be a million things:

· A Harlem Globetrotter- My best friend in kindergarten T, convinced me that we could go out for the team together. We knew our inclusion on the team would be ground breaking, as we would be the first girls on the team, but I don’t think either of us considered that race might also be a problem for me.

· An Astronaut- Once T and I figured out that we were dreadfully uncoordinated; we set our sights a little lower- outerspace! So we joined Young Astronauts and dreamed our dreams.

· A veterinarian/Private Eye- One day, C, G, M and I were discussing our futures. We were faced with indecision and decided that there was no reason we couldn’t be two things: one during the day and one at night. We hated bedtime, anyways!

· An Actress- In sixth grade I had to give a speech about my idol. I chose Kirsty Alley because she was SOO beautiful! My mom made persuaded me change my idol. She suggested Sandra Day O’Connor and provided some pretty convincing arguments. I gave in, but just for the speech! I was still going to be an actress, just like Kirsty Alley.

· An Olympic pole dancer (yup!)- One year, C and I were watching Olympic gymnastics. We felt inspired to create our “own” art form. So, we swung ourselves around the utility pole in my parents’ basement. We worked for hours to perfect our routine to a St. Elmo’s Fire record (yes, record). We were convinced that if we could only get an Olympic scout to come watch us, they would realize that pole dancing just had to be part of the next Olympics.

I love that I remember those things so clearly because it gives me an insight into the mind I once had; the one that really, truly believed that anything was possible. The one that was blissfully ignorant of the ways of the world.

Somewhere along the way, when I was 16 or so, I decided that I wanted to be: a mom. I couldn’t think of a single profession that seemed more rewarding than motherhood. I’m sure that my parents were wondering what they’d done wrong thrilled with that idea! Just what every teenager’s parents want to hear, right? I think they found some solace in my plan to “be a smart mom”, which was my way of telling them not to worry; I was still going to college.

And so I did. To make a looong story short: I went to college. I got married. I worked as an EFL teacher and as an academic coordinator. Each step provided various levels of fulfillment. Then, the mommy bug bit and Ely was born. As it turns out, I was right about this mommy thing. It’s awesome.

Newsweek’s Anna Quindlen, reflecting on her experience as a mother, said:

I wound up with the three people I like best in the world, who have done more than anyone to excavate my essential humanity.

That is exactly what I’ve experienced since Ely’s become part of our life. It’s partially because I have time to do the things that make me feel more like me. It’s also that I feel more connected to humanity at large.

I used to read a lot of non-fiction books about war, genocide, abuse, poverty, etc. Even though my soul wrenched, I could remove myself enough from the subjects to read the books as part of my quest for knowledge. These days, the evening news can bring me to tears and forget about violence in a movie. I just can’t handle it.

The problem is twofold: First, I see everyone, aggressor and victim, as someone’s baby. Second, I just want a better world for Ely. It’s a combination of those two things that make me more acutely aware of how my actions affect others.

I want a world where people don’t purposely hurt one another. I want a world where people look for beauty in each other and the world around them; where Ely can be oblivious to skin color and socio-economic status and see people for what they are: people. I want a world that genuinely loves her and every other mother’s baby, with total acceptance. I admit it; I want a utopia, complete and utter utopia.

I can’t change what really goes on out there, but change starts here at home. Conscious of this, I find myself living with a new peace, longing for harmony in my dealings with others: A little less me, a little more world/community/family. It’s refreshing.

I hope this peace remains with me at least through Ely’s childhood. I hope that she sees it modeled and that she learns to create it for herself. If she can manage that, anything IS possible.

Who knew that being a mom, I’d end up actually being a million things? So, I’m not a pole dancer, an actress or a singer (I think we can all agree that’s a good thing!) But, I am a peacemaker, a teacher, an administrative assistant, a pillow, a milk cow source of nutrition, a chef, a maid. Most importantly, I’m just more me.

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