I admire my children. They know exactly who they are and they have qualms about expressing themselves. They never worry that they won’t be liked or accepted, they don’t feel that they are “supposed” to do or like or be interested in anything specifically. I don’t know exactly where this comes from. We have certainly tried as parents to nurture their interest and encourage independent thinking but this confidence in self just seems to be innate.
At my age I am just now discovering who I am. That sounds trite, I’m aware, but it’s true. For one reason or another, I’ve spent most of my life trying to fit in and never quite being able to do so. Even as adult, as a professional, I thought some things about me were supposed to change. Maybe when I started driving a minivan I was supposed to turn the radio down and stop listening to hard rock. When I became a mental health professional and later a behavior analyst I was supposed to dress like a professional, when I hung with my punk rock friends (one of the few places I ever felt even a little accepted) I wasn’t supposed to wear make-up or be positive and upbeat. I came into adulthood and parenthood pretty much at the same time and I entered both without a clear sense of self, without any real knowledge of who I was, what I liked or didn’t, what type of person I wanted to be. I was sure of somethings, I liked old cars and hockey, I needed music nearly as much as air, but that was pretty much it.
It is so easy to lose your identity as a parent, more so when your identity is shaky at the start. There are an unfortunate number of people who are more than happy to tell you just who you should be as a mother. The more mothers I spoke with the more lost I felt. I’ve written before about mom cliques, I never fit into just one of them and for way too long I thought t hat it was something that was wrong with me. I just wasn’t being a mom the way that I was supposed to be. It is exhausting wearing a mask all the time, trying to figure out where you fit.
In my last post I shared a pretty incredible experience that has had some unexpected and far reaching consequences. Since that event I have been actively looking for things that bring me joy, the things truly make me, me. We have such a finite time on this earth, I was reminded again today by the loss of a beloved pet, that all of the we have here is precious. Why do we waste a single minute on things that we hate just because we are “supposed” to. Now I’m not saying to boycott the housework because washing dishes doesn’t bring you joy, but I’m not turning turning down Nirvana next time I roll into the school parking lot either. I have started looking for things that bring me joy, that make be happy; the more I look the more I’m finding. I’ve noticed that since I started living this way, with gratitude and from a place of love and kindness that all those things I have don’t seem nearly as bad or as draining.
I’ve learned that I enjoy cooking and baking, I love to write and genuinely want to share it, even if it isn’t loved by all, I like being a fangirl, not just of Supernatural but Dr. Who, Sherlock, Star Wars and comics. I also like make-up and necklaces and earrings and see no reason why I can do my hair and make up to wear jeans and Deadpool shirt. I like listening to music too loud and I’m not really sorry about my potty mouth. I have also found that I’m a really positive person and that I enjoy helping others, I like to engage in small acts of kindness. I will continue to look for opportunities to volunteer and to help others, truly believing that I am making a difference and saving the world just a little bit at a time. One of my favorite quotes from the convention was from Kim Rhodes who said (and says frequently) “Love yourself loudly”. That’s what I am trying to do. I will be myself unapologetically and hope that I will find others to join my tribe.