Last week I tried to be normal. I insisted hair be combed and clothes be matching, and made sure smiles were pasted on, so as to not make anyone uncomfortable. I tucked in the ragged edges of my soul and leaped high over my protective wall to face the picture perfect world that I have scowled at for so long… and I landed with a thud. No matter what face I put on, the truth is something on the inside has changed, and that is why I just don’t fit in.
But that was the day I also realized I really don’t want to.
These days instead of boasting coordinating shoes and hair ribbons, it is an achievement for my children to make it through the day without breaking down sobbing. Instead of performance in school or sports, it is a joy when they sneak out of bed for “one more hug and kiss.” It is an accomplishment to get up and make them breakfast instead of staying curled up in a ball under my covers.
My little people are my life, and I don’t ever want to take one moment with them for granted.
There came a day when it stopped mattering if pigtails were lopsided and if I ended up sharing my bed with three sets of sharp elbows by morning… because it matters more that I am still getting to experience these moments, no matter how imperfect.
Everything feels so shallow, so trivial compared to the depth of missing a life instead of a milestone. With my youngest, now those milestones are miracles no matter what age they may come. With each adorable new outfit he grows into, I am thinking about a lonely stack of unworn clothes tucked away in a closet stacked with memories. That is the new normal.
I decided not to fit in. I would rather wear my raw heart on my sleeve and scare away the shallow-minded, than become a facade playing pretend in real life. I want my children to remember that I cherished their winter-boot-summer-dress style, cheered at whatever age they reached a new goal, and accepted them whether they had a smiling-skidding-through-the-house-in-socks-day, or a hide-under-the-covers-cry-cause-I-miss-my-sister day.
I want them to know it’s ok to be real, because it’s too hard to pretend… that they don’t have to act like everything is ok, when they feel like the world is crumbling.
If I have learned anything from these past few years, it is that no moment should be taken for granted. I hope I can instill in my children to cherish the things that are eternal.