I was a cheerleader in middle school. The same popular boys were on the football and basketball teams. They entertained themselves by making up silly picture books about us cheerleaders, drawing caricatures of us to exaggerate traits only middle schoolers would choose to exaggerate to make a girl like them more. When it came to me, though, they decided they had nothing to say about me. Maybe because they were nice enough to not want to make me cry, but most likely because they really didn’t know what to say about me and/or really didn’t have much interest in getting me to like them.
That may be responsible for the complex I have wherein I believe people don’t remember me. So, if you’ve ever seen me in public and I haven’t approached you to say hi, it’s not you, it’s me. (Or was it?)
Fast forward an entire lifetime: here we are. What I know about myself is that I’m the kind of person that many people like to talk to. Not necessarily to have conversations with, but to talk aloud to and continue to talk aloud to. I like to let people talk, and I take pride in being a reliable depository for many secrets. Sometimes, though, I try to talk, but I find that the people who like to talk at me are not always the same people who will also listen.
I’m very grateful that I have found some listeners who are very good at sticking around.
Anyhow, here we are, at the end of my trip home. Despite the soul-sucking experience of getting here, the kid and I have had an absolutely amazing time with my family and friends. It has been such a treat to see everyone, and it has been pretty humbling to understand how magnificent my child is.
Is it a thing that new moms go through, feeling like their only purpose on this earth was to bring their child into it? Not that I’m complaining! My little sunshine has brought a bounty of sunshine to Indiana, fooling Mother Nature into believing it’s spring. Daffodils! Robins! Green grass! Tulip trees! Tan lines! And it’s only March. But…
But sometimes it’s very easy to let the little guy take over, to let the talkers take over, and to keep quietly to myself.
Perhaps it’s just part of the struggle of being a professionally paused, stay-at-home mom living overseas. Or maybe the struggle of those of us who choose to follow our spouse’s career. Who AM I? What am I about? What’s next? I never anticipated what motherhood would do to me. What the move to England would do to me. What any of it IS doing to me. What life does to any of us, as we deal with the things that the people we care about deal with. All I know is that who I am and what I’m about is how I deal with all of it. Choosing to not let it all “happen” to me, but instead choosing to live my life as I want in the face of it. Realizing that I’m only in control of how I react to it all.
Right now my voice is just the voice in my head telling me that I need to find my own. I wanted to be a cheerleader so badly because my very cool aunt was one, and I wanted to be like her. But it wasn’t the right fit for me. I want to like all the right music, decorate my home just right and read all the right things, because I want the cool kids to think I’m one of them. But often what I like is just wrong. There’s this new thing I’m just discovering about myself, that it’s much more satisfying to indulge myself with what I actually like rather than what I should like. (Gretchen Rubin ought to be proud.)
It annoys me that I’m just figuring this out at 31. So it is.
Please hope for plenty of quiet time for me to ponder this on our flight to London. I’m certainly not counting on it, after our last flight, but a girl can hope, can’t she? At least that’s what the voice in my head is telling me.