I was thinking about my childhood, and how I learned a lot of things that weren't true. Then I spent my youth wrestling with those things, peeling them away from me, like I'd been stuck in a web.
I get afraid my girls will have troubles with living, like I did.
Kurt and I stayed up late the other night, talking about being a high school kid and coming home tripping, and we laughed about hearing someone calling our name in the hallway, peeking our heads out and saying, "Yes?" We laughed about listening to Pink Floyd's Animals and smoking out of our bedroom windows. About introspective collapse. The time I looked in the mirror and realized I was an asshole, dressed up like an asshole who had no idea how to be a human being.
How smart we were, because I was right. I had no idea how to be a person.
We talked about how sometimes teachers would take us aside and say, "You're really good at writing." They didn't do that because we were the best writers these teachers had ever seen. They took us aside to encourage us, because they saw that we were failing. They could see that we needed encouragement about something, because we felt like we were nothing.
We never would have admitted it at the time, but it mattered that somebody did that. It meant something that an adult took me aside and said, "I see you, and appreciate something you're doing." I'm 33 years old, and I can still remember specific times from elementary school and junior high school where a teacher told me I was good at something.
Isn't it weird that something somebody told me when I was eight years old, majorly influenced what I chose to pursue and who I became, as a person? It's mind-blowing that if a teacher hadn't noticed that I needed to feel good at something, I might not be who I am.
I get worried sometimes about sending my girls out into the world. I'm worried that other people will have too much say in who they become.
If you think about it, most people live their whole lives not really getting decide how to spend their time or who to be. The other day, I was talking to my mom and she said that she'd like to lose twenty pounds by the date of my brother's wedding. It made me realize that there isn't a magical age where people are just happy with themselves. She'll be seventy, and still trying to be thinner and prettier and younger.
We don't trust that people will love us, no matter what we choose. We think that the conditions of people's love are something that they're not. People will love us no matter what we weigh, but they might be disappointed that we never learned how to be happy, or love ourselves. What if we were happy and healthy and capable? Imagine how much love we'd have, then. We don't make any of our own choices.
I'm trying to ask myself what I really want to be, and what part of my goals are tied up in trying to get people to approve of me. I'm trying to figure out why I want the things I want.
I just want to be happy, and I want to be able to handle things. I think that might involve being strong and healthy. It might involve not being tired. It might involve pursuing things that make me feel talented and powerful. It definitely involves being a good mom and a better partner. (I sort of feel like no matter how hard I try, I could never really be a GOOD partner, but really? If I was happy and capable, I would be a good person to be in a partnership with.)
Pursuing actual happiness, the things that make me feel good, will enable me to be better at caring for everybody else. When I put off working out and writing and hiking in the woods and riding my bike, when I eat shitty food and stay inside all day cleaning and arranging things because I think that it will make me a better mom, I'm not doing anybody any favors. My kids don't give a shit about whether I get to the laundry today or not.
I am only a good mom when I am happy and strong and awake and interested and healthy. Putting off any of those things because I believe that I should care and clean and arrange and BE A NORMAL PERSON, that it will make me a better mom if I deny all of my SELFISH desires to be happy, just makes me a shittier, more selfish, mom and a terrible person to be around.
Seeking out the things that actually make me happy, (and it's not a clean kitchen floor and Zumba class, or whatever,) and showing my kids how to pursue the things they really want in life, is the best thing I can do for them, as a mom. Being happy and fun to be around and good at what I do is the best way I can love my kids.
I don't want to be seventy years old and still trying to be thinner. I want to be seventy years old and able to say that I've lived a happy life, that I'm still living a happy life, and that my children are happy, too.