Sometimes I love the little synchronicities that life gently arranges. It happens that my little girl twin was learning to crawl at the same time that Wicked was in town. Where is the synchronicity in that, you ask? Stay tuned…
Have you ever watched a child learn to crawl? It is the most amazing thing. Think about it, we don’t TEACH them to crawl, and even though we do crawl around a little bit to get on their level, that’s not our preferred mode of travel, so it’s not like they are learning from example. Somewhere deep within them they KNOW that crawling is what comes next, even though they don’t quite know intellectually exactly what they are trying to do. The process took my daughter a couple of weeks. It was the typical process, the getting on the hands and knees, the rocking, the unintentional launch forward, the face plants, the accidental movement, and then finally… TA-DA, she was crawling. All the while, you could just see the wheels spinning behind her eyes, knowing she wanted to accomplish something, but not quite sure exactly what it was. There was joy, then frustration, some despair, and ultimately achievement and celebration! All the elements of a great story, almost Shakespearian, in fact.
Really, I know it is just nature. It’s just the way we grow and change. Everyone does it, there’s nothing special or unique about it, but it’s fascinating! I hope to never be dull to the miracles of growth. Perhaps I am aware that I only have one more shot at this… watching a child learn to crawl (our boy twin is bringing up the rear on the crawling thing. Truth be told, I’m slightly relieved at his lack of interest in being entirely mobile). Maybe that’s why I’m feeling so sentimental and “deep” about it, but it really got me thinking about my life.
One Friday evening, in the midst of my little lady’s self-directed crawling lesson, we left the kids at home with our (amazing, brave, and unflappable) babysitter so Mr. Lindstrom and I could enjoy a night out. I was fully aware that we could return that evening to the news that our little girl was a full-fledged crawler, one of the many things my children will accomplish in my absence, and I’m really okay with that. We were going to see Wicked for the first time. I purposely avoided learning too much of the music or understanding too much of the story, because I wanted to be stunned. Indeed, I was. Wow.
I am certain that the themes of feeling misunderstood and ill defined are relatable to everyone (specifically women), and this is a musical with two strong female leads. All that said the real WOW factor occurs at the close of the first act, when the “Wicked” Witch literally defies gravity. Where logic tells her it is impossible, she chooses not to accept the limits, she grabs her broom, and she flies! I cried, because I felt simultaneously inspired and sad.
My daughter was at home defying gravity (okay, learning to crawl), but moving herself forward, refusing to be slowed down by mistakes or missteps, and I have been cheering on her tenacity and gumption, and marveling at it. INSPIRED! And where am I moving myself forward, refusing to be slowed down by mistakes or missteps with tenacity and gumption? SAD.
As babies, the accomplishments happen so quickly, and they are so noticeable. They are sitting, they are crawling, they are walking, they are climbing, they are talking… etc. etc. They get a little older, they are reading, they are spelling, they are doing math, and so on. It happens so quickly, and we can measure it against what they were doing just months before. As an adult, we are still growing, but it seems slower going, and even more difficult to measure.
I can’t imagine that I’m the only mom that feels like this (or maybe I am just praying that I’m not a lone voice in the wilderness), and perhaps it’s a function of the fact that my kids are still quite small, but most of the time, I feel like I’m just trying to keep up. I feel conflicted, because on the one hand, my dream has always been to be a mommy, and I’m doing it, and trying every day (and sometimes succeeding) to do it well – this is no small thing. On the other hand, at one time in my life, I had so many other dreams, too, and those are kind of getting dusty in a closet somewhere. I have faint memories of them sometimes, but logic keeps stuffing them back down, because right now, my job, responsibility, and privilege is these little people that I made.
I am struggling with this a lot right now, and feel kind of vulnerable now that I’ve shared it. It’s a blow to the good ol’ self-esteem – this feeling of being sort of lost and simultaneously so clear. What I mean is that I cannot downplay the work that I do as a mother. I have always said, and will continue to sound like a broken record when I say again, being a mom is the most important work I will ever do. I am clear about that. However, I don’t think that it’s the ONLY work I ever wanted to do, and at times, I feel like my identity is so wrapped up in it, that it is the only work I’m doing – and I can’t remember who else I am in the midst of it.
So, what am I gonna do about it? I guess I’m going to start by crawling. I don’t quite know what that looks like, yet, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do it. I might have to save defying gravity for later, because my broom is being used to clean up my kid’s messes for the moment, but maybe once they’ve learned to use their own brooms…