Saturday morning I pulled my favorite old sweatshirt out to wear to S’s soccer game, and I was flooded with memories of the friend who gave it to me.
I’ve worn that sweatshirt hundreds of times. She sent it to me when I was pregnant with S (she wanted me to have something big and warm to wear when I walked the dog – never had the heart to tell her I didn’t venture out in the cold Wisconsin weather unless I had to), so I’m not sure what triggered the memories.
Maybe it’s the fact that her 50th birthday is coming up in a few weeks, and she’s not here to celebrate it.
Maybe it’s that I came across this quote right before I pulled out the sweatshirt.
Ro was one of my college friends, and I can’t think of her without smiling and shaking my head at all the things she did AND the things she convinced the rest of us to do.
We all have our favorite stories – from asking to be rescued from the balcony to putting Alka Seltzer in her beer (best lesson in chemical reactions EVER!!); from Ranger games to Beach Boys concerts and Whataburger stops; from being chased by ducks to cutting down our own Christmas trees; whether it involved her love of sports (Cowboys and Mavericks) or her musical taste (Boy George and Bruce Springsteen), Ro lived life to the fullest.
When Ro was younger, a doctor told her that the life expectancy for someone with her medical condition was 40…she passed away three months before her 41st birthday.
It was almost like that statement…that number…became her destiny.
I always just thought she had more nerve than the rest of us, but now I think she was trying to cram 80 years of living into the 40 she could count on.
And as I thought about her Saturday morning, I wondered if maybe she was trying to un-become what everyone expected when they saw her.
I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately.
The who we become based on the expectations of others.
The things we do because we’re supposed to not because we really want to.
The things we don’t do because we’re worried what others will think.
The things we try to justify rather than just owning them.
Realizing my own mortality?
But, more than anything, I think I’ve started thinking about it as I watch S and C, and I want them to not ever have to worry about un-becoming because they were allowed to become themselves in the first place.
So, when S wanted to quit 4-H and C said, “Maybe I should stay in. It will look good on my college applications,” I found myself telling him that lots of things look good on a college application, but that shouldn’t be the reason you do something. Do it because you love it.
And last spring, at Solo Ensemble, I told a friend with older children that S didn’t want to be in band in high school. I got a lecture of sorts about how I should make her. Nah, I think that’s a choice she should make herself. There are too many other things she loves more than playing her flute.
I’ll admit it; it’s hard. I caught myself telling C the other day that he really needed to stick with basketball one more year, and when he asked why, I said, “Because you’re going to be really tall.”
Yep, that’s what I said. Total mom failure.
He doesn’t love the game, and another growth spurt isn’t going to change that.
So, I’m working on it.
Working on finding the balance between supporting without smothering; encouraging without pushing; helping them become who they are meant to be.
And I’m learning.
From the serious thoughts of great writers;
“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
From a movie monologue:
“…even though the world goes on for eons and eons, you are only here for a fraction of a fraction of a second.” ~ Christopher Welch (as the minister in Synecdoche, New York)
From the wisdom of the dying;
“Accept who you are; and revel in it.” ~ Mitch Albom (Tuesdays with Morrie)
And from the twangy honesty of a country song:
“Say what you think. Love who you love. ‘Cause you just get so many trips ’round the sun. Yeah, you only, only live once.” ~ Kacey Musgraves
Un-becoming? I sure hope so.