In my 40s, I have attempted to know myself. I acknowledge what I am good at; and what I am not good at. Try and do more of what I love; less of what I don't.
Recently I was asked to be on a "fundraising committee". I hate fundraising. I have always hated it. Without missing a beat I said "No. No fundraising for me." Know thyself.
I can't parallel park to save my life. I get the flop sweats when there are no other parking options & I am forced to jimmy into a spot, especially if anyone is watching me. I will unapologetically drive 6 blocks to find other parking spot. I don't care if I have to walk. Know thyself.
I get lost easily. So, GPS on, even around town.
I cry excessively at funerals. I bring a washcloth and not a tissue.
I'm chubby. I buy pants that fit.
I don't bake very well. I offer to bring the appetizer - never the dessert.
KNOW THYSELF. KNOW THYSELF. KNOW THYSELF. KNOW THYSELF.
This is in contrast to my 30s, when my mantra was Fake Out Myself. "Sure I'll be on the fundraising committee.... Of course I will bring the dessert..... Give me a size 12 please...."
(This is also quite different from my 20s and my mantra of "Full of Thyself" but that's a whole 'nother blog.)
As an older mother, I am trying to instill this nugget of wisdom into my children so they don't have to wait until they need bifocals and Gaviscon before they know to play to their strengths. We all bring gifts into this world. Some are easier to identify than others. It's not to hard to spot the gifted athletes in Jr High gym class. It's a little harder to spot to the budding scientist or the natural born caretaker.
My little daughter is very soft-hearted and quite attached to me. She is starting to get invites for playdates and
Recently, John has come to terms with the fact that he has autism. He is asking me lots of questions, hard questions. Sometimes, I don't have the answers. We were looking at old pictures and he saw a picture of himself at Chicago's Walk Now for Autism hosted by Autism Speaks. He was little & doesn't remember it. It opened the door to a big conversation about autism, what it means, why he has it and Molly doesn't, if it means he's stupid, etc. I wasn't ready for the conversation, but it arrived without an invitation and I had no choice but to have it right then and there.
Since then, we discuss it when it comes up and take it one day at a time. He processes it little by little. I hope he can make friends with it someday.
Truth is, I don't know why he has it. I don't know what the future holds. I don't know much, even though I am the mom and I am supposed to know everything.
I went to my son's Parent Teacher Conference today. Typically, a day I dread. However, today I was pleasantly surprised by reports that my son is excelling in all areas at school. In fact, his teacher tells me, he has really taken to writing and journaling. Record scratch Excuse me, come again? Getting my son to write has always been a huge challenge, but apparently in the last few weeks he is the second grade's answer to Ernest Hemingway. The counselor says he is choosing to express himself on paper, when his verbal communication fails him. This is a huge milestone for any child, especially one on the autism spectrum.
Before I left, the teacher shared a recent journal entry.
As I read it, in front of the gathered team, I felt the air get thick as I mostly unsuccessfully fought back the tears. Seeing his feelings on paper made them seem more real, somehow.
"That is why life is hard to me"
Not for me.
Indeed life is hard to all of us. Living amongst each other, sharing, learning, caring, earning, protecting, bargaining, grieving, obeying, co-cohabiting, leading, following... it's all hard. Marriage is hard, children are hard, money is hard, autism is hard. Life is hard.
At first, I wanted to be heartbroken. Who wants their 7 tear old to journal about how hard life has been to him? But then I reflected further. Life has been hard to John. Why should I be heartbroken that he is acknowledging the very truth of his life. Life has been hard, but joyful. Challenging, but rewarding. Painful, but full of laughter. He is merely owning the truth of his life. And succeeding in spite of it.
Nosce te Ipsum.