I began a book once. It wasn’t that long ago and it is something I plan to finish, just not that story. I have this hang up, whether it’s talking about job skills, natural talents or physical characteristics, that I am somehow less remarkable.
I can’t sing.
I don’t really have a demonstrable skill— don’t make anything, don’t implement a specific practice that any person off the street couldn’t do.
I am not uniquely qualified.
Well, you get the drift, it’s as if I am vanilla and the fact that I am neither strawberry nor chocolate makes me nothing. And yet, vanilla is a flavor, but when it comes to me, I err on the side of thinking I have no flavor. When I began my book I imagined that I needed to take the most extreme part of what I had lived to make it worth reading, to make it of any value. I set aside the beautiful life, amazing daughters and solid marriage in order to train my eye on what I thought made me more engaging.
Today at Rotary I saw a face that took me back to the story I wrote. I saw the face of someone who came dangerously close to ruining everything. This person was of course not at a Rotary meeting, in fact I don’t think he’d ever go to a meeting of any kind. Meetings suggest people, people cannot always be controlled, once upon a time, Amanda could be.
I don’t think about that time in my life much anymore, I suspect that is why I ultimately let that story go. I am not then. The Amanda that lived in the days of the face that flashed before me today, was a girl no more remarkable than I am now or ever will be. She was your average 20 something that got in over her head and allowed the fissures of her insecurity to be leveraged to get her to do things and accept things that were not, are not, ok.
The memories of cold, dank rooms and hollow friendship came hurtling at me, but instead of latching on to the part of me that wishes away bad decisions, they continued by in a blur. I literally turned and saw my past catapult over my present and collide with my future.
I am strong for them, because of them sometimes. I look at them and see everything I want for them alongside all the things I want them to want for themselves. I want to let them stretch and quest, falter and stumble. I want them to learn it how and when they need to do it. I want to keep that magic distance that lets them be, but has me close enough to catch them.
I saw that face and I felt bile rise as I thought that no matter how remarkable they are, there are no promises.
Except this— Mama loves you and you are amazing.
You can too sing.
My daughter is 24. She is making decisions on her own now, and they seem to be good decisions. But what if she starts to head in a direction that makes me afraid for her in some way?
You want to let them learn, make their own mistakes, but I don’t care how old they are, the instinct is to try to catch them. And pray no one gets positioned in a way that doesn’t allow you to always look out for them.
The loving foundation you’re giving your girls will help them as they make their own decisions too.
I think of the day Ellie says she’s moving to NYC. Ack! Our mistakes will make us wiser parents, less naieve and more open to their realities. and I think you’re way more than vanilla my friend. Mord like vanilla with pop rocks.
I think of that all the time, I shudder when I see my sweet baby’s face in a crowd that I once was trampled by. But we have to be strong, and honest enough to show our weaknesses and pray that our impact will impart wisdom.
And as far as the vanilla, I couldn’t have said it better than Amy, although I love the purity and comfort of vanilla anyday!
Actually, you sound pretty damn remarkable to me.
I don’t know… if you’re a vanilla you’re a pretty impressive vanilla.
And as for the book? I think you should totally forget about setting aside the beautiful life, amazing daughters and solid marriage!!!! Why do you think we’re all here? You write your life here in a way that makes us all believe you are remarkable.