Ever since a boy in Avery’s pre-k class destroyed, or at least put a major chink, in her love of navy blue and superheroes, I’ve been incredibly mindful of how I manage self. How exactly does one raise daughters without letting the pendulum of self swing too far to one side or the other? I suppose that sounds wrong, how can you modulate self, right? Let them be who they’ll be. Do you demand that the superhero things not be pitched or do you let them say they are done with them? Do you turn the orange Joker shirt into a night shirt or do you let her wear it to school and hope that this new crop of kids doesn’t pipe up that it isn’t right? How do you know when you should try and construct happiness and when you should trust it will come?

We’ve been trying to lead by example—working things through, as a family and as a couple. We try new things, compromise, take turns and ask questions. I try not to dwell on not fitting in and yearning to do so, but being unwilling to squelch the parts of me that don’t fit. Trying to make sense of it makes my head hurt, but avoiding it makes my heart ache. I’m realizing it’s just a different understanding of fitting and I am working on it. Who do we need to fit? Where are we supposed to belong? Who exactly am I?

Am I the sweaty, unafraid of dirt and hard work carpenter?

Am I the writer feeling euphoric at BlogHer in NYC?

Am I the bride they think looks like a princess?

The shameless source of crazy character voices?

The free spirit willing to tiptoe in the frigid water?

The one willing to speak up even when they want me quiet?

[No photo, but it’s a thing of beauty]

I’ve realized lately that I have to be everything that I can; sharing all that I am with them helps me be better. I make smarter decisions, or I say I messed up. I love them and give to them unconditionally, but I also let them know when I just can’t. When I can’t hear all three voices at once, when I can’t sew the hem of a silver satin dress from the Gap that fell apart after less than 1 wearing. Owning what I am and what I am not is a gift.

I think the greatest piece of wisdom I’ve seen in a long time was this:

Not everyone is going to like you, let that be their problem, not yours.

I’d like to give that to my girls, I think by letting them know they can be whoever they want to be, I will.

I am more who I want to be every day, with my constant being that I am their mama.