We’re continuing with intro week here on Just.Be.Enough. Yesterday, Jackie shared her story about what Just.Be.Enough. means to her.
Today is Angela’s turn.
A ballerina. A novelist. A mother. A teacher. A doctor. A judge. A wife. A magazine editor.
I have desperately wanted to be each of those things, dreams that stretch from a well-worn vinyl record called “Tina the Ballerina” to secret hopes still tucked away in my heart and my brain, taken out to be sighed over before being carefully replaced, safe and unfulfilled.
Wishes and dreams are the comfortable fabric that line my pillow at night, lulling me to sleep when I’ve had a bad day, propelling me out of bed in the morning to see if today is the day I’ll climb a little closer to what I imagine I can become.
But some dreams are elusive.
Breasts blossoming at an alarming pace and woeful turnout meant hanging up my pointe shoes before ever donning a true tutu.
My inability to summon any interest in biology took pre-med studies off the table.
Visiting Columbia University for journalism camp made me feel so very small and unsophisticated and unsure that my words could ever be loud enough to be heard.
Instead of taking these discoveries as an opportunity to find my strengths, I used them to highlight my weaknesses.
Abandoning dance meant I was not coordinated.
Disliking dissection and being more interested in my junior high boyfriend than in algebra meant I wasn’t good at math or science.
Seeing myself as a nameless face in a New York City auditorium instead of the co-editor of my senior yearbook meant that I could never write professionally.
As I shed each of these big ideas, I began to doubt even my smaller successes.
I lost a dress size and immediately thought of the next size down, chastising myself for not having the willpower to give up carbs. I was not skinny enough.
I got a teaching job in an economy where teaching jobs were scarce, and I lamented the interviews I didn’t nail, the offers that never came. I was not qualified enough.
I married an intelligent, supportive man, and I fervently wished I could erase my imperfections, though I recognize and love his flaws as much as I love his gorgeous eyes and sense of humor. I was not lovable enough.
Then my daughter and my son were born, and my dreams shifted towards the intangible, almost immediately.
Now I wish for kindness, for them and from them. I wish for the slow, even breathing of a sleeping child. I aspire to be patient and fair and open to the wonder and awe through which they see the world.
Becoming a mother is not the only dream I had that has come true. And I still have many ideas perched
on the ledge between my dreams and reality.
But becoming a mother is the fulfilled dream that changed me most profoundly, that changed the way I look at myself. Through their eyes, I see a me I never saw in the mirror.
They do not see a failed ballerina, a judge who never attempted law school.
They see a healer, a fairy godmother, a zookeeper, a safety net.
Still, I am not complacent. Lofty goals cradle my head as I sleep.
A stronger runner. A more patient mother. A published writer. A more attentive wife. An advocate for girls. A better friend. These are all things I am striving to become.
In Little Women (Louisa May Alcott), Jo March says: “I should have been a great many things, Mr. Mayer.”
To my children, I am “a great many things”. And that is enough.