I want my daughters to learn from me. Not just good things, not just strength and light. I want them to watch me and learn how to not be good. How to be weak. How to be down, how to be helpless. Because we are all these things at one time or another. And there are ways to be these things, to do these things, and do them, yes, well.
I hope I am worthy and capable of teaching them this lesson.
I am in a foreign place emotionally right now. It’s safe to say that 2020 doesn’t have many fans, but this year has hit my family hard. And hard again. And hard again. Add to this the fact that a foot injury has me sidelined from running, plus the usual bumps of life with two small children, and it is enough to make me want to sidle off the race course, sit down, and methodically sort everything out until I’m good and ready to continue on.
But of course that’s not possible.
Life’s not about being good and ready. It’s about running your race, even in the miles that don’t breeze by effortlessly. Even when the run is a walk. Even when there are tears, or vomit, or plain ugliness. Even when “running your race” in fact means veering off the prescribed course to find a route that suits you better no matter how much it baffles the spectators.
It’s because of them, not in spite of them, that we do it. That we let our effort show, that we let the fact that we care about this race show. Because they’re watching us, and learning from us, and what kind of race do we want for them? What kind of life do we want them to know they can live?
I don’t want my daughters to see their mom as unshakable, unflappable, made of steel. I want them to see their mom as a human. I want them to see that it’s okay to be human. I want them to see the idea of effortless perfection for the heinous, twisted joke that it is. But how to do this well?
Maybe it starts with seeing me falter regularly. Maybe it starts with seeing me cry. And lose my temper. And limp, literally and figuratively. And feel.
Because they also see me dance, and hear me sing. They see my silly faces, they hear me thank God. They are not neglected. They are loved. It’s a messy love, but let’s face it, love is messy. Life is messy. I am messy. But I’m learning, slowly, to be okay with that.
For myself, and for them.