I saw my’self’ for the very first time when I was about seven years old. I will remember that exact moment for the rest of my life. I was so tiny that I had to lift myself onto the ledge of the sink. I looked so deeply into my own eyes that my nose was almost touching the mirror. I can still remember that my arms were shaking from my weight. I looked directly into my very own eyes….and…time…stood…still. I was just amazed by the discovery that I was in there. Somewhere, in there…was me! The same person who woke up early to watch The Flintstones. The little girl who ran all the way to the red swing in 32 seconds flat. The same person who ate half a grilled cheese sandwich and 3 pickles for lunch.. Right there in front of me! I knew that very instant that the person staring back at me was the only person on the planet that knew, and would know every single thing about ME. I felt like I was given a precious gift. I felt like God had given me a precious gift. I felt…special.
I ran off to go do something or other. And I’ve been running ever since.
The reason this memory has come to surface? As I’m blow drying my hair, (a mundane something or other mindless task that on most days means absolutely nothing) I’m almost run over, spun around and knocked down. My son Jesse, bursts into the washroom. He grabs the green stool from beside me and pulls himself onto the sink. He makes no mention of my presence, leans deeply towards the mirror, looks into his very own eyes and…smiles…bigger…BIGGER…and just like that, he whirls off again. But the moment lasts much longer for me. I wept. I felt like I was given a precious gift. And I was! I felt like God had given me a precious gift. And He had! I felt special…i’m still working on that one.
Why do we grow to be adults who can shake a firm hand and look a perfect stranger in the eye, but we cannot find the time to look into our own? What have the heaviness of the years done to us? After all, I am still the only person on this planet who knows every single thing about me. I am still that little girl. I am still in there, aren’t I? I have seen myself through many adventures, many moments…my life. Have I become too busy to know myself?
I have been making a special effort to look my ‘self’ in the eyes on a daily basis. To ‘check in’. An inventory of sorts. Jess and I will often make silly faces in the mirror and laugh at each other. I want him to feel secure enough to explore. To ‘dig in’ to his one precious life. To know the freedom of discovery. To understand what makes him feel ‘whole’. To discard the things that don’t. To trust himself and to stand proud in his life. To look himself in the eye every morning and night…and smile.
The expression ‘compose yourself’, a demand to ‘pull yourself together’ comes to mind. To compose is, ‘to make or form by combining things, parts, or elements’. To take a breath? Our lives are ever evolving compositions. We combine different parts and elements to form a ‘whole’. But sometimes our busy lives can result in the loss of sight into our sense of self. And slowly but surely our stories can be hijacked by other ‘authors’. Minutes turn into hours, days to years. Until we wake one day and find that we are unrecognizable. We know our children better than we know ourselves.
Parenthood is a constant reminder that ‘time flies’. Watching someone grow right before your very own eyes can throw you into a panic, make you feel old. Can we get too caught up in the raising of our children that we forget that we are also still growing, still becoming? ‘Selves’ who are learning and yearning for new ‘parts’ or ‘elements’ to make us whole. Let’s try to make a promise to ‘check in’ with ourselves now and again. Take a moment to remind our ‘selves’ that we are still in there! While we’re at it, perhaps we could choose to travel a little lighter and throw some of our ‘luggage’ on the belt and just watch it float away. Take just one moment to re-compose.