Posted on : 22-Mar-2017 | By : Amber | In : adulting, learning to live, parenting brilliance, reflection, Uncategorized, Very Important Things
I looked at those words, and the only thing I could think was “What the heck does that mean? Is this some new concept that, once again, I’m not going to grasp?” That happens to me a lot; for someone that people keep saying is intelligent, I feel REALLY dumb a lot of the time. It took me forever to not break out in a cold sweat ordering anything but black coffee. True story. One day, people are going to figure it out, and they’re going to revoke my adulting card. That might not be so bad, except they’ll probably take my coffee and driver’s license, and then things might get ugly. That’s how fights happen.
I’ll be honest with you; I don’t like that feeling. I’m no brain surgeon, but like I said, I’m generally thought of as a reasonably intelligent person. I have a degree, I have more academic work beyond that. I worked with juvenile sex-offenders in a locked psychiatric facility, and later I taught for many years in the classroom. I then went on to my most important and challenging work: rearing and homeschooling my daughters. I’m a voracious reader, and I write. I write all the time, even if I don’t share it. I write about not having anything to write about, for crying out loud. I write about everything, and yet a two-word philosophical phrase could put me right back in the rear of my college algebra class, struggling to wrap my brain around a concept that just didn’t seem like it wanted to be understood.
I looked at those words, and I was lost at sea, trying not to look like I was drowning.
Here I am, 48 years old, and it took watching my two daughters to help me understand what those words meant, and, even more important, to realize that I was, finally, living that meaning myself.
Perhaps the most precious gift we can be given in this lifetime is the opportunity to be a parent. I was given that gift nearly 22 years ago, and I have to say that I’ve learned far more from watching my children become the people that they are than I think I ever managed to teach them. You see – I’ve watched them live authentically.
I’ve been blessed to spend most of every single day with my children. I’ve been more attuned to who they are than I ever was to who I am, and now I see – so much more than I saw before they came. I’ve seen them become THEM. I watch, every day, as they struggle to find their bliss. Their fight. Their WHY. They may not have discovered it completely yet, but they go about it in a way that I wish I’d learned so much sooner.
You see, they know who they ARE. Not what they will do for the rest of their lives, not who they will marry, not things that we so often look at as being the benchmarks of a successful life. Rather, they know what they stand for. They know what they value. They know the things that make their hearts happy, and that, I think, is what it means to live authentically. They are true to themselves, true to God, and follow what makes their hearts HAPPY. Funnily enough, I think they might argue that with me, tell me that they don’t know what the heck they’re doing and what do I mean, I don’t either? But? I don’t think living authentically means you necessarily know what you’re doing. I think maybe it means remaining true to your core while you figure it out.
In the self-sacrifice that is parenthood, I have had the opportunity to learn what it means to live authentically. Not from some great work of literature, but because I’ve had the chance to live with two souls that are, perhaps, two of the most REAL I have ever known. In fumbling to help them grow, I learned what my fight was. My why. My bliss. I learned that, in order to help them live in a way that was true and right and real, I had to do the same thing myself. I had to discover the things that made my heart happy, and I had to put the effort into cultivating those things. I might not know exactly where I stood on everything, and I might not yet know exactly who I was, but when I put in effort to explore those things, every day? I was living authentically.
Maybe I’m learning to swim after all.
(the photography in the post is by both of my daughters; you can find them on Instagram at @celtaebri and @teacupukulele)