I did not name this post “Let It Go” after that song in Frozen. That freaking song that started out fine, but which has started to feel like it’s growing on me like a fungus I cannot get rid of. We listen to that song approximately 8 times a day, and I think the singer’s soprano gets more shrill each time. It definitely does not embellish that song that sometimes it’s playing overly loudly in my home while my toddler is crying and clinging to me…
What was I saying? Oh yeah, I named this post “Let It Go” because that is an apt name for what I have had to do in terms of my public image since having children.* Having children has systematically undermined the various properties that I used to have or desired to have, including being organized, punctual, and calm (never really had that one), as well as my desire to be perceived as a good mother of well-behaved and healthy children. Of “normal” but perhaps slightly above average children. Today was a good reminder of how little control I have over that.
Sometimes We Are Weird
I am a rule-follower by nature. Through the course of my life, I have rarely done anything that I could get in trouble for. There have been some exceptions, and I certainly have been known to talk or crack jokes when I was supposed to be quiet, but, by and large: rule-follower.
Like many of my rule-following kin, I even get nervous that people will think I have done things wrong. Which I then fear will make me act suspicious as I attempt to project the honesty and integrity that I know I actually have but which I am fear they will think I don’t have because I look too falsely honest and also kind of flushed and nervous and shifty.
Today, for the second time, I took my daughter to the therapist who works in the child psych department, since she’s, you know, a child of a divorce. I have become a believer in therapy and working out one’s feelings, and getting equipped with various advice and coping skills. I feel like that’s perfectly normal and healthy, and yet when I entered the empty, windowless, rather dingy and depressing waiting room, which really kind of smacks of despair (despite the wonderful doctor behind it), I suddenly had an urge to do something ridiculous like say overly loudly, “We’re just here for a tune-up! Everything’s A-OK!”**
Selah has not yet developed lame hangups on stuff that doesn’t matter, and she went to sit in front of the white board while we waited. She loves to draw. I got out my iPhone, because I love to mindlessly throw time away instead of staring around nervous-making dingy orange chairs. I looked up periodically, and saw her writing some letters on the board. She started to outline them with her red marker, and I looked back down to see what was up in Facebook world.
I looked up again. She had drawn a little archway around her letters. Not quite a square. In fact, it was…a tombstone. And the letters said, “R.I.P.” Selah drew a tombstone on the white board in a child psych department. And the man in the check-in window was directly facing it and us, about six feet away.
I said, “Is that a grave?” Selah smiled and said, “Yes.”
I did not actually have a single concern in my mind that my eight year old has a death fixation, or is planning anyone’s death, or anything of the sort. I thought she cheerfully was drawing something from a book, or that someone had talked about in school. So I should have not been a bit worried or embarrassed, but I was mortified. And then I felt like I had to work harder to seem like we were totally average people, just there for a tune-up, but I felt like it was getting harder to project that flawless image as I made “small talk” with her, like, “So, why did you draw that?” “I don’t know.” “Did you see that in a picture somewhere?” “No.” Thankfully laughter started to bubble up in me and replace my horror. Then I quelled the urge to take a photo of the picture, since I knew that really wasn’t going to make me look less weird.
This really was just one tiny incident, insignificant even when compared with the day one of my children spat on my friend’s face, or the time one of them loudly argued with me that a person on the bus did so have a baby in her belly. And I know sometimes it does not matter one whit what other people think, and other times I must try to stop cringing with horror and just work on teaching my kids to be thoughtful and kind (and subtle).
So, you know, let it go, Laura.
Weird Can Be Fun
*And because I’m mean and I want you to have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Misery loves company, you know.
**I really do know how ridiculous that is.