This past weekend, my sisters and I helped my parents clean out a lot of memories that we admittedly should have taken from their house years ago. It’s amazing how a cardboard box or two can remind you of, not only who you once were, but who you still are. There were so many memories, that I eventually had to resort to “I’ll look through this later.” This usually translates to, “I will bury this somewhere and look at it when we move again and are bored without internet.” But, this time my heart really desired the trip down memory lane. Maybe it’s all of the changes in my life; perhaps it’s the striking resemblance in my childhood photos to my dear daughter, Novella.
So, when I got home and settled Sunday night, I was quite eager to show Brandon my treasures, and so we laid out all of my childhood memories and delighted in all that once was. There were so many things I would’ve never remembered if it weren’t for all of those papers, pictures, and random assortment of items. Change is so gradual, that 30ish years in retrospect can jar you, tickle you, and sadden you all at once.
One of the sweetest moments was when we found a report card from my brief attendance of Poplar Springs Elementary in third grade. In the comments, Mrs. Leitchfield (ironically, the name of my parents’ hometown) wrote, “It has been a pleasure to know Amelia in this brief time. She is a very smart and sweet young lady.” Brandon read it, and said, “Well, you haven’t changed much from that.”
Maya Angelou once said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” Nothing is truer when it comes to teachers, and I’ve tried my darndest to implement that in my own legacy as a teacher. Mrs. Leitchfield made me feel special from the moment I walked into her room as a terrified transplant into the deep south, approaching the end of the school year. She made me the “Proud Panda” of her class for the whole month of April, and I got to have ice cream with the principal and everything!
But, there were a lot of teachers that didn’t quite give me the warm and fuzzies, and I often wonder how much of my insecurities I owe to them. Mrs. Hazle in second grade evoked a fear and self doubt that I am certain did not exist before. She called me a brat, a day dreamer, a cry baby, and worst of all- annoying.
I wonder why it took a report card with it there in black and white to remember Mrs. Leitchfield’s words, and rote memory to remember Mrs. Hazle’s.
All of my life people have told me that I am smart and kind, and I hardly believe them. More than that, I take the latter as an insult. To be fair, it is usually offered to me as a means to excuse another behavior, i.e. “Well, you’re just nicer than I am.”
But I’ve been thinking a lot about how often we assign labels to ourselves and from where their roots of origin ever stem. And when do we decide to make that our official narrative?
When I found out that I was pregnant, it was the shock of the century. We’d been trying for ten years, and had been told by five different doctors that it would never happen. During that ten year wait, I heard a lot of comments about what kind of parent I would be. Some were loving and kind, some were plain rude and inaccurate. I heard from some that I would be a hot mess of a mom, although those words weren’t really used. There’s a huge, and I mean hee-uge misconception that I would lie around with my feet propped up while my sweet husband handled all the dirty diapers.
But, I decided to not let that be my narrative.
Maybe it’s a fire within me that vastly wanted to prove others wrong, or maybe it’s just plain necessity, but I decided who I wanted to be as a parent, and I roll with that 90% of the time. I have exactly two mottos in parenting: (Excuse the language but there’s no other way to say it and show I mean it)
Handle your shit.
Do not hesitate because of fear.
Toot! Toot! I am super proud of myself for sticking to these principles more often than not in parenting, a whopping ten months in…but that’s not really my point. I have days where I tee-totally a hot mess. If I catch myself wrapped up in that storyline, I try to get out of it quickly.
I have stopped giving so much value to what other people say, especially the negative. It has taken me a long, long time to get here. Like, since second grade. But I just have to. If I don’t, I seriously worry what impression I will leave on my daughter. Instead, I’ve learned to examine words, and look at the facts and say, “Why did they say this?” And if there’s a behavior that needs to be changed, then I try to change it if needed.
But, mostly, I just think about what kind of person I want to be, and then I go and be that. Sometimes I fail miserably. Sometimes I am awkward. OK, all of the time I am awkward. That I fear I cannot change, but even in that I have decided that awkwardness stems from a lack of confidence I’ve developed since relocating to a new city three years ago. So, I’m making a commitment to myself to branch out more- try new things. Think about moving up the career ladder. Doing a few things that terrify me due to fear of failure (Helloooooo, gardening!)
A blogger I read writes down some goals for everyone to see, and then reviews them a month later. I like this idea a lot, but in the interest of full transparency, I will go ahead and admit that I currently have a poor track record in maintaining an open line of communication via blogging. Ugh. Now I think I am going to have to change that since I said it. Oh well. Here are some things that I would like to accomplish in the month of March:
- Stay off of Facebook for the entire month. Commitment: I will write about this and explain later.
- Get all invites sent out for my Novella’s birthday party.
- Read 2 books
- Start my garden
- Address some health issues I am having (seriously, how long can we call things “Post Partum Hormones,” and when should we switch to “Girrrrrl, your body is jacked up!”)
- Upon receiving my life planner, I want to map out things better and just bring more of a flow to my life.
- At least FOUR blog posts/ essays.
- Plan through the rest of the school year.
Looks like I better get to work! What are your goals for the month?