Monday, December 17, 2007

Puzzles

One of the million things that I currently love about my daughter Chloe is how comfortable she is just being herself -- and how she never tries to be anything different.

This became strikingly clear recently, at Parent-Teacher conferences at Chloe's school. Yes, even the academic life of two year olds require conferencing.


So A and I arrived at Chloe's class, and I sat in a tiny chair far too small for my post partum posterior (more on this later). Her two teachers faced me, and I waited for what I expected to be tons of compliments about my lovely little girl.


And I was right. They told us how sweet she was, how adorable. And then the unexpected.


"Until two weeks ago, Chloe did not speak a single word in class."


My heart sank. I could not believe it. I heard myself babbling on and on in her defense and in my own outrage. I told them how talkative and bossy she was at home, how she literally narrates the entire day. They quickly reassured me.

"She has a quiet confidence", the teacher said. "She was always busy. Even when she was not talking, she would not let anyone push her around. In fact, her first sentences in class were "No, that's mine" and "I don't want bread, I like Cheerios". Oh, and she is the best in the class at solving puzzles".

I was shocked. Every day for three months, Chloe happily went to school. She barely uttered a goodbye. She never asked to stay home. She could barely wait to get there, and immediately got to work on a table filled with puzzles. How could she be so excited to come to a place where she did not talk to anyone, and barely anyone talked to her? This would be my own private hell. I hated starting a new job, mainly because I would not know anyone and would not have anyone to talk to. I was always looking forward to the point where I knew everyone and had limitless people to chat with.

But as I listened to her teachers describe how she cheerfully, yet quietlu, goes to each activity, I began to understand. Chloe and I are different this way. While I could talk to a tree, Chloe truly blossoms only when she is completely comfortable. Where I would be sickened to go somewhere every day where I could not yammer up a storm, she is happy just doing her thing, being her independant self. Unlike me, she does not need a million friends around, she is happy doing her own thing. So she may not be head cheerleader or sorority president or all of the things that I ever wanted. She is happy just being who she is, no pretense, no apology.

I am intrigued by this moment in time when she is so carefree. I wonder if next year she will cry that she has no friends, trapped by her own independance. I try not to think about it. For now, I enjoy sitting back and admiring all of the things I never had as a child: bravery, confidence and comfort in the periphery of things.

When do we lose the ability to embrace ourselves so completely and without shame? Currently, my crisis is that of clothing. In my mind's eye, I am a size 26 skinny jean, in high heeled boots, a top that does not open for some sort of lactation and perfect highlights. In reality, I recently went to buy some jeans and demanded a "mid-rise" (they should call it "mom-rise"), I wear long shirts that are roomy enough to cover my midriff and be yanked over a screaming baby, and if I splurge on haircolor that is not applied at my sink, it is single process only. My penchant for perfume has been cast aside, for fear that my baby will smell like Bulgari. I am often in a ponytail. At a recent indulgence at a makeup counter, the saleswoman said that she was "concerned about my skin's dehydration". I nearly laughed, as I am often concerned about my life's dehydration, as I thirst for who I once was, at least on the outside.

I should be thrilled. I have lost almost all of my baby weight, the crows feet have not yet landed around my eyes and at least my breastfeeding boobs are perky. And yet, I am somehow embarassed, that the life I have chosen, which is largely without time for indulgence or interest in bettering my body, is so much less than it was - or should be. There are moments when I am ashamed to admit that sitting on my bed in stained sweatpants, kissing my children's bare feet, feels better than the best moment in the office. And then I am equally ashamed when I long for a reason to wear my new heels, to spend four hours at the salon, to call a meeting when the participants are not in Pampers.

My new year's resolution is to embrace my new life, and the body that I use to travel through it, without such constant critique. I can be doing better, and I hope to make time for some crucial self improvement (or at least some crucial cardio)! But until then, I will take a chapter from Chloe, throw caution to the wind, and enjoy the puzzles right in front of me.

Wishing all of you a year filled with self acceptance. (I'll be back in 2008)!

1 Comments:

At 5:56 PM PST, Blogger beri said...

move over carrie bradshaw, who needs 'sex and the city' when you have amy h. k's 'motherhood in manhattan'. im so proud of chloe!!!

 

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