What makes you tick? I know that’s a horribly cliché way to open a blog post, but I’m being serious. Do you know what makes you happy? I used to know before I had kids. I don’t like the way that last sentence sounds. I don’t regret my children. I love them with all my heart and if I had a chance to live my life over again, I would do it just the same. The thing I do regret is the way I became so immersed in being what I thought I was supposed to be, that I forgot to be who I actually was. So at the beginning of the year when my husband asked me to describe what I wanted this year to be using only one word, I didn’t hesitate: Me. This year was going to be filled with me. I was going to do some deep discovering and unearth the Afsana of Old.
Eight months into the year, and I have to say that there hasn’t been much of me involved. Or has there been? I haven’t spent hours meditating, trying to reconnect with my twenty year old self. I did discover some things, though: I already knew who I was. There was some confusion for a while though, because the me that I am now doesn’t recognize the pre-motherhood me. At least it doesn’t recognize the time frame just prior to the arrival of motherhood-me. What it does recognize is the me from many, many years ago.
Children are fully aware of themselves. A young child can tell you with certainty what makes him or her happy, their favorite foods, and the best ways to spend free time. It isn’t until we reach puberty that our self awareness is drowned out by surging hormones and peer pressure, forcing nonconformity to fall to the wayside. The things that made each of us our own person are stored away and forgotten, collecting dust like the vintage luggage in my grandmother’s attic.
During this year of me, I realized that what made me happy when I was nineteen doesn’t make me happy as a thirty-something wife and mother of four. And there was nothing wrong with that. I began reading for enjoyment for the first time in more years than I care to admit, and wondered why I had forsaken books for so long. I started sewing again, and found myself transported back in time to Aunt Marjorie’s sewing room, pawing excitedly through scraps of fabric she had given me to make pillows on my little sewing machine.
My most important discovery this year was that the Afsana of Old wasn’t the nineteen year old girl who was content with coloring in the lines the way she was expected to. She really was the kindergartener who lined her teddy bears up on the bed and taught them from an imaginary chalkboard in her bedroom/classroom, the seven year old who made doll clothes on her Cabbage Patch sewing machine, and the third grader who had been in love with books since she knew the names of letters. She was the young girl who was more impressed with the wonders of the world than the material goods that filled it. She could appreciate a beautiful sunset and could hear music hidden in raindrops that hit the roof in what seemed to be a carefully organized symphony. She was the young girl confident in who she was, before she was old enough to fall victim to society’s instruction of who she was supposed to be. Before she tripped and fell into the melting pot where the beauty of individuality becomes unrecognizable, the way gourmet cheeses with their distinct flavors are tossed into a pot only to become one single golden-beige liquid where gorgonzola and Velveeta are one in the same.
We don’t give enough credit to children for being the most intelligent humans on the planet. Becoming a mother didn’t cause me to lose myself; it helped me find myself. It helped me re-discover loves once buried in a corner of my mind. I pulled those long-lost loves out, shined them up, and set them back out on display where they belong. And I can’t remember ever being happier than I am right now.