Words to Live and Write by

I am willing to fall Because I have learned how to rise.

I craft Love from heartbreak, Compassion from shame, Grace from disappointment, Courage from failure.

I am among the brave and brokenhearted, and I am rising strong.

(credit to Brene Brown)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Hey, America, I've got Talent, too!

A 3 a.m. epiphany

 I go to bed when I am tired. After a rushed evening of feeding my family, helping my toddler get pajamas on, teeth brushed, hair combed, I read stories, pray, and sing to my daughter until she is ready to sleep. I clean up her toys and the dinner dishes if I'm ambitious, and try to squeeze in a few minutes for my husband before he, too, is ready to sleep.

And because I am tired, I go to bed, too. But I do not sleep. My ear is trained to pick up the tiniest sound from the baby monitor, just in case. My mind races through a commentary and critique of the day—I measure how my child has grown and developed, and I begin creating new ways to keep her challenged and entertained. I review my own actions and omissions as a mother, wife, daughter, sister, and sometimes even a friend. I try to find ways I can be more of what people need from me. I plan a lesson, a new project, or even work on the never-ending writing of my novel.

All this until the baby monitor calls me back to the present. My baby needs me now. While my husband slumbers on so he can be rested for his meetings tomorrow, I slip out of bed. On the hard, 2-a.m.-cold kitchen floor, I wash, fill, and warm a bottle. I tiptoe past my bedroom where my husband snores and open the door to my baby's room.

She reaches out to me, distressed, so I hold her close until she is soothed. A quick diaper change in the dark, and once again she is in my arms, cradled close, safe, and filling her tummy with warm milk while I sing.

It's then that my active, critical brain realizes I'm not very good at singing. No one would pay or cheer to hear me sing. If I sang this very same lullaby on "America's Got Talent," I would be laughed at, "X"-ed, and jeered off the stage. I'd be told by America at large that I have no talent.

 But my baby has finished her bottle. With drooping eyelids she smiles at me, thankful that I've sung to her. She relaxes in my arms and trusts me to carry her back to bed, where she will sleep soundly until she needs me again, knowing I will be there when she calls.

I slip back into bed, roll my husband over to muffle his snores, and train my ear once more to the monitor. That's when I realize—I do have talent. It's not a particularly unique one, not one crowds are prone to cheer. No, it's the talent of being a mother. I sing, and my daughter is soothed. She loves my voice, regardless of what any critic might call it. My voice, off-key and wobbly, is the most beautiful sound in her universe. My arms, which cannot bench-press anything, lift heavy things, or juggle, to her represent comfort, safety, and true strength. To her, my wisdom and knowledge are endless. My body, which any fashion designer or fitness guru would scoff at, is my daughter's most perfect example of beauty and grace.

 Oh yes, I am talented. I must be, if such a pure, honest person can see me that way. For her I will sing, I will dance, I will bask in my body's beauty and my mind's capabilities.

 No woman will ever see herself as she truly is until she sees herself through the eyes of her child.