Dr. Seuss is one of my favorite writers of all time. His ability to take on huge social issues by distilling them into a seemingly simple children's book was profound. Think of "Lorax," "The Star Belly Sneech's, The Cat in the Hat....pretty much any children's book that he wrote had some deeper meanings besides the seemingly simple story idea. Well maybe not so much "Socks on foxs," or "Green eggs, and Ham." In this story I TOTALLY agree that I DO NOT like GREEN eggs, and HAM! I prefer mine the usual color thank you very much.
One of my very most favorite books by Dr. Seuss is "Are You My Mother?" A little egg hatches when the Mother is away for a short second. The new baby bird goes around asking everyone, "Are you my Mother?" (By the way you really HAVE TO read the story in a silly little voice.)
In my childhood I went through a phase when I was convinced that I was adopted. Many times people would ask the question, "Are you Wendell and Sarah's daughter?" There was always this tone in their voices and the same tone when I would respond, "Yes." Their tone was like, "REALLY?" A time or two the question was followed with the statement, "You don't look anything like the rest of your family." The worst was someone who was elucidating on the fact that my sister was beautiful, absolutely quantifiably gorgeous. She had perfect skin, perfect teeth, and knew how to style her hair to make the most of her features. She was a pageant queen, and one of my young "Sheroes." (You know, male is "Hero," female is "Shero," I don't EVER use the term heroine...we women are NOT drugs!)
I was the tail end of my siblings, younger by 10 and 6 years. My brother (10 years older) and sister (6 years older) were overachievers. They were talented, handsome and beautiful, sang all over the place at various and sundry events. They were both scholars, popular in school, and with seemingly great health.
I had been perilously close to death all of my life. My immune system was crappy, and I was allergic to life. When tested as a babe for my allergies my parents were told that I was the "Most allergic human they had ever seen." Asthma and chronic bronchitis caused me to struggle on a frequent basis just to breathe. I could not participate in sports, had to be careful about running, or playing outside. I segued into adolescence with bad skin, frizzy hair, and crappy health (still). I was NOT popular. How can you be popular when you have a terrible self image thanks to a lifetime of health stuff? You can't reach out to others when you are so awkwardly embarrassed by yourself.
Ooops, did I mention my incredibly crooked teeth as I went from childhood to adulthood. YUP, those earned me a lot of awful names. Then I got braces, and those earned me awful names as well.
Now you may ask, what does Dr. Seuss and the book "Are You My Mother," and my growing-up struggles? Since you asked so nicely I'll tell you. In the book "Are You My Mother," the small birdie had pretty serious identity issues. After all, he came to the world and his Mom wasn't there for the shell cracking. I have terrific parents...unconditional in their love, and supportive of my life. Yet nobody seemed to connect ME to my parents OR to my siblings. Instead I was perceived by many as the "runt of the litter."
I cried for several days off and on at one point so convinced was I that I was adopted. (I've always been pretty dramatic of disposition) Mama always knew when something was "off" with us. She had a way of stroking my "frizzy" hair, and just pulling out the hard stuff I was trying to deal with. When I finally blurted out, "Mama am I adopted?" Her response was instantaneous, "Trust me on this, I was there when you were born, I carried you inside me for nine months. YOU ARE NOT ADOPTED."
I still remember the radiant joy that filled my heart. I belonged to this remarkable four people, my parents, and my siblings. My Mama also taught me that day that even though most of us go through an "awkward" stage in life during our adolescence, most of us grow out of it, and I certainly would, in fact I was already beautiful! YUP, Mama saw her kids through the prettiest rose colored filter. We were all tremendous, beautiful, talented, and a gift from her and Papa to the world.
I did, (mostly) grow out of my uglies in college. My teeth were straight and unbraced, my skin was much, MUCH better. I had even learned to style my hair in a flattering manner that WASN'T frizzy! My loving roommates taught me how to emphasis my good features through the judicious use of make-up. My gifts to dance and act brought many friends into my life.
How do you define yourself? Are you somebody's child, mother, sister, brother, husband, wife? After my beloved husband died I had a pretty serious case of the "Whom am I's." I took great pride and joy in being the wife of Nyle. He could do ANYTHING, from becoming an attorney and practicing for 20 years, electric or plumbing work in the house, act, sing, dance, do computer graphics, work as a law professor, and at the end of his life have a digital recording study (he got most of his equipment through barter or building the computer himself). What a gift it was to me to count this tremendous light of a man as husband...then he was gone.
Yet as I've walked through life, sometimes crawled, staggered, or dragged myself through life, I'm coming to understand that each and everyone of us have an identity, a value, a purpose that far exceeds earning a living, who our parents are, or spouse is, or children are....etc. Our intrinsic value comes from none of those things. If we have nothing...if we are thrust into the "mean streets," of our society we STILL HAVE VALUE! Each and every human born on this planet has value. It's tricky to realize that and see your own value. In oh so many ways it's easier to NOT see our incredible potential. By viewing what we could be or become it brings responsibility into our lives to become that mystical person.
It seems that for every positive experience in our life there are many more waiting to cause us grief. Today I have a challenge for me, and for those reading this post. Today I challenge you to look inside yourself. What value do you have....beyond your working skills, your ability to raise a family, the way you look? What do you consider a value within yourself? Is it valuable to be able to lift other humans and make them smile? Is there value in feeling the joyous beauty of life? How about the value of feeling loved, and giving love in return?
So this post ends with a challenge and a question. The challenge again is, "What do you see of yourself that has value?" The question is "Who Is Your Mother?" Meaning how do you define yourself?