Saturday, July 9, 2011

exactly like me

You know those mirrors that magnify your reflection x10 or x50 and have a light all the way around them that are fastened to the wall on those movable, extendable arm thingies? I've seen them at places like IKEA, Restoration Hardware and even Target, I think.... yeah, I've never liked those. Not one bit. The way I see it, if you have to have it enlarged x10 and shine an obnoxious fluorescent light on it, well it's probably best left unseen or ignored. Picture yourself in a full-length one of those and hold that thought... we'll get back here in a minute....

My little 5-year-old asked if she could wear my perfume the other morning. I said, "Of course Baby, just please don't spill it." And then she proceeded to apply it to her neck and wrists ever-so-carefully in the exact manner as I do it.... and then she spilled it. All over. And I yelled at her. And an enormous tear immediately filled each of her big brown eyes and she climbed down off of her hippo step stool and slowly walked away deflated. Totally shattered. By me. And I felt horrible. I immediately stopped her, sat on the bathtub and took her by the shoulders and said, "Oh M., I'm sorry for yelling at you... but what's wrong, why are you so sad?"

"Because Mama, I just want to be exactly like you and I keep getting it all wrong."

And suddenly, there before me was a gigantic magnifying mirror (x50) encircled with the brightest, most unflattering light.... exposing every single flaw from the top of my perpetually 80s hair to the bottoms of my flat feet. There is nothing in the world that has ever made me feel so unworthy, stained and imperfect than when my precious little girl said those words.

And as I looked into her teary eyes through my own teary eyes...I saw me. Then. And a thousand things went through my mind, things I wanted her to know and believe and realize.... I wanted to tell her that I could think of a dozen people off of the top of my head that I'd rather her be exactly like. I wanted to tell her not to be just like me, but so much more. Better. Smarter. Stronger. Kinder. Wiser. And the list just goes on and on. I wanted to grab her and explain all of my mistakes so that she may avoid them.... show her all of my mental, physical and spiritual scars so that she wouldn't have identical wounds one day. I wanted so desperately to point out all of the detours, potholes and traps that I've found along the way so that she would be prepared. I wanted to face her toward the magnifying mirror so that she could see me the way I see myself and all of my imperfections. And perhaps then, she wouldn't want to be exactly like me.

But the fact is, although she is an old soul (the depth in her eyes dates back long before me), she is only 5. And anything I wanted to pass on to her was just too much. Too deep. Too heavy. Too far beyond 5. So when she's a little older and if she still wants to be exactly like me, I'll tell her this....

Lovey, be like me...the good bits. But be better. Get there faster. Don't take the same wrong turns. Don't let your heart make too many of your decisions. Live in the big picture, but appreciate the smallest of details. Be a good listener. Cheer for the underdog. Don't be so hard on yourself. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Wear bright lipstick, sing in the shower, and stick your face out of the car when you're driving. Eat spicy food. Dance whenever you want, however you want. Look up at the stars (and the puffy clouds). Learn to make good decisions. Remember that you teach people how to treat you. Give and accept compliments. Do your best at everything you try and try lots and lots of different things. Live just outside of your comfort zone... but visit your comfort zone from time to time. Be a good friend and a gracious lady. Go explore and discover and know that you can always come home to me to recharge and refresh and to plan your next adventure. Ponder, reflect and think....about who you are and who you want to become. Know that who you are is a direct reflection of Whose you are. And know that you are His. Don't need things. Set all of the earthly desires aside and invest in the things that will outlast this life. And my darling little girl, remember that all of the things in this life that were lost on me can be found in Him and reflected through you. Find those things and be exactly like no one but you. (You'll be enough like me, you already are.) And don't ever buy one of those magnifying mirrors. If it needs to be enlarged and lit up that much... you don't need to see it.

And then we played in my perfume.... all of it... sprayed and spilled and sampled and ran it through our hair... and smelled like French whores for the rest of the day......................

4 comments:

scs said...

Oh Tava, that brought me to tears. Both kinds. I could feel that moment of heart crushing when she told you that, and I laughed happy tears at your French whore party. And then thought of Dangerous Beauty and the fun Inhad with you that summer! It was amfull experience reading today!

VBartholomew said...

Tava - You just put into words what every mother feels when raising a little girl. In fact, this exact thing happened with me and Haley the other day, except it was my Este Lauder eye shadow...cracked and in pieces all over the bathroom counter and floor.
I so admire your ability to write the things that are so difficult to put into words! You should work for Hallmark!

Love ya!

NanaM. said...

That was so beautiful and so truthful...do you mind if I print it to give to my grandaughters someday? You are so talented and such a good mommy! Love you! When are you coming to Cali?

BC said...

Tava, that was so revealing. I too was moved to tears at the reality of our daughters in our "mirrors". I have often tried to put my mind back into that state of when I was a child just to remind myself of what it feels like to grow up. What it feels like to have your heart broken by your parents because you made a mistake or forgot to do something. The guilt, the shame, the confusion. I remember often thinking "Why is it such a big deal? Why are they so mad at me about THAT?" Thank you for reminding us of how much those kinds of reactions affect our kid's. So easliy we can react, when we need to respond. And more, thank you for reminding us what WE should be doing--those wise words you wanted to tell M, about dancing and singing and the big picture, that we should be living examples of all this-showing them how to live like that.
Thank you for your insight.