This is not a post about fashion, it’s about becoming a mom and the things that happen to our lives because of it.
It’s been years since I haven’t used a mini backpack. The reason was purely practical: I’m so clumsy that when I bent over a regular purse would swing off my body and smash my toddler like a wrecking ball.
So I started wearing a bag on my back.
It’s been years since I’ve worn most of the jewelry I own. The reason was purely practical: I have such slow reflexes that my small children would grab that necklace before I could stop them. My engagement ring was a sharp hazard while dressing squirmy bodies.
So I started wearing just small hoop earrings and a plain band.
It’s been years since I’ve regularly talked on the phone. The reason was purely practical: every time I got on the phone (no matter how occupied my children seemed to be) they would start yelling at each other or for me.
So I started only texting and emailing.
As my youngest grows up and sprouts past his sixth birthday I feel simultaneously older and younger. It’s a strange pull of sensation and age. On the one hand I feel the wisdom of the years gather around me like a strength. On the other hand I feel my normal self unfold like a kid from the back of a coupe after a family road trip.
Where are we?
It took me two seasons of watching the new Doctor Who to realize I feel like the adventurous Doctor’s young 20-something companion but I look like her mother.
How did I get here?
But that’s the thing with age, isn’t it? The secret they can’t share with you until you are there: we are all our younger selves under all these kids and wrinkles. Necessity might change our purses or hide our jewelry in a drawer for a time. Responsibility might put that phone down for a while. But if you let time wind its curved journey we will eventually bend back into ourselves.
And there we are.
I just spent a week this June camping in ceremonial community.
You can imagine the work involved living outdoors with no running water or bathrooms. Add to that ceremony and kids and people moving through their personal growth process and you could have a hard week.
But somehow it all flowed together wonderfully.
"This is what we are heading towards" we were told at the end of the week. "This is the Coming Together that is our future".
I looked around the circle and I felt incredible peace. So many different people with different abilities coming together in harmony.... this feels like Home.
And then something struck me to my core.
"You did a good job shifting from the "I to the We" this week", we were told.
"I to We."
That simple phrase rang through me like bells, resonating deeply into every part of me.
Isn't that why we do this?
I have been in many circles before.
Circles for ceremony and healing. Circles for celebration and for fun. In the end we all feel better because we feel more connected. We feel more a part of everything from each other to the Universe.
We re-join the "We".
I got back in the car feeling happy and complete, totally unaware of the epiphany that was yet to come when someone casually mentioned:
"You can't have a strong 'We' without strong 'I''s."
And you can't, can you?
Imagine a week of camping with a bunch of people who were whining, feeling like victims or angry at the mosquitoes.
No fun, huh?
Hard to get things done.
But this past week of camping worked so well because all of us were strong in ourselves. We held good boundaries and we asked for what we needed. If one person couldn't help with the dishes because they had children to put to bed it was OK - someone else stepped up.
Whoever was available to help pack did.
Whoever felt inspired to take all of the children to play in the creek did.
Whoever felt called to assist someone in their personal growth with a conversation or a hug did.
There were no tallies kept or grudges held. Everyone focused on what they could offer and did their best.
No one played the victim, sacrificed themselves by lifting something heavy when they felt overheated or by trying to do what they could not.
Everyone was an "I" that was standing tall. That's what created such a strong "We".
It goes both ways.
Sometimes we are focusing on learning how to be an "I"and our current path is an inner one instead of an outer one.
Sometimes we are learning how be a We. We work to release our fear of connection and learn how to receive the love, community and respect we are a part of.
But in the end, balance is the key.
You can't enjoy a wonderful "We" without being a strong "I". Otherwise you give too much and the group or relationship overrides your inner knowing, leaving resentment and exhaustion behind.
You can't be a happy "I" without a "We". Otherwise a big ego and constant disconnection leave you feeling angry and unfulfilled.
But together, with both a strong "I" connected to a sense of "We" the force created is unstoppable.
Everything can be accomplished. Anything can happen.
This is why war rallies a country. The need for self-protection makes a person stand strong in their "I" and the unification of the country gives a sense of "We". It's a powerful combination.
But we have had enough of war. Now we are learning how to do this in peace.
You are not selfish to work on yourself.
We need you to be strong. We need you to know what you want and don't want in your life. We need you say "no thank you" to things that don't work for you.
And we need you to have the courage to say "yes" to the things that do.
"We" need you, beautiful "I".