That thing where you read some Roxanne Gay and she talks about how we as a society don’t allow women to be unlikeable, multidimensional human beings. In films. In books. In porn. In art. But no one is just any one thing. We don’t fit into boxes. I’ve never fit into any box. My children will certainly never fit into any one box. My mother and father didn’t have any boxes.
Also, that thing where you realize your parent, your mother, knocked down from her pedestal, is human. After many years of anger and resentment. One day you simply realize. She is a person. She made her mistakes. And she’s entitled to do so. The world keeps turning. Think of all the artists and people who fucked up yet also did something really great that deeply touched us all. They had someone at home, and maybe they didn’t do it all right either.
My mom put herself around people and in situations where women weren’t equal. Yet she worked to take care of her family when her husband could not. The messages all around us were, cover yourself, don’t attract attention to yourself, follow the rules. And she was able to disregard it all. I’m very grateful for that. I’m grateful for the times we went outside for long walks and she knew all the names of the plants and how she was never afraid of snakes. The time she took me to see Halley’s comet. Her love for geology and astronomy, and birds. How we would watch star trek together. All of these things were subversive to her sex and her station. And yet she did it anyway. I’m grateful for how she said one thing but did something else, and how that something else shaped me into the person I became.
I think of how I struggled to break out of the box and the role of someone’s mother. And even more confining, the mother of someone with special needs. And most difficult of all, how I struggled to change my life, upending it, rending and cutting and setting fire to my sense of security and my perceived place in the world, to search for my own happiness. We still have human needs and desires and all of the other experiences and wants of a person.
I think of my mother and my father and their struggles and all the things they did and decisions they made that I didn’t agree with, and the things they did that caused me hurt. And finally after 40 years of wondering why, maybe I’m done with that. I can just say, they were human beings, making the decisions they needed to make at that time in their lives. They were multidimensional and fucked up and complex and undefined. And maybe, maybe that’s okay.
When I look in my heart and feel good about the lives of my children, or I do something for myself that feels good. Yes, I created my current life and my trajectory, but that wouldn’t have been possible without my parents. They breathed that magic of life into my body, and despite all else, I’m here and alive and happy because of that act.
Alan Watts says in one of his books that the purpose of life is simply for the universe to see itself. And the full realm of human behavior is life, death, good, bad, hurt, pleasure, all of that existence is legitimate because that’s what it means to be alive. So, perhaps even when it hurts others or is unlikeable or you can’t understand it, it’s okay to be multidimensional. Those dualities of good and bad in people that we can’t seem to understand, maybe you just have to suck it up and accept it because it’s part of being alive.
Acceptance feels like a fair trade off for being alive, if you ask me.