I used to be the girl who careened barefoot down the road less traveled stopping only to bury her face in the jasmine growing wild by the side of the road. I used to be the girl who wanted to touch and taste everything, who wanted to live life out loud and unafraid.
“Life is a banquet, and most poor sons of bitches are starving” Auntie Mame trilled. And once upon a time, I lived by that rule. Within reason, of course: I went to class, I wrote an honors thesis, I worked. But I also liked skydiving. And walking barefoot on the beach in the middle of January.
But bit by bit, real life got in the way of my fearlessness.
And then one morning, floundering in a fugue of fatigue after (yet another) sleepless night, it dawned on me that this was not how I wanted my life to be. So, I put on mascara, grabbed the black nail polish, and said, “Fuck it. I will not live like this anymore.”
I get one shot at life. One. Shot. And my kids only get one shot. And a life spent measuring out each moment in teaspoons just to get to the next step is not a life I want to live. And while everyone needs boundaries, fear is the ultimate straight jacket.
And even though right now life is a big scary What If–even though there are moments when I want to scream with rage and frustration because I feel so damn powerless while I worry about child support and sick days and being in three places at the same time, I am living out loud.
And more importantly, I am teaching my kids these lessons. Sure, our days are not without our moments vegging in front of the TV. But most of the time, I encourage them to do all the things I was afraid to do for the last several years–to touch and taste and smell and listen to the world around them–to be in the moment with perfect trust in themselves.
Within limits. When the sun shines, we roll down hills and get covered in grass stains and mud. We dig our fingers deep into the earth and look for worms. We stop and smell the jasmine blooming all over the kibbutz. They pet dogs and look for snails. On rainy days, we bake chocolate cake and crank up the stereo and dance like sea-monkeys on speed. Yeah, it’s gangsta rap and 90s grunge and not something more “child appropriate” but hey, my kids are learning rhythm. And when they are exposed to this music later on–and believe you me, they will be–it won’t be something forbidden and taboo. “Oh, Tupac? Yeah, my mom and I used to dance to him when I was 3.”
We eat dinner together at the kitchen table–and if they finish all their veggies, they paint their faces with chocolate frosting. They wobble on their bikes. They fall and scrape their legs. When they cry, they know that I–or someone they love and trust–is close by to scoop them up and give them a hug and a kiss
And before bed every night, they brush their teeth. With toothpaste.
From “Edgy And Raunchy Sounds Good To Me” By Sarah Emily Tuttle-Singer