Defining Me

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diamond studs

Late on Christmas day, while our house was still full of people, my oldest daughter and I retired to the living room.  T had made mochas with his new milk frother (awesome!) and Emily and I snuck away to a quiet spot to spend few moments together.  When we sat down, my daughter told me that she had been prepared to give me a “talking to” that day.  Sadly, I wasn’t shocked.  My poor daughter has been my watchdog and my rock, but on Christmas day, she was proudly smiling at me.  She went on to tell me that she had been prepared for me to be upset that Andrew hadn’t been able to be home with us and that my parents were gone.  She had been prepared for me to wallow in what was NOT instead of being grateful for what WAS.  I smiled.  She was right to have been prepared with that talk, and I was ridiculously proud that she didn’t have to say those words to me.  Yes, I have changed.  The changes have been subtle, and they have been a long time coming, but here they are.  I made the most of the moment right in front of me.  Best of all, I made my daughter happy and proud.

My life is not perfect.  Far from it.  Everything is the same; what has changed is me.

When I was in high school, I went behind by mother’s back and double pierced my ears.  I did the piercing job myself the old fashioned way with an ice cube, a needle, and a potato.  I wore my ears double-pierced for years, but when I entered the workforce, I opted for a more conservative look and wore a pair of simple pearl studs or conservative gold hoops.  In the years between my sons’ births, I began to wear a diamond stud in one of the double piercings.  I wasn’t working then.  I wore the little diamond to remind me of Grace.  No one knew that’s why I wore the little diamond but me.  I wore it in my left ear for years until I once again returned to work.  As the years past, I almost forgot about the other little hole in my ear lobes.  I’m not sure what happened to the little diamond stud that was once part of my life.

A few weeks ago as a joke on the girls, I put an earring in that same ear once again.  My hair was up that day, and I did it to tease my daughters who didn’t even know that their mother had that “edgy” double pierced ear.  “MOM!  Is your ear double pierced?  When did you do that?”  They were shocked, and I loved it.  It was so funny for them to see me as someone, someone different, before I became their mother.  I wore the double earring all weekend, but when Monday came, I took it out, back to normal and conservative.

As Emily and I talked in the quiet living room on Christmas day, she brought up the earring to me.  She said that I had seemed so happy and lively that morning.  She said that I had been so proud of myself, almost playful, and she asked me why I hadn’t just kept wearing that extra earring.  I said things like, “Oh, I’m too old.  No one my age wears double pierced ears.  Nah…”

There I was, doing what was expected of me, behaving like everyone else.  Almost 50 years old (WTF!!!!) and still worried about what everyone else would think about me, worried that someone would look down on me or pass judgment on me.  I thought a lot about our conversation in the following days.  Years ago when I had worn the little diamond stud, it had meant something special to me.  It was a reminder of my daughter, but more importantly, it was a reminder of strength.  It was my own reminder of the strength I’d had to endure, the trials of life.  Diamonds are hard, but they sparkle and shine.  I had liked that.  It had seemed a fitting reminder of persistence and endurance.

A few days later, on my birthday, the girls gave me a gift.  It was a set of tiny diamond studs.  Emily told me to put one in and save the other.  She had a big smile on her face.  She is a smart young woman.  She knew that once again, I needed a reminder to be proud of who I am and not worry about what others might think.  Once again, I needed a reminder of strength, endurance, beauty and sparkle.

I know, wearing a second earring is hardly edgy.  It’s not like I’ve pierced my tongue or a nostril.  It’s not a tattoo or a neon stripe of color in my hair.  But that’s OK.  Being edgy is not who I am or who I want to be.  Those things would mean nothing to me.  This does.  This means something to me, and that’s what it’s all about.

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