Anne gives herself freely to each emotion as it passes through her psyche. Surrendering completely, into the depths of despair or the heights of ecstasy.
Marilla is afraid to feel. A life of hard experiences has taught her not to expect too much, lest she be disappointed. Her moments of passion have led to some of her biggest regrets.
Sometimes I am Anne and sometimes I am Marilla. Often I am nervous to give in completely. In some ways this is good. As an adult I need to function on a day-to-day basis and one can’t do that very well in the depths of despair. In other ways it is terrible. I struggle to give in to the sweet moments that come, moments saturated with love and safety.
When I get excited about something, echoes of “next time dad gets paid” ring through my head and I remember all the “next times” that never came. The clothes that didn’t fit, the activities I didn’t even ask to participate in. Other times I remember being on the giving end of a Secret Santa and I struggle to express how excited I get to be able to do the same for another struggling family.
The blessings of being a mother to daughters that feel deeply are not lost on me. They show me every day that you can give in to those feelings and still be worthy of love. I know this because they have my love. Every day I find it easier and easier to give in to my highs and lows, to feel them fully. During these times, I am Anne. Feeling the delights of extreme happiness and the depth of sorrow or grief.
Where do you find yourself? Are you mostly Anne, mostly Marilla, or somewhere in between?
There’s no doubt, I’ve been off the radar for a few months. The last post I wrote, I was 38 weeks pregnant and counting down the days until Elizabeth was born. The last 3 weeks (that’s right, I gave birth after 41 weeks of pregnancy) seemed to stretch out for years. Especially that last week when I was essentially in labor THE ENTIRE TIME.
Yeah, that wasn’t cool.
But my little girl just turned 12 weeks old and that “hell week” seems like a distant memory.
Since that week, my emotional state has been surprisingly stable. That is, until this last week. Upon hearing about the shooting in Santa Barbara, California I was deeply disturbed. I won’t go into the shooting here, but you can read about it here. The more I learned, the more my heart broke. What it boiled right down to was that my sweet daughter, the love of my life, deserves a better world. She deserves to live in a world where she can say “no” and not be afraid for her life. As I began to follow the #YesAllWomen hashtag on Twitter, I initially felt more sad. How could I protect my daughter from these experiences that I, and all other women, have had? Ultimately, it was this hashtag that began to turn my heartbreak around. As women, and men, came together to create an online community of support I felt encouraged. I was, and continue to be, hopeful that this global community can change the world as little Elizabeth grows up.
She can grow up in a world where she won’t be told that little boys are mean to her because they like her. She can wear what she wants without school administration editing her yearbook photo. She won’t have to lie to get men to leave her alone.
I feel confident that this world will be better for her because so many of us are working hard to improve things.
And in that vein, working hard to improve the world has been the bright spot on my horizon this week. I am speaking of the revival of Reading Rainbow. I can honestly say that Reading Rainbow, and Levar Burton, have had a huge impact on my life. I watched Reading Rainbow after school in the 90’s and then in the evening I would watch Star Trek: The Next Generation with my dad and I would watch Geordi La Forge come up with creative solutions in a technologically advanced world. I learned through television and books that the world could be a better place and Reading Rainbow was a huge part of that education.
In addition to my excitement, the coming together of people to meet Levar Burton’s Kickstarter goal in just one day is astounding to me. The fact that so many people can come together and do their part to create a better world, to the tune of $1 million a day, is astounding to me. As of this moment, this campaign has raised nearly $3 million! I am glad that I, and others like me, are committed to making a difference any way we can.
So yes, this week has been emotional. My protective instincts as a new parent have been tested. My human instincts that demand that everyone be treated with dignity have been stretched to the limit. My “cock-eyed” optimism (born out of having very optimistic parents and programming like Star Trek and Reading Rainbow) that people can work together toward a common goal has been reaffirmed.
And with this reflection I will leave you with the smiling face that brightens my day every single day.