I had a headache. And I don't get them often. Seriously I'm one of those blessed people that just don't get headaches. So as this one made its way from one side of my head to the other and then hung out between my eyes I just had to sigh and surrender. I drank some water ate some nuts and kept it moving, forcing myself to focus.
I put down the box I was unpacking and looked around with satisfaction, I was almost done unpacking the kitchen. We had just moved from our home of 14 years, the only home the kids had known the first home we ever owned and making it happen had been a beast. From the packing and staging and showing and waiting and negotiating and looking for a new place I was beyond exhausted. I was exhausted from the stress and worry that had led to the decision. I was exhausted by the years leading up to the decision. I was just tired of the grind of it all. I breathed in deeply letting my mornings meditation give me the strength to stay in the moment stay in the flow I landed on gratefulness.
I smiled in spite of the pain in my head at the walls of my bright new kitchen. Sighing with relief as we shined and settled into our new place making it beautiful making it our own. We had created a safe harbor for our kids and for us and I was a bit surprised by the headache. Hadn't we done it? The hardest days were behind us right?
I picked up another box like a drunk thinking maybe I can handle just one more. But as my daughter came into the room I was reminded again that I was about to be late. I was playing catch up you see. I was usually so involved at the kids schools but this last semester with the hubby out of town hard at work and me left to navigate the rest I had reached my limit. Both kids were culminating. One from Middle School and the other from Elementary. Big deal moments in a young families life. And so I had thrown my whole self into setting up home and launching into culmination activities. I had decided to volunteer everywhere I could.
I put the box down and gathered myself up and convinced Naya to go with me to help decorate for her 8th grade culmination dance. She had told me numerous times she wasn't going to be going to the dance, but I still had hope she would change her mind. Maybe being a part of decorating would prove how fun it could be. A sweet little girl who could have been mistaken for "tinkerbell" attached herself to Naya as we decorated her school. She a flutter of color and sparkle and Naya in jeans and a sweatshirt were a stark unmissable contrast. Oh maybe Naya was just worried about what she would wear. Such a usual preoccupation for teens especially girls like mine who loathed dresses. I cringed as my mind drifted to the month previous where Naya had been convinced to wear a dress and hostess for her Girls Empowerment Brunch. I had gotten her involved with a wonderful group whose intent it was of making young Black girls into amazing young Black Women. But as I glanced over mid Brunch to see her trying to smile as she shifted uncomfortably in her dress. I worried that maybe I had pushed my will too hard.
Naya had enjoyed the groups meet up's but there was always a bit of a disconnect. I had given her a choice of Girl Scouts or this group. She is naturally an agreeable child and I knew I was taking advantage. She was definitely doing it more for me then her. I decided that this was what parents had to do sometimes. Every kid doesn't want to be in scouts or clubs or summer leadership camps. It's up to parents to make good choices for their future right?
But as I looked at my Naya standing awkwardly in the doorway of the luncheon trying to keep a smile on her face I felt a little twinge.
As we drove over to the school I assured Naya she could wear anything she wanted to the dance a jacket and tie might be an option. Girls look great in suits. I could come in a matching outfit as a chaperone and dance along. She gave me a sideways smirked and we both laughed. No one wants their Mom as a dress up look alike at their Middle School dance! No thank you:)
Later in September as I saw the length of it I wanted to cry.
In the span of 5 tight months we stood in two houses, two Culminations and then traveled to Bury my Dad and congratulate a Graduating Cousin. Finally reuniting as a family in yet another state. As I sat in the hotel room and listened to the words that my child spoke of their new understanding of their body, their new name and their place in the world. I sat still and listened.
As I saw them off on the bus 2 months later to start their first year of High School as a Boy. Walking to stand and wait for the bus in the midst of his middle school classmates, from just 8 weeks prior. Many of them saying nothing possibly not knowing what to say. I watched aching until one friend linked up and as we drove away I felt like I was holding my breath.
I was struck to tears at the bravery that it must have taken.
To stand in the midst of his ever changing life and stake a claim on his territory the only thing you really own.
Saying to us and the world... this is who I am and I'm sorry if it hurts or offends but I don't belong in a dress.