Little Boxes, Little Boxes: Waking Up Over the Rainbow

Boxes. They package things quite nicely, don’t they? They’re all sorts of useful: packing up pretty baubles for hair and accessorizing, storing crafting supplies for a later use, but one thing they aren’t for is packing and storing all kinds of ugliness.

Three things inspired this post: the songs Little Boxes (our favorite version here) and Over the Rainbow (found here) and the fact that we’re moving soon and boxes are found, well, everywhere in our house. I got to thinking about an analogy to use to describe what I’ve done to myself and often my children over the years. As I was trying to fit as many similar items together into various odd-shaped boxes – some too big, some too small – it hit me: My whole life until about 5 years ago was wasted by trying to fit into a box prescribed to me by one person or another. Whether it was my parents, my boyfriends, my friends – I did nothing to be me and everything to be who they wanted or needed me to be. How disgusting to live a life like that.

A wise woman once told me that I should never apologize for my tears. “It just means you love hard, K, and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.” She was, of course, correct. And that statement combined with a plaque given to me by that woman’s daughter that read “Let your spirit shine” were the tools I needed to begin this journey. The journey of unpacking my feelings, unpacking my negative thoughts toward myself because I can’t fit into a box and unpacking my true beliefs so I could live the life I was meant to live.

D also inspired this post, of course, because he doesn’t fit into a box either. I say he, because he’s requested me to call him that previously. But I also mistakenly use the wrong pronoun. Often I’m admonished for it with a, “Mom!” Lately, D hasn’t admonished, but surprised me. One day we were teasing each other about my forgetfulness when referring to D. What came out of his mouth was astounding to me. The conversation went something like this:

Me: So, what are you going to say, then, when people ask if you’re a boy or girl? What will your response be? D: I’m both. Everyone is. That’s how the Universe is.

It reminded me of a friend who’s been a HUGE help to me and to D. His name also begins with D, so we’ll call him Big D in this post. Big D once told me he didn’t admonish his mother for referring to him as what he previously was for this reason: “I’m not a man or a woman. I’m neither because my spirit is neither and it is mine.”

D may have held a slightly different perspective than Big D, but wow. It totally blew my mind and humbled me that my child at almost 13 seemed to figure out what took me nearly 35 years to learn. Maybe my spirit got bruised trying to fit into those boxes so my kids could take what they learned through my struggles and become freer than me. Maybe, but perhaps it’s because I’m just a good mama and I didn’t see it before. Maybe I’m starting to believe the hype surrounding me at D’s school.

Children – the gift that just keeps giving. Thanks, D. You’re quite the teacher, and I love you. You freed me!

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