Dancing across the freshly mopped floor. Playing with a cardboard box. Popping air packs from the latest Amazon shipment.
They love the simple things. They can be so easy to please.
When did adults become so complicated, so materialistic?
I remember when I was about eleven or twelve, that Christmas when most all of my mom’s side of the family was over.
I’ve never been much of a people-person. So much so that I tend to develop a head cold before every holiday.
Psychosomatic? Maybe. But after a terrible Christmas where my immediate family was accused of spreading a stomach bug to everyone, I don’t go to any functions with even the slightest cough to avoid becoming the pariah again.
Oh, wait. You’re always going to be that anyhow.
I remember that eleventh or twelfth Christmas before my mom had lung cancer, and she and all her siblings still smoked.
I was so excited.
I was a loner, and dolls and toys made me happiest. Tangible characters for my latest stories and adventures.
I’d worked myself up that year — I think there was some new Barbie or something I’d had my eye on.
But none of that happened. I got my period and all of a sudden I’m supposed to grow up, to be a woman.
I got earrings and necklaces and bracelets, all sorts of things that didn’t matter to me.
I remember crying in the family room, away from the crowd. I was crying to my mom, she didn’t understand. I don’t think she ever did. Then all my aunts came in with their opinions and made me feel more like a spoiled, rotten child.
I like to remember these things.
I like to think about the things that I used to feel shame over — what a brat I was. Now, I look back at them as a mother to three young girls and I see those moments of shame as gateways to my children’s hearts.
I loved my mom, but she was career-obsessed. I go there from time to time, but I recognize it when I’m in the self-created trenches and climb back up. I generally surface for a few days to a week, tops, and cannonball back down into the comfort of work soon after.
But I always climb back out. Always.
When I’m above, I see those moments clearly. I was not some spoiled child. I was a child with an imagination, a gift you might even say. One that was often trampled on by family because I was different from them.
I remember hearing my aunt complain to my mom about her “troubled” son, the one I was most like. She had her prized son, the younger one, and her fuck-up.
There’s a whole thing about being misunderstood that even I don’t see as deeply as I could. Like, I can’t imagine what it’s like being black, being any other color than white. I’ve got my “white girl” problems, but I also grew up in a wealthy neighborhood where the worst run-in with the law was speeding through ridiculously low speed limit areas. I was pulled over because I was speeding, not because of my skin color.
But I’m willing to try. I’m willing to put myself in other’s shoes to better myself, and to be better for my children—for the world as a whole.
So, I’ll let my girls wear their Halloween costumes in May, and make spaceships and little houses out of cardboard boxes, and try not to shame them when they ask, loudly in public, why two women are holding hands.
Everything is normal.
I’ll buy them dolls on their twelfth Christmas if they want them still.
I’ll shave my oldest daughter’s hair off, per her request, and prepare her the best I can, even though I know she’ll be teased by kids with parents much more ignorant than we are.
I’ll teach them that everything is normal. It’s not wrong to be attracted to girls when you’re a girl, guys when you’re a guy. If you fall madly in love with a black person, there’s no problem there. Why would it be wrong?
It’s your life. You love who you want, what you want.
I want to encourage my children to be who they are, no matter what anyone else thinks about it. Because nobody else matters. No one.
The only thing that matters is that you’re happy, that you’re a thoughtful, considerate person who understands that there’s more than just what’s inside your own head.
It’s a beautiful life. It’s more beautiful because it’s sprinkled with oddballs, characters, LGBTQ+, all the colors of the world.
Wouldn’t life be boring without all of the diversity and creativity?
I’m Sara Eatherton-Goff, a non-fiction and fiction writer, visual artist, and entrepreneur mom-person currently writing on Medium and for other publications. Check out some of my collective works on my website, and join my journey from writer to published author right here.