When I was 5 years old I knew EXACTLY what I wanted for Christmas. It wasn’t terribly complicated, a pretty straightforward request: I wanted a bra. I was so excited – I *knew* Santa was going to bring me one. It can’t be that difficult to make, my mom had several, I had seen them. So yeah, a bra.
I remember playing on my mom’s side of the bed (as I usually did), Mom asking me what I was going to ask Santa for, and me telling her. I remember her asking me questions about it – odd, she didn’t ask me questions about the Matchbox cars or the teddy bears, but you know, sometimes you have to walk parents through things, I mean, they know a lot but they don’t know *everything.*
So I explained it to her: the whole thing comes together. I get one of those things and the stuff that goes inside of it comes with it. Then I put it on and I am an adult. That is how it works. I don’t know exactly what goes inside of it, but it will come in the box – its included. And that is the moment, just a few weeks away from Christmas, that my mom went into a mixture of panic and action mode.
I woke up today thinking about this story. I thought about how my mom told her friends about it, and how they anxiously/gleefully awaited Christmas morning to see how she solved this latest puzzle I threw at her. I thought about the ritual that so many women go through of shifting between relaxation and “go mode” and how that ritual can include taking off and putting on a bra or some other type of garment. I thought about how I presented my mother with the wonderful task of either sufficiently address your child’s existential question (in 3 weeks or less) or see her cry on Christmas, sure that Santa disappointed her. Fa la la la la la la la la.
Today I am thankful for being heard, even (and especially) when I wasn’t sure what I was saying. I wanted a bra… with “contents”… so that I could be an adult… sometimes. My mom HEARD me. She didn’t just listen to what I was saying, she HEARD me. That Christmas I didn’t get a magical bra, I got something far more amazing – I got a Wonder Woman Record Player! I mean, admit it – that is a pretty good match. 🙂
For years Mom has been saying that her strategy was to distract me with something amazing that year so that I would forget my Christmas request. But I don’t think she is giving herself enough credit. For one thing, I have a *fantastic* memory… and as a kid at Christmas that memory only goes into superdrive. But for another thing, she could have chosen ANY KIND of distraction. I LOVE bears – had an extensive collection. I was TOTALLY INTO Matchbox cars – desperately wanted the cars my brother had. Actually, anything that my brother had in his room probably would have made for a great gift, and Star Wars was big that year. But she went with Wonder Woman… and I was captivated. I carried that record player in a suitcase around like it was my job.
I am thankful for the way that my Mom took an active interest in what I was trying to say. I was being as clear as I could be, but even that wasn’t terribly clear. How could it be when things were kind of mixed up in my own head? I am grateful for how she didn’t just dismiss what I was saying as a passing fancy or something silly or without value. She listened, she tried to understand, and she heard me beyond the words I was saying. She may not have understood all the ins and outs of what I was saying, but she got the main points: she saw that there was something about strength, something about being a woman, something about being valued and valuable. She saw that I wanted to be able to try it on… and take it off. She realized that she didn’t need to understand it all, she just needed to acknowledge what I was feeling, and she tended to that.
She gave me Wonder Woman… and she gave me music. I’m grateful for being heard, and I’m grateful for Wonder Woman, my personal Wonder Woman – the woman who listened, my mom. And she also showed me it isn’t required to always wear a bra… but sometimes it is helpful. Darn it.