Tuesday, October 10, 2017
I've walked thousands of steps since those early days. Chris has walked many steps in front of me, many steps without me. We've come together and we've also been torn apart. We battled, at times, and other times we surrendered to each other. Through it all, I never let Chris out of my sight, I never ran and I have stayed close, even if, sometimes, my eyes were closed or I refused to listen. Above and beyond this, Chris never let me go, never pushed me away, even when it probably would have made his life much easier. And ... he never allowed me to control his dream.
I've often thought, over the years, since having children, that raising them into the world is not just a test toward ensuring their survival, but also a test toward defining ours as parents, as human beings. A child will most often survive in spite of their parents. They will ultimately define their own worth. They will pave their own path. They will defiantly survive. Regardless.
My children have tested me on so many levels and survived, brilliantly, in spite of me. You think you know who you are and WHAT you believe, but nothing and no one will test you and your ideas more than your own child, because just about the time you believe you've created that mirror image of yourself you have tediously tried years to replicate ... they look at you with a face that is not like you at all, counter you with ideas far more powerful, even more convincing to you than your own. They stand in front of you strong, convicted, different. As a parent, you spend hours and days and years trying to get your children to conform to your rules, your agendas, your beliefs, because you have only your own life and experiences to guide them by and believe if they follow you they will survive. But ... a parent should also try to impress on their children to rock conformity, to refuse it, to defy it, to fly when others are walking, to scream when silence is deafening, to stray when lines are formed toward incompetence or boredom or rigid ideas that offer no extraordinary future, no extraordinary life.
Like my other three children, Chris has kept me close, but always makes sure I know that he is going to scream when the silence is deafening, he is always going to fly even if others are walking, he is always going to stray when lines formed are leading toward incompetence, boredom or offer ideas that do not lead him, or anyone, toward an extraordinary future, an extraordinary life. He's kept me close and embraced those parts of me that compliment his ideas and place in this world, and because he veered far from the path I once believed his life should have taken, he's helped me see that I succeeded in helping him know when and how to take possession of his life. He's also helped me redefine my own identity. I am not just his mother or the woman that birthed a baby girl I named Chloe, as I once clung to. I am now the person that has come to understand that a person's identity is ONLY linked to others or other things when THEY allow it - otherwise, it is personal, always, and it is never negotiable. And it most certainly should not be driven by others ideas or dreams.
I no longer worry about Chris the way I did a few years ago, and not because I somehow succeeded in helping him to survive on this journey he is on, or survive, at all, really. I no longer worry because, through this journey, through Chris (and my other kids) I came to appreciate and love the idea that he is not a reflection of me, but his own complete and utter identity. And that identity is strong now because of the changes he's making in his life, in his appearance, in the vision he is creating, discovering, offering to the world.
Chris is one of my very best friends and favorite people. Partly, I guess it's because he's my child and I'm his mother, but beyond that ... there are few people on this Earth I'd rather spend time with, listen to, hear laugh. I honestly believe, now, that if Chris had gone on in his life as Chloe because he was afraid or did not know how to change this thing about himself that felt so wrong, that was wrong, I honestly believe the silence from such sadness would be deafening, the path would be leading him toward the wrong life, the wrong un-extraordinary life. I know that now. I'm proud I taught this child to scream ...