Friday, November 18, 2016

True Colors

Yesterday we put Jack's old surfboard sheets on the extra bed in the baby's room, where I sleep from about 3-6 most mornings after I've tended to Andrew. We haven't used those sheets in the three years we've lived in this house, but yesterday the other set was in the wash and our cleaning lady, who helps out twice a month, offered to change the beds for me. I couldn't say no. What a treat it is to have a bed made up nicely rather than in the haphazard way I do it! (Remember when Jack used to make Tim's and my bed every morning for a dollar?)

When our cleaning lady saw the colorful surfboards, she immediately recognized them as Jack's. I didn't think much of it until this morning at three when I crawled under the navy blue comforter and between the familiar sheets. It took me right back to snuggle time with Jack.

Gosh, he loved his old bedroom, the largest in the house, with its built-in bookshelves and big windows. He loved the lime green walls (he called them chartreuse) and the navy and white stripes that Tim and I somehow painted without messing up or even arguing. But Jack was a little concerned about the surfer theme that I "dove" into wholeheartedly as I planned his big boy room.  Surfboard sheets, beach shack signs, little shark and surfboard lights around his windows. "Is it okay to have a surfer room if I don't surf?" he asked. Sure it was. Plus, I thought there would be plenty of times Jack would go in the ocean, at his own pace, even if he never became a surfer. I couldn't know he wouldn't ever leave the sand.

His concerns seemed so cute to me, but not surprising.

Jack always wanted to be authentic.

A few years later, when I bought him a Mountain Dew shirt at Five Below, it sat unworn in his dresser for months. Finally I asked, "Are you ever going to wear that shirt, or should I donate it?" He answered that he didn't feel right wearing it if he'd never tasted Mountain Dew. He said it was kind of like false advertising, since he didn't know whether Mountain Dew was good or not. I replied, "You know you could have asked me, right? We can get you a Mountain Dew to see what you think." He was surprised, but delighted, and it became one of favorite shirts that last year.

I try to be authentic, too.

I want my inner and outer selves to match. I want to live out my values even if inertia, laziness, and  too much comfort try to entice me to do otherwise.

And I want to offer no shocking surprises should Dateline rig up the house with hidden cameras, or record my interactions with anyone from family members to strangers. Sometimes my intentions are really good, but my actions don't show evidence of it. Instead of being loving, generous and expansive, I am cranky, insular, and selfish.

The things that I think about, and how I spend my time and my money do not always reflect what I tell myself my true priorities are.

Plus, there is the risk that if I show my authentic self and people don't like it, I've made a mistake in being vulnerable.

Just some thoughts I have today, sparked by memories of a young boy who made sure his insides and outside matched.






33 comments:

mama2lsa said...

Wow! You've just made yourself vulnerable and it's all good! What sweet memories of your Jack that are defining how you live today! Thank you for being authentic.

Kyra B said...

Authentic, tender and poignant as always. Sending love to your family...Especially your Mountain Dew-loving angel.

Sisters from Another Mister said...

Isn't it funny that we will beat ourselves up over what we think people would make of us while being real?
I am glad you have those sheets, that early morning became a time of sweet reflection.
So much love.

julie gardner said...

I think your inside and outside are as real and authentic as any person's can be.
This post is both honest and inspiring. If only everyone would aspire to such truth.
XO

Gwen said...

I so love the "real" you and no doubt in my mind the inside and outside match! Thank you for being so transparent - now we can follow your example and spend time matching the inside and outside!

Amanda said...

I too struggle to be the Mom I want to be while maintaining a demanding job, a home that is never clean, meals to be cooked, and tons of 7th grade homework to be reviewed. I'm cranky often and I don't even have a baby needing nightly care to blame. I try to be kind to all, but fail as a human when someone going slow is in the left-hand lane on the interstate.

Anonymous said...

Crying as I type... you are authentic...just like Jack! And by being authentic you challenge us to let our guard down and be so, too... which is a good thing. I still praise God for the keen mind he's given you to recall so many precious stories.

Praying you through this fall and as you continue to hear of Jack's classmates plans for the coming year. I have no doubt that he'd be racking up the college acceptances and I wonder if our two might still be competing at the is stage. I know my girls wit is sharper for all their years of sparing! On another note, our kiddos both had striped walls... never knew that. I wonder if they ever shared this with each other to spark the desire.

Hugs & Prayers, Karen

Gretchen said...

oh Anna, what a beautiful post.
I miss Jack.

SWW said...

I don't think it's ever a mistake to be vulnerable although I struggle with the same things you mention.

SLA said...

I heart this. Keep up the good work, mama - your self is always shining through!

Carrie Blank said...

Oh my god, Jack is still teaching me things thru you. I definitely relate to this -- not only to the times I'm not my authentic good self (and times when the authentic me is the selfish one and the generosity is what I fake) but to the child who would feel that shirt or a surf theme was a lie. Profound statements gracefully written. So what else is new..

Judith said...

Well said, Anna. Seems to me you are doing a pretty good job of "matching" your selves. None of us are completely authentic 100% of the time and that is OK. If we didn't allow ourselves to feel and be and act upon, we would be pretend-authentic robots. And nobody likes them! :0) Carry on. You are loved.

Kathleen said...

Anna, Don't be so hard on yourself. Jack delivers a lot to think about through you. Ti me the nicest thing about those sheets besides the fact that Jack used them is that you didn't have to put them on the bed. No one is more authentic than you are.

Heidi Cave said...

Love this so much.

Barn Owl Primitives said...

Anna, you are one of the most authentic people I know. Your courage and strength to share your heart and your story are a true inspiration. Thank you for being brave and real and honest. xoxo

Chris Carter said...

Oh Anna, I'm so grateful you share such beautiful memories about Jack, inspiring us all to learn from his example. Everything you write touches me to the core. Your strength and enduring faith amazes me. God bless you, mama. <3

*When are you going to write another book? I'm sure you have tons of time, right? I mean, between 3-6 perhaps? ;)

Candace said...

Look at that boy...my goodness he is breathtaking!

Carley said...

Thank you as always for writing this. You are an inspiration to me as a mom.

Cassie Grainger said...

Thank you for continuing to teach all of us about your son and about authenticity. Your journey continues to help me along my journey. With kindness, ~ Cassie

Melissa Dale said...

I totally heard your message and I think it holds true for many of us. For example, dishes in the sink but when someone is coming over, those dishes get cleaned up just in time for them to see a clean sink! We all do it to some extent as if our friends saw a dirty dish in the sink they might judge us. Too many expectations to hold up an "image" that others approve of!

What I really love about this message is how Jack continues to live through you. I'm always amazed at how much you remember conversations and things Jack said, did or loved. Jack continues to live on and teach the rest of us valuable lessons about life. How incredibly lucky you are to be Jack's mom.

Mary said...

Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

Susan St Albans UK said...

Dear Anna

A loving and tender post. Seeing pictures of Jack are bitter and very sweet. I always follow your posts since reading about Jack when in Israel earlier this year. Had time to read late into the night, away from my boys and cried most of the time. Made me appreciate my son even more if this is possible.

www.robinbotie.com said...

So great to see Jack's sweet face again. Cheers!

Anonymous said...

That's a sweet boy right there. Thanks for sharing Jack. I love hearing stories about him.
Cindy

Julie said...

Love this. What a cool kid! <3

Jeanie said...

Thanks for sharing the wonderful pictures of Jack.

Steph said...

Jack's photos are just gorgeous. What a sweet, thoughtful young man. Wishing you all the peace and love this Thanksgiving season.

MamaIan said...

Beautiful Jack...so beautiful. Thank you for sharing. My young son and I like to sing together the "True Colors" song. I grew up a fan of CL, but as I grew up, understood more in depth what it is to be truthful to yourself, because for all of us there is a purpose here that we are to fulfill and we shouldn't be afraid of it. Show me your smile :)

Debby@Just Breathe said...

He really had a great prospective on life. Loved reading this post and sending you a BIG (((HUG))......

Anonymous said...

I am just in the middle of reading your book it's nice to see a picture of your beautiful boy Jack xx

JD said...

Beautiful, Anna...Here's to Jack! xoxoxo

Mary Ellen said...

Your Jack sounds like quite a gift, thank you for sharing him with us. We all could use some lessons on living an authentic life for sure!

twingles said...

I totally get where Jack was coming from with the Mountain Dew shirt. That made me laugh! And I love when you talk about laziness and inertia, because it's like you've read my mind LOL That's exactly how I feel sometimes and glad I'm not alone!