Last night Tim posed the question, "How do I express my individuality?" He's part of a men's group, trudging through a fairly hefty workbook, and sometimes questions like this will bump into a dead end in his brain. He'll turn the question to me, hoping my response will kick start his own. (It often does.)
As I reasoned through the various things that I believe express my individuality, I realized that it would be easier to answer the reverse question, "How do I suppress my individuality?" This moment was an epiphany for me. Mostly because it has not always been true.
I spent a lot of my youth (as most youth do) wanting desperately to fit in. Then, somewhere in college, that shifted to a quest to discover who I was. Finally, out of nearly two decades of marriage and a dozen years of parenting, I have been stripped of pretense (most of it) so that the real me is exposed. (Who has the energy to maintain pretense in the midst of marriage and parenting?!)
As an observer of my own children, I realize that they ARE. They are who they are, and they always have been. Seth entered this world with a laid-back posture, kind demeanor, quiet soul, merciful spirit, and keen intelligence. Reed arrived with an energy and spirit, wit and creativity, spunk and sass very different than his brother. And as they have grown, these traits have continued.
It's my delight to nurture and protect these traits in them...this individuality...and to build them up when others want to tear them down (be like us, look like us, act like us...). It's fascinating to think of someday launching two adults who know who they are, whose they are, and what they have to offer this world.
As for me, I no longer apologize for my spunk and sass (wonder where Reed gets it), I cherish my creative bent, and I am grateful for those God has sent who cherish me and don't want to change me.