If you had asked me in the 7th grade what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would have told you that I wanted to be the psychiatrist on the first manned mission to Mars.
The MD didn't happen, nor did mars, but Western Australia is about as Mars as you can get. Perth is the closest thing to an antipole my stateside home has.
Today is Mother's Day; I've chosen to spend it in reflection on family. There are so few times I can count where I actually felt I fit in with my own. Times I felt resented for being there and equally resented for not being there. I was an effeminate and sensitive child, compounded by a palpable aura of weird awkwardness that comes from a lifetime of side glances you get for not fitting the mold. I had no redeeming athleticism or hand eye coordination. The only part of me that was celebrated were good grades and doing my chores- also known as not rocking the boat. People in my life found ways to keep me in check, offering me polite suggestions on how to hold my limp wrists when I walk and telling me at age 8 the way I danced to Celine Dion was "of the devil." For years I didn't move my arms when I walked because I didn't want to attract attention to myself. That is, until in 8th grade, when my stiff arms started attracting attention and I started moving them.
At 17 I packed up and left to Virginia on full scholarship, and my mom offered this insightful question:
"Have you ever thought that they're giving you a full scholarship because everyone at that school is dumb and you're the best they can do?"
I went anyway. Resented for going and resented for staying. If being the first to go out of state for college didn't help, then moving to D.C. at 22 only created more space. Now in Australia, there's no place I could go further away- except for the moon or mars.
And the truth is, I still feel incredibly awkward about my body. I love dancing alone with my dog but going out dancing with friends is not fun for me- it's uncomfortable for a long time before I can start enjoying myself. But I know it's good for me so I go anyway. When I practice asana, which for some reason I excel at, I have 75 minutes of conscious movement where I don't feel ashamed, but instead empowered and capable. And this is a feeling I can find anywhere in the universe, a feeling I have inside of me.
One of the greatest challenges of my life but also the most liberating realization is that everyone is doing the best they can with what they have. As hard as that is to learn it's so easy to forget.
I am flawed, but I am also certainly trying my best. And on this Mother's Day, I am publicly offering out the intention to remember, even if for a day, that your mother tried her best. And I follow that up with a mantra of gratitude for all the men and women who celebrated you and filled in the gaps in the moments that her best wasn't enough.