Thoughts on Venus and on Being a Both/And Woman

May 2 2012

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My preschool boys stood still in the twilight tonight, stunned by the evening’s beauty into momentary silence. Or stunned by the fact that their mama kept them up WAY TOO LATE. One or the other.

The sky was the very same royal blue as my 1989 satin, dropped-waist, sequined Homecoming dress… minus the sequins and the scent of fear.

Nighttime wasn’t quite convinced of its welcome – not quite yet- and so it waited on the horizon while only the moon and two brave, bright lights shone between clouds in the sky.

“Look!” shouted Cai, pointed to the most stunning light. “It’s the star from the Jesus barn!”

“It IS very bright, isn’t it, Cai?” I asked. “But it’s not the Star of Bethlehem. It’s actually not a star at all. It’s a planet. Venus is its name. And, believe it or not, it’s not glowing with its own light. Instead, the sunlight bounces off the planet, as though it’s a giant mirror reflecting light to Earth.”

I love these moments with my boys. Each one is a gift, and I try – oh, how I try – to make sure I’m not taking for granted the opportunities to savor our time together… and to teach little lessons during this age while they’re still so open to listening… and to learn, of course, always to learn from them.

Like tonight. Just like tonight. When they had something to teach me, too.

“But mostly, Mom, the most important part is that Venus rhymes with penis,” Cai replied, nodding sagely. “That’s right. Right, Mom? It goes like this. Venus penis. Venus penis. Venus penis.” He practiced and then, when he had the rhythm just right, he shouted his battle cry to the sky,

“VEE-NUS! PEE-NUS!”

Sometimes when I’m trying to be quiet, my kids are LOUD, you guys. And sometimes when I’m trying to give them a serious talkin’ to, they make me laugh. And sometimes when I’m trying to be poignant, they let one rip.

Part of my tension lately is this question of who I am. Particularly who I am out loud and in public. And whether I’m doing a disservice to you, dear reader, when I give you a bad case of whiplash by being an utterly ridiculous goofball one minute and then diving deep toward my alternately wounded and healing soul the next. There’s a lot of advice out there in the blogosphere, you know. Advice on how to blog well. Advice to define my market and to do only one thing. To be only one person. Advice I generally peruse and discard the way I chuck parenting manuals with wild disdain. Sometimes I feel badly about that – about not listening to the “shoulds” as well as I, well, should.

But I am a woman. And we women – we’re not just one thing.

The more I pursue authentic living, and the deeper I get into writing, and the more you allow me into your lives as an honest to goodness friend, the more I realize that being a Both/And person is the most sincere person I can be.

Friends, can I tell you something? I am zero kinds of interested in maintaining a facade by trying to be someone I am not. (I can hardly maintain my toilets – a facade is right out!) Or, worse, by trying to be only a part of who I am. I’m trying to be more whole, after all, not less.

And so I am Both/And. Both shallow and deep. Both wildly irreverent and intensely interested in an involved God. Both smart-mouthed and soft-hearted. Both capricious and utterly steadfast. Both enamored with my children and in desperate need of a wall on which to regularly beat my head.

I didn’t really mean to end up writing to this place tonight. And I have no doubt I’ll say more on this in the days and weeks to come, because living out loud is as scary as it is wonderful, and talking about it helps me live life more completely, more present, more truthfully.

I’m grateful we’re on the ride together, learning our very best lessons from the littlest among us… which is, for me, to laugh loudly. And to love with abandon. And to wrestle with the hard questions. And to be myself. And to always, always wring the joy out of life while I slowly, achingly, one step at a time, make my way home.

And with that little bit of preschool wisdom, I bid you good night.

Sweet dreams, friends.

And also, VEE-NUS! PEE-NUS! (Hehe.)

Love,
Beth

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Starry Night image credit nuttakit via freedigitalimages.net