Happiest Birthday EVER to our Zoie Grace this past weekend!!! Turning 7. Just beginning the road to real!
So I’ve been struggling a little bit with ‘real’ lately, any of you out there doing the same? Especially since the twin pregnancy and c-section and nursing (which always is painful for me but I’ve come to ignore it) and having little to no time to take care of my own body! (I have squeezed in a couple of minutes here and there of restorative yoga – LOVE how it clears my mind even if I only get to do 5 minutes of exercises out of the 50 minute program – I just listen to the instructions while I tend to Babies and feel better! hee hee!) My nails are misshaped and ugly for lack of care, my hair is far past due for a shape-up, I have big blacks under my eyes from interrupted sleep, and a saggy sort of look and feeling to this bod lately! (Not to get too personal or anything! Just real.) The other day I told my husband it’s hard to feel desirable or beautiful at all, in fact it’s a fight to ward off feeling downright ugly and yucky under these conditions. Thank goodness, he continues to insist I’m very beautiful and makes me feel that way!!! (Celebrate good husbands!!!!)
I was reading the classic edition of “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams Bianco to my little Clara this week as a good friend had recently given it to Adelynn and Sarah. “The Velveteen Rabbit” grew to be a favorite of the younger half of the family when Mikela started telling it as one of her beloved tales to Esther, Gracie, and Clara on long family drives or at bedtime.
I’m sure you remember it, the story of the beautiful, sateen, shiny stuffed bunny given in a stocking to ‘the Boy’ at Christmas. Very impressive looking at first, the toy rabbit was passed over for some fancy new mechanical toys and more exciting things at the beginning. The rabbit was set on the shelf to look at, until one night when the Boy was having a hard time going to sleep Nanna, in a hurry, threw him the Velveteen Rabbit for a comfort.
THAT was the BEGINNING of this bunny’s road to real, which the old Skin Horse, who had been in the nursery longer than anyone, had told him about. The Old Skin horse knew real, for the Boy’s uncle had made him that years ago. He had his fur rubbed off in patches, and showed his seams underneath, and…
(I must interrupt for just a second. I’m writing in the morning light while my babies, as is part of the morning routine after being changed and fed, play here on my bedroom floor. I wish I could show you my 7 month old scientist right now! LOL! Wow, Sarah just discovered the way a mirror can reflect light! She’s holding the baby mirror at different angles and watching it dance a bright light onto the ceiling, looking back and forth from the mirror to the dancing light as if she perfectly put it together! Awesome. I’ve heard it said that we as parents underestimate our children’s intelligence but overestimate their experience. Watching her right now, I’d agree with that!)
…and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to be used for beading necklaces. But he was wise and happy and REAL. The rabbit had longed to become real and had asked the Old Skin horse how one does so:
“Real is a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time…REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse who was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
Well, I’m really glad at least my eyes haven’t dropped out yet! LOL! But they are super dried out these days! And my knee joints, legs and feet ache ever since the c-section – I think it’s getting better maybe but it might be part of becoming real and never go away again! My ear has been plugged up ever since the tremendous swelling of pre-eclampsia at the end of the pregnancy, despite the ear dr. giving me different sprays to try to resolve that – she finally ordered a CAT scan because the pressure’s getting worse, not better. Ugh, a very real experience this week. 😉
I was really glad I read that book to Clara this week because suddenly I saw that it was all OK, this is just part of becoming REAL.
As my own little child, that I love with all my heart, to the point of forgetting myself, snuggled up to me to read the story, I knew that REAL was the BEST way to be!!!!
I feel our society (or media, or whatever you want to call it) has taught us and our children wrong in this way. We see the perfect, shiny ideal of outward beauty and think that is the ideal, but that is just something to be put on a shelf to be looked at (or a billboard, or even just inside a TV right?). To become REALLY loved, one has to become REAL!!!! Like my Grandparent’s or Mike’s, like the people you know in your life who have lived long, loved much, and sacrificed their own comfort, material and physical well-being many times for the sake of those they love.
I hope we are all on the road to becoming REAL!!!
Lots of REAL love!,
From the Hoffmans
P.S. I just want you to know the most REALLY ROMANTIC date I ever went on was this past year – our 19th anniversary (Oh, and by the way my hubby is always rushing us, it is 20 years, not 21! LOL!). I was about 30 weeks pregnant with our Baby Girls, felt big as a horse and was at the height of swollen with preeclampsia, in fact pitting edema had set in. My legs. My face!! Yikes. I had worked all day to give my husband a wonderful anniversary gift – a clean room! With me being confined to bed much of the past months because of severe morning sickness and then placenta previa (take it easy with that), our room had collected through the many children and people that visited their daily piles of ‘stuff’, including mail I had tried to go through and other bed to-dos, had taken over our space. So I worked hard with my friend Debbie to clean it up.
That evening the house was peaceful and quiet, and even clean, as all the children had left to another event together to let us have our date and I was waiting here at home, with harp music playing via the speakers throughout the house, when he arrived. He came gallantly looking for who he calls ‘his beautiful wife’. He found me stuck on the couch, I couldn’t get up. He helped me to the car and we questioned on the way out if we should go to our dinner reservation or to the hospital. Dinner reservation won out – why waste a night like this?
It was one of the fanciest restaurants in town that my ‘knight in shining armor’ took me to. We arrived and before the waiter could even ask our names or number in our party a well-known and influential man in our area rushed up to me and took my hand, “Could this be your beautiful wife?” He asked my husband still looking at me. (In all my glory I thought self-consciously.) “I am so deeply honored to meet you” he went on in all deep-eye-gazing sincerity. ” I am soo grateful to you for being the kind of mother you are, for being willing to have and care for these children. I’m soo grateful that there are still people in the world such as you willing to be mothers. This is #9 and 10 for you, right?” I guess he and my husband had spoken. As I nodded affirmative, he just looked more intensely at my swollen face (I hoped he could see my eyes and that I was smiling!), “That is so very remarkable, just fantastic! I have my children here visiting this weekend, I would just LOVE for them to meet you, would you mind?” (I hope every mother gets this kind of celebrity treatment from time to time). He took my arm gentlemanly like and led me into the other room where his family waited with cocktails and h’orderves to be seated.
Like I was royal Kate herself he introduced me to his family. I am not so sure I was as ‘REAL’ to them as he as I stood there swollen and trying to downplay my panting (I know, really elegant, but I panted the whole pregnancy long with these babies). I wondered what they thought of this woman he was so exuberantly hailing with love, admiration, and compliments. What touched me was that I was REAL to him and as The Velveteen Rabbit says, “when you are real shabbiness doesn’t matter.”
I went on to enjoy an incredibly delectable candlelight dinner with my husband, who must see me as REAL too because he didn’t even seem to notice my puffed up face or shortness of breath (that he’d put up with for nearly nine months now – in fact that pant is what keyed him off to our having twins before we even had the ultrasound at 10 weeks). During our dinner, as we waited for another fine course, my husband reached across the table and gave me a gift, a small, really romantic box. As a woman, one can’t help but be thrilled by beautiful little boxes, yes? (Men, remember that.)
So I read the card and my emotional, pregnant eyes had already started to tear up. When I opened the gift I was all aghast, the most beautiful, romantic gift I could have imagined, not because of what it looked like, though it was indeed shiny and beautiful, like a medal of honor, but because of what it meant. A stone of Tanzanite, the rarest and most unique of all stones- a symbol of our love, (he had purchased it while on a medical mission trip with my son in Tanzania, Africa) surrounded by 10 smaller, glistening diamonds each representing one of our beautiful children. I’ve treasured it and worn it almost everyday since September. It gave me strength and courage to believe those last terribly torturous weeks of the twins pregnancy that my babies (and me) would be OK in the end, that they would both live and join our family circle. It gave me strength to remember that every sacrifice is worth that kind of love in return, worth giving all I can for each of our children, it reminds me that FAMILY is what is REAL and lasting, that LOVE MAKES YOU REAL!!! And REAL lasts forever!
So celebrate being REAL in your family today!! And Loving for REAL, seeing right past the ‘shabbiness’ of those closest to you to the point of making your family REAL forever!!! Just like the Velveteen rabbit who gets to be REAL at the end of his story, we wish you REAL happiness, lasting love, and forever family at the end of yours.