Friday, May 20, 2011

On "Becoming"

I'm thinking today. About the future. About the past. About the present.

About how people can change. And how no matter how convinced you are that someone has changed, they will always be the same deep down.

Contradictions. Similarities. Differences.

I talked to my dad on the phone for awhile this morning. We talked about the kids. We talked about his brand-new-just-finished shop. We talked about life in his small town, which is also one of the towns that I spent a lot of my childhood in.

Something interesting has happened, and I'm not sure when it did, but my dad listens to me. He listens to me as if I have had a great idea and he wants to learn more about it.

Today it was about cordwood/stackwood houses. If you haven't ever heard of it, do a search in google. I think you'll think they are cool. I do. I've wanted to build one for years.

My dad had mentioned that his wife, my step-mother, is interested putting a cabin on some land that they own and that she wants to build it herself. He said that they were looking into log cabins for a while, but that they are cost prohibitive. I told him that stackwood/cordwood houses don't need to have fully parallel logs, but instead consist of all different thicknesses of logs, which makes it great for cost effectiveness. I told him the general idea of how to make it. And he listened.

I was the baby in the family. By the time I had gotten to a stage where I knew about something, everyone else in the family had already learned it. I was just an echo on just about every subject.

I've also had a chip on my shoulder about not "being something". So I have joked that since my oldest brother worked in a pharmacy for years, when medicine advice is needed, he is the one called. Since my second brother is a social worker, if there is advice needed on child rearing or needing help with talking to someone in a more positive way, he is the one called. Since my sister is a nurse, if medical advice is needed, she is the one called. I am the stay at home mom, so if someone needs a ride, I am the one called.

For years I have felt that way. Until recently. I feel that perhaps I have earned my niche in my family.

So today, when I was telling my dad about cordwood/stackwood houses and he listened, I realized that I had been of value. He is going to tell his wife about my idea and see what she thinks.

He went on to say that I'm like my grandma, his mother. I asked, how so? and he replied that she liked to do things for herself: cook food from scratch, make clothes for the family, quilt, work on things to make their lives better. "She always enjoyed taking care of her family." That is some kind of praise! Better than any other than I can think of, in fact.

I have gotten here from necessity mostly. Choice partly. He said that I'd fit right in among the Amish, which is the neighborhood I loved most. Which is how that whole conversation started about my grandma. I had said that I'd felt that Kentucky was the most "homey" place I'd lived. I said that I understand Utah and the culture, since it is where I've spent most of my life. But Kentucky felt more like home. I said I thought that was funny, and that is when he gave me the High Praise about being like my grandma.

My favorite part of The Velveteen Rabbit is when the skin horse and the rabbit are talking of "becoming":

"The Skin Horse had lived longer in the nursery than any of the others. He was so old that his brown coat was bald in patches and showed the seams underneath, and most of the hairs in his tail had been pulled out to string bead necklaces. He was wise, for he had seen a long succession of mechanical toys arrive to boast and swagger, and by-and-by break their mainsprings and pass away, and he knew that they were only toys, and would never turn into anything else. For nursery magic is very strange and wonderful, and only those playthings that are old and wise and experienced like the Skin Horse understand all about it.

"What is REAL?" asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. "Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?"

"Real isn't how you are made," said the Skin Horse. "It's a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real."

"Does it hurt?" asked the Rabbit.

"Sometimes," said the Skin Horse, for he 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."

"I suppose you are real?" said the Rabbit. And then he wished he had not said it, for he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive.

But the Skin Horse only smiled."

At 41, I think I'm finally becoming who I am. Or perhaps I'm just realizing what others have already seen.


  1. My sister, Debbie, wrote this and sent it to me on facebook. I thought I'd add it here on her behalf.

    "I read your comment on "Becoming." I don't know how to post on your blog so I am writing it here. We have always known what an amazing person you are. You are a priceless daughter, sister, aunt, mother, grandmother and friend!!!! I am glad that you are finally seeing that!! I LOVE YOU!!!"

  2. "I was just an echo on just about every subject." ...that sentence haunts me...reminds me of how I have also felt most of my life. I'm proud of you for finding a way to work through everything and find your own little niche. You are a lovely, intelligent, and humorous lady...a great example in your family. ♥

  3. Tammy, I don't know if I worked on it as much as it found me. Thanks very much for the praise; it is nice to see how others view me (especially when it is positive :)