When something is familiar it is, according to Webster, 1: belonging to or characterizing one’s deepest nature 2: closely acquainted: intimate. It’s no surprise to find the word intimate within the Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word familiar. Isn’t this why familiar is safe and comfortable?
Many familiarities in my life bring abundant joy. The warm cup of coffee in my hand on a Saturday morning, the smell of a wood burning fire roaring to life, the white noise of eager conversation traveling through our home on Christmas Day, and the vibrant warm colors of fall hanging below the clear blue sky on a crisp fall morning…these are just a few memories consistently awakening my senses in the comfort of familiar.
We are programmed to feel safe with what is familiar to us. One of the first lessons we are taught as parents is to create this consistent familiarity of routine for our children (people are making millions of dollars writing books about how and when your baby is to sleep, eat and play and my neurotic craving for predictability keeps these books flying off the shelf). However, I find much irony in this place of familiarity—with a fear of contentment existing as an intimate disguise for complacency (I know this exists, I’ve met these people). To find light in where I am, not in where I am headed. Maybe this is the journey, to find contentment without getting paralyzed by complacency.
Standing still hurts, literally. My familiar has always been to live in this constant state of motion and control rather than the quiet stillness of “going with the flow”-both physically and metaphorically speaking. (It is too obvious to talk about the cliché overuse of “finding balance” so I’m not even going to go there for now). Just focusing on the raw truth of my inability to comfortably sit still gives me great challenge.
I remember my pre-Ava days as if they are a distant memory; a vanishing former life. In the state of self absorbed ignorance, I would barely come up for air. I didn’t even know what I was missing. On the surface, it can look quite impressive. What appears to be a productive or ambitious life can quickly get buried and lost in the tornado of accomplishment- failing to notice the gifts to be discovered in the process. When we get like this, (I believe at any age we are in danger), and we aren’t present, we usually aren’t the first to notice. Amazing how one little girl is capable of completely changing the game for me.
Children won’t let us stay here too long, will they? I’m grateful for the constant reminder, the umbilical cord Ava has maintained in keeping me present and happy with ordinary every day. Ava will never remember much of the day by day of her childhood, yet, so many of the “little” things we do together are what leave infinite imprint on her life. I get to inspire and influence her familiar (no pressure). This may be the most significant mission I ever set out to accomplish.
Although Ava may look back with vague memory of specifics, at the end of her time I am hopeful she will experience heartfelt refuge in the comfort of the intimate familiars her life has created. This is the hope of every mother, isn’t it?