*We are in Birmingham. This post was written in a hurry – the girls were pining to get to the pool. Please, share your thoughts – mine don’t feel complete.

I have stated this before, the countdown to A. starting school is in effect, and causing reflections of all kinds, namely that she, and H., are getting older, and thus, more self sufficient, and GASP, becoming more of themselves.

“I don’t like those.” A. declares with the same disdain I use for impostures as she flips her artichoke back on the plate. H., who used to follow lock-step with the musings and motions of her sister, says “Can I try?”. She slips the slimy sun-soaked choke into her mouth, chews, and declares, with a half believable face “I like it.” She did not eat another piece, but it showed me that she is realizing she is not a shadow (RIP to our puppy who passed on this past week, his name was Shadow, puppy equals 14 years old, like A. and H. will always be our babies) of her older sister, she can make her own decisions, and she may make decisions or choose to like things in spite of her older sister, or us.

We hope that the girls will always represent themselves in a way that will reflect what is on the inside. We hope that the interests they choose, the clothes they wear, the music they listen to, and the friends they spend time with will expose their exploration of the world and who they are. Of course, they will go through their teen years and explore a myriad of disguises along with a host of hobbies, and we appreciate that they will spend those years dipping themselves in pools of identity, in hopes that they will dry themselves off in their twenties and stare at a reflection that is comfortable and clear, to them.

When does it stop? This searching for identity. Really, it shouldn’t, we should always grow and learn, but when do we look in the mirror and think “Yah, that’s me.” Last Friday we were fortunate to have two friends, whom we had not seen in 10 years, spend time with us. They were driving cross country, one of them relocating their life, the other sharing the road with a long time friend, and a stop in Madison, Al was on their map. As they neared our home, anxiety levels rose and I wondered if a connection formed years ago would still exist, would they like who I have become, was I still me, what was I to them and what am I now. I know, I need to mellow on these thoughts, but the ability to squash introspective perseverations is not my strong suit, hearts are.

As the evening progressed we found our comfort with one another, and drew back to the conversations that reminded us why we were connected – challenging thoughts and reflected upon ideas, small talk was at a minimum. After a while, prior to our 4am bedtime, ugh, but worth it, we shared stories of the past and memories of how we “saw” one another. I am not going to spend time on those reflections, rather the feeling they left me with. There are times when I forget who I am, normal for a parent/adult caught up in the “everything” of life, and I lose sight of who I am to others. We create new identities and realities based on our position in life, whether it be at work, home, or with our friends, and when we shift the focus of our personality it is easy to lose track of the parts of our personality that we “let out” more often during other stages in our lives. Listening to their accounts of who I was “back then”, was like hearing about an old friend, and made me quite happy. Yes, “happy” as simple as that, I was “happy” to have been reminded that that part of my personality is still there, people appreciate it, and I need to tap into “him” more often.

My Papa Sense tells me:

Individuality and trueness to self is something that R. and I believe strongly in, perhaps too strongly at times, as we teeter on the line of falling into the world of the Jones’s or the weirdoes at the end of the block. I am sure that we will tell the girls to “be themselves, think for themselves, and become the person they truly are” more than once in this lifetime, but we also need to say that to ourselves from time to time and reflect on what we want the world to see, as opposed to what the world wants to see. I haven’t been forgetting or neglecting who I am, I have been exposing different aspects of my personality, I think I just needed a reminder. Thanks M.s.