Monday’s child is fair of face,
Tuesday’s child is full of grace,
Wednesday’s child is full of woe,
Thursday’s child has far to go,
Friday’s child is loving and giving,
Saturday’s child works hard for a living,
But the child who is born on the Sabbath Day
Is bonny and blithe and good and gay.
According to good ol’ Wikipedia, “This rhyme was first recorded in A. E. Bray’s Traditions of Devonshire (Volume II, pp.287-288) in 1838 and was collected by James Orchard Halliwell in the mid-nineteenth century” If you are overwhelmed with desire to read more – go check out Wiki’s article.
I am a Monday’s Child. I think I am a bit more “full” of face than “fair” of face, and I would have rather been a Tuesday, or even a Friday. Not a Sunday – too much to live up to. Anyway, my point is, so many things determine our approach to life, and how our personality is seen is no exception. How many times have you categorized your own children by saying, “she’s shy” or, “he’s the athletic one?” Such placement is casual, usually with no intent but social interaction. And of course, we were often in that position growing up. Status based on birth order (“she’s the baby,” was mine) or even birthplace (“she was born after we moved to California”) is not unusual, and although that seems innocuous enough, the message is often that our place in the world has become defined by outer trappings, not inner beliefs, goals or talents.
We all have them. I have some that others often don’t have, (“she is hard-of-hearing” and “she was born with some health ‘problems’ ” are two of them) but the crux of the matter is that all of those have come to describe me. Indeed, I use them myself. Yet when I “see” myself, those usually aren’t the definers that I use. I was once tasked in a class to define myself in six words. Actually, the words came easily to me:
Curious, funny, reader, writer, Momma, Nana…
Yet there is an expanded version of this – happily married 37 years, baker, crafter, crochet volunteer, pacifist, spiritual feminist, liberal baby boomer, Rubenesque…
These are the terms by which I define myself based on what I do, what I believe, and my relationships to others.
We all feel the need to be defined in some way. By money and wealth, status and social standing, education and schooling, parentage and family history, marriage, children, rent or own, cars (and how many) and adult “toys.” As a born-again-hippie I have always looked beyond wealth and status for my “zone” of comfort. I belonged to a barter group for years in the late seventies and early eighties, kept connected to my Christian-Methodist roots while exploring other religious modalities, struggled with my hearing loss, my thyroid problems, cancer and a horrendous first marriage. (Not all at the same time, and not necessarily in that order!) These are all me.
Who I am has alienated people; my in-laws don’t care for me much, a formerly dear friend has been estranged by my lack of responsiveness during a difficult time, and I have a sister and niece I haven’t spoken to in over five years. Sometimes I adapt a “me: take it or leave it” stance, other times I struggle hard to maintain ties to long-time family and friends. I think it is part of our growing, to not only come to terms with who we are, but to redefine it, over and over again to our OWN satisfaction. We have all seen the bumper sticker, at the left, but whatever our faith, WE aren’t done with us either!
I think we each have a mandate from the “Higher Power” in our lives to move past labels and exterior perspectives of ourselves, and focus on being the best we can be. That may sound trite, and rather Pollyanna-ish, but the real fact is we can’t be anyone else, or improve anyone else. By opening ourselves to growth and opportunity, we can overcome “she’s the shy one” and even “she’s hard-of-hearing” (my most serious bugaboo in social interactions…) by finding other ways to reach out, to connect and to evolve. Writing is one of my ways to do this. What are yours?