Thursday, October 1, 2015

Embracing the Flat Brim

I suppose everyone has an idea of what type of parent they will be prior to actually having a child.  No toy guns, no sugary cereal, strict bedtime routines. Then you have a child (or two) and all those pre-baby judgements of the sleep deprived, sweatpants wearing, frazzled looking mothers staggering down the grocery isle pushing a giant car cart driven by a toddler that is demanding candy (which prior to having a child you would NEVER purchase, now you carry a Halloween size bag of Skittles in your diaper bag), has become you. You also realize that you have more Nerf guns than you do books, you fed your children Lucky Charms for dinner and you fall asleep on the couch to find both your boys still awake at 11pm watching the Yankees game, on a school night. Yes, on some nights I envision EPIC PARENTING FAILURE stamped across this Mama's resume. However, it's often on those days that I feel as though I learn my biggest lessons. I started to realize the value in letting go of the perfection you envisioned would transpire as a parent and embrace the beautiful reality of what is. 

My lessons often come buried in everyday living. My most favorite story about letting go of my idealized vision of parenting all started with the appearance of a flat brimmed hat. Let me preface by saying I love a good baseball hat. I love how the brim curves around the face of my husband and my boys. The right fitting hat adds a touch of mystery to the man underneath and to a young boy it is the epitome of childhood. If worn properly on a woman, it can be a fashion statement and turn the worst frizzy hair day into confidence to enter a social scene without fear of running into an ex-boyfriend. Yes, a good baseball hat is comparable to a pair of jeans that fit just right. However, a few years ago I started noticing more young boys wearing baseball hats with a flat brim (gasp). Oh, how I desperately wanted to run up and yank the hats off their heads, mold the brims into cute little u-shapes and then question their mothers as to what they are thinking? NEVER will my sons wear those ugly hats. They look ridiculous, like they might as well hang their pants off their butt crack and have a joint hanging out of their mouth. I felt it was a subtle sign to adults of disrespect, a middle finger to the All American boyhood innocence that a curved brimmed hat represents. As I shout from my soapbox to 'Save Our Youth' (only to Brian who has appeared to successfully mentally teleport to another room or planet), I try and block out my own high school images of all too heavy black eyeliner and Smells Like Teen Spirit blaring from my bedroom as my subtle revolt to the adult world.

Then, it began. My nephews (the standard to which Cole holds anything cool) visit wearing the evil flat brim. I attempt to lecture them on if they ever want to date any girls with taste, they would think about skipping this gangster rap fad, embrace the All American curve. The threat of never getting a date backfires. They not only wear the flat hat, they tilt it slightly to the side, the ultimate betrayal. The whole visit, Cole wears his cousins' hats and after they leave, he starts to straighten all his curved brim hats. He bends them backwards in front of me and I start to shake. I take it from him and bend it inward. This bending battle continues for months until his hats start to take this bizarre S shape, unflattering even to the cutest kid. 

I am not sure what the tipping point was. Maybe the influx of being surrounded by young boys with flat brims, maybe hearing a Nirvana song on the radio but probably realizing that I did not want to fight this battle with my kid, over a hat. The more I thought about it, the more I realized this is about me, not my kids, not the hat. And who am I to judge? I have five tattoos that I love. My kids never once questioned my judgment, intelligence or values because I have tattoos. I worry that society does that enough and those that judge on appearances are not the kind of people I want my kids to hang out with anyway. What lesson was I teaching them? 

So, for Cole's 8th birthday, we bought him an authentic flat brimmed (cannot bend) Kansas hat. When he opened it, he danced around the room and wore it like a crown. He slept in it for weeks and wore it every time he left the house. He said it was the best gift, but in reality the gift was meant for me. A gift of letting go, of embracing who a person is, not by the hat he wears or the tattoos that cover her body, but by the spirt of who we are. And my kid, has the biggest heart, the sweetest smile and is a good soul. That is my beautiful reality. The rest really does not matter much. 

Now, two years later we own probably a hundred flat brim hats. I cannot picture my boys wearing anything else. In fact, I have been known to try and straighten the brim if it is too curved. And despite my change of heart, my husband still wears those cute All American curved brim hats, and for that I am selfishly grateful. 

Love & Light,

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