My six-year-old found my personal journal, thrust it toward me and asked: "What does this say?"
It contained notes I was embarrassed even to tell myself let alone share with my daughter.
"Mama's writing about all the things that make her different," I said.
"Read it to me," she said directly, no-nonsense like.
I'm not one of the 3,000 bloggers participating in Reverb 10. It's been a rough month and a half with routines turned topsy turvy by a family illness, so there's not a lot of free mind space for soulful introspection. But I've been reading other bloggers entries and from time to time I wonder how I might answer a prompt.
Karen Walrond's prompt stumped me. Author of "The Beauty of Different," (a book I bought, read and adore), Walrond asked participants this last week:
"Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful."
In truth, I've been struggling with this idea since I met Walrond in August. A writer and photographer who blogs at Chookooloonks, she participated in a live art installation at BlogHer where she painted words on people's bodies. The idea: identify something different about yourself and celebrate that it makes you beautiful. Makes you YOU.
The only thing I could come up with, though, standing in line with strangers at a conference where I knew no one, was that I was just "different."
For weeks after, I tried to find a better answer but never did. I have a three-inch wide crater that runs from my breast bone to lower belly from the twin pregnancy but I'm hard pressed to see the beauty in that. What else?
I couldn't settle on anything that felt true so I just stopped thinking about it. Until last week when I saw the question. I started to write in an empty notebook and Esme found my stray thoughts:
I prefer oddly shaped Christmas trees.
I don't wear makeup.
I think grey hair is beautiful.
I have a deep voice and, when I was younger, people used to mistake me for a boy.
Esme smiled as I read but stayed quiet.
"What about you?" I asked her. "What makes you different?"
"I'm the second smallest in my class," she said. "Nobody else wears pig tails. I'm six and most people are seven."
When Esme shushed her younger sister and asked her to leave the room where we were sitting, I realized how seriously she was considering her answers. How important it was to her that we sat alone, together, sharing our secrets.
"In kingergarten, I never got on yellow or any bad color but most people did," she said. "I'm the oldest in my family. Not much people in my class have brown hair."
She surprised me when I asked her how it felt to be different in the ways she mentioned. "Happy," she said, then looked at me smiling. "Because I like the way I am."
Was I ever so comfortable, I wonder. So self-assured?
I asked her how I'm different from other mommies. "You love us more than any other mommies," she said. I laughed and told her that's probably not true but thanks for saying so.
"You have short hair and most mommies don't," she said after a spell.
"What does that make you think?" I asked.
Her answer? "Happy that you're different."