My son woke up inconsolable. Sobbing, his distress palpable. Choking on his despair and disappointment because he had failed.
He woke up and to his dismay discovered he was not a werewolf.
All the conditions were right for werewolf transformation.
The previous night he had howled at the full moon from our front porch, he felt itchy from the hairs he knew were starting to grow on his shoulders and his nails were growing rapidly ready to transform into the claws of a werewolf.
The week before we had researched werewolf transformation on google, watched Teen Wolf, and peppered our resident veterinarian on werewolf behavior. He knew what to look for and went to bed secure in the knowledge that he would wake up a full-fledged werewolf.
The disappointment was soul-crushing.
What came next crushed my soul.
As he sobbed and I tried to console him he wailed that he just wanted to be a werewolf because he would be more fun and stronger than he was as Byron the boy.
And at that moment my heart broke.
Already at six, he was discontent with who he was, he wanted to transform. To be more. All his problems would be solved if he could just achieve this unattainable goal.
It sounds familiar.
At six my son has already tuned into the anthem of our nation.
You are not enough. You should strive to be more.
If you can just achieve x, y, and then you will be stronger, happier, funnier, richer, the adjectives are endless.
They are also exhausting.
I’ve been on an exhausting quest for transformation.
In my mind, it was a spiritual journey.
I was looking to transform myself into a better mother, daughter, woman, business owner, writer, spiritually awakened human. I consulted energy healers. I meditated. I cleansed. I donated time and money, and twisted myself inside out to be more.
I was on my journey to become ideal.
Here is where I ran into a problem. I wanted to become society's ideal.
Nowhere in this quest was my truth.
I wanted to become what spiritual leaders, thought leaders, fitness guru’s parenting experts all told me I should be.
I had about as much chance of becoming the ideal woman, mother, daughter, wife, business owner, and spiritually evolved human as my son had of becoming a werewolf.
Yet, I persisted. I googled, I did the research I paid people to help me fix me.
I, like my son, felt the conditions were aligning. I felt moments of breakthrough, felt the itchy shoulders, and knew that one morning I would wake up and it would all fall into place. I would wake up transformed.
And dammit it didn’t happen.
I still got frustrated. I still made excuses not to meditate. I still ate Lay’s potato chips. I didn’t always write. I didn’t always run and stretch. I didn’t practice compassion every day, I still judged, and was selfish and irritated.
In short, I still behaved like a human.
Somehow I had in my head that behaving like a human was intrinsically wrong.
In our whitewashed, sanitized world we have somehow created a belief that this is no place for ordinary humans.
Don’t show up in the world unless you are polished, educated, preened, groomed, woke, and flawless.
Don’t contribute unless you can offer perfection.
This is soul-crushing for humanity.
I found myself choking on my despair.
And then the universe delivered me a gift.
I realized I was so busy searching, transforming, and reaching for everyone else's ideal of what a wife, mother, woman, daughter, business owner, and spiritually evolved human looked like that I lost myself.
I didn’t know what my ideal was. I didn’t know what my truth was.
I wasn't looking for my authentic self.
I was looking for someone to tell me who my authentic self was.
My husband got our son to stop sobbing by telling him that werewolves don’t remember who they are.
So, they went looking for clues to see if the transformation had taken place. They found them in scratched paint in the hallway, a divot in the tile floor, a shredded cardboard box.
They found the werewolf in the imperfections.
I had forgotten my authentic self.
Where I’ll find her is not in the ideal or the perfection.
Where I’ll find her is in the imperfections.
She shows up when I am human.
Life is hard right now.
The planet's imperfections are on full display.
Maybe instead of sanitizing, canceling, or bending our collective pain to our will, we should use the imperfections to remember who we are.
Instead of chasing and striving to be something that might be unattainable what if we take time to embrace the messiness of humanity.
In the mess, in the imperfection just might be where we find our authentic humanity.
As for six-year-olds who long to be something they are not. We will continue to encourage belief and magic, but will constantly remind my beautiful boy that Byron, the boy, will forever be the best version of himself.
Byron, the boy, is real. He is truth, he is authentic.
He is human. He is all of us.