1. perceived or understood as fact or truth; apprehended clearly and with certainty
As I was folding laundry today, I realized how well I know my daughters. One likes tights, one prefers leggings, another knee socks. One is always cold. The other two refuse to wear pull-over sweaters, no matter how cold it gets (cardigans, hoodies and ponchos abound). Two of them sleep in old t-shirts of their dad's - both are Brewers shirts, one from his childhood, one more recent. I know who wants a t-shirt, who prefers a shirt with flowing sleeves, who likes knit pants because they stay on her body. It warms my heart to fold clothes that I've purchased for my girls that they enjoy - a Tinkerbell t-shirt for A, striped leggings for K, a poncho for B - because I want to use my knowledge of them to delight them, please them, love them.
We all, I believe, want to be known. It's comforting, encouraging, affirming. But there's a push-pull to being known as well. Because when we're truly known, we are very, very vulnerable. Someone who knows you knows just the right gift to give, just the right word to say, just how to love you. But that same person knows just how to hurt you, knows your weak spots.
When we're young, being known is often not a conscious desire. Children expose much of themselves right from the start. They are unafraid to tell you what they like and don't like. They don't stop to think about whether someone wants them to be a certain way - they just do what they want to do. I'm not sure exactly when this starts to change. But gradually we become aware of others and what they want from us. Often, we try to conform to that - consciously or unconsciously. And that might mean we are a little less known - to ourselves and others. Because if we devote too much time and energy to being who others want us to be, we lose sight of who we really are.
Last night, I was sharing something with my husband and I kept thinking, "I don't know who I am. Tell me who I am." J knows me incredibly well, but I don't really want him to tell me who I am. When he tries to, I resist. I want to find that out for myself, however hard that may be. I want to figure out for myself what things I have my hands clenched around, so that I can loosen and open my grasp. I want to figure out what metaphorical clothes I wear that need to be shed to reveal a truer me. I want to know myself. And no one else can do that for me.
I think a danger in parenting can be assuming that what we see and think we know about our children is true and/or will always be true. I thought about this today as I folded laundry because the day will come when I won't know A's preference in socks. The day will come when B trades in sleeping in her dad's baseball shirt for sleeping in her husband's baseball shirt. They will change. They will grow. They will evolve. And I don't want to tell them who they are or should be. I want them to figure that out for themselves. Just like I want to figure it out for myself.
Because once I am known to myself, I can let others know me by being who I'm meant to be. I long for the day when I can shed all of the unnecessary parts of me and be the bold me hiding under the "chlorophyll." And I'd love to be able to do that fearlessly, even if I'm not quite there yet. I'm still a bit afraid of who that person might be. But I'd like to know her one day...