Posted by: alegra22 | November 2, 2010

out of the box

The other night, Sol was walking around me in circles, one hand behind his back, the other raised in the air in a very professor-like manner.

“Mommy,” he said. “I have a very clever idea.”

 “What’s your clever idea, Sol?”

“Well, you see, when we make our new house, I think we need to make a special room.” He stops to trace the outline of a door. “With a door that closes like this,” he rattles the knob on the imaginary door, making the point that the door will not open easily. “And, inside the room will be a box.” He begins circling around me again. “The box has to be very special.”

“And why is that?”

“Well, we don’t want Zaviera to escape,” he continues.  “The box is for her, so we can put her in it and close the door!”

Zaviera looks up from the conversation she has been conducting between two pieces of popcorn. Her eyebrows furrow. Her head goes back, mouth opens, the wail is unleashed, “I don’t want to go in a box!!!!!!!!”

Tonight, I understand her completely. I haven’t blogged in weeks now because every word in my head has gone toward finishing the novel and trying to meet an impossible thesis deadline. The novel is finished and the thesis deadline extended. I was given about ten days to bask in a sense of completion and then once again, a difficult but valuable lesson rolled into my path.

And that is this: I don’t belong in a box, locked behind a door.

I have always admired authentic, unapologetic people, but it wasn’t until I became a mother that I started to become one. Working on this novel has been teaching me about my tendencies to try to box myself in and make myself ‘packageable,’ and my longing to tear across the page, cackling, each sentence bringing me closer to authenticity. I have had to face some of my deepest anxieties about self-worth, sense of purpose, and when I have been in some of my darkest moments, it has been my friends, my family, and most importantly, my children who have given me the strength to keep going. I know that if I am ever going to encourage my children to step off in faith, that I need to do it first myself.

Sol is right about needing a house with a special room and a box.

But I won’t be using it for Zaviera. Her crooked teeth, tendency to converse with inanimate objects, and her ever grander ideas such as, “Mommy! I know, let’s eat BOYS for lunch!” will be allowed to roam the house freely.

 Sol’s excitement for drawing labels to organize his clothes drawer will not go in the box.  I will not shut away his announcements, “I like patterns. If I have a hippo shaped vitamin in the morning, I need a lion shaped one in the evening. HIppo-lion, hippo-lion. If I have a cat, I need a giraffe. Cat-giraffe. Cat-giraffe.”

Joaquin,  with his finger held high in the air like E.T., my baby boy made of cuddles and fast-twitch muscle fibers, will not be put in the box.

Dan, my husband, with his echoing footsteps, roaring sighs, “GAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!” a tendency to forget what he is saying mid-sentence, and gentle, loyal, giving nature, will continue to stomp through our new home, misplacing car keys, and sighing in a way that sounds like he is critically injured.

When I look at my three unique children, I know they are exactly what they are supposed to be. I want to do everything I can to protect this in them.

Our future home will have a special room, with a doorknob that does not jiggle, and a box big enough to hold the things that try to keep us from remembering this one basic truth:

Each one of us is created perfectly imperfect.

To deny who we are is to deprive the world of its art.



  1. I struggle with this all of the time – I am constantly trying to “tame” myself for public consumption, and I think it’s an underlying “What if I’m me and no one likes me?” Logically, I think ‘fuck ’em’, but the little kid in me wants to take my little sister and hide in the box together and shut the lid.

    • It has been such a BIG life lesson for me. I think one part of my brain has been whispering, “Well, if you tame yourself now, you’ll sneak through the gates and then you can throw off your costume and declare ‘Booyah! It’s me, baby!” But the truth is, this has never worked for me. It always gets in trouble. I need to stride up to the gate with a passport that reads Nationality: 100% ALEGRA

  2. I love it! He is so practical and detailed in his plans. No steel rivet-shut box, coated in cement, dropped at the bottom of the ocean, sealed over by a glacier and then blown to smithereens by Hayley’s Comet. No. Just a box, in a room with a door that is not very easy to open. And the Hippo-Lion, Cat-Giraffe agendas? Brilliant! If Sol ever writes a book like “2,953 Ways to Organize Your Life” I’m begging you to let me be among the first the read it! I’ll start workshopping it around the country for businesses and non-profit organizations.

    I need to go get some animal vitamins now…

    Perfectly-imperfect hugsies

    • I have to tell you, I was so thrilled to participate in the ‘drawer labeling’!

  3. Alegra…. I didn’t expect to cry–I started out laughing. But now I am in tears that won’t stop coming. You did it again, but bigger somehow this time. Dear sweet strong crazy wonderful woman Alegra, please don’t ever stop bringing your truth to the page and sharing it with all of us. We need this. I need this. This is your strongest, bravest, truest, deepest voice–your voice, and It cannot ever be judged. It is, simply. Perfect. Thank you. ❤

    • Heather, you always make me feel so loved.

  4. This was beautiful. And Heather and Adam said it all…but of course I will add more. And that is this..I love you and welcome back.

  5. Your process is inspiring me to be my authentic self too. You have no idea how you touch people with your writing. Thank you for your rawness, honesty, and grit. Yes, being a mother somehow leaves less and less room for inauthenticity and boxes. It opens us up to the preciousness of this moment and our short time here. Let’s make the most of it and throw off anything or anyone who doesn’t allow us to be in our true fullest expression.

  6. beautiful precious.

  7. Each one of us is created perfectly imperfect.

    Wow! I really needed to read this today… I was just feeling “not adequate” at all! Thank you so much! Love, Fernanda

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