Friday, August 9, 2013

The Perfect Fit

I put together a puzzle today with my son.  In truth, what happened was he dumped the contents of a puzzle box onto my lap, sat with me for a few minutes then ran off to play Captain America while I tried to sort things out.

It seemed as though there were about a kajillion puzzle pieces even though the box said there were only 63.  I began to doubt that any of the pieces even belonged to the same puzzle.  Maybe it was just a random box filled with random puzzle pieces.  Maybe I had just discovered the secret hiding place for every lost puzzle piece.  Perhaps when one of the tiny cardboard slices inadvertently is pushed under a couch or slips beneath the edge of an area rug a magical vortex opens up and whisks it away to this unassuming little box to spend eternity with all the other lost puzzle pieces. 

Well, I'm not ruling that out completely, but after a short time a picture began to form.  That's when I
noticed it; an odd little puzzle piece.  It had a weird shape and a strange splattering of colors.  There was no telling what part of the picture this strange little piece would end up revealing.  I set it aside, doubting if it belonged at all.  But I found myself picking it up again and again.  I turned it in all directions in my hands and tried to fit it in here or there.  Sometimes it seemed like it would fit, but then I would remove it after finding a piece that was a better fit; the right piece.

And then I started to cry.  Not just because I was a tired, stressed out mother of three who found herself being stymied by a children's toy intended to be mastered by ages three and up, but because I realized that I am that weird little puzzle piece.  I am 37 years old.  I have a home, a family, a job, but I still don't know where I fit in.  Where do I fit in this world?  Like the little puzzle piece, I am lost... misplaced.

An impressive
amount of hairspray.
It's as if I never left the seventh grade and I'm still praying, "Please God, please don't let me be a nerd.  Please just let me fit in."  As a kid I was always acutely aware that my jeans were never rolled quite right.  And no matter how much hairspray I used I was never able to get that perfect wall of hair.  While the bangs of other girls stood at attention all day long, mine would unceremoniously flop to one side by second period.  I suppose, in the long run, it made for less embarrassing school photos. 

I had friends here and there, but none that would really be close for a lifetime. 
Some of my friends had such active social lives that my introverted self couldn't keep up with all the activity.  Some seemed so much more intelligent than me that I felt like I had to study up on a subject every time I wanted to have a conversation with them.  Some friends were so sweet and kind.  As much as I wanted to be more like them and remain close with them for my entire life, I knew that I was not nearly as compassionate as they were and would eventually hurt them.  So I quietly faded into the background. 

I did not fit in right through high school and into college.  I'm still not sure if I fit in anywhere.  Perhaps I will some day.  Maybe.  I mean, every puzzle piece fits somewhere, right?

As my pint-sized Captain America stomps across the puzzle, pieces sticking to the bottom of his feet waiting to be whisked away into the Lost Toy Vortex, I realize that none of that matters at this moment.  He snuggles into my lap, looks up at me with that sweet face and says, "You're my best girl, Mama."  I hold him tight and kiss the top of his fuzzy head. 

It's a perfect fit.