Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Seven Lessons at Seven

Number One
You are going to experience things, or witness other people experience things that are just not fair. You are going to feel this deep in your tummy all the time; outrage and fury and this white hot desire to lash out to avenge the unfairness you feel and the hurt the people you believe caused all that unfairness. You’re going to feel this fury and press hard up against it even though your mama told you that it’s a futile exercise that will never make anything go back to being balanced. Things are never going to be ‘Fair’, my Love. The Universe never promised us ‘fair’. What it does promise is that you were born with everything already living there inside of you that you are ever going to need to keep putting one foot in front of the other despite anything that life places in your path. You can’t make things fair and you can’t balance life’s pendulum. I’m pretty certain there is a very big reason, with a capital B, that the Universe keeps that pendulum swinging and you could squander so much of your beautiful, precious energy alive on this Earth trying to achieve ‘fairness’ by struggling to right wrongs that can never be undone. What you CAN do is take control of how you move on from the things that aren’t fair. You can use all the beautiful, unique gifts that were given to you to make something precious and sacred of your life in spite of all that unfairness. You can build something better from the lessons left in the rubble that unfairness leaves behind.  And most importantly, baby, don’t forget to use those gifts to help others build something precious and sacred out of their rubble, too.

Lesson Number Two
I know you’re not going to like this one but you need limits. I know right now it seems like unlimited ice cream and trips to Toys R US and a collection of Barbie Dolls that rivals Hugh Hefner’s (ask Daddy to explain this reference someday, not me) seems like a dream. The tricky thing is sometimes what we think will make us the happiest doesn’t make us very happy at all. So we get confused and we just keep scrambling for more and more, trying to get to that place where there are no limits. But. No limits means there is nothing left to challenge us, my love, and the challenges are what the Universe throws at you to make sure you are growing. Notice how mama said ‘growing’ and not becoming a grown up? That’s because there is no such thing as finishing ‘growing up’. That’s both the greatest gift in life and the biggest pain in the ass sometimes (just like you and your sister). Every time you reach a limitation, you are going to stretch your capacity to embrace your creativity and strengthen your ability to turn your ideas into real action. I know right now it seems like freedom means eating an outrageous amount of sugar in my bed while binge watching shows where creepy adults you don’t know play with toys you don’t own on continuous loop on YouTube. But maybe, just maybe, you trust me this one time when I tell you that kind of freedom would just make your world very boring because ‘more’ doesn’t make better. ‘More’ of the same is just more. That kind of freedom will eventually just make your world feel very small, because you aren’t using all those unique gifts you were given to challenge your boundaries and explore all that you are capable of being and doing.

Lesson Number Three

You are not just a baby. You are not ‘only’ 7. You will not be ‘just’ 12 or ‘only’ a teenager. You were born a unique person and you know what is ok for you and what is not ok. You have a right to feel the things you feel and have your boundaries respected and you should never, ever be underestimated. That means that you can say no when it comes to your emotions and your body and that no doesn’t require an explanation or an apology along with it. Everyone’s boundaries are different. The flip side of this is that everyone else deserves to have their boundaries respected, too. Which is why you can’t shove your sister head first again in a death spiral from  a standing position on the dining room table and why I’m not super enthusiastic about your feet in my ribs at 2am. Boundaries.

Lesson Number Four 
The world is a beautiful, complex place. Sometimes beautiful things are soft and sometimes they’re hard. Sometimes puppies bite and break the skin and snakes have pretty patterns and no venom. Sometimes it’s easy to confuse something beautiful with something safe and vice versa. This can make the world a tricky place to navigate but remember you already have everything you need to do that right inside of you. You just have to listen and trust yourself above all else. Just because the world is beautiful, but tricky, is not a good reason to be afraid to move or to stay stuck in one place. Remember things are never going to be fair no matter where you are, so there is no reason to keep your feet and your future rooted to the ground in one place if that place no longer serves you. When you come upon an opportunity to witness something new, take it. When you feel the need to break free physically or emotionally. Do it. 

Lesson Number Five
Speaking of breaking, you weren’t born broken, baby. You aren’t breaking now and you are never going to be broken. Nothing you do or that happens to you will break you and once you’ve learned from it, each experience can be let go and left in the past. Sensitive is not the same as fragile. You do not need to carry anything heavy for life. Your experiences are not life sentences. The anxious voice in your head, the one that tells you that you can’t walk into the new classroom or try the new gymnastics skill or speak out when your voice is shaking is not your voice. That anxious voice thinks it’s trying to help you stay safe from being broken by trying new experiences or opening up to new people but remember…you can never be broken or made less than by anything or anyone. When you hear the anxious voice get louder, listen closer for the quieter voice, and listen to that one. Your path is your path and you can’t screw that up no matter what. You can’t take a wrong turn, miss your boat, forget to buy that winning lottery ticket your Daddy swears is coming or otherwise screw up any opportunity that was meant for you. Your true voice, the one underneath the loud, scared one, is never going to veer you onto a path not meant for you. Trust your inner voice, the truest one. Learn to distinguish its tone as it guides you to what is meant for you and way from what is not. Listen to it above all others, even Daddy’s voice. Even mine.

Lesson Number Six

Hurt people hurt people. When Harper hits you, your first reaction will always probably be to hit her back. At least ten times a month I still want to push Auntie Kelley off a virtual bike or out of a virtual tree. I get it, baby girl. The people you love are frustrating and they can make you so, so angry. When I yell, you yell, than I yell louder and then you cry…then I cry. When the hitting and the yelling and the crying just go on and on, we feel worse and worse. Someone is always going to have to stop the hitting and the hurting before the hugs and the healing. Sometimes it’s going to feel very, very difficult to stop hitting. Sometimes, you are going to have to try to stop hitting first even when it’s not fair (remember #1?)Try baby. Try to be the first.

Lesson Number Seven

Nothing you do will ever make me love you any more or any less. Just like you were born whole and unbroken, so was my love for you. The love I give to you now was the same love I felt on the day you took your first breath and it will still be the same love I feel on the day that I take my last, which according to Harper’s very scientific calculations about death based on age and height and amount of hair on our heads will be after Daddy’s (Sorry Michael. Science.). It will be the same whether you win the Olympics or never, ever learn to do a cartwheel with your legs straight (keep practicing). Lots of times throughout your life, it may seem like pride, admiration, joy and sadness and hurt and all of the other emotions we both feel are changing the way I love you. This will never be the truth Maggie. I loved you whole on the day the Universe gifted you to me and I will love you whole all the days after, including the day you turn 7. 

Happy Birthday Baby Girl. 
~ Mama.

Friday, July 1, 2016

So You Remember

Mama, why do you take so many pictures of me?

..So you remember what you look like.

Mama, I know what I look like.

..So that you remember how you felt.

Mama, I'm not going to forget how I feel!

Oh, but baby you might.

Someday you may look in the mirror and doubt what you see.

Someday you may feel a little less brave, a little less beautiful, a little scared, a little less.


Someday you may watch the way someone else walks, the way they laugh, the way they think, the way their hair falls differently than yours and you will pause.

You will wonder if maybe what you see is better. You will wonder if the wild tangle of your curls should be smoothed and your hips narrowed. You will wonder if you are too loud, too sensitive, too much. Or perhaps not enough? Not enough to be seen, not enough to be valued. Not enough.

You will wonder if I was wrong. You will wonder if you aren't beautiful and brave after all. In fact you may convince yourself of it. And you will grow quiet.

And then, my love, I will be there to remind you.

I will remind you that you were born free and capable. That all the beauty and bravery and strength you will ever need was already there, tucked inside this tiny body perched on the edge of a dock worn with memories, wrapped in that tiny, navy blue tank top.

I will remind you that you were always beautiful.

If you forget.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

It's The Noise

It's the noise.

Mother's Day again and I'm struggling to find the right words to use to tell you what I want to tell you. I'm struggling to explain what separates my time with you from a time before you. Trying to find a way to make you understand what these days as your mother are like.

It's the noise.

 The steady thump of your feet down the hall, more reliable than the sun in the morning. The sound of your sweet breath in my ear right next to my bed before I've even opened my eyes.


It's The Noise.

Curious George in the background as I wash my face and the sounds of you beginning to wake in the early hours. That grating cartoon voice steady and constant. Even when our mornings aren't as steady.
Mornings can begin with tickles and laughs and still dissolve into tears before Annoying George has had a chance to learn his morning lesson.

The scrape of the spoon on the sides of the container as I pray there is still enough left in there for you to have your usual 'chunk of banilla yogurt' for breakfast even though I misjudged the grocery list.. again.. this week.

The giggles and the whining as you two fight upstairs over the covers and cold feet and who gets to pick the next cartoon.

It's the noise.

Your littles voices sing to me from the back seat. Arguments over who is taller, smarter, bigger.

Was I a star in the sky before I was born, Mama?

Why did she get to be a star before I did! I wanted to be the first star!

.....Are we late?

It's the noise.

The crying and the screaming and the laughter and the tears and the never ending noise.

The arguing and the sound of cheap toy guitars and your 'concerts'. The giggles and the whispers and the shrieks and the indignant cries of what is fair and what is not.

Someday it will stop. Someday it will be quiet. You won't breathe your tiny, hot breath next to my ear at dawn and you won't care how much 'banilla' yogurt is in my fridge.

Someday I'll close my eyes in the quiet

And I'll remember the noise.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

I Have No Time

I have no time to write it down for you.

Because you are strong and willful and never take no for an answer. You wear me out with the same questions over and over. I have no time to write because my time is spent instead anticipating the direction of your debate skills, weighing when to encourage the will to fight and when to encourage the need for empathy.

I have no time to write it down for you.

Because the laundry never ends. Because your rooms and your growing bodies are draped in outrageous, wildly creative outfit changes that are bathed in patterns and color. Color and pattern your mother has long since abandoned when the desire for approval eclipsed the freedom of creativity. You ask me each time you change and drop yet another pile of tiny cotton clothing on the floor if the leggings and headbands and Hello Kitty tank tops are what a rock star would wear. Each time I remind you that a rock star simply wears what a rock star wears. A million Hello Kitty tank tops could never improve the perfect way your tiny hips sway when the music moves you.

I have no time to write it down for you.

Because my hands never stop moving long enough to commit the words to paper. They are busy lifting bodies to my hips. Bodies that have now grown so much that they are almost too big to rest on these hips. Hands that are filled with backpacks and lunch bags and grocery bags and every other kind of bag. Bags can add so much weight to a life. But your bags are still filled with dreams and treasures and promise.

I have no time to write it down for you.

Because even when your eyes have closed and you have drifted off, your bodies still slump against mine heavy in sleep. And when I rise, sliding in my familiar way out from your tangled limbs, my thoughts will immediately turn once more to your never ending questions and the inadequacy of my answers. My thoughts will drift over the mountains of laundry that I can never seem to finish and the bags that need to be emptied and the work that needs to be done. I will send a million tiny promises up to the universe about how tomorrow I will answer the questions better and finish the laundry. I will raise your growing bodies up into my arms and against my hips and let your hot breath linger a little longer against me cheek before hoisting you up and over my shoulder to carry you off to sleep in your own little beds.

I have no time to write it down for you.

Where does the time go?