Single Digits, for the Last Time

IMG_C50F6A5397C9-1.jpegAhh, Quinn, happy birthday number nine. It was so good to come home to you after dropping the last of your siblings off at college. I don’t think I would be quite ready to be an empty nester completely. When I drove Will to Michigan I listened to every episode of Justin Long’s Life is Short podcast. I discovered that Kevin Bacon was also only nine by the time his older siblings had all left home. It must be so strange to live half of your childhood with the flurry of activity that comes from a house full of brothers and sisters and the second half in “only child” mode. Kevin Bacon seems to have turned out okay, so I am not too worried. You did crawl into bed with me last night though. I think the house was just a bit too quiet for us both.

Recently Luke texted me this image of you and me from the beginning, nine years ago this week:

IMG_7928.jpg

That is hard for me to imagine and I am not quite sure how I managed the grief of it all or how I possibly went back to work ten days after an emergency c-section. Trauma can be funny that way I suppose. We block out the terror in order to function. When I think of that time all I think about is the stillness that resided in me. I went through life’s motions while feeling like I was on pause.

I am so absolutely grateful to you that you chose to stay, that you chose me as your momma. At nine, you still love to draw and to sculpt … you asked for tape for birthday. Honestly, I think you went through twelve rolls of tape last week. You still love cozy blankets, stuffed animals, Toy Story, Scooby Doo, Octonaughts, and YouTube. The Youtube thing drives me crazy. I will never understand what is entertaining about watching grown ass adults play games, but you cannot get enough of it. As far as food goes, you love chocolate, fettuccine, sausage, and black olives. On weekends you never get dressed. You sit, in your underwear, wrapped in one of those cozy blankets, and you make stuff with the tape and watch TV.

You remind me so much of Luke. He, too, loves television and movies. We have Luke home for a bit. You think he is the coolest. He plays loud music for you and you said that the coolest thing about Luke is that “he is Luke.” Dad and I always call the two of you our bookends, and Lizzie and William “the middles.” It is funny how that worked out, how the similarities lined up even though you are fourteen years apart. I am happy to report that Luke now dresses when he wakes up, even on days off, so I know you will get there.

I think about how much has transpired and transformed in these nine years and I am hopeful that our lives continue to be blessed with love and adventure and I look forward to creating the second half of your childhood with you. I hope it just gets richer, more colorful, more tape filled, more delicious for us all. When you were born I didn’t get to hold you. I only caught a glimpse of you as they rolled you away in your incubator. I noticed the dimple on your chin and I knew that angel kiss to be a sign of your resilience, your magic, and your determination to make this life a beautiful one. You certainly have added beauty to mine. Happy birthday, dear boy. You are the light of my world and I love you to pieces.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

So Far Not Dead

Last week I was texting my aunt Lori and she relayed some sad news to which I replied, “Did she die?” Lori texted back, “So far not dead,” which made me giggle despite the sad. I told her that “So Far Not Dead” would be a great title for a memoir and she said she would sell me the rights.

Summer is supposed to be my time to paint, but I have been too sad to paint. Joy has not found me this summer, which causes anxiety in all new ways because it’s my only time off. I cannot write that without tearing up because I know that school is around the corner and I know what that means. It means investing 100 percent of me into others. It means I missed my window.

Plus each night I go to bed surrounded my giant canvasses stacked up against my wall, paintings that did not sell from last summer, have nowhere to go, and it’s hard not to roll over and think “Why bother? Still poor.”

Yesterday something happened. I watched an eight year old boy be humiliated by his swim instructor and something in me snapped. It has been the third time in a row this summer that I have witnessed an adult authority figure embarrass a young boy. I had to pause and ask myself why this keeps showing up for me. I got in my car and shouted to the universe to stop showing me how much people suck. There is really nothing in the world that brings me to a boil more than watching a child be threatened by an adult. Nothing. It’s my zero tolerance line.

Yet none of the other parents watching this incident seemed to flinch. They didn’t even shift in their seats with discomfort. Even last time, at the toy shop, where the mother kept screaming at her crying son, “You are so annoying. You annoy me. I will whip your ass right here you are so annoying,” did anyone else flinch. I had to walk out of that toy store and throw up. I texted Susie, “How does anyone survive?”

In my mind I wanted to tackle that mom, to taser her, to, if nothing else, kneel down at the boy’s eye level and say, “What’s the matter, honey?” It made me think about how Grandma Jean used to sigh and say, “These things happen until one of them kills us.”

Yet so far, not dead. Chris says maybe it keeps showing up for me because It is a reminder that women hurt boys in ways that don’t get talked about a lot. We forget that denying that story and enforcing girls as being hurt by men keeps women in a culturally weaker state be enforcing the narrative that girls are victims and boys aren’t. “It sucks,” he said, “Needs to be addressed culturally.”

I don’t know if I can shift an entire culture. Maybe I can. I dunno. My mind has been racing with stories about times in my own life in which I felt or witnessed humiliation or abuse. I could go all the way back to pre-school when my mom bought me a pair of khaki pants. Twin girls at the Little Red House school teased me about looking like a boy. I was three, too young to know who Marlene Dietrich was.

So with the lack of painting I have decided to begin to log these accounts on an illustrated Instagram feed. My goal is to untangle for myself the stories that reside in me that make me feel small. Maybe these short stories will make you feel inspired or connected or maybe you can just be my witness. Maybe together we will make a cultural shift. I was debating about committing to this and then two things popped up on my feed. Russell Brand posted an Ursula Le Guin quote: “You cannot buy the revolution. You cannot make the revolution. You can only be the revolution. It is in your spirit or it is nowhere.” Also, my dad posted a New York Times article, Who Will Teach Us How to Feel? In both instances, I felt my arm shoot up in the same way it did when I sat in the front row of all of my college classes. I will. I will be the revolution and I will teach you how to feel.

So here I am. Feel free to follow and heart and share, or comment. Collectively, as witnesses, a revolution: https://www.instagram.com/so_far_not_dead/

xoxo

kelly

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Letting Go, Third Time’s a Charm

“It must happen to us all…We pack up what we’ve learned so far and leave the familiar behind. No fun, that shearing separation, but somewhere within, we must dimly know that saying goodbye to safety brings the only security we’ll ever know.” – Ricahrd Bach

For your birthday I bought you a copy of Jonathan Livingston Seagull. It wasn’t on your wish list, but it reminds me of you, my ambitious dreamer. I am naively hopeful that maybe you will keep it next to your dorm bed in Michigan. You are likely envisioning a much different dorm vibe.

Forty days. You leave in forty days.

When the three of you were little and I was feeling overwhelmed with the weight of motherhood, I would  count how many more years until you, my youngest back then, were eighteen, and I would breathe a sigh of relief knowing that I would only be forty-eight, plenty of time for me to live a life of my own. Then, a decade later, Quinn came along and that whole idea went to hell. Kidding. It just took a happy, scenic route detour. At least that is what we will tell him. Wink with me now, play along!

I am stunned at how quickly eighteen and forty-eight actually did sneak up on me. All three birds, outta the nest. Here I am. There you are. Cream rises, I guess, because despite how hard it all was, you have grown into the most charming, funny, introspective, handsome young man. I credit part of that to my own growth, part to a killer Montessori education, but most of it to you. You have known, since before you had words to articulate it, that this life, this world, was gonna be meaningful for you. Bach writes, “You will begin to touch heaven, Jonathan, in the moment that you touch perfect speed. And that isn’t flying a thousand miles an hour, or a million, or flying at the speed of light because any number is a limit, and perfection doesn’t have limits. Perfect speed, my son, is being there.” You, William, have the unique quality of having drive, but of also simply living, being. Maybe it’s your methodical math brain mixed with your creative design brain that makes you tick like that, but if you ask me, it’s your heart.

I love that you know yourself so confidently. I love that you are Lizzie are going to the same college and that you have found a best friend and confidant in her. At eighteen, you are a good listener, a reliable friend, not too cool to watch The Bachelorette with me just so that we can delight in its Twitter feed together. You have an incredible eye for detail (even when you were small you would complain to me about typeset that was off), a natural, enviable sense of humor, an endearing longing for adventure.

Letting go of you comes with its own challenges for me. I know you are seeking a life that includes things like skydiving and pushing your physical limits and I am going to do my best just to let you fly. Bach’s advice: “When you have come to the edge of all the light you have and step into the darkness of the unknown believe that one of the two will happen to you, either you’ll find something solid to stand on or you’ll be taught how to fly.” I love that image … “the edge of all the light you have.” It is how I will continue to imagine you. Glowing, believing, taking leaps, and growing into the vision of yourself that has been there since before time. I am so proud to be your witness.

Happy eighteen my love. Still my caboose. Don’t tell Quinn.

I love you.

Mom

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Irises and the Tulips

LizzieToday, on my way to work, I noticed a patch of beautiful blue irises growing next to the most brilliant crop of yellow tulips. The colors were so pronounced because it is going to storm today and the early morning light was that perfect shade of Payne’s grey, a color, I am sure, that is the catalyst for pretty much every love and longing song out there.

For some reason the spring flowers reminded me of my spring babies and the irises in particular made me think about how this is that last year of your teens. Blue irises symbolize faith and hope, while tulips represent a perfect love. No wonder they reminded me of you. Brilliant light, shining hope, impossible not to notice,  the full promise of spring ahead of you. . .

I suppose driving quickly past the flowers made me a little nostalgic about time and its passage, how just yesterday you were playing Go Fish! with your stuffed bunny on our porch and yet here we are, Spring, 2019, and you are officially nineteen years old. One year of college in the books, a tumultuous and challenging year, but not without its highlights, the most notable of which was kayaking in the bioluminescent ocean in Puerto Rico, the sky lit up like a birthday party for Zeus and the water alive with magic and possibility.

I didn’t even realize how much I missed you until you came home from the summer. I know you hate sleeping with the dog and with me, but I have never slept better. Knowing that your pulse is an arms length away, knowing that you are safe and dreaming. It’s a fleeting moment. I love falling to sleep listening to your stories or hearing you crawl in after watching yet another late night episode of Game of Thrones with Will. I love not worrying about you walking home from a frat late at night or having your wallet or keys or phone. I am in awe of your ambition, your confidence, your compassion. You are one of a kind, my girl. One of a kind.

According to the world wide web, “in Chinese art, the iris definition most often supported is ‘the dancing spirit of early summer.’ The petals of iris blooms easily move in the wind, mimicking the fluttering of butterfly wings.” I cannot think of a better way to describe you. Who knew the internet might be more poetic than your own mom? Flutter. That is the word everyone uses to describe the first time they feel their baby move. For me, with you, that feeling has never left me. May your nineteenth year be one where you also feel the dawning of your most true self. I wish you love and adventure, deep friendships and wonderful mentors. Happy Birthday to the girl who has been there for me since before time and who continues to fill my life with such absolute joy.

I love you baby girl,

Mom

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Here’s Lookin’ at You, Kid. Happy 23

Luke, age 4

I remember my college graduation. My parents and Lolo crammed into my Brooklyn apartment and I stayed awake all night listening to the snores of my dad and my grandmother, so loud, so cyclical, that I was sure the building might levitate. I graduated at Lincoln center. My mom was three years younger than I am now and honest to God, Luke, it feels like yesterday.

Yet here were are. Three years after snores-a-palooza you were born. All two pounds of you. The week before your birth was a slew of hospital guests praying for you to at least make it to Mother’s Day. I guess you and I have that in common … we like to defy expectations, to do things in our own way and in our own time.

I just finished watching your thesis statement film, Equanimity (a word I had to Google). I cannot tell you how impressed I was or how in awe I am of your multitalented self. I teared up halfway through the Hamlet scene, not just because it was so damn good, but because of the comfort I found in knowing you have found your place in the world. Not many adults know what their calling is. You know. You have always known.

I don’t even really know what I would say to my twenty-three year old self that would be of any benefit to you. You already know way more than I did back then. You have become such an articulate, confidant, fun loving, high spirited, magical adult. You, and this has always, always been true of you, are a magnet. Light of the world …

Lizzie and I always marvel at the fact that you are one of the only persons we have ever encountered that holds no judgement. I have never heard you say a bad word about anyone. I have never heard you gossip. Ever. Do you know how amazing that is? Especially in your profession, that is amazing. It is annoying that you don’t let us make fun of the dresses at the Oscars, but if that is the worst thing that comes from being a beautiful soul, I will take it.

Happy twenty-three, my bartending by night, auditioning by day, boy. Congrats on your new contract and your new job, too. I cannot believe you are graduating from college in two weeks. I just cannot. You, my first born beautiful boy, the boy who made me a mom, is already a star. I hope that this new chapter of your life rewards you in the same energy that you use on the world: pure, blissful, open, surprising, and generous. Knock ’em dead kid. The world is ready for you.

I love you beyond measure.

Mom xoxo

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Eight and a Half

A faculty meeting about trauma sensitive schools today listed the words calm, alert, anxious, fear, and terror (or something like that) in chronological order and I joked with my colleague that they lined up with the months of the school year. January, exam week, for high school teachers, blows.

So it has been a day. A day followed my crash cart grocery shopping and a dinner that will suffice and now it’s time for you to do your homework and I am sitting here, at a dining room table in desperate need of refinishing, waiting for you. As I wait, I play the I Can’t Stay Quiet anthem from the women’s march via a text message that I received early today and didn’t have time to play. You come downstairs, mid-song, wearing only your underwear, and you start to dance alone in the kitchen,

I glance up and catch a glimpse of how tall you suddenly seem. You dance to the backdoor, unprompted, to let the dog out, and dance your way back to the lyrics, “but no one knows me, no one ever will.” You are oblivious to my observations, smiling, singing, dancing. It makes me tear up, the contrast of the lyrics with the innocence of age eight, an age (for you) uninterrupted by trauma or shame.

You are on the edge. The edge of when everything changes. I look at you and try to imagine feeling that way and I really cannot remember ever feeling it. It’s funny those lyrics … no one knows me. Right now I know you. I know you like black olives in your lunch and that you don’t ever use toothpaste. I know you don’t like juice. I know you want toys in your Easter basket instead of candy (which, if you aren’t gonna use toothpaste, is probably a good bet). I have no idea who you will be though.

Not yet do you have to grapple with identity or sexuality or harassment or insults. Not yet do we have to look at college applications and wonder which way to go. Not yet has a teacher torn your work apart at critique. Not yet has everyone on your college dorm floor made a group chat that includes everyone but you. Not yet do you need to decide which post college job to take. I don’t know if you are straight or gay or bi or rich or happy or depressed or even if you are interested in science. Right now, the only care you have in the entire world is to dance along to the rhythm of a song you don’t even know the words to.

I envy you and long to keep you just this way for as long as I can. I cannot yet even imagine what it might be like to send you, my last born, off in an airplane after Christmas break, back to, what for you, feels like home. I know for me, that you and your brothers and sister are my home, and that for the rest of my life I will be able to close my eyes and see your slim Old Navy underwear hips dancing, joyfully, freely, and with no other purpose than to just be. “And in my hour of darkness [he] is standing right in front of me speaking words of wisdom, let it be.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Great Eight

You just woke up and screamed, joyfully, “I AM EIGHT,” and ran down the stairs to grab a surprise pumpkin chocolate chip bread (your favorite) from dad, who left to say a prayer for you at the river. I asked you what the first thing you wanted to say about eight was and you replied, “I miss being seven.”

I guess all of us spend our lives balancing the difference between anticipation and letting go. There is a lot of that ahead for you. Eight will be the last year that you officially live full time with a sibling. Left here for now with just William, it already feels weird to only have four of us pile in the car (we all fit!) and plan menus for just two boys.

This year you compiled a visual list of birthday wishes and received just about all of them: https://www.instagram.com/p/BmXMSMqFxer/?taken-by=mightyquinnart. You are an amazing, amazing drawer of all things. You pause television to draw its many scences and spend every night before bed with a flashlight under your covers, drawing. I am in awe of your raw talent. You are our first kid that isn’t so much interested in sports. I asked you what your favorite sport was and you said, “air hockey,” but I will say that you became one heck of a swimmer this summer. When your wee little preemie lungs made it the full length of Hoyt pool this summer, I cried a little bit. Hard work beats talent every time, doesn’t it? Or maybe they are just cool partners.

At eight you like to eat Mac and cheese, dragon tail (pork tenderloin, grilled), tuna noodle salad from Outpost, all things pumpkin, Chinese dumplings (fried and in wonton soup), beef lo mein, gnocchi, cheese, watermelon, and peas. Most of all you like the fresh fish that Mr. Flood catches and fries for you. You are still a stuffed animal lover, though we did downsize this summer. We are now down to half a room full of stuffed friends and said individual farewells to the other half who made the walk of shame to Goodwill.

Much to the rest of the family’s chagrin, you have fallen in love with watching youtube videos and you make fun of me for not liking that Ryan kid or his mom. You have started to engage in the things that will define your generation and make your parents shake their heads in mock curiosity. All traces of little boy are gone and now you are simply BOY, a stage that is as short-lived as high school. You even went on an overnight school camping trip without dad, without me… just you and your backpack, pillowcase stuffed with flashlight, sketchbook, and a good ballpoint pen.

I cannot tell you enough how much I love you or how connected I feel to your heart. You are a dawdler, a daydreamer, a storyteller, an animal lover (loving to look, but not touch). You asked me what my favorite emotion was to feel and I said joy and you replied, “My favorite is lazy.” You are funny and quiet and introspective and investigative. You have asked me one hundred times this summer, “Mom, what is that word again where animals do human things?” When I say “anthropomorphic,” you repeat the word over and over and then often, later, point out to me anthropomorphic things you notice.

We have celebrated your birthday twice already, once when Lizzie was still home and once with your buddies Tegan and Rocket, so I am not quite sure how to spend your Labor Day birthday with you. It’s the night before my first day of classes and I feel a little overwhelmed and preoccupied with that. I asked you what you wanted to do and you said, “visit Shuggy and Shelby,” so heads up, Shug, we might make a tomato run.

Have an eventful and peaceful, adventurous and healthy eighth year, sweet boy. Make it great. I love you, I love you,  I love you.

Screen Shot 2018-09-03 at 9.49.35 AM

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Roots, Wings, and the Way Back Home

Screen Shot 2018-08-15 at 4.08.40 PM

My babies, home for the summer 2018

I have always been relatively ambivalent about rollercoasters except for this one time when I rode “Superman,” where one rides as if they are flying, facing the ground. I was legit terrified, a full on panic attack. I wanted it to stop immediately. I have felt that feeling only a few times before, once in an MRI and once at Cave of the Mounds, where the underground passage got too narrow and they turned off the lights. I was pretty sure we were all going to be buried alive.

It’s been a hard day. Luke was home for a few weeks and I was really used to him again. His laugh and his ease, his quirks and his stories … his generous willingness to give Quinn a bath and tuck him into bed with stories and blanket fort. He left at six this morning and that airport drop off never gets easier for me. I watch him standing in the check-in line, leather jacket in the middle of August because it is too heavy for his suitcase, his long hair draping him like a picture frame, staring off into the distance with the corners of his smile eternally turned upwards and I just ache. Two thousand miles is too far to go and yet it’s the only direction there is. I will miss him.

I drove home and picked up Lizzie for coffee. On our way there I ran over a squirrel who had been playing with his little squirrel friend. This flattened my heart completely until Lizzie assured me that I probably saved him from a falcon who would slowly eat him alive. I felt a little better until after her pause when she added, “or it was that other guy’s soulmate.”

This afternoon we started to pack up her stuff for Michigan. Off to college she goes, my freshman and my senior … I am not sure how a heart can feel so full and so empty at the same time, but it does. On the way back from picking up even more storage bins she played Coldplay’s The Scientist and I cried so hard that I turned on the windshield wipers by mistake. “Nobody said it was easy/It’s such a shame for us to part
/Nobody said it was easy/No one ever said it would be this hard.”

We stood in the middle of her bedroom and as she ran garbage bag after garbage bag down the stairs, I stared at all of her little girl things. Polaroids of girlfriends being silly, volleyball medals, magazine posters of high fashion models, her record player, her album collection, her art supplies scattered across her drafting table, her beautiful mess and I just silently thought, “this is ending,” and I could not find the windshield wipers.

My brother simply texted, “roots and wings,” so I thought I would pause to remind all of you who are in the thick of it, planting roots, exhausted from playdates and back to school shopping, aching for your own shot at the remote or just wishing you could have a jar of pickles for dinner instead of having to once again cook for a crew and then clean up after them, that the roots part is easier than the wings part, especially if you have really good roots.

I have two more kids at home. Thank GOD. All of you brave people who chose to only have one child, God bless ya because that is gonna suck hard. I am inhaling deeply, staring at the next in line. He needs me still. So I am gonna go anchor those roots a little deeper and prep for a high school senior year full of highs and lows, a rollercoaster facing the ground, where the passages are often too narrow, and I am going to trust that somehow, somewhere, all those roots intertwine and we will all return home together, free at last.

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

My Third Time Charm, a Birthday Letter

I love your summer birthday, nestled into the pulse of the loveliest three months. I love that you always want the same exact birthday meal (bombers, banana cream pie, and plain old vanilla ice cream cake). Predictable, exact, wonderful, you. As I began to think about your birthday I thought about your upcoming senior year and how you are the third kid of mine to take my AP Studio course and probably the last one as I don’t think I will still be there when Q is ready for high school. That entire sentence is hard for me to fathom. Raising teenagers has been pretty special for me in that all of you are artists in your own right, I get to be your teacher, and so I feel especially attached. Knowing how fast the school year flies and knowing you are the caboose, well, it just makes my heart sink a bit. If reminds me a bit of reading a really good book that you just don’t want to put down, but you also don’t want to end. You, dear William, are that part of the book where I really trying to savor my time, where the pages held in the right hand start to feel a bit too thin for comfort. I don’t want it to end.

Luke came home to visit this week. Isn’t that strange? To visit? I am still getting used to the change in dynamics. It’s not you guys changing that overwhelms me … it’s me having to change and to identify my new role. So for this year, just let me be your mom. I just want one more year where we are all entangled … where we share a toaster and the remote.

I looked back at these photos and it feels so bizarre … where is that kid? Where is that mom? I love that you are smiling in these because sometimes I feel like I only remember the hard parts.

 

Isn’t it crazy that in that first photo you are turning eight? Quinn is about to be eight! That is why I am certain time doesn’t exist. Yet here we are, kid. Seventeen. Screen Shot 2018-07-20 at 12.35.25 PM.png

I am wishing you a year that is full of promise, happiness, and love. You amaze me, Will. I love, LOVE that you never need to be reminded of anything. You are reliable, consistent,  a constant heartbeat in my life. I also hope for you that you welcome the occasional surprise and interruption. I know you like to know what to expect, but somewhere in your teen years, learn to trust yourself to fail. I can hear you now, “I don’t fail, Kel.”

So in your perfection, then, I wish us the sweetest year ahead, especially as you begin your college search. May the exact right one fall in your lap and may it be the trigger that starts an adult life full of the same magic and awe that you have brought to mine. You are hands down the funniest person I have ever met in real life. Smart and beautiful to boot. Know that we are all proud of you. Next it’s your turn to learn to be proud of yourself … to allow that feeling, to own it. Seventeen seems to naturally extend itself to that opportunity.

When you were born, Dad and I used to sing the Malcolm Dalglish song, “Sweet Potato,” to you. One of the lyrics is “They must have grown you wild to make a grown man a child.” I do hope you always feel like a wild child at heart and that you leap into it with great joy. We are gonna love you up, kid. We cannot wait to hold witness to your glorious life. You have the divine right to be happy, healthy, and prosperous. Love it all, baby boy. Happy birthday. Here is your song. It has the exact amount of silliness and joy in it for you, but it’s mixed with brilliance and heart and exactness and depth … of course it’s your song. I love you, Will, so incredibly much. xoxo Mom

“The world is big,
So big;
It’s very big.
To you
It’s new;
It’s new to you.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Tsunami 18, Dear Firecracker

18

Big week for you, kiddo. A week that has so far left you crying in the driveway, overwhelmed by its massiveness. Eighteen is rolling in as a tsunami: scholarship ceremony, new kickboxing addiction, admission to the University of Michigan, and a musical theater showcase that you were born to sing. I am happy to ride that wave with you, but the bittersweet thing about eighteen is that I can only watch from the beach.

Sometimes the hardest part about parenting is having to stand witness to your kid’s life. The hurts, which have certainly blindsided you this past year, the highs, of which there have been many… none of it is my own journey and yet it feels like somehow it must be. Learning, for me, to let go, to trust that you will leap into your divine adult self with perfect grace has been such an emotional lesson. I am proud of you. So proud. I am madly in love with you. I cannot imagine what it will feel like to drop you off in Michigan and walk away alone, except to say that I am never alone when it comes to you. You are always there, the current of my own heart.

Happy eighteenth birthday, darling, magical girl. I don’t have many words of advice. Vote, I guess. Seriously. Vote. Continue to stand up for yourself, to participate in discussions even when everyone else in the room doesn’t care to. Create, always. I have plastered the art room with the words, “Confidence is a choice.” I hope that mantra shows up again and again for you as you head into college. Be brave, baby girl. Leap.

I am so excited to watch you sing this Friday. I know you are scared to death. I know that the lyrics will make me cry. She Used to be Mine is a relatively heart wrenching song to sing solo in the spotlight right before your mom has to officially cut the cord. “Growing stronger each day ’til it finally reminds her to fight just a little, to bring back the fire in her eyes that’s been gone, but used to be mine.” Are you trying to kill me? Sigh. I hope you do kill me (metaphorically). I hope you find that deep, honest space that resides somewhere in your belly and that you choose confidence. Sing the fuck out of that song, Lizzie. The girl who used to be yours deserves it. She is waiting.

You keep asking me why I am not crying all the time like I did when Luke was graduating. I get teary a bit now and then. I get sad when I know you won’t be around much longer to snuggle on the couch with me, drink wine, and watch stupid movies like Bad Moms Christmas. I know that I will feel your absence. Those feelings are being overshadowed by how excited I am for you. You are the kind of person that was born to have a big life. All fire. When you were little and playing volleyball I would sit on the bleachers and shout, “Be the spark, Lizzie.” You are indeed the spark. I am so looking forward to the fireworks display that the rest of your life holds.

I guess I do have more advice for your adult self. Never forget your worth. Don’t give into victim mentality. Be compassionate. Learn the difference early on between empathy and compassion early on. Have both, but know the difference. Don’t let empathy crush you. Never sacrifice your own vision for someone else. Be your own best friend. Trust your gut. Don’t leave a party alone. Look out for your girlfriends. Cover your drink with your hand and never take your eyes off of it. Drink water. Don’t leave your room so messy that you get bugs. I have so much advice I could fill a seven book series. I am trying to separate my advice from my fear. Most of those life lessons you will figure out all on your own, sometimes after making some really shitty decisions. Perfect. All of that is okay. If nothing else this year taught you to get back up again after getting all the wind knocked out of you.

Get up again, Lizzie. Again and again. Work with loving joy as you manifest a destiny that is your divine right. I am gonna miss you … your messes, your laugh, your firecracker self. When you miss me back, sink into your heart. I am there.

Cheers to the next four years, but mostly to the year ahead. May adulthood be kind.

xoxo  MOM

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment