Friday, June 20, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties, the Second

Dear Mister Buddy,

Tomorrow is your birthday.  Again.  Two.  As in, years old:

Mimsydotes.  She captured you perfectly.  P.S. you faceplanted about thirty seconds after this photo was taken.  

Let's talk about you, shall we Mister?  Things you love:




Your favorite two people in the world:

Nie Nie.  There are no words describe your love for Nie Nie.

And Anna.  Happiness, for you, is playing with your sister:

See that look on your face in that last picture?  Joy. That is you.  You are all joy, all energy, all the time.  

Of course, all that energy has a downside.  I am constantly in running shoes so I can keep up with you.  You did not get Anna's compliant nature, so when you want something you are GOING TO GET THAT SOMETHING.  And when you don't want something, say, oh I don't know, 


Well, let's just say I pity the person you fall in love with someday, the one who's going to have to say no to these giant brown eyes:

Seriously.  It's a challenge.

It wouldn't be your birthday if I didn't get a little sentimental, but I'm really going to try this year.  When I wake up tomorrow morning and remember where we were last year at this time...

And then just one short year before that...

When I remember the fullness in my heart knowing just how blessed we were...

I'm going to hold it together.  Really, I am.  On the outside.

But on the inside... well you know.  Because we're so lucky, and you're growing up so fast, and seeing you become the boy you are brings me so much happiness that sometimes I'm fairly sure I might burst with it all.

So happy birthday to my sweet boy, my sleepless wonder, my picky eater, my butterfly chaser and big, wet kiss giver.  My days with you are as crazy as they are wonderful.


Saturday, June 14, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties Gives Props

When I was seventeen, one of my very best friends had a baby.

Circa 1994... maybe 93? Before baby, but not long before.  

Actually, 'one of my very best friends' is probably an inaccurate statement.  L has been more of a sister to me than a friend, especially considering we've known each other since we were about this old:

Younger, even.  My pictures of that time are scarce.  

I cannot remember a time in my life L was not a part of.  Sacraments, vacations, parties, weddings.... Lots and lots and lots of good times.

I have approximately 70,000 pictures of us dancing over the years.  I WISH these pictures were more scarce.

And lots of not-so-good times.  I think I said at her wedding that I could truly say we had been through it all together (which is funny, because we've been through so much since that wedding day).  It's cliche, but in L's case, it's true.  L has been by my side THROUGH IT ALL.  

This is how we used to dress in high school.  Legit.

So yes.  Back to the baby she had at seventeen.  

I remember the day that she called me to tell me.  'I'm going to be a Mom,' she said.  THOSE were her words. And I was a kid at the time, pretty sure I knew everything and unable to grasp the gravity of what she'd just told me.

'Dude,' I probably said.  'Woah.'

That night, I told my mom.  She was devastated.  I think she cried all night long.  I remember thinking, 'Geez, it's not that big of a deal, is it?'

Because I was a baby myself.  And didn't know the first thing about anything.

So back to the baby she had:

I have about a trillion baby pics of D, but they are all at my Mom's house.  Grr, technology!

You know how the word 'amazing' is totally overused now?  And it's really irritating because it's kind of lost its meaning?

Well, in D's, case, it truly applies.  I mean, truly.  This kid is and always has been amazing. This week he graduated high school with countless honors and scholarships.  He's off to college to study Bible and Political Science.

Let that sink in for a second.  Bible.  And Political Science.

This was the week I moved to China.  L helped arrange the surprise goodbye party.  Lots of crying.

D deserves his own post.  Proud seems like such a stupid word.  I'm beyond proud.  BEYOND.  This week I sent him a text saying as much, and this was his response:

Thank you so much.  I wouldn't be here without your help to my mom when I was young and throughout high school for me.  

Which of course made me cry.  Because I didn't do much of anything, and yet there he was, on HIS big day, acknowledging me.  

That is what I mean by amazing.

So I've been reflecting on this all year.  How far D has come, how much has happened in the eighteen years since that phone call.  

'I'm going to be a Mom.'

We had no idea.  

See how we're kinda laughing here?  That's because L is on her knees in this pic.  My friends are tall.

Because I honestly did not understand-- truly understand-- all that L endured and triumphed over until I had children of my own.  

I remember calling L at one point when Anna looked a lot like this:

I was crying because that's what new moms do all the time, and I asked her, 'Why didn't you tell me it was going to be this hard?'

And she said, 'Aw, honey...

'Because I didn't want to ruin it for you.'

So as much as this week is about D, and all he has accomplished, and all he's about to accomplish, I had to pause today and give L the props I failed to give her all these years.  Her story could have been so different.  So could D's.  So could mine, so could any woman in her thirties, I guess.  But what set L apart then, and continues to, is her unwavering strength and conviction.  It's no accident that D is the young man he is-- he has a incredible mom who made countless sacrifices for him and loves him unconditionally.

These guys are both pretty lucky to have this lady in their lives:
Loving K and L in the background... sorry guys.

And I'm beyond lucky to have her as an inspiration and friend.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

A Woman in her Thirties Says Sorry

A while back, I did something really stupid.  I would not like to go into details because I'm still horribly embarrassed.  But let's just say I didn't mean to, I absolutely didn't mean to, but I did and it was so dumb.

When I realized the colossal nature of my stupidity, it sat swirling in my belly for four days.  Four days of palms to the forehead, sleeplessness, and some pretty self-depricating inner dialogue.  I went through a whole gamut of emotions about it:

Clearly this person knew I didn't mean to....
I must be blowing this out of proportion, right?
I mean, I wouldn't be terribly mad if someone did that to me... would I?

A woman in her thirties goes through these emotions all the time, but in this case I couldn't do what I'm conditioned(?) to do when I screw up, which is just sweep it under the rug and let it go. It nagged at me, brought tears to my eyes.  I couldn't believe what an ass I'd made of myself.

Right around 3:30am on the fifth day, I had an epiphany.  I remembered an absolutely life-changing TED Talk I'd heard awhile back, on the power of vulnerability.  How we live in a society where we never admit wrong doing because we're terrified of being perceived as weak.  How you cannot have true, healthy relationships until you own up to your mistakes.

I didn't have to let it fester.  I could do something about it.  I could apologize.

So I did.  I wrote a long note to the person and didn't mince words. I owned it. 'I feel like such an a-hole,' I said at least twice.  'I didn't mean to.'  'I'm so, so sorry.'

I hovered over the 'send' button for awhile. What if there was no response? What if this only made it worse? But I had to send it.  I couldn't take another minute of doing nothing.

Within thirty minutes, I got a response. 'I'm so glad you said something... didn't even realize it had happened... never would think you would intend to... no worries at all.'

And ah.... BREATH!

In the last few days, I've thought about it a lot.  The stupid thing I did doesn't go away (unfortunately-- facepalm!) but now when I think of it I remember that gracious response.  How my relationship with this person is now more 'real' because I-- and then we-- were honest.

And how now, when I tell my kids to apologize to one another, it's not just another rote activity.  It's something I've modeled, even when it was hard.

A woman in her thirties makes mistakes.  (I mean, sooooometimes...)  But a happy woman in her thirties apologizes when she does.