Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Woman in Her Thirties Turns SEVEN?

Dear Anna,

This week, you are SEVEN YEARS OLD. Ready for this?









When I started writing these birthday letters to you, it was because I didn’t have a way of telling you, not in a way you’d understand, all that was going through my mind at the time. Not anymore. Sometimes, through our conversations, I’m sure your understanding of the world and your place in it surpasses my own.

You are so bright, so articulate, so kind. You want to be a scientist (!) and revel in all things cheetah print. You are a full-fledged member of the swim team and master (sorta) backstroker. Princesses were SOO last year, along with dresses and “girly stuff” in general. Your reading homework every night is always non-fiction books you’ve chosen. The weather. Manatees. The Rainforest. "Why is everything in nature endangered??" you asked this morning. Sigh. But the truth is, I’m learning a lot, right along with you. It’s awesome.

Beyond awesome.

The bad news is that I’m thirty-nine. That means, by the time another birthday letter time rolls round, this blog will be defunct. (Maybe that is good news!) So, in case this is my last public birthday letter to you, I’m going to give you a few words of what I like to think are wisdom, for you to take or leave, from age seven to age seventy.

1. You own your story. 

Because I am your mother, I’m going to use words like “perfect” and “super genius” to describe you. While that will always be true for me, to others you’re going to be something different. In fact, you’re getting to an age where people are going to be very free with their opinions about you, and those opinions are going to have the power to shape how you see yourself. If people have opinions about you that are favorable, great! But don’t fixate on those, and don’t let them define the decisions you make. Same goes for people’s negative opinions about you. You decide your story in this world, no one else.

2. Anne Frank was right. 

The line from Anne Frank’s Diary of a Young Girl that will always stay with me is, “I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are good at heart.” Bubba, this world is full of terrible people. I hate that this is true. But it is more full, it is OVERFLOWING, actually, with good people. Kind people. Supportive people. You will always have the choice between being paralyzed by fear or taking a risk, and you will always have the choice to live thinking the world is out to get you or that people are worth loving and even trusting. I really hope you’ll choose the latter.

3. Your body is a gift. And it’s YOURS. 

Someday in the not so far future we are going to have a talk about what it means to be a woman. While my sole purpose in life is to keep you from any harm whatsoever, I know I can’t always do that. So I need you to know that you are a gift. Everything about you is a gift. You own who receives the gift of you. No one else. You.

4. You can’t have it all. 

If there is one thing I hate, it’s the idea that a woman must be, do, and achieve everything. Let me be the first to break it to you: that’s not how life works. You can be, do, and achieve many things, but not everything. So choose what you want, and make that stuff happen for you. And please, please, turn off any noise that is telling you you aren’t enough of one thing or another. You are enough. Your life is enough. Your strengths are enough. Your choices are enough.

Bus stop selfie with your biggest fan.

Ugh, how do you end a letter to your favorite little girl, your most precious gift, your beautiful little sidekick whom you simultaneously want to wrap in your arms forever and at the same time set her free to forge her own path?

The only answer I can come up with is that you don’t. End the letter, I mean. This is an ongoing conversation, one we’ll have countless times and in many ways, because if I have done my job right you will understand that I am always here for you, in every single way, for always. Not just when things are easy. Not just in a time of crisis. But always.

And always. Forever.

Happy Birthday, my big (but always my little) girl.


Saturday, November 4, 2017

A Woman in her Thirties Gets Lice

Is your head itching yet?

Mine too.

Before I tell the story, let me preface by saying this past month has been a month of some hard-core adulting. For the past year I've felt really blocked creatively, depressed by the state of the world, and feeling like my voice is... well... dumb. Not anymore. Spending a month dealing with the woman-in-her-thirties realities of life has unlocked a lot of stories that need to be told.

And here is one of them.

Last week, as Anna and I sat at the table with her reading homework, I took a good look at her hair. The only reason I did that was because I'd just had a conversation about how lucky we'd been to avoid lice in our house. If not for that off-handed conversation, I might not have looked. But I did look.


You can fill in the rest of the blanks. There was swearing, accompanied by a mad dash to Walgreens for a lice removal kit. Hours of shampooing and combing. Then checks of all the remaining members of our house. 

I also considered burning our house down, obviously. 

The next day, I went to The Lice Lady. Yes, that is an actual (thriving) business here. I wanted to be 100% sure that the rest of us were lice-free. 


Not lice-free. 

You know how I was talking about the hard-core adulting going on in my life right now? Well, nothing like a case of head lice to make you feel like you're seven years old again. 

I've become a head lice expert now, something I never wanted to be an expert in, but it turns out lice is really not that big of a deal. You get treated, you wash your sheets. Ain't no thang. 

But here's the part of the story that should be told. Almost everyone I have told about dealing with head lice has said, 'Oh yes, we've had it too.' But it's quiet, like you're revealing some sort of state secret. 'Don't worry,' Anna's teacher told me. 'We won't tell the kids that she had it.'

This was in stark contradiction to how I was handling the situation. I told anyone who would listen about the lice. I complained loudly, and often. 

'I HAVE A LIST OF THINGS I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR," I yelled when I arrived for my lice treatment. They put me into a room with a curtain for privacy. 'YOU KNOW WHAT IS ON THE TOP OF THAT LIST? LICE!'

It wasn't until I ran into a person I knew, another parent from Anna's class, who was getting her lice treatment at the same time as me, when I realized I was not handling this in the normal way. She was horrified to see me, and promised up and down not to tell anyone that we were there together. 

'Oh,' I suddenly understood. 'I'm not supposed to be talking about this?'

I've told this story several times in the last few days, and I always get a laugh. 'You're my soul sister!' People say. 

But am I? 

I don't know what it is, but for some reason we are afraid to talk to each other about real life. And sometimes the people who SAY they are honest and genuine are the worst offenders. We say we are great when we are not great. We assume no one wants to listen to us, so we don't give them a chance to listen. We don't ask for help because we're under some false impression that quietly suffering is a noble thing. We confuse a social media rant with actually doing something about the things that matter to us. 

Most of the people reading this blog are people I would consider friends. And friends, getting to hang with me means getting reality. I pooped while giving birth to Anna. I am an introvert and need my quiet alone time. I'm dealing with some really hard family stuff right now and sometimes I just need someone to listen to how difficult it is. 


And I am still, without a doubt, the luckiest woman in her thirties in the world.