Monday, June 19, 2017

The Young Girl and the Sea

I took the kids to the beach the other day while we were staying at my parents' house. This was the first time Georgia had been there as a cognizant, communicative toddler. She seems to have a complicated relationship with the ocean. She wanted to be near it, but always held above it. The closest she would get would be to have me lean down so she could dip her fingers in while the rest of her clung, koala-style, to any part of my body she could touch. She was afraid of the water, but wouldn't retreat from it.

I had both kids by myself so for a while I was focused on watching Leo jump the waves on my right side while holding Georgia in my left arm. Then I heard her shouting and turned her way. I saw my girl bathed in sunshine, sparkly purple sunglasses sliding down a nose white with sunscreen, golden curls being tossed by the wind, and yelling at the ocean like an old lady on her porch telling kids to get off her lawn.

At the top of her lungs she shouted "GO! GO! GO AWAY," while making a shoo-ing motion with her hand.

At first I laughed and told her that, unlike any adults she has encountered in her life so far, the sea would not bow to her every command. Then the more I thought about it, the more I realized - YES, this who I want her to be. This is who I hope she grows into with poise and confidence; someone who encounters something that frightens them and doesn't run away. I've always wanted he
r to be strong and smart and brave, but this moment really crystalized the shape of those dreams I have for her. May she always be the girl who faces her fears, who stands up to bullies, who refuses to be cowed by a force that seems greater than her. May she grow into a woman who, when facing an intimidating challenge or meeting a formidable foe, squares her shoulders, narrows her eyes and tells it to back the hell up.

And, because she's my daughter, may she always wear flamboyant shades and a high SPF.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Love Is...

Love is many things. We've all heard that "love is patient, love is kind" or "love means never having to say you're sorry." If you Google "love is" you'll see poems, comic strips, scientific studies, books and of course, song lyrics.

I am lucky enough to have found the love of my life, and yesterday we celebrated five years of marriage. After five years with my soulmate, here's what I have decided love is:

Love is going out to a scrumptious dinner and reminiscing about where you've been, what you've done, how much you've learned and how your relationship has grown over the past five years. You laugh at beloved stories, you revel in the joy you've found in creating a beautiful family.

Then you walk home in the moonlight, enjoying the cool spring air on your cheeks juxtaposed with the warmth of your best friend's hand in yours. You get home and start getting ready for bed. You walk into the bathroom and your husband reaches out to you. You go in for a hug thinking how lucky you are to have found each other - to still feel such a strong connection after five years. Then you look down at his hand. And you realize that he was actually just trying to hand you a Gas-X strip.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Goodbye, Aunt Fran

My Aunt Fran was the first person I ever heard use the F word. But she was also the first person to take my hand and guide me up to meet a character in Disney World. She was the aunt who bought a three year old a drum set. But she was also the one who piled four or five of her nieces and nephews in her car and took us for a weekend of fishing and pizza and movies and pillow fights. Only now as a parent do I realize that she was doing something even nicer for her sisters than for us kids, but still, we had the time of our lives.

It was from Aunt Fran that I learned what French manicures and the concept of reincarnation are. Why Pinot Noir is the best wine to drink to avoid a headache, and that every child will giggle when you creep your nails up their spine and say “spider up your baa-aack.” My mom has told me how she envied her older sister’s wardrobe and sense of style when they were growing up. I have a vivid memory of a Thanksgiving my family hosted, waiting on the front porch as Aunt Fran walked up the driveway (since of course I was so excited she had arrived that I couldn’t just stay in the house), and hearing her say “If I’d known it was going to rain, I wouldn’t have worn suede.” And I looked at her beautiful brown suede heels that perfectly matched her dress and thought: “Okay, remember this. Suede is cool and special and you don’t get it wet. Add that to the file.”

I always felt that I had a special connection with Aunt Fran. She called me Alley-Cat. She always wrote on my birthday cards the previous year’s age with a little “plus one” next to it. Every year. Every card. But if I asked a lot of my cousins, I think they would say they felt that special connection too. As children, you got the sense that she really saw you - that you were a full, real person in her eyes. You could tell that she wasn’t going to behave differently toward you or in front of you because you were a child – hence that first F-bomb and the many that followed. I think to many of those who knew her, no matter what your relationship was to Fran, that was what drew you to her and what made her special. She was who she was, she told you what she thought and she made no apologies for it. She was funny, she was curious, she loved to learn new things, she never shied away from an argument, and she loved to laugh.

Everyone who knew her would agree that Fran was taken from us too soon. It’s not fair and it doesn’t make sense. But I hope all of us who love her will honor her life by taking a page out of her book – to be unapologetic about who you are, to never stop learning, never stop laughing, and to just say “fuck” every once in a while when it feels right.