Mama Said There’d Be Days Like This

Yesterday was a bad day. I felt it easing in on Wednesday afternoon. Motivation slowly ebbing. The funk descending. By yesterday morning, it had full on settled, weighing down my shoulders, slowing my footsteps. It was going to be one of those days.

We are two weeks into a small kitchen renovation. Although the work is coming along and I can see how beautiful it will be when it’s done and the crew is polite, friendly and super conscientious, it is still wearing on my mental sanity. The entire contents of our kitchen have been relocated with the bulk of the “stuff” perched and propped on every surface in my office. Bookshelves are lined with coffee cups and crystal. A giant box containing our new vent hood is behind my chair. The bench next to my desk boasts a giant basket overflowing with plastic cups and water bottles and random bits shoved in between while underneath are stacks of cookie sheets and pots and lids perched precariously in my giant roasting pan.

I can practically feel the walls closing in. There is not a pleasing spot to look at in here right now and the physical clutter has started to manifest itself mentally. I can’t keep a thought, make a decision, carry through on a task. I spent yesterday running around town in search of a canvas art piece for a specific spot in the new and improved kitchen and then hours (no joke) online (and yes, I’m still looking. You know, when you have something in mind and need a specific size it’s IMPOSSIBLE to find what you need? That’s me.). By the end of the day, I realized I had not really had a fully formed thought run through my brain all day other than – oh, here’s Pier 1, guess I’ll stop in here and check.

Then came a rejection letter. I normally would have let this one go. It was a long shot agent of a very well respected writer I admire, but our books aren’t entirely similar, so I knew it most likely wouldn’t be a great fit (and that’s essentially what she told me in her very nice letter), but it just dug in under my rib cage yesterday and sat with the fog.

When the kids came home from school and I nearly jumped with joy that there was no homework allowing me to do the minimum. I went through the motions. I chopped the vegetables for the soup. I corralled them outside. I chatted with my sister. But through it all, I was just blah. Unmotivated. Empty. Depleted.

And so I didn’t beat myself up. I just let it sit. I wallowed in the nothingness for a bit. I let it ride. Some days are just like that. Some days we’ve given all we can. Some days the busyness of life catches up and our minds and souls need to turn it off and rest for a bit. I think that’s what mine did yesterday because this morning I woke up refreshed. So I swept.

There is only so much cleaning that can be done around this renovation project when so much is in physical disarray, but sweeping I can do. And so I did. I swept the dust bunnies out of the corners, the LEGO’s out from under the couch, the breakfast crumbs from under the table. And as I worked, I swept yesterday up in with the floor detritus and dumped them all into the trash.

I sat down at the desk. The desk that is the only surface in this office I have protected, and have knocked off some tasks, made lists of new ones, felt the tickle of inspiration deep in my brain again.

It seemed like no coincidence when this tiny sparkle of brilliance from Anne Lamott popped up in one of my feeds this morning .

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We all need to be self-aware to our self-care. There have been plenty of “those” days that I have been cruel to myself, pushed and prodded and judged myself for my failures. Luckily, I didn’t do that this time. And today, I am better for it. And yesterday is gone, in the past, done. There is no changing it and no need to. Something in my soul needed quiet yesterday and I’m hoping that it received what it needed.

Today? Today I can control. Today, I swept. Today, I wrote. Today, I opened the windows to let the air in. Later, I will play with my kids and chat with my neighbors and make plans for the weekend. And when the time comes, I will unplug again and let my soul and mind reset so that I can get back to the work at hand.

Permission, Persistence and Partners

I just finished Big Magic over the weekend. Big Magic is Elizabeth Gilbert’s love letter to creativity. Or rather, her soul whispering (and sometimes shouting because the world can get noisy scaring our souls into hiding) to ours that the thing inside us – the thing that burns and tugs and bubbles just under the surface – is an okay thing, perhaps the best of things, and should be let out to play. Whether you want to write a book or weave a basket or collage or paint or invent or photograph the supermoon, we all have a creative being inside us that deserves our acknowledgement and attention. It doesn’t need to pay the bills or fold the laundry or earn its keep. It simply deserves the opportunity to exist. And through its existence, it will more than likely refresh you or change you or simply open up your perspective and empathy to the surrounding world.

The book arrived in my mailbox at the perfect time. I’m currently querying literary agents – a soul sucking process where you boil your creative work into a three paragraph letter that needs to encapsulate the story, its tone and demonstrate your abilities as a writer so hopefully this agent (or, more likely, their overworked assistant) will continue past your signature line in the email to read the first ten sample pages and will then request a partial or full manuscript and then (maybe, perhaps, fingers crossed) love it so much they offer representation so they can begin their own soul sucking cycle of trying to sell the same pages to a publisher. Fun, right? Needless to say, her section titled Persistence particularly resonated.

But as I go through this process of trying to secure third party credibility for my work, the Permission section also spoke to me.

I am currently being bothered by the next idea. Three unique souls, very different from the group in my existing manuscript, are pestering me, talking to me, pointing out things that are bothering them and asking me to help them out a bit. It’s reassuring that the well isn’t dry, but frustrating in that I’m not sure when to start allowing them completely in when my head is still so crowded with my current cast of characters (heaven forbid they start talking to each other). To top it off, we are starting a kitchen renovation in the next few weeks that only further sends that damsel doubt into a whirlwind of activity that typically starts with “Works in progress don’t buy subway tiles, honey. You spent how long writing that first book and not working a real job? What if it never sells? What makes you think it’s okay to just start another book that may only live on your laptop?”

Because it is.

Because it’s what I’m doing.

Because I don’t need anyone’s permission but my own.

What I’ve learned from the last year and a few months of writing this book is that I am a writer. That doesn’t mean I won’t ever hold down another day job. But it does mean that I won’t be able to stuff that part of myself back into Pandora’s box. The lid has been opened and the spirit it released in me is entirely too much fun to lock back up. Even if my words never see more print than what comes out of my very own printer. It won’t matter if it fails to publish, it doesn’t mean that I failed. Because I wrote it. I already did the thing I set out to do. Does that mean I won’t fight like hell to get it published? No. It just means that if my persistent efforts come up short, it isn’t a rejection of my permission slip to continue doing the thing.

Permission and Persistence. In this creative life they are the two things I can control.

As I read the book and sent out my queries and pondered my next steps, there was another theme that resonated with me this weekend that is not a part of Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, at least not in an outright way.

Partners. (Might as well keep it alliterative, right?)

I recently swallowed my nerves and asked a local writer I very much admire and had met several times before if she’d be willing to get together and share any advice on the business side of writing. It was terrifying to ask and just as terrifying when she said yes! We had a lovely dinner, however, talking about books and publishing and writers and MFA’s and Oprah’s book club and e-books and careers and permission and persistence (although not in those specific terms). I came home invigorated and inspired by our conversation.

The next day, I had lunch with a neighbor friend who, after decades of working with the same company, is now looking for a new job. We both find ourselves in places of reinvention, of soul searching and an attempt to take our life’s work and find the rare matching peg — me the right agent, her the right job.

I felt bolstered by these two women. In their own ways, they both provided support and encouragement of my journey. I hope, in some small way, I was able to do the same for them. These two conversations opened my eyes to the other partners I have on this creative walk. In just the last week, there was the friend who again offered her guest room to me for a visit and a bit of writer’s retreat; another who shared my excitement of the arrival of Big Magic and is my feminist soul sister (as well as birthday twin – coincidence?); another who asked for book recommendations on Facebook that turned into a quick, yet no less fascinating, exchange about books and their impacts; the fellow writer who is also shopping her book and our quick email exchanges sharing our frustrations with the process, rejections and words of support.

I told the universe (and anyone who would listen) that I was committed to living a creative life not in order to save the world, not as an act of protest, not to become famous, not to gain entrance into the canon, not to challenge the system, not to show the bastards, not to prove to my family that I was worthy, not as a form of deep therapeutic emotional catharsis…but simply because I liked it.Elizabeth Gilbert, Big Magic

I have been very vocal about my creative journey here on the blog, on my Facebook page, and recently in cocktail party conversation (New acquaintance: What do you do? Me: I’m a writer.). I don’t do this for attention or for ego stroking (although, who am I to turn down some ego stroking?). I do this because this is where I am. This is the messy, anxiety-prone, solitary task I am undertaking. I do this because we are all trying to live a creative life somehow. In our jobs, in our hobbies, in our craft projects with the kids, in those new coloring books for adults. We should talk about it more. We should be open to it. We should open ourselves up in a way that allows us to create and to create deeper relationships with each other.

Sure, I like that photo of your cat or your kid or that gastronomic feat you are about to ingest for dinner. But I am also excited by your new studio, your completed art project, your honest and thoughtful response to an event in your life or in the world. When I see these creative moments peek their heads up out of my friends’ and readers’ lives, I find that my soul has found another partner. And when you spend most of your day alone in your home, in front of a blank screen, with only a silent fish making bubble nests in the tank on your desk, it’s incredibly important when your soul recognizes another mate.

With a holy host of others standing around me… — James Taylor, Carolina In My Mind. 

I couldn’t do it without you.

And so it is with Permission, Persistence and Partners that I am on this writing journey. Here’s hoping for more magic.

Remembering and Sharing

As parents there are certain conversations we dread: explaining divorce. Explaining sex. Explaining death.

They strike fear in our hearts and send shivers up our spines. We avoid them until we can’t. We try to water down topics to age appropriate language and comparisons in order to tell just enough without guaranteeing our children are blaming us for their future adult therapy. Some go better than others and some are told out of necessity. We offer the comfort we can and we love our children through it all, hoping it will be enough.

I had one of these conversations this week.

My third grader came home with an “I Survived” book. These historical fiction vignettes take a moment in history and retells it through the eyes of a young boy survivor. T loves facts and adventure and escapes, so I wasn’t surprised to see the “I Survived the San Francisco Earthquake 1906” come home from the school’s media center. I was, however, surprised when “I Survived 9/11” appeared on my dining room table.

I read it while he was at school. It stuck to the facts. It focused on the firefighters and their bravery. And I died a little inside knowing that if he could read this book, I needed to talk to him about it. I needed him to know things. Understand. This wasn’t just another adventure some fictional boy survived. This one touched his family and this nation in unique and permanent ways.

And so while the little guy was at a play date, I sat my nine year old down and we talked. I let him ask me questions. I had to explain why the plane crashed in Pennsylvania. I had to confirm that no, it didn’t just land nicely when the good guys took over the plane. That they died. That they were heroes. That they saved so many more people.

I shared what it was like to leave DC. That people helped each other. That my friend took me home with her when I didn’t want to get on the train. That I saw the smoke from the Pentagon. That firefighters and police did their jobs in New York and went in when everyone was trying to get out. That people helped carry colleagues and strangers down numerous flights of stairs. That someone that went to my high school helped people. That he lived. That he helped other people live, too. That they have built a museum where the buildings once stood to honor the lives lost. That there is a new building there now that is taller and stronger and maybe one day we’ll go see it. That they fixed the Pentagon. That planes are safer now.

Then I showed him pictures of a trip I took on a high school band trip to New York City in 1992. We went to the top of the World Trade Center. It was a cloudy day. In the photos you can see the heavy mist hanging in the air between where I stood on the top of the world in that observation deck and the tops of tall buildings below.

We talked about doing something on 9/11 to honor the day. And so we are making brownies today that we will take to our local fire department this afternoon.

And then I cried. Alone. In the bathroom. The farther away it gets, the easier to distance myself from the visceral memories. But honestly, I don’t ever want to lose that pain, that grief. I can’t afford to. None of us can. We have to remember. We have to honor those we lost.

This year, in addition to remembering, I am sharing it with my child. Not sharing too much. He doesn’t need to see too much, understand too much. But now he knows. He knows that 9/11 was real. That 9/11 is still real. And as hard as that conversation was, I’m glad. How we teach our children what we learned that day will define how they handle their generation’s event in the future. Because it will come. Whatever it is. There is no stopping it. Something horrible will happen. And if my guy remembers the kindnesses, the comfort and the bravery that outweighed the fear and mitigated the tiniest speck of the grief in one of our nation’s worst moments, then he will be well prepared.

Remembering and sharing.

2:00 pm

2:00 pm.

One hour until the bus returns my tired, sweaty, fidgety, hungry children back to me. In the hours since they have left, I’ve made the bed, done the dishes, walked three miles, showered, eaten two meals and attempted some semblance of work.

With the one hour mark comes the pressure. Did I do enough? What else can I get done? Will a cup of coffee or a 15 minute power nap be more effective to get me through the afternoon? More often than not, however, the last hour is filled with the kind of pressure that nearly feels like regret. I think of everything I didn’t get done. I ponder was my day worth it? Did I do enough to justify this at home existence I have? Is the house clean enough (never)? Did I write enough? Did I move the arrow forward on anything? Did I cross off anything on the list? Could I have done more?

A lot of this pressure is born of the fact that I’m currently in a writer’s purgatory. The manuscript has been in the hands of beta readers for the last month. I’ve been purposefully avoiding the manuscript in the hopes of giving it fresh eyes with the fresh perspectives and comments of these readers. Instead, I’ve focused my efforts and time on the busy work of writing – query letters, synopsis writing, agent research, comp research, endless time reading forums and articles and Q&As to help assuage some amount of the anxiety building up as I near a time when I will eventually have to let this baby go out into the world for judgement.

Unfortunately, that leads me to many two o’clocks filled with am I doing enough? angst. I know in my heart what I’ve been doing is not lost work. It’s not pointless. It’s an investment. It’s necessary, mandatory, even. But it’s not writing. And I miss it. The writing. I have a plan that I need to trust. A plan for editing, for querying, for closing the door on this manuscript in order to move into the research for the next. I need to have faith in the process. Faith in myself for creating it. Faith it’s not all for naught.

But the clock ticks. Another minute gone. Another possibility of productivity drifting into the past. I realize I am not a patient person.

And that today, I’ll go with the cup of coffee.

Doing it Scared

“I just love the way you’ve embraced your fears about doing this…”

These are the words my husband imparted to me during a conversation about where I am in my writing process (editing, mired in the busy work of agent research and query letters, preparing for the inevitable letting go). I laughed. Because embracing my fears? Not at all.

I told him, it’s not so much that I have embraced them or welcomed them or accepted them. It’s more that I have let them sit down next to me like a stranger on a train. I’ve allowed their presence and acknowledge the occasional knee bumping mine. Sometimes they feel small and I can put them in a pocket or a drawer and those times are the best. The rest of the time, they hover like a shadow, over my shoulder, or under the desk. I cross my ankles while sitting in my work chair and half expect to nudge one with my toe. I wonder if I turn around fast enough will I catch one in the act, mimicking me like a bad classroom student imitating their teacher as the rest of the class sniggers and guffaws tacitly siding with the bully’s caricature interpretation while ignoring the sincerity of her words or intent?

Instead, I face front. I keep typing. When the fear starts to breathe against my neck or tap my shoulder more insistently, I focus on my dreamer flower.

Putting myself out there. Doing it scared.

That’s all I can do. All I can ever do. Keep putting myself out there. Keep putting one word after another. Keep compiling lists of agents. Keep finessing that query letter. Keep editing that synopsis. Keep contemplating that manuscript for the next round of edits. Keep putting my butt in the chair every morning. Keep taking it seriously.

The fear is still there. May always be there. But I’ve stopped fighting it. It’s a waste of energy. Let it sit and rest awhile. Maybe it will get bored. Maybe it will leave. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I keep going.

Doing it scared. But doing it.

Milestones

First smiles. First roll over. First time they sleep through the night. First steps. First foods. Firsts rule a mama’s life. And we obsess over them all. We document, photo, share, brag. We take a small (and sometimes large) measure of ourselves in these firsts and what we’ve accomplished as a parent. These firsts are the manifestations of all the love, tears, hugs and healthy snacks we’ve been forcing on our children since they exited the protection of our wombs.

And then they go to Kindergarten.

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My baby, my second, my last confidently stepped on a school bus this morning. It was one small step for a kindergartner, one giant leap for mama. They are both gone. They are now both off living these independent lives that I can’t touch, see and, let’s be honest, control. And I am left here. In my house. Alone. The very thing I have been waiting for and dreading. In equal measure.

Will he get lost on his way to his classroom? Will he drink enough water throughout the day to avoid getting a migraine? Will he be hungry after eating such an early breakfast? Did I pack the right snacks? Will he have time to finish his lunch? Will he like his teacher?

Will he miss me?

The right answer to the last one is no. He’s an independent, confident little boy. And I should be proud of that. And I am. But I still want him to miss me. Like I suddenly miss him.

I know it will get easier. I know tomorrow I will relax into the quiet and the time and the insane list of tasks and work I have. Today? Today will not be easy. Today already has tears and a planned lunch with friends to distract me from the endlessly ticking clock until 3pm when my boys are back and I can find out all the answers to my questions.

We raise them to leave us then wonder how they could do it so easily.

And so I wait. I watch the clock and contemplate how to fill the next seven hours. I know he is in good hands. But I’ll be glad at 3 o’clock when he’s home and back in mine.

Do For You

I remember when my first was born and someone told me about the airplane model of parenting – attach your own oxygen mask first before assisting others. Seemed like a no brainer in that last month of pregnancy, but it wasn’t until I realized I was dashing out of the shower with barely rinsed out shampoo, trailing water and suds down the hall to his room in response to his smallest whimper on more than one occasion that I realized it was easier said than done.

By the second time around, I had two little people’s needs to balance as well as my own, and after landing in the emergency room when the little guy was only twelve days old, I had no choice but to take care of myself. And it was heartbreaking. Honestly. I felt like I was letting someone down. That the new baby wasn’t getting the best of me. The most of me. But I also learned that I’d be letting everyone else down if I didn’t take care of myself.

As they’ve gotten older, it’s gotten easier. If I know I need a quiet moment or a change of scenery or a drink of water or a nap, I know how to take care of the physical things in order to keep myself the most sane, healthy, taken care of. But it can still be a challenge. When I’m sick and I watch the house fall to ruins around my inability to follow behind setting the world right. Or when they play together nicely while I’m writing but that play includes fire engine noises and loud truck crashes and an inevitable war of words that distract me from the work in progress. Or when I feel like I need to choose between family time and something i want to do. By myself.

This past weekend, it was with great trepidation that I asked to leave our weekend at home in NC for two hours to go to an author’s book launch party 20 minutes away in Hillsborough with an old college friend. We don’t see our families as often as we’d like and fitting in all the necessary family combinations of visits is already a challenge. But we’d added an extra day to the trip and the timing was perfect in the late afternoon, I’d still be home for dinner.

So, after much agonizing, I went. And it was wonderful. The author was witty and funny and honest and real. My friend knew her and introduced us and she offered wonderful advice and a lead on a writer community for me. I caught up with my friend as much as you can in line to get tea and tarts and a book signed. I still made it home for dinner with my parents and sister and niece.

It can be hard to justify taking care of the creative part of myself when the humdrum daily life is pulsing and demanding attention around me. I know that it’s imperative that when these events come up I honor them and give myself the time to indulge, to learn, to absorb. I left the reading with some new thoughts on my own work in progress, things that weren’t strong enough yet, characters that aren’t clearly articulated. But choosing me, choosing the creative part of me specifically, is a constant struggle. Through the years of career and family, I’ve gotten really good at squashing it and putting it on a shelf for later. Since I’ve opened the gates and really committed, however, it’s become harder to ignore. It needles me in the ribs, it whispers in my ear, it swirls my dreams at night and taunts me in the rare moments of silence.

Taking time for yourself, for your true self, the self you aspire to be, not the errands self or the job self or the parent self or the friend self or the daughter self. We all have something we want to be, whether it’s a rock climber or a reader or an entrepreneur or a good cook or a woodworker or a DIY designer or a painter. It can be a big thing that defines your trajectory or simply a hobby that gives you joy a few minutes each day. Whatever that true thing is, it is the thing we can’t afford to ignore.

Writing is my true thing. My oxygen mask. I took two hours out of our family visit to indulge it. Two hours that resulted in a lead, inspiration and a new contact. Today I took 30 minutes to write this blog post. Tomorrow? We’ll see. But I’ll try my best not to ignore it.

What is your oxygen mask? How do you make sure it’s attached? 

Teaching Boys About Girl Power

I will be the first to say that I love all that is girl power. Whether it’s Dove’s real beauty campaign or Always’ Like a Girl or Lean In circles or A Mighty Girl or petitioning to finally getting a woman on some US currency or LEGO finally adding more female minifigures. I’m with it. I’m there. Sign me up. Count me in. Girls rock.

However…

(Sorry. I think there is a but missing to these conversations. A big one. And I’m not body shaming here.) Most of these conversations are girls talking to girls. Or parents talking to girls. Encouraging girls. Telling girls they are as good as if not better than. That they are worth it. That they can be and do anything.

And they can. This is an important conversation. We, myself included, need to hear it. Again and again and again and again.

BUT.

Where are the messages to little boys about girls? Why aren’t we including the next generation of boys so that they can finally break the cycle of misogynistic thinking?

Case in point: My husband is not a misogynistic thinker. If asked point blank, he’d tell you girls and women can do whatever they want, would vote for a political leader based on qualifications, not gender, would have no trouble reporting to women (not that he ever has in the tech industry) and certainly holds my professional and personal value as no less equal to his own.

However.

He was surprised to watch me fight for an equal salary to a male colleague and lose. He never had to get off the Metro in DC and change trains because he was afraid of the handsy guy saying inappropriate things to him in a train full of people who all turned their heads instead of helping. He never had his ass grabbed on a Metro escalator. He doesn’t have to hold his keys like a weapon in a parking lot or scan a pathway for the blue emergency boxes. Being married to a woman who speaks up about these things helped him to hear all that he had been missing. Now he sees it. In a variety of places. It’s easy to say you support women, it’s another to understand what exactly it is that women are dealing with in a culture that demeans, objectifies and marginalizes them in big and small ways every day.

I don’t want my boys to be blinded to it. I don’t ever want them to think that a certain job is a boy job versus a girl job. I don’t want them to imply that certain tasks are for women and others men. I don’t want stereotypes and cultural bias to influence how they see themselves or others in this world. I don’t want them to consider a difference between women’s sports and men’s because right now, they only see sports. My greatest joy this summer has been watching them cheer for the US Women’s Soccer team – the five year old taking a victory lap through the house after the first corner kick score in the match against Japan only to be awed by the following 15 minutes of epic soccer. This summer, I have also watched them cheer just as loudly for the women on American Ninja Warrior as the men. Accomplishment is accomplishment. Period. The eight year old asked what we were talking about once when I was bemoaning the inability of equal pay for equal work to pass and his response was simple: “That’s not fair.” Nope. It isn’t.

But.

I know it’s not that easy. I know they don’t live in a bubble. I know they see toy aisles separated by gender. I know our nation’s lexicon is biased and that the media they are exposed to is lazy, relying on stereotypes and base humor to create their characters and perpetuate a storyline. I know they could probably name 20 male superheroes before ever landing on Wonder Woman. I know they see me doing laundry and dishes and putting on make up and internalize those differences.

So.

I will continue to talk to my boys openly about what I think is fair and unfair and unabashedly tell you I plan on raising two boy feminists with the support and help of their father. But I think the conversation to our boys needs to be larger. I think we can’t forget them in all our talk to girls. I don’t think it needs to be or should be at the expense of our girl power chatter. I think it needs to simply include them. All kids should feel able to realize their utmost potential and we need to teach our children how they can help each other to do that.

Let’s find a way to talk to our boys about girls. Let’s teach our boys how to work with girls. Let’s stop separating their play and thinking and teams. Let’s stop creating dress codes that punish girls for wearing leggings or shorts and start explaining to boys what their responsibilities are in the world as people of decency, integrity and fairness. I don’t know how we start doing that. All I know is that in my experience, it has started with simply talking about it with the men in my life. And so I will. I hope you do, too.

As women, we need to speak up. Not only because we have something worthy to say, but because there are a lot of men and boys out there who need to hear it. And, frankly, who else is going to tell them?

Love Wins

For all the bad news in the headlines lately that I feel I need to protect my children from, it was with great joy that I turned up the President speaking to a national audience today without hesitation or censoring. I didn’t need to explain guns or wars or terrorism or reassure them that they are safe. I didn’t need to say anything really. Except this. Today our country made history. Today we said love is enough. Today anyone can marry anyone, they just need to love them because love is the thing, the binder, the joy, the truth, the strength, the peace. Love is universal and free and cherished and innate. Love is the ultimate destination in the pursuit of happiness. Always. Forever.

The best part? They listened to me then looked at me as if I had three heads. Because of course. They had yet to learn there were people in the world willing to set limits on someone’s love. They had no concept of the parameters society put up out of the constructs of fear. They didn’t realize that differences might be a problem because each and every day they are taught they they are different and different is okay, better than okay, that our differences are what makes us great. They have restrictions on screen time or sweets or how late they can stay up, not on the amount of love they can give or receive and to whom they can give or receive that love. They love their parents and each other and their cousins and their grandparents and their family and their teachers and Batman and Luke Skywalker and Minecraft and LEGOS and the beach and the ice cream truck. Why would someone ever tell them not to?

Now they won’t have to find out. Love wins. As it should be. Now. Always. Forever. For the greatest of these is love.

The Weight of my Son

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My son stands in the surf regarding the horizon. His face is calm as he receives the waves, the wind, the sun. The lip of the ocean kisses his toes, embraces his ankles. He looks so small against the stretch of sand, the girth of the Atlantic, the enormity of the horizon. But there he is. Two legs, two arms, strong torso, blonde hair short but still tousled by the breeze. He is a piece. A piece smaller than the world but larger than the grains of sand under his toes. A part of the whole. He has touched the Earth, tasted its salt, felt its caress. He is my world wrapped in the blanket that Mother Earth provides. He is strong. He is smiling. He is mine. He is hers. He is here.  He has yet to make his mark, to consider his steps. For now he runs, he kicks, he plays, he breathes. He is free. I watch him in wonder and envy, remembering the safety that freedom provides before the reality and the worry and the routine colored my view of the same vista. He stands singular and becoming. A promise I made to the world. One day, many, many years from now, when he is grown and gone, the world will be older and different in some small way because of him. And somewhere, tumbling about in the ocean, there will be a few grains of sand that remember the weight of my son.