This Will Go Down On Your Permanent Record

Dear Edward,

I loved you from the first minute I saw you, which was really convenient for both of us because the very next minute, I became your auntie.

Siblings



You were so little and sweet, open to anything, with all the love in the world to give. You are still that little boy smiling up at me and calling me auntie for the first time, except that now you're a man. Today, this day, you aren't our baby anymore. I'm going to be totally honest with you, since you're all grown up and shit, yo; I'm not ready for this.

I'm not ready to watch you march off into this very big, very ugly world all alone. I worry that I didn't tell you enough, enough of everything. I am afraid that you don't really know what's out there, and I'm mostly afraid that I won't be there to catch you when you fall. And you will fall, a lot. I worry about how many ways you could fall; into drugs or into fatherhood or into 'I'll go to college after I take a year off'. Don't take a year off, baby. I took "a year off" from seeing you and in that year you went from 3rd grade to graduating high school. It goes faster than you think it does, that year.

He Smelled Much Better Than I Did At This Point



I look at you and I see power that knows no bounds and strength that most dying, old men will never know. I see destiny before me in the most beautiful little package, and I pray that you see it, too.

Edward



I pray that you tap that thing inside of you that makes you the fastest and the strongest and the funniest and the kindest of all god's children. I dream that your dreams come true in the biggest way, and I dream that you don't have to look as hard as I did, or as your mother did, to find them. I hope that these women in your life; me, your momma and your auntie, that we've shown you what the smallest of people can do when they put their heads down and reach for something with everything they have. I hope that we've been enough to fill the void your father left, that we've shown you that anyone can, and they can anything, no matter what life shits out in their path.

Mostly, I hope that you can look back on your childhood, the one that legally comes to a screeching halt today, and smile. I hope that you knew joy and love and happiness. I hope that we were able to give you that in plentitude, because it's all we ever wanted to do.

Whee!



You changed this family the day you were born. You changed my life the first time you took my hand. You made some of the hardest times of my life easier, you reminded me to laugh when it was too hard to breath. You made me strong and brave. You kept our whole family together when the walls were falling around us, you kept us sane when there was no sanity to be had, because we all believe in you. We'd all fight for you, we'd all die for you, but more importantly, we all live for you.

I want you to know that everything that comes, goes. That nothing is so hard, you can't see it through to the other side, if you only try. I want you to know that every mistake can turn out to be a miracle if you're willing to let it. I want you to know that you have decades before you have to anything. I want you to know that no amount of fame or money or pussy will replace laughter, that no promotion or accolade will replace an honest, tight hug. That no amount of anything can fill your heart like loving someone, and having them love you back, can. I also want you to know that love changes faster than the tides, it ebbs and flows, it comes to you and it pulls away and it's never a loss when it's gone, because it always leaves a scar in your heart.

I want you to know that scars are the only thing you'll take with you out of this world, and I want you to cherish yours. They are the roadmap of your life; that football concusion, this surgery, that broken heart. Cherish everything, even what hurts, for every moment of your life is currency in the bank of your soul.

Don't neglect your soul. Feed it well. Love passionately, love often, and every time you love, you will find you do it differently, for different reasons. Only by this will you know the true capacity of your heart. Eat what makes you feel good. Sometimes, you're going to need a cheeseburger and the biggest coke they make. Get them. Sometimes, you're going to need a salad. Get that, too. It doesn't make you a sissy. And skip the brussel sprouts. They are gross and they don't do anything for you that you can't get in a Flintstone's vitamin, and I'm sorry we've lied to you all these years and made you eat them anyway, 'for your own good'. When you become a father, this particular brand of torture will be passed down to you.

Don't become a father. Good god in heaven, don't do it yet. You will spend the next 15 years feeling very grown, indeed, and very confident in every decision you make, and one day you'll wake up and realize that you were wrong about almost everything. Allow yourself that margin of error to trip and fall, to dig holes and climb out of them. Give yourself the gift of discovering you. There is plenty of time to fall truly, madly, deeply in love, and fall right back out of it, and there is plenty of time to have a family. Until then, let us be your family. Let yourself hang on to this magic you live under the spell of. Children are the most amazing, wonderful, life altering gift we're ever given in life, and they are motherfucking hard. And really expensive, but you already know that Mr I Only Wear Nike and Underarmour, now don't you? Go to college, be broke and starve, read books and learn to shoot pool and drink beer and play football and kiss girls and grow just a little more, okay? Live YOUR life, the life you've earned. And put a damn condom on while you do it.

Aside: I just threw up a little. Let's never say the word condom again, shall we?

But most importantly, remember this. No matter where you go or what you do, Team Edward is waiting in the wings, watching you more closely than you'd like, and we're cheering with raucous voices for you. We will always hold your hand, and we'll always lift you up, and we'll always be there, waiting. Even when you can't see us, even when you think there is no one in the world for you, we will always be there. You are the mortar that our family's walls are built out of, you are our beacon bringing us all back home.

Solo

Little White Maybes

I've found that, as a parent, there are days when it becomes very important to be able to plainly, sincerely and most of all honestly lie my ass off to my kids.

Today was one of those days.

It wasn't so much that Christmas is four days away, and it wasn't so much that my grandfather died before I was born and I never knew him, just like my kids' grandfather did. It wasn't just that my other grandfather had some twisted, weird relationship with my father, and didn't really have all that much of an interest in us, his grandchildren, and he died with that being the only thing I ever really knew about him. It isn't exactly that my father and I have that same, weird relationship, or that he hasn't seen or spoken to me or my kids in four years and three weeks. It isn't even that he's had, I'm pretty sure, four open heart surgeries in a decade, and I don't know how many times the human heart will let you look at it before it melts your face off all Raiders-style.

What it is, I think, is that I have this thing for birthdays.

I didn't care that I never had Christmas. I rather enjoyed laying under our car, waiting for the kids in the neighborhood to come egg our house because we didn't give out trick-or-tricks, and grabbed their ankles right before they could toss their eggs at our windows, which scared the holy fuck out of them and made the whole lack of candy thing totally worth it for us. I always cared about the birthday thing, though. I always wanted to celebrate everyone's birthday. It seemed like something that should be a big deal, something note-worthy at the very least. When I stopped being Insane Fundamentalist Judeo-Christian Girl, which is so totally a superpower, birthdays were my first indulgence in pure, unadulterated sin.

Turns out, there were funner sins to be had, most of them adulterated, but I still enjoy a nice birthday. And today was my father's 60th.

Thirty years from now, when he's long gone and I am the 60 year old, when I have grandchildren of my own and am staring down the business end of a life-span, what is ultimately going to matter to me? That I was right? That I made my point? More importantly, what is going to matter to my kids? What story will they carry with them of their grandfather, who is, in his own right, just maybe not so much as a parent but still, an amazing slice of human being? Will they tell their children that their mom's dad just wasn't that into her after all, and that he died before they could know him?

Do I want to pass on these cycles in my family, in my babies, or not?

These are things easier said than done. I preach about breaking cycles of abuse, of perpetuated victimization, but here I sit creating the exact same story that shades my past. I can say I'm "protecting" my kids from some mythical man who lives 3,000 miles away and never saw them much anyway, and I can create the memory of him that fits that, or I can realize that either way, it's a created memory. Either way, your grandparents are not the people they are in real life. Grandparents are superheros. They wear big, red capes with G on them and they fly into your life and heal wounds with tea and beat off monsters with books and build bridges to your past out of the ether.

So today, I knelt down in my kitchen and I lied to my kids.

I told them that my issues with my father have nothing to do with them, that we're both stubborn and old and dumb and that's why he hasn't called in four years, but that he's 60 and there really couldn't be any better gift to give their grandfather than them. That is was the right thing to do. That they didn't need to stick up for me, because I'm just being an asshole anyway and this is all going to work itself out soon. And then I dialed his number and handed them the phone.

And then I smoked a pack of cigarettes outside while they talked to him inside.

The boys talked to him for almost an hour. They talked to him about what hot copy of what movie he's got his hands on this week, about girls at school and the weather, about video games and new bands, and as I listened from the other room, I was 12 years old, sitting on my living room floor, talking to that same man from 3,000 different miles away about those exact same things all over again. He hung up without asking to talk to me, which stung, but he hung up with two very happy grandsons who smiled the entire night and planned what they were going to text him tomorrow, and bragged about his band, and giggled over his jokes, just like I remember doing some lifetime ago.

Today, I gave my father the greatest gift I could ever give anyone, the most precious thing to me in the whole world, for his 60th birthday present. Today, I gave my children permission to create their own stories and their own memories of their grandfather. Today, I gave our family a maybe. We'll see where it goes.

Cuarenta

Today is the last day of summer, and the first day of your fourth decade of life. If you've done, if you ever do, nothing else, you've changed my life forever, for the better, and I just wanted to say thank you for it.

Thank you for being my husband's big sister, for kicking his ass when he needs it, for listening when he needs it, for being the one thing in his life no one else ever will be. Thank you for being my babies auntie, for being silly with them and loving them as much as your own, for always being there for them whenever, wherever. Thank you for teaching 2of3 how to speak in complete sentences and let me tell you, Stop It Bitch has come in handy so many times since he was one. *wink* Thank you for teaching 1of3 to roll and jump and play. He forgets to do that sometimes, just like your brother, and you never let him forget to just be a boy. Thank you for taking my little girl's hand and heart and being as strong a force in her life as I am. Every girl needs a team of strong and different women behind her, and you bring her something I never will be able to, and I thank you for giving that to her so freely.

Thank you for this.

Edward

Oh my god, thank you so much for this. Thank you more for this than for anything else in the world. There aren't words at all, so I'm not going to look for them. You know.

Thank you for being my big sister. Thank you for taking me in and loving me just the way I am. Thank you for giving me someone to look up to, someone to learn from, someone to aspire to be like. Thank you double so for not making me go through the same initiation that your brother and sister had to in order to be your sibling. I don't think I could effectively dodge knives now. I'm getting older, too.

But more than anything, thank you for helping me not be so afraid. Thank you for being there on the steps with me the night before I signed a dotted line and became some man's wife, thank you for being on the other side of an airplane concourse and a bathroom door the day my entire world bottomed out on me. Thank you for never being more than one phone call, one car ride, one train trip or one airplane away. Thank you for showing me that anything is possible with enough dumb courage. And Valium. And most of all, thank you for helping me not be afraid of the future. I mean, if this is what forty looks like, sign me the fuck up, yo.

It Came From The Sea



I love you. You were the best thing to ever come from me walking down that aisle 11 years ago. Well, after the whole "eternal love" and "devoted family" and "beautiful children" bits, of course. Happy birthday, sissy.

Party

You know what happens when you have 14 boys and 4 girls over for an overnight birthday party?  Yes, yes you do.  Exactly what you think happens, happens.

The popular boy in school, the one with the right hair and the athletic abilities?  He spends the whole night beating your three year old girl off of him with a stick.  You spend the whole night weeping for your future.  The chubby boy eats himself sick.  Literally.  You spend the entire night in the bathroom with him and his parents on speed-dial.   The shy boy sits on the edge of the corner of the couch silently all night until you go to put I Robot on and he starts crying because, it turns out, he's pretty sure he's not allowed to watch it but everyone else wants to and he quite honestly wants to and he just doesn't know what to do.  You spend the whole night rallying the other boys into a "protect the quiet kid and pick a new movie!" war cry.  (Which succeeds brilliantly, by the way.)  The two class clowns put on the toddler's size 4 foam jousting outfits, grab her foam jousting swords, and duel to the death.  You spend the whole night screaming, "Above the belt!  Below the nose!"  The rest of the boys spend the entire night practicing up on their Greco-Roman Wrestling and you spend the entire night waiting for the scream.

The scream comes.  And I quote:

"My crystals!  My precious crystals!"

 That's one less boy you're going to have to worry about your daughter going out on a date with. 

The four girls, the sisters of the guests, they sit on your couch and play Webkinz.com and then puppy-dog eye you into renting Twilight for them on demand, even though you refuse to go there, and so you order it but it fails in every way to play.  You spend the rest of the night thanking god for small favours.  Your lose your camera but find your video camera, so you record the 20-some tweens singing happy birthday and then hand the camera off to your 11 year old who then video-tapes all of his friends. He interviews them, he tapes you, he giggles and squees and you smile because GOD this is going to be cute on film.  The whole group spontaneously bursts into a hearty rendition of O Canada, which is kind of weird, but whatever, and you thank god you thought to bring that video camera out.

And then you watch your video later.

And realize neither you nor your son had remembered to hit un-pause.

So you're left with no pictures, a basement that smells like dear lord in heaven, ears that are ringing because it was very in all caps with a period after each letter loud, a Dorito-filled carpet and two boys who have declared the day the Best Birthday Ever.

The End.

Like It's Nineteen Eighty Nine

So, yeah, I turned 15 on Friday. 

When I was little, the kids at school thought I didn't have birthdays because I didn't celebrate them.  "HOW DO YOU KNOW HOW OLD YOU ARE???" they'd ask in all caps with three question marks after.  It made me crazy when people couldn't understand that the event could still happen, even if the party didn't.  Apparently, this is just a concept that normal, everyday children are incapable of grasping.

Turns out, that whole situation totally works to my advantage now.

When I turned 19, my father threw a surprise party for me.  I still technically wasn't "celebrating" my birthday, but I guess he was sick of waiting.  He had his wife's mother invite me over for dinner and when I got there, I walked in to a full blown first birthday party complete with Winnie the Pooh decorations and a 101 Dalmatians cake.  That was 15 years ago, so according to all those dirty little bastards on the playground, I am 15.

Which actually sounds kind of horrifying, come to think of it.  Maybe I'll just run with 34.

The Donor took me out on Friday and we got our nails did together.  If I can ever give any advice to you in life, it's to marry a man who appreciates a good manicure.  I'm currently digesting all of my fingernails, so I got a pedicure instead. 

I know they're awful.  Shut up.
They say the Royal Toe is a sign of advanced intelligence. Or inbreeding. One of those two, for sure.

Tanis may be hotter, but I post nicer feet pictures.  Not by much, though.

Afterwards, we went out to reallyreally fancy dinner at this place we've had a gift certificate to for almost 2 years now where they make drinks with bruleed bananas as a garnish.  (Which I ordered simply to snap a picture for Zoeyjane; excuse us while we giggle to ourselves.) 

Deliciously ridiculous



Yes, they have teency little flame-throwers behind the bar which they used to ever-so-delicately torch sugar-dipped banana slices.  AS A GARNISH.  Also, the drink umbrellas come with their very own itty bitty cabana boys.  The food was good, really, but not nearly as good as the fact that my oldest son babysat for us so we could go.  And kept everyone in one piece.  We were home by 10, had Monty Python's Holy Grail on by 10:15 and I was unconscious and drooling all over the couch by 10:30.  Which is, oddly enough, exactly how it would have gone if I had actually turned 15.