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.

What You Don't Know

This is the fourth draft that I've started for you today, and that seems only fitting, since it's your fourth year of life that you've started today.

I don't really know what to say to you, sugar. You don't even really get what the whole "birthday" thing is yet, beyond the presents. You don't actually know what birth is, come to think of it. You like to catch me fresh out of the shower and make me squeeze the sticky mulk out of my boooobeeees for you to see, and you know that babies drink milk from their mommas, but you don't realize that you did, too. You know that babies can be in a momma's tummy, and that one day they are out, but you haven't put two and two together on that one just yet.

You have no idea that everything changed the day you were born. You don't understand that events can change people yet, mostly because the grandest event in your life to date has had to do with an imaginary blue hedgehog. You don't know that I am a person yet. Right now, I am your momma just like that leg is your leg or that doll is your doll. You still possess me, and you couldn't understand that, once upon a time, you were part of my body, even if you wanted to.

You don't understand that the photograph on the wall of your brothers and some weird, bald baby is you. It can't be you. You are this big with that much hair, right momma? You don't own that dress, so it can't be you in the picture.

What is it is that you have no concept of the past. You can't comprehend growth or age yet, so this arbitrary number that people keep throwing in your face today, sticking in your cake frosting, calling you and singing...none of it means anything. Your favorite number is two, so that's how old you are. You don't know what being two means, just that it feels good in your mouth to say.

What I want to tell you is that four years ago you defined me. That more than being their mother or his wife or her best friend, being your mother has been the most life-altering path I've ever walked. It's not that I love you more than those people, it's that the love is different. I look into your brother's eyes and I see my heart. I look into yours and I see my flesh. It's different.

It makes me understand, this having you, why the stories of god and creation being with the man and lead to the woman, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh. I feel that when I look at you. I feel you under my skin and in my hair and coursing through my veins every second of the day, every day of your four years of life. Creation of woman is the most grand, crippling, powerful thing in the universe, and I did it just once. The further you grow from me, the more I feel the loss, because you are my very life. I gave it to you the day I bore you, wet and wrinkled, into your brother's arms.

When I had your brothers, I learned how very wrong everything that my own brother and I survived was. I learned to hate those people who had hurt us so many times over, for so many years, and who continue to in their absence. Your brothers showed me that there is a natural order to things, an instinct that prevents people from torturing their young, and it showed me finally that it wasn't me, it wasn't us, it was them who were broken. Your brothers gave me walls of strength and reassurance.

And you tore all of them down.

I see you cry and I can't for the life of me imagine what it did to the very souls of the people who made a hobby out of making my brother and me cry. I put bandaids on your boo-boos and I wince in pain with you, and I wonder what kind of monster you would have to be to rip flesh off of a child, just because you own a belt and you're taller. I feel what it is like to be mother to a daughter, I am swallowed in the magnitude of this greatness thrust upon me, and I find myself feeling something I've never felt in my entire life...pity.

You've helped me to let go of my rage and my blood-lust for those people and pity them. I don't want to forgive them, I don't intend to forgive them, and I'll never pretend to understand them but I've learned that I can feel sorrow for the loss of what they never really knew they had. They wasted their entire lives never once seeing what I see in your face every day. They've lived out their years never feeling what I feel every day in your arms.

And as for me? I can give all of that love, all of the touches and kisses and snuggles that I'd accumulated over those 17 years I spent trapped with those monsters and I can hand it all to you. I can give your every beautiful memory I imagined I'd have if things we just different. I can teach you to nurture, I can create a woman, I can right the wrong and make you stronger, better than I ever could have been anyway. I know that you've come to replace all the hurt and the hate that was beaten into my body, to fill that space, and I know that I'm okay with letting it all go for you. I don't need it anymore, I just needed you.

You can bring silliness back to this home of very large, very grown people. You can remind us of quiet bathtimes and lavender lotions and plastic xylophone concertos. You can take the traditions I've created out of starlight and dust and keep them alive for our whole family. I watch my middle son take your face, hold you close to him and say goodbye to his little three year old, then tell you how excited he is to meet his big four year old in the morning, and I know that we are all okay.  I know that I've made it all right, that it's all come full circle and I've not only broken the chain, I've made a brand new one for you. For all of you.

Thank you for that. Thank you for all of this. Thank you for giving me a soul again, and filling it up. I promise, I'll guard it, and yours, and all of ours, with my very life.

In Fact, Everyone I Know WAS Born In September, Why Do You Ask?

I was working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you.

Well, that's not exactly true. It's close, just replace working with sitting on my ass eating Klondike Bars and waitress with housewife and, by proxy, legal prostitute and cocktail bar with a socialist country that will never be America, no matter how hard it tries to be. Kind of like a Palm Treo. Ain't never gonna be a Blackberry; also, less expensive with better customer service.

BUT IT STILL ISN'T A BLACKBERRY, DAMMIT.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the day I met you being all groupiesque like everyone in the goddamn world, I've come to realize, is with you in public. My first clue should have been that I wasn't the least bit nervous or intimidated in meeting you, which has only ever happened to me when meeting the three people who, until .5 seconds previous, were in my vagina. And even that was a little awkward.

But there's nothing in the world better than holding the baby who's been screaming in your face for six hours straight and just puked in your mouth for the 13th time and saying, "Oh yeah? I totally pooped on your face once." It's the little things.

So I met you and you were as gracious as I've since seen you be with everyone who has to take a moment of your life to paw on you, and that's totally your own fault because you are a goddamn magnet. People can't help but be drawn to you. We want to touch you, to stand near you, to hear your soft words and smell your subtle perfume and languish in your gentle presence. You are such a different creature than the one you play on the internet; she is rough and jaded, you are soft and fragile. She is loud and boisterous and headstrong, you are above all other things humble and meek.

And I am in love with the both of you.

I can't put my finger on the moment when you bewitched me, but you have. You just came along with your shotgun and your knitting needles and your squadron of conflicting rebellions and you laced our hearts together. Our lives up until this point have run on the most uncanny sort of parallel, and I didn't realize how much I needed someone who knew, who really knew because they'd been there, too, what is was like inside my head and my heart and my soul. I needed you, and you came along just in the nick of time.

Or maybe it was all the dildo talk, I don't know. Either way, I'm rather fond of you now, and so is my husband.

Anyway, I just wanted to tell you how much I thank the flying spaghetti monster every day that I get to have you in my life, that I have this bosom companion out there and that we actually managed to find our way to each other. Through the internet. I guess I should thank Al Gore, eh? Or maybe Al Gore is the flying spaghetti monster. Oh my god, Al Gore is a deity. And good for him for sticking to the Buddha diet plan rather than that emaciated, nailed to a tree one the Vatican seems so fond of hanging all over the walls. Really, you're the fucking Messiah. EAT SOMETHING. I'm pretty sure they'll let you run a tab if you're strapped for cash. Or hell, I hear Judas has some extra change laying around somewhere. Hit him up.

See, Tanis, my birthday present to you is making a shitload of people unsubscribe from my blog so that you can remain the most widely read blogger in Canada. Also, offending our lord and savior. I love you that much.

So, on your birthday I can only offer you what you've showered me with since the day I met you in a smokey bar in San Franciso just over a year ago, and that is the promise of silly days to come

Oooo, Is That Hairgel?



And love when you are in need

The Girl I Love Lovin' On The Girl I Love



And wisdom and counsel on the days when you are lost

Redneck Mommy. R tothefucking AWR.



And the courage and strength to get up every day and make it a little better than the one before

In Memorial



But most of all, I promise to be here, always, no matter where the actual "here" ends up being. I'll always be as close as your heart, because I just don't think I could breathe without you. And thank you for that. I needed that the most.

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.