To My Daughter on her 18th Birthday

Marley turns 18 today. My last born child. My daughter. My baby. My love.

Marley Graduation Party Invite.1

I’ve been thinking about this piece for a while. How do I express my overwhelming and undying love for this amazing, strong, independent, brilliant, beautiful, free-spirited, unique girl? No. Woman.

I wonder of course how it got here so quickly. How the long early days of motherhood I never thought would end could so suddenly turn into years that were over in the blink of an eye. And even more importantly I wonder, “Did I do enough? Was I the best mother I could be for her?” I tried (I really did), but I’m not sure the answer is yes.

The story I tell most often about her is about a time I was putting her to bed after an especially difficult day when she was three-and-a-half. “We had a really hard day today. What happened?” I asked her.

“Well,” she said to me, “that’s because you wanted me to do what you wanted me to do. And what Dad wanted me to do. I didn’t want to do that. I wanted to do what I wanted to do.”

And that is when I knew it was over for me. How could I possibly be a good enough mother to this strong-willed contrarian, who is by far the smartest person in the house at the age of three-and-a-half? I mean, sure. A lot of three-and-a-half year olds probably feel this way, but how many can actually express it at that age?

Yes, she is my challenge. But oh how I love her for this – her spirit. Her strength. Her I’m-right-you’re-wrong-take-no-prisoners attitude (okay, maybe I don’t always love that). Many of the things about her that make her hard to parent are the very things about her that will make her an awesome adult. I’ve said (many times) more than once, “She’s going to be an amazing adult if we make it through her teenage years.” And look, we did! (At least the hard part.) She is officially an awesome, amazing adult.

She’d make a great writer if she wanted to be a writer. (Please don’t be a writer, Marley. It’s so torturous.) I’ve been looking through an old journal to find some of the things she’s said and found these: One night when she was eight and I was putting her in the bath she said to me, “I feel as tired as a baseball that’s been thrown a thousand times.” Another time she had just brushed her hair and said, “I brushed out that rat’s nest, but the rat fought.” (Okay, maybe she should be a writer.)

Marley sassay

She fights for the underdog. Her heart bleeds for the under-represented. She stands up for what she believes in. She will not back down. When she was 16 she organized a protest march making me more proud than I’ve ever been. She cannot wait until November so she can finally vote.

She is direct. Intense. She’ll tell you exactly what she thinks. And yet, she has a sweetness that doesn’t just touch my heart, it grabs onto it hard, making it feel like it just might explode. She tells me to come look at the sunset when it’s especially beautiful. She sends me funny texts. She always thanks me for dinner, for giving her a ride (before she could drive herself), for buying her something unexpected.

She is smart. Oh, so smart. And I know that’s something everyone says about their kids, but truly. She is smarter than me (by far). Smarter than her father (who, ask anyone who knows him, is a really smart guy). And smarter than her brother (who is currently attending Berkeley). When something interests her, she knows everything about it. When she applies herself there is no limit to what she can do.

She is tenacious. (And yes, stubborn.) When she wants something she digs her heels in and will not back down. (See above in difficult-to-parent child becomes awesome adult.)

She is quick-witted and funny and sarcastic. (Unlike me who is slow-witted and funny and sarcastic.) When she was a toddler instead of saying the word ‘hilarious’ she would say ‘the larriest’. (That’s the larriest!). The larriest is forever in our family vernacular. (A friend of mine says I should trademark it.)  I hope that I have taught her the importance of laughter, because I truly do believe it is the best medicine.

She loves music and appreciates the heart-piercing beauty of a perfect lyric. She told me that her goal for the year is to go to one concert a month. That melted my music-loving heart. (Maybe I have been a good enough mother.)

They say be careful what you wish for because you just might get it. I wished for a daughter and I got Marley. And I thank the universe for letting me be her mother. How wonderful to be challenged, to look at the world from a different perspective, to know someone so special, so unique.

Happy 18th Birthday, Marley. I love you to the moon and back times infinity.

Marley 1st grade

To My Firstborn On His 18th Birthday

Chandler turns 18 today. My firstborn child. My son. My baby. My man.

And probably like every mother before and after me whose firstborn turns 18, I think to myself, “How did this  happen so quickly?” Yet at the same time the day he came into this world seems so long ago. But whether it was a the blink of an eye (oh, it was, it was) or a lifetime (it was that too), it’s here, his first day of official adulthood and whatever I write about him, about the privilege of being his mother, will not nearly be worthy.

How do I express the love I feel for my firstborn? How wonderful and special and sublime he is? How he’s made me a better person? The words fall short. I am not a good enough writer to string together the proper words to articulate my undying love for this boy. (Or rather, this man.)

It is simply not enough to say that I love him for his uniqueness. I love him because he doesn’t follow the crowd. He stands up for the little man. He understands that the world is unfair, but it still often personally offends him. (Oh how I adore his bleeding liberal heart.)

He loves to hike and to run and to be outdoors. He wears a size 13 shoe, but strives to make his carbon footprint small, minuscule.

He’s quiet, but funny, so funny in the smartest way. He is thoughtful and kind, though his sister may tell you differently. But even with her, his greatest foe, I’ve witnessed acts of generosity and encouraging words when needed.

I believe Chandler’s best quality, and one that will serve him well in life, is his tenacity. The first time I really remember noticing this was on his 7th birthday. I took him roller skating after school with some friends. He fell and he fell and he fell and he fell. (I skated with him and considered it quite an accomplishment that he never pulled me down with him!) I thought he would cry and give up and say that skating was stupid. Instead he looked up at me and said, “That was so much fun! Can we have my birthday party here?” I see that same tenacity when he runs. When he studies. When he wants to play Monopoly over winter break and none of the rest of us do. He doesn’t give up. He’s all in.

He told me over the weekend that he’s not quite ready to turn 18. He wishes he could be 17 again. (Oh, I do too!) This surprised me because he’s been pushing away lately. He says he can’t wait to go away to college, the farther the better. (I really shouldn’t have taught him to do his laundry. I should have made him need me more.) But it also warmed my heart to know that as much as he wants to go, part of him very much wants to stay.

And I think to myself, if I could freeze time, which part would I freeze? Would it be when he was a baby and I would hold him in my arms for hours on end unable to get enough of his baby smell? Or when he was a toddler and we would snuggle in his bed every night to read Shel Silverstein and Good Night Moon? Or that between stage of toddler and boy when he would kiss me like this:

Mother-son-kiss
This will forever be my favorite picture of us

Would I freeze the days we taught him to ride his bike or that first day roller skating or the first time I saw him perform with the band in middle school? The first time I watched him win a race. When we taught him to drive? (No, definitely not then!)

Which moments were the most precious? The most special? The best?

All of them of course. I couldn’t choose just one if I were able to, which of course I’m not. (Otherwise I’d be forever 36. Seriously, forget 29, 36 was my year!) All I can do is stand back and admire my son and the man he has become.

Thank you, Chandler for making my life so much better, richer, more meaningful. I am so proud of the man you have become. I am so humbled and honored to be your mother.

Happy Birthday son.

 

 

The First Day of my 49th Year

On the first day of my 49th year I woke up early like I always do. But I did not write. I was not productive. Sometimes I wonder why I get up before the sun only to be lazy. But because it was my birthday I allowed myself the indulgence of Facebook and Pinterest without guilt.

At seven o’clock I went for a three mile run. It’s been a while since I’ve run that far. I never stopped to walk, but it was hard. Really hard. The last minute was especially brutal. I end my run on an uphill. I felt dizzy. Like I was going to vomit. I’m pretty sure that’s not what they mean by the term “runner’s high” but if it is then I want no part of it.

You might wonder why I chose to run on my birthday if I hate it so much.  I had friends coming over that night for appetizers and wine and knew I’d be eating a lot of cheese. A lot of cheese. Call it preventative maintenance.

I treated myself to a pedicure -after a shower of course- and then drove to The George Michael Salon in Beverly Hills. (No relation to 80’s pop star/90’s park bathroom lurker.) I’d won a long hair treatment worth $195 from a #Fabchat session on Twitter and my birthday was the perfect day to treat myself to such a luxury as my hair was definitely in desperate need of a little TLC.

Hair before George Michael Hair treatment
This hair is in some desperate need of a little TLC. (BTW – can you tell I’m not very good at selfies?)

 

Salon owner, Jessie Martinez, definitely gave me that. She washed my hair and put on an intense moisturizing treatment and then sat me on a comfy couch for an hour with a heating cap on my head. I sat and read my new book for an hour. (Talk about indulgent!)

Afterwards she washed my hair and set it in big rollers and I sat under a hairdryer that looked like it came out of the Jetson’s for another 45 minutes and read some more. Oh yes, it was a very good day indeed.

hair dryer
It looks like something Jane Jetson would wear doesn’t it?

 

The result was smooth, gorgeous hair without the harmful chemicals of some other hair treatments (ahem, I’m talking to you Brazilian) or the drying and damaging effects of a blowout.

I left the George Michael hair salon looking like this:

Hair-after-george-michael-hair-treatment
Please ignore my lack of make-up and focus on my gorgeous hair!

Jessie Martinez might just be my new best friend.

I stopped by Costco on my way home and battled the Father’s Day shoppers to pick up my favorite cheap wine -only the best for my friends- and returned home to  a clean house (best birthday present ever) and our Happy Birthday sign on the wall. (We have a Happy Birthday sign that I hang for everyone’s birthday every year, but mentioned last year that it never gets hung for me.) I’m not sure what made my heart sing more – the freshly vacuumed carpet or the sign, but the combination made me so happy that I didn’t even get crabby when I saw the dust rag carelessly left in the corner on the living room. (Isn’t that what you do when you’re done dusting – just drop the dust rag at the bottom of the last thing dusted?)

I made fried olives, a recipe that I found here, and have been wanting to try for a year. They did not disappoint. I set up for the party, put on a dress that I haven’t been able to fit into for years, and welcomed my closest friends into my home.

Fired-olives
Mmmm fried olives – delish!

The men went into one room and the women went into another. We drank wine. We laughed. We ate a lot of cheese. My friend Arlyne baked me a carrot cake from scratch. It was heavenly.

As birthdays go, it wasn’t anything grand, but it was quite wonderful.

Every day should be filled with recognizing the joy of simple pleasures…

Shirking off early-morning productivity to “catch up” on Facebook.

Feeling strong (albeit vomity) after a hard workout.

Taking the time to pamper oneself.

Reveling in the serene beauty of a clean house.

Enjoying time spent with close friends.

Indulging (okay, over-indulging) in wine and cheese.

The first day of my 49th year? No, it may not have been grand, but it was a damn fine day indeed.