Hey, Girl

hey girl

I ran across this picture when I was going through some old things the other day. It’s a picture of Bowie, but I caught a glimpse of myself in the background, and just stared in awe. And got a little weepy.

I know that we are at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival in this picture, held each October in San Francisco. And judging by Bowie’s age, I’d say it was 2009. I want to jump into that picture, and pull younger me aside and tell her so many things.

I want to tell her to cherish each day. Things are good for her now, and that could change at the drop of a hat. And it will. I will tell her to be patient with Bowie. He’s going through something they haven’t figured out quite yet. School will be difficult for him. But lay the foundation for a good relationship with him, and it will soften the blow.

I want to tell her to get help for her anxiety. It is not all in her head. It is not “normal.” It is something that can be overcome. And it would be best to get in tip top mental shape before things changed. Because they do.

And I will tell her to go easy on the wine. Just a few glasses a week. And don’t dive in head first after a hard day. That’s what the emotional help is for. Things can spiral out of control before you even realize it. And they will.

I want to tell her she will soon be hit with more sorrow than she’s ever known. Her second baby will die after just two months inside her, and her life will be flipped completely upside down. She will not know who to turn to. What to say. How she is “supposed” to feel. It’s ok to want to scream when someone tells her it was “meant to be.” It’s ok to feel like nothing is right anymore. It’s ok to not be ok. She will go on to have two more happy, healthy babies. And no, she won’t ever forget the one she lost.

And I will hand her a bottle of sunscreen. Like that old Baz Luhrmann song from the 90s. (Which I just listened to again and all of that. I’d tell her all of that.) “Wear sunscreen.” Most of the damage that would cause the melanoma will likely have occurred by then, but it can’t hurt to put on some extra protection. And I’ll give her the number of a great dermatologist in San Francisco.

I will also tell her to snuggle her cat Nashua very close. He’s senile and loud and losing teeth and is overall kind of annoying, now that she’s a mother. But her time with him is limited. (She knows this, it’s often on her mind. But she doesn’t know just how soon he will pass.) She will regret those nights she let him howl instead of picking him up and holding him close. Don’t let that happen.

And I will tell her to hold on to San Francisco very tightly. The city is in the early stages of an economic upheaval that will force even her, relatively well-off at that time, to leave. Go to the beach every single day. Do not complain about the fog. Do not complain about the “heat.” Catch a glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge every day. And just know that what you have there is special. You will leave, and it will be sad, but if you squeeze what you can from the city, you will be ok. Take pictures of your houses, because the boys will ask what they looked like. And though the pictures are vivid in your mind, the kids will forget.

And I will tell her how freaking beautiful she is. Yes, she is overweight and yes, it bothers her very much. But look at that genuine smile. It will be one of the last full smiles she will be able to muster ever again. And that lovely hair. No wiry black and white hair peeking through. Look at that plump face. No crows feet yet. No sun spots. You don’t feel beautiful, I will tell her, but you are. And in 9 years, you will look back and wish you still looked like that. That your son was still so small. Your life still so very happy and simple.

I will tell her to brace for the change. Because I wish I had been ready.

Life just keeps marching forward and you’re just along for the ride, kind of like tubing down a river. And by the time you stand up and look behind you, you’ve passed so many things. Hit your ass on so many rocks. Missed so many sights along the way. But all you can do is sit back down and keep riding along.

I will tell her that she will survive. Because she did.

Smelling Those Roses

This time of year is odd. On the one hand, it’s summer. The kids are home and free, and the weather is nice (albeit hot here) and there’s lots of fun stuff going on.

On the other hand, school is right around the corner. It starts August 4th here. And once school starts, another year of my kiddo’s lives zips right past us. All the pick ups and drop offs and homework and field trips, and then the holidays and there’s no stopping the freight train that is time when school is in session.

I try to slow down and enjoy the days that we have. But the boys are fighting incessantly, and it’s to hot to go and do many of the things we want to. I’m simultaneously willing the school year to start, and not wanting it to at all.

The Timehop app on my phone shows me pictures from long ago, when Bowie was just a baby and a toddler. And I can’t believe how fast the time has gone, and how big my kiddos are now. Even in pictures from only one year ago, they seem so small in comparison.

People often talk about what the hardest parts of parenting are. Having a newborn. Successfully breastfeeding. Getting kids to sleep through the night. Getting them to even just lay down at bedtime. Making sure they eat healthy. Keeping siblings out of each other’s hair. But I think when we really boil it down, it’s how quickly they grow up. It happens in the blink of an eye.

Every day they rely on us less and less. And eventually, they will rely on us very little, if at all. This is the way of things, of course. We did the same thing to our own parents, and they to their parents, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept.

So, here’s to slowing down. Enjoying every moment. Playing Legos with them, letting them splash in the bathtub a little longer. Because these moments are fleeting. Gone in a flash. And even a good old fashioned sibling WWE match can be funny and memorable if you’ve got the right mindset.

But I’m still not going to grow up.

You guys, I think I might take out my eyebrow ring.

I always told myself I’d take it out when I felt “too old” to have it in. That’s not so much what happened, as I just realized one day that eyebrow rings are a bit SOOOO 10 YEARS AGO, OMG.

The kids at Bowie’s preschool are very inquisitive about it. “Why do you have that thing on your eye?” I’m used to that.

My usual response is something to the tune of, “Well, it’s like an earring, only I wear it there instead of in my ear.”

Usually kids say, “Ok.” And we all move on. But, lately they are saying, “No, I mean WHY do you have it there?”

And for that I do not have an answer. “It was super cool, and all the cool kids were doing it in 2000 I SWEAR.”

I’ve had the thing in my face for 10 years now, and sometimes I forget it’s even there, it’s become such a part of the landscape. I suppose that’s enough rebellion for one young lady’s lifetime, yes?

Of course, now I can’t stop thinking about the old lady that came through my checkout line when I was 23 and working at Target. At first she seemed like the cool, understanding old lady type. “My, that’s a pretty bead there on that ring.”

“Oh, thank you.”

“But,” she added, as she walked away with her goods, “You do realize you’re going to have a scar. A SCAR.”

At the time, I was like yeah, no shit. But now, I’m like, crap, she was right.

Oh well. I’ll consider it a battle wound. White girl college rebellion is SERIOUS BUSINESS. Not for the weak and feeble. You might leave with a scar, A SCAR!