Category: Essays (Page 3 of 3)

To My Daughter on Her Tenth Birthday

You

with the messy ponytail, sparkling eyes and a crooked grin;

just today I saw

in the curve of your neck and the way you turned when I called your name

the ghost of the woman you will be.

 

Startled at your smile, your laugh, both somehow a bit older today,

And the long brown legs suddenly free of bruises and band-aids,

I imagined

all that is before you

and pondered the age old question of

how much of that woman is carved into your very biology

and how much circumstance might mold you.

Good mothers say

they only wish you happiness

or

they wish you only happiness

but it is just that: a wish

without some advice on how to grant it to yourself.

 

I find it is not so much a matter of what to do or be or say or become

as a matter of what not to.

Don’t hurry to grow up, when all around you are straining toward some imagined golden adulthood. Gold in the fire takes time, and it gets burned.

Don’t be a woman who thrives on drama, creating her own at any chance,

only to complain about the chaos and drama

making a mess in her life.

Don’t be a woman who makes bad choices

And then,

bitterly,

blames circumstance for the hand dealt her.

Your choices are yours: if you make a few bad ones,

here and there,

learn and move on.

Laugh when you are able.

Follow that feeling in your heart and in your stomach

that says do this, or don’t do that. It is your compass;

your true North.

But take with a grain of salt

all other feelings;

listen politely, as you would to an elderly stranger,

(not entirely sure if he is senile,) and look for the logic within them.

Feelings can be your greatest teacher, or a treacherous traitor

depending on how much power you give them.

Don’t be a woman who is fueled by things:

things will disappoint you every time.

Find what inspires you, and reach for it

be it a million miles away, or in your hip pocket;

find it, and hold it tight.

Should you marry I hope you marry

a man who is not so rich that he cares about the wrong things

and

not so poor that he is accustomed to it.

Love Big. Laugh hard. Eat well. And believe in your dreams.

But dream

with your sleeves rolled up.

And if God grants me a long life, know this:

I am here I am here I am here

and I love you

no

matter

what.

If You Give a Mom a Marshmallow

If you give a mom a marshmallow, she’s going to make hot cocoa to go with it. She’ll heat up the milk, but before the ingredients go in, the kids will tumble up the stairs saying they are bored. She’ll tell them to wait because she is making a treat. She’ll envision telling stories and laughing.

 While the kids are waiting, the mom will start to tell a story about when she was little, how it snowed well into April. But when she starts to tell the story, the phone will ring, and it will be the library saying she returned the audio tape of Nate the Great but not the book that goes with it. So she will go upstairs to get the book, while she is thinking of it, because the baby is in her chair and the kids are coloring, and fairly content for the moment.

While she is upstairs, she will see an unpaid bill on her computer and it will remind her to check the bank account on-line because she was sure she paid that, and she’ll boot up the computer to take a quick look. When she sees that she has e-mail, she’ll read it really fast to see if her cousin in Kansashad the baby, and she’ll also read one from her friend who is battling cancer, and she’ll think what can I do to help her? What can I do to help her?  But while she is having this thought and typing in her bank password, she’ll hear the baby crying in her high chair and she’ll run downstairs just as the kids are running outside because the neighbor’s new trampoline is being installed.

She will decide it is okay if the older two kids jump on the trampoline with the neighbors, but the three year old is too young and would be in the way, so she will take him inside and console him with his favorite book. While she is cheerfully reading, thinking that if she has to read Jesse Bear, What Will You Wear? one more time, she will need drugs and shock therapy, she will decide the baby, who is crawling on her, needs a nap. She will finish the book and promise just one more, after the baby goes down for her nap, but while she is making a bottle, she will realize she forgot to thaw something for dinner and she will wonder what she might do with chicken breasts that will not completely bore her.

While she is rocking the baby to sleep, hoping the extremely loud DING! of the microwave, which hopefully will thaw the chicken without cooking the chicken, will not wake the baby, she  will hear a pounding on the door and the friendly chatter of the three-year-old, talking to a complete stranger. She will put the baby down too quickly, hoping she will fall asleep anyway, and tiptoe downstairs just as the UPS man is walking away, and thank God it was only him. She will successfully convince the three-year-old that we cannot open the box right now, and we should not let strangers into the house. But when she looks at his small hands and dimpled knuckles, and the innocence in his big green eyes, she will lose herself for a moment thinking enjoy this now, he will not be little forever. But then he will be bored again, and the mom will resign herself to reading The Very Hungry Caterpillar.

Realizing she is starving, thinking that the sausage and the chocolate cake in the story look pretty good, she will wonder again what the heck to do with that chicken. But just as the caterpillar gets to Thursday, the six-year-old will come through the screen door crying, having been told to get off the trampoline by the eight year old neighbor boys who think they are cool and have told him he is just a little kid and a scaredy-cat for not doing a flip.

 Somewhat desperately, the mom will put on a Blue’s Clues video for the three-year-old so that she can give the six-year-old a hug and a long pep talk about sticking up for himself. He will cheer up a bit, but ask if he can change into shorts because all the neighbor kids are wearing shorts, and even though it is way too cold for shorts she will acquiesce, and she will go down to the laundry room to find them because if she tells him to do it, he will knock over the entire pile.

 Being in the laundry room will remind her of all the laundry she cannot face, and the fact that P.E. uniforms have to be clean by tomorrow so she’d better put in a load of darks. But while she is loading the darks, she will hear a very loud pounding at the door, which will turn out to be one of the neighbors who, to his credit, has decided to apologize. But his urgent pounding on the front door will wake the baby, who will now be crabby for the remainder of the evening and prevent anything good from being done to the chicken, not to mention answering e-mail or paying bills until at least after bedtime. And what she really should do then is make a nice meal for the friend with cancer.

The mom will go upstairs with a load of clean clothes to put away, and call to the crying baby that she’ll be right in, just as the six-year-old, spirits lifted, sprints outside with the neighbors. But on the stairs, she will step on a marshmallow, and wonder how it got on the stairs in the first place. She will think of cleaning it up, and will glance into the kitchen only to see that they are out of paper towels. She will briefly entertain thoughts of taking four kids to the store for paper towels and something for dinner other than that boring chicken. But the baby is fussy now and it is out of the question. And just as she enters the baby’s room to soothe her, the five-year-old will burst into the kitchen with her friend, announcing that they are cold, while the mom uses a napkin to clean up the sticky marshmallow on the stairs.

Seeing the marshmallow will remind her that she should close the bag and put away the others before they dry out, and she will pop one into her mouth and allow the five-year-olds to have one.  And when they eat the marshmallow…..

            …they’re going to want some hot cocoa to go with it.

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