I’m not a poet, and we all need one 

What does one say on a day like this? On a day when nothing else seems amiss.

 
The puffs of white still pour out of cars as people drive off to work.

The chickadees still sing their dee-dee-dee from the trees.

My cats still lounge by the heater, leisurely giving themselves baths.

The sun has risen and set,

And we’re all still here.

 

And yet there’s a shift,
A crack,

A fissure,

A change.
Everything is the same and yet it isn’t.

Everyone is the same, even though we’ll never be the same again.

And I can’t find the words we all need to hear.

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Unplugging 

Sometimes I think back to years past when no one had cell phones, and especially not internet access in the palms of their hands, and I wonder what the hell we did with ourselves. Then again, I also think these pieces of pint-sized technology are the worst thing to happen to us as people. Ironic, considering I’m typing this on my iPhone right now. 

But hear me out. Yes, it’s amazing and incredibly helpful sometimes to have the world and all its wonders at our fingertips. But what that also means is that often times we’re so wrapped up in it that we miss what’s going on right in front of our faces. And we often forget that what other people are doing or saying mostly has no bearing on our own lives. 

But we continue to make ourselves apart of it, even knowing this. Why? I don’t have an answer to this myself. All I know is how I can now see it affects me. And that is this: it’s unhealthy. 

And I’m not talking about potential cancers and tumors from putting my phone up against the side of my head or in my bra (hey, sometimes I don’t have pockets, ok?). I’m not talking about how it may affect our eyesight or how it can cause insomnia. I’m not even talking about how being on our phones more means we’re moving less, which in turn means we’re gaining more weight. Even though, yes, those are all issues people worry about. 

What makes these expensive pieces of plastic and metal most unhealthy, for me at least, is how much they affect my mental health. How addictive they’ve become. How obsessive they make me. How much anxiety they produce. And anyone who knows me knows I don’t need anymore of this shit in my life. 

And yes, I know it’s my fault. I didn’t actually need to buy a smartphone. And I don’t actually need to visit the myriad apps, websites, and social media outlets that I do on a daily basis. No one actually forced me to do these things. So I’m not looking to place blame on anyone else but myself. 

And considering I know that I have anxiety and depression, and often worry unnecessarily about things others probably don’t even think about; and, considering I feel everything so much more strongly–especially sadness, worry, and inequality–you’d think I would know better than to allow myself to get hooked on the internet. But even though I do know better, I don’t stop it. I’m fairly sure no heroin junkie plans on getting hooked. It just happens. After a series of increasingly destructive behaviors, it just happens. 

And so I think it happens to us all. But I can only speak of myself with absolute certainty. I can say with this resoluteness that I need to let it all go. The social media has to stop for me. For now? For forever? I don’t really know. I only know that I can’t keep on like this. 

And that is so fucking nerve wrecking for me. I wish you could feel my pulse as I write this. 

What if I miss something? 

What if someone tries to send me an important message, and I don’t see it in time?

Won’t someone possibly get upset if I don’t like or comment on something they’ve posted? 

Will anyone even know I’m absent?

Those are just some of my worries. Some irrational. Some not. And really just some of the worries and thoughts I have about “unplugging” myself. 

But, see, the thing is that since this election, I’ve been trying to keep up on everything politics related. It’s my duty as an American, and one that cares even more so. But the more I read and watch, the worse I feel. And the worse I feel, the more I carry this over into what is my actual life. And I’m just sick of letting these things clog up my thoughts and suck up my time. I just can’t do it anymore. 

And I know that right now is not the best time to give up, that it’s a time to purposefully be aware. But I can’t. 

I’m just not that brave, not that committed. I am that scared. And I am that worried. And I am feeling that hopeless and helpless. I’m just not feeling like a social justice crusader. I’m feeling that a lot of days it takes every bit of my concentration and effort merely to keep my small little piece of the world still functioning. And right now it feels like I can’t give any more. 

So I hate to be a whiner. And I hate to defer to someone else, but I think I need to let the fighters keep fighting, and let myself slink into the background. Because, truthfully, we can’t all be all things all of the time. And right now I know that looking at these things day in and day out is giving me such intense anxiety and making me teeter dangerously close to the edge of a depressive relapse that I have no choice but to back off. I can’t breathe anymore, and I have to save myself. Selfish or not, it’s what I need to do. 

I need to surround myself with kitties and books and my kids’ smiles. And I’m not going to allow myself to feel guilty because of it. 

I admire you, fighters. I admire you so much. And I respect you beyond words. And many days I wish I was you. But I’m not. And that’s just got to be ok. 

So on the eve of a historical inauguration, I think I’m bidding social media adieu for now. For how long I do not know. I imagine not forever. But long enough to rewire my brain and refocus my needs and priorities. And long enough to reevaluate how best to spend my time. 

And hopefully that means reading more books instead of heartsickening news articles. And writing more of my long overdue book instead of comments to and about people who will never see things my way. And hopefully being more present when my kids are doing something or saying something instead of having the back of my mind wondering what’s going on in my newsfeed. 

And hopefully it means making my way back to social media in a healthier mindset and with a more balanced approach to being a part of this part of our world. 

I will have tonight be my last hurrah for now, and start anew in the morning.

Deep breath.

In Denial of Being in Denial

It was  Monday morning, and I was settling down to the dining room table with my pumpkin spice coffee steaming in my favorite mug, getting ready to teach my daughter her first class of the day, both of our least favorite: math. We complete math first so that we both have the patience of not being over tired from other classes to give math the attention it needs. And usually it goes pretty well. She may grumble a bit, or I may have to retrace my steps to make sure I haven’t made a simple computational error (which I’m known to do). But usually math doesn’t cause too many problems for us.

Today, however, it was quite the learning moment for us both. Perhaps more so for me than her.

You see, I gave her a final project assignment for multiple digit addition and subtraction, and place value that I thought was really cool, and applicable to the real world. Because, seriously, anyone who is not full of joy to work out some numbers needs all assignments to have real-world application. She was challenged with planning a sleepover party, and needing to budget both her money and time between activities. Initially she was really excited to work on this. She dove right into the planning of what she would want to do. Rent a movie or go to he movies? What kind of pizza and what size to buy? Should we have pizza before or after the movie? She was all abuzz over these decisions. But as soon as I asked her to figure out which pizza deal was better, and if she’d have enough money for each plan, her face fell. I hadn’t said anything else when I could see the tears welling up in her eyes. What the hell just happened? I wondered to myself. What did I do??

I didn’t want to rock the boat any harder, for fear of collapse, so I just silently watched her as she started adding pizza and pop prices together. And I continued to say nothing until she was finished, even when I saw her make an easy mistake of not carrying and adding the one, hoping she’d catch it herself.

She didn’t.

So, when she looked up at me from her paper, I had to tell her to recheck her solution to problem A. You’d swear that what I asked her instead was “Can you solve 2x+3y-9(16+4b)=. (I don’t even know if that’s a legitimate math problem, and if so what the fuck the answer would be). As soon as I asked her to check her answer again, the delicate balance of tears on her bottom eyelid toppled, and down flowed her frustrations from her cheeks to her paper. I knew then that I was fucked. There was no way she was going to go any further in this assignment today.

So, instead of pushing her to finish the work, I asked her to set her pencil down, and without shrugging, and using her words, tell me why she’s so upset. My kids hate when I do this, but I refuse to let them shrug and try to force me to drop the subject. Nope, not this mama. We’re talking this shit out.

Perhaps because she’s been though this so many times and is sick of me, knowing I can outlast her silence any day; or, perhaps because she really was ready to talk, she actually opened her mouth and squeaked out a “It’s just so hard.”

Huh? I’ve seen her do much harder work than adding a pizza and a pop together. How was this hard?

“What’s so hard, Lil? This was simple addition, which I’ve seen you do so many times before.”

“But I got it wrong. And I always get something wrong. And I hate getting it wrong.”

Now we were getting somewhere. I inhaled and exhaled fully and slowly, just like yoga taught me to in a situation when talking right away is not necessary or advantageous. I looked at her picking at her cuticles, avoiding eye contact with me, and suddenly understood who she was. She was me. And it was not only shocking, but also very disheartening to realize. My heart ached for her because I knew exactly who she was and why this math problem had become so monumentally huge and terrifying for her.

Having anxiety is a motherfucking bitch. It’s crippling at times, and the longer it goes unchecked, the worse it becomes. And it doesn’t give a shit if you tell it to go away or if people tell you that you should just ignore it or get over it, or that you’re too old, or smart, or capable to have to deal with it. Nope. That asshole latches on and Does. Not. Let. Go.

So because I know all of this already, but my sweet little girl is just figuring it out, I couldn’t have just told her, “Lil, it’s fine. It’s just a math problem. It’s not life or death.” Because for her in that moment, it felt like it. So, instead, I said, “I know, Lil. I really do. It feels like shit, and I hate it too. But what does feel  better is acknowledging it. Talk to me, Pookie Girl, so I can try to help you.”

I don’t think this was what she was expecting. I think she had already made up her mind that I would try to dismiss it away so that we could get back to work. So it took her a second to switch gears and decide how she was going to explain herself to me.

“It’s just like taking a test. I’m always last. And everyone is always done way before me. And then I feel like they’re looking at me, and waiting for me to be done. And then I don’t even finish because I don’t want to be last. I don’t want them looking at me. And then I get a lot wrong because I don’t finish. So then I don’t even try different next time.”

Well, fuck.

I couldn’t talk. My face was pinched as tightly as my throat was. I couldn’t talk because she had just put my whole life into her words. And I had no idea what to say to her. How was I supposed to tell her to carry on and move forward when I can’t do that myself? How could I be an inspiration when I was so damn stuck in this, too?

So, for better or worse, what I did do was tell her the truth. I told her that I too was always one of the last to finish tests.

And that I hate going out in public, especially doing things I’m not comfortable with because I imagine everyone is watching me and judging. I don’t go running like I want to because everyone will know I’m out of shape, and laugh at me. I don’t go to yoga class because everyone will know I can’t get myself into the more advanced poses.

I told her that anxiety has gotten me so badly that it literally has made me physically ill. That every job interview I’ve ever gone on, I’ve been on the verge of puking or passing out the whole time, and that I walked out thinking I was an utter failure. And the times I didn’t get the job only perpetuated that notion, leaving me feeling worse and worse as the revolving door of interviews kept turning.

That when I finished my Master’s degree, a professor I had told me I should really consider going on to get my Ph. D., but that I would never do it because I don’t think I’m smart enough.

That for as long as I’ve been self aware, I’ve loved stories. And as soon as I could write, I began writing my own. And there’s not much else in this world that I want to do but write and publish a book. But I don’t follow through because I’m pretty sure I’m a hack, and that no one will want to read it. And it’s just so much easier to hide and not take that chance than to face the reality of feeling so wholly inadequate.

I told her that living with these fears has left me with so many regrets and what ifs. I’ve held myself back because I was too afraid. And who knows what I might have denied myself because of it. I told her the longer you refuse to acknowledge your fears and anxieties, the bigger they grow until they overpower any will you have left.

I told her I wanted so much more for her than I have ever wanted for myself. And I told her I would do anything at all for her to show her she could do it.

She then asked me, “So weren’t you writing a book last year?” I replied that I was. “What did you do with it?” I told her that I stopped. And when she asked me why, I could only tell her the truth. I stopped because I didn’t think it was any good. I quit because I was scared. I quit.

She put her hand on top of mine, and said, “But you said we’re not quitters. That life will always be hard, but we can’t quit because what would be the point then.”

Oof, right to the gut with that one. I guess she does listen to me after all. And what could I say to that? She was right. I do say that. And I say that because I don’t want her to give up on herself when things get tough because I know firsthand what that is like. But here we were having to confront the fact that I talk a good talk but haven’t been walking the walk.

All I could muster was another, “Yeah, you’re right, Lil.” Weak, I know. But what else could I say?

And then she came at me with the one-two punch.

“But you just said you quit your book. You don’t know it wasn’t good. What if it was good? I know that my math isn’t good, but you want me to keep going. That’s not fair.”

True. It’s not fair. And it’s not how I want her to see me.

“So, if I don’t quit my math, you can’t quit either. I’d read your book, even if you did think it wasn’t any good.”

My heart.

My beautiful, brilliant, amazingly loving and true little girl. My life. My reason for doing everything. My reality check.

So I smiled, and thanked her for saying she’d read my book, and promised her that I would look at it again, and see where I could move forward with it. And when she asked if I had blogged recently, I and I told her no, she very pointedly told me that I could start there, that I needed to practice my writing if I thought it wasn’t good enough.

I couldn’t love her any more if I tried.

And after I told her I would. That I would write something today, she picked up her pencil, and finished reworking the math problem she’d gotten wrong. My brave girl.

So I guess the lesson my daughter taught me today, instead of me teaching her something as expected, is that being in denial of being in denial is bullshit. I’m not fooling anyone, least of all myself. And if she can tell her anxiety to pack it up and out, the least I can do is try to do the same myself.

You see, when I was 23 and trying to get pregnant, I heard from so many people in my life that I was too young, that I had no reason to get pregnant yet. But somewhere inside of me, I knew that I needed her. I didn’t know who she was yet, but I knew that this baby, whomever it turned out to be would give my life greater  purpose. What I didn’t know, however, was how much she would ultimately save me.

 

 

My Ovaries and I: A Story of TMI

It’s 5:23 p.m., and I’ve already completed making dinner, teaching my kids, and grocery shopping; and, am only mildly tired. This is quite a new experience for me. Especially considering I have my period, and I’m usually wiped out to the point of utter exhaustion. Like can’t even be awake right now. But today I’m not. And there’s a reason why. And no, it’s not coffee.

Weight struggles have always been a part of my life. I was once a very tiny person. When I was a child, I was short and very thin. I used to revel in sucking in my stomach to reveal ribs jutting out like those you see on exaggerated cartoons of people on dessert islands. In a family of mostly larger people, I was a bit of an anomaly. But, alas, I did not stay this way.

Sometime around puberty, I suddenly began putting on noticeable weight. I wasn’t exactly unhealthy, but anyone who paid attention could see that I was definitely filling out. “It’s just baby weight,” I’d be told by my parents. Of course I didn’t assume otherwise. But as my “baby” years waned, and my weight did not, I started to feel self-conscious about it.

By 7th grade, one of my childhood best friends and I had mastered the art of sucking our stomachs in to appear to be as thin as the pretty, popular girls. I remember getting a quickie physical in order to sign up for a YMCA-type camp (That I ultimately didn’t go to), and hearing that I was 107 lbs. I was 12. I was blown away. How in the hell had I tipped past 100 lbs. already? I was horrified.

And that is just one of many examples over my almost 34 years of my struggles with my weight and body image. Not that I always felt badly about myself. I’ve had plenty of moments in my life when I’ve looked in the mirror and was happy to be me. And plenty of other times when others have affected me in a positive way–not to put too much impact on how others’ perceptions of oneself should influence one’s view of oneself. Like my early teenagehood boyfriend telling me I was too pretty to need makeup, and he liked my face just as it was. Or complete strangers telling me I had the most beautiful eyes they’d ever seen. Or I had a booty other women would die for. All of these things are great and all, but I almost feel like they were told to me at my peak of physical attractiveness.

Now I am still a 5’2” woman, but have certainly flown by that initially horrid 107 lbs. mark. And I’m working toward accepting who I am and not fixating on what other women look like. I’m trying so hard to be brave about it all. So…big breath here…I can say that as of this morning, my scale told me that I am 171 lbs. Did I mention that my scale is an asshole?

Anyone who knows anything about human health knows that this puts me on the wrong side of the obese line. And I’m sure my BMI would indicate I’m going to die any moment. But I can say that my blood pressure is excellent, my blood sugar is well within normal, and my cholesterol is just fine. So, all in all, despite being quite overweight, I’m mostly healthy.

Except I do have a shit-ton (yes, that’s an actual scientific measurement) of hormonal problems. What it all amounts to is that I’m basically 34 and going through early menopause. I have what’s now called premature ovarian failure, which is what they call pre-menopause for women my age. I suppose they think that menopause sounds so awful we’d rather be told our ovaries are failures.

What so many people my age don’t know, however, is that it’s not simply just that my ovaries are unable to produce a well-developed egg, thus rendering me sterile. Hormones are so much a part of the human body systems that an imbalance in them causes all sorts of issues. For example:

Adult-onset acne; headaches; fatigue; sensitivity to cold; hot flashes and night sweats; mood disorders; poor muscle mass; osteoporosis; and weight gain and/or inability to lose weight (amongst other things). Oh, joy.

Which makes so much damn sense now that I know what my problem is. I only wish I knew it sooner. Like when it likely began. Like 5 years ago when Ollie was born. Maybe then I could have done something about it before I got to this level of discomfort.

You see, besides being 20 lbs. heavier than before I was pregnant with Ollie, I have also had to deal with a slew of other issues. Some of which are listed already for you above. What tipped me off, though, was my irregular periods. Those led to other symptoms down the line. But considering my thyroid is ok, I had to assume my wacky cycles had something to do with my female hormones.

And for so long (before I knew what was what), I did nothing but berate myself for not being strong enough or determined enough to lose weight. I could work my ass off and practically starve myself and lose just a few pounds. I could work out like normal people, and eat nothing but healthy, nutritious food, and still, the scale would barely budge. It seemed like nothing I did made any damn difference, which was really hard to swallow.

Because it wasn’t just that I felt I was unattractive. It was more than that. I felt uncomfortable in my own skin. I felt bloated and distorted. And I worried like hell for my health. And the longer this went on, the worse I felt. Too tired to even try to care anymore. And terrified that this would never end.

Until recently. I finally learned how to better advocate for myself to a doctor, and got blood tests done that finally gave me the answer to why I’ve struggled for so long. And now that I do know exactly what’s going on with my body chemistry, I’m starting to do something about it.

Though my ob/gyn wanted me to take oral progesterone pills, I stopped after a week when they had made me a virtual insomniac. Instead, I’m taking a combo herbal supplement of natural ingredients that have research-backed proof of success with fixing hormonal imbalances, and a bioidentical progesterone cream. And it has been working wonders. So, please, do me a favor: If you don’t believe in this type of therapy, feel free to keep your thoughts to yourself. I’m not at all a person who is afraid of modern medical care, but I am educated enough to know it has severe limitations and blindspots. And, you know what, it’s working.

So here I am, only about 2 weeks into my new therapy, having already dropped 3 lbs. and having a bunch more energy. I’m no longer perpetually ready to pass out and simultaneously cranky as fuck. My appetite has leveled out, and I no longer crave mass amounts of sugar. I no longer have to constantly fight with myself because I feel healthier.

And really, that’s the point. To be healthier. To feel good. I’m used to being chubby. I’ve come to terms with it. My husband is a wonderful man who constantly tells me I’m not only beautiful, but sexy and desirable. I feel very lucky to have him. Because even when I look at myself and see nothing but flaws, he sees nothing but beauty.

So, hopefully over the next few months, I will continue to feel good, gain more energy, and lose the excess weight that my body doesn’t need.

Thanks for letting me get this weight off my chest…..Hahaha, I’m so corny. 🙂

 

 

I’ve put the photo below to help document my journey. I want to be honest and brave, and stick to the mission of this blog, but damn is it hard sometimes. So, yeah, I changed it from color to black and white. We can keep the color of my stretch marks something only I know. 🙂

 

me

The Last of the Single-Digits

As Lily enters her last year of being of a single-digit age, I can’t help but think this is an enormous turning-point for her. Her physical development is starting to catch up with her precocious nature. And it’s readily apparent to anyone who sees her that this little girl is becoming a young woman. Already. How is that even possible?

I’ll admit, my memories of being a child are a bit fuzzy. I have general time frames at which certain things happened, and have some recollections of things I did and people I did them with. So I may be looking at Lily’s development through a very skewed perception when I wonder how in the hell a 9-year-old can already be becoming a woman. To me, she’s still a baby. I mean, 9, in the grand scheme of things, is really quite new to the world. But then I look at this long-legged beauty, and listen to the clever, witty things that comes out of her mouth, and get slapped with realty. A baby she most certainly is not anymore.

Then again, I don’t want to encourage her to grow up too fast. Meaningful, careful change takes time. I want her to have all the time she needs.

This first occurred to me when, one day this spring, she had her two good girlfriends over to play—both of whom are one year older than she is. The three girls were all outside taking advantage of the mild spring weather. I just sat and watched them. They were all wearing training bras, all in different stages of needing them. They were all wearing some sort of accessory or had nails painted. They all had cute, sassy little outfits on. They all looked very much like they were becoming little ladies. And one might assume by just looking at them without hearing their conversations that they might be gossiping about boys or talking about situations with other friends at school. But they weren’t. They were playing house. Well, a strange combination of house and Minecraft, but house nonetheless. Like with baby dolls and each girl playing a different role: mom, dad, little sister. They were making pretend food from garden materials, and playing with Lily’s tea set and toy dishes that she got when she was 2. And it was so sweet.

It was at this moment that I really came to understand the term “tween” (even though I still think it sounds ridiculous). Here was my girl in a training bra, with hoop earrings in her ears, and temporary metallic tattoos on her arms, playing house and tea party. Not quite ready to move on, and not quite ready to let everything go. A little bit like a child, and a little bit like a teen, and nothing all the way. She’s kind of stuck in this middle-ground trying to slowly traverse her way from one stage to the next. And though I’m a little bit sad at how quickly childhood goes by, it’s sort of endearing as well. I do have many memories of that time in my life, with my girlfriends, and it was some of the best times of my childhood. I’m really glad she’s able to experience it as well.

In continuing with Lily’s transition from girlhood to womanhood, I also noticed that she’s become much more aware of how other females act, dress, and present themselves. I see her looking at older girls, studying them. What are they wearing? How are they talking? Who are they with? It’s almost as if she’s trying to figure out how she fits into the womanhood equation. And when she comments about seeing other girls maybe acting in a way she doesn’t agree with, I can see that she’s sizing up their choices in relation to what I’ve given her as a perspective on what it means to be a woman. Of course I’m going to always be, perhaps, a most influential example. But I do try to explain that there really is no one definition of what it means to be a woman, and I think she’s really trying to piece out all the choices available to her.

It’s a puzzling time, I think, making this transition. She needs to figure out what her values are, and how they compare to what we’ve tried to instill in her, and what might be uniquely her own. She needs to figure out what she likes about herself and others. She needs to figure out what her strengths and weaknesses are. All awhile taking into account what she feels others see in her. And I’m so thankful that I’ve been able to be there to play a more active role in her life this past year. Not having to dedicate so much of my time and energy to my job and someone else’s children, but rather my own, has been a true blessing. Especially given Lily’s nature.

One of my favorite stories to tell about Lily, and one I think I’ve already included in a birthday reflection, is from when she was about 10 months old. She had a very favorite book that we read approximately 1 million times a day. And one day, she picked it up and held it out to me. I asked her if she wanted me to read it, and she grunted and clapped her hands. And when I jokingly said, “But what if I don’t want to?”, she stiffened her arms out to her sides, balled up her fists, and yelled. I still think that memory is both hilarious and telling of her. Lily wants what she wants. And God help you all If you make her angry.

And even though she has definitely come to realize she can’t have everything she wants, she’s still just as fiery and quick to anger. But now she will pout, stomp upstairs to her room, and shut out the world. I understand that sometimes she just needs some time alone. But luckily I also have the time, energy, and patience to be there for her. Because every time (I’m not exaggerating), every time she gets into one of these moods, if I come to her room to see if she wants to talk after she’s had time to calm down, she always does. She wants me to hold her hand or snuggle her, and just listen to her. She wants to cry and yell, and be heard. And I’m forever grateful that she lets me do that. That I can be present for her. Because I know so many children who never had that, and how it made them grow distant, angry, self-critical, and even harmful to themselves and others. And I’m grateful that Lily loves and trusts me enough to know that no matter if she’s angry with me or someone/something else, or if she knows I’m angry with her, I’m still going to come into her room, sit on her bed, and ask her if she wants to talk about it. And I hope this will help her through whatever challenges this next year will bring.

And I expect there to be many challenges ahead of us. With homeschooling on the horizon, it could be a recipe for trouble even though it will also most probably bring us closer. What I hope is that Lily will continue to see how much I believe in her, and transfer those beliefs to herself. I hope she will go back to loving school, as much as she loves learning (which are, of course, not one in the same). I hope she continues to grow as an artist now that she will have ample time on a daily basis to experiment with new ideas, mediums, and techniques. I just hope that every hurdle we come upon, we will jump over together. Whether she is giving me a boost or the other way around.

Because as I love my children equally but different, I love my firstborn in a way a parent has to love the person who brought them the greatest gift of parenthood. I see so much in her, and I would do anything for her. She was my first sidekick, my first baby, my only girl, and hopefully my future best friend.

And so, Miss Lily-Girl, I wish you more happiness than you can ever know. I love everything about you, even the things you yourself don’t seem to appreciate. Because you know what, Pookie, everything inside of you makes a whole you. And without them, you wouldn’t be the girl I know so well. Embrace all your quirks, interests, shortcomings, fears, hopes, and dreams because every bit of those things make you the funniest, cleverest, pun and joke-making, intelligent, talented, beautiful little sassy-pants that you are.

I saw a story online that told of a mother who always told her daughter, “I wish you enough.” And it resonated with me. Yes, I wish you the world, but only so far as the world brings you that which fulfills you. I wish you enough from life to make you happy. Because no matter how much you have of toys, clothes, books, travels, whatever, as long as it makes you truly happy in your soul, it will be enough to sustain you. And that is what I wish for you, my dear girl. I wish you enough.

I love you, Pookie. I hope you have a most marvelous last single-digit birthday. Thank you for being my baby.