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Perfect Certainty


Almost 15 years ago we stood here on this beach together, but not together of course, not yet.  I took so many side glances in your direction on that trip.  I was drawn to you from the start.  I still am.  Is it weird that I still get a rush when I sneak a peek at you 15 years later?  Even now, you are still drawing me in.  


When we walked that beach, I never dreamed it could be this good.  On that trip I hoped we would end up together and hoped you felt the same about me as I felt about you.  But this, what we have now, my brain couldn’t have handled it.  Our life isn’t perfect, that’s for sure.  If it was though, it wouldn’t be real.  I love this real life together.  It is perfect, even in the imperfection.  


Sometimes you say that I saved you.  I’m not sure if I’ll ever completely understand that because you are the strongest, bravest, most unconditionally loving being in all of time.  Why would you need to be saved by me?  Even if it is somehow true, there may have been selfish motives on my part.  I need you always.  Every minute of every day.  You make my crazy sane and you teach me what it means to fully love and fully be present.  I didn’t even know there was this thing called emotional intelligence before you.  And empathy has always been hard for me.  You show me everyday what it means to give the boys and I your all.  When I watch you, I learn how to be a better partner and parent.  If I really saved you all those years ago, you have saved me every day after.  


A lot has changed since we last stood on this beach.  Now our marriage is a teenager.  Those thirteen years went fast, didn’t they?  It seems like we were never not together.  Even now, thinking back to our trip here, how was it possible we stood on the sand just as friends?  I think we knew it wouldn’t stay that way.  It couldn’t.  Neither of us would have let US not happen.  


Now today, we get to watch the boys run and splash in the waves.  Two almost teenagers who certainly got the best of each of us.  Today, we get to be mesmerized by the same ocean and the same waves.  This time though, we get to turn our backs on those waves to walk into a life of certainty.  We walk off that beach hand in hand, with a certainty that we are better together.  We are certain that whatever comes at us doesn’t have a chance.  Certain that we don’t need a perfect life because we have each other.  That’s perfect enough for me.


Happy anniversary Sweetie.  I love you more today than all of the yesterdays combined.  


Don’t Forget Tuesday

Dear Boys,

Please don’t forget Tuesday night.  Don’t forget how you felt that night, sitting on a couch surrounded by people who you loved and loved you back, watching to see America decide the next four years.  Remember your hope and excitement as you thought you would get to see the first woman elected president of our country while you dug into the chips and guacamole.  Don’t forget how you thought you were going to witness history being made.  Remember your disappointment and sadness and despair when we realized it was not to be.  Please remember my tears and your dad’s shock and unbelief.  Remember how you felt when you saw a man who does not deserve to serve as an example take the victory.

Don’t ever follow his example.  It is not victorious.

Remember that you get to choose to love, no matter who is elected.  You get to choose to be kind to your family, your friends and everybody you come into contact with.  You get to be brave and stand up for the ones who no longer have the strength to stand up for themselves anymore.  Be the change you hoped to see reflected in our country’s leader.  

He was successful.  He knew that when you become the villain, the train wreck, people pay attention.  He became a magnet and they followed.  Some people in America, actually quite a lot of them, sadly, rallied around the hate, bigotry, sexism and all around ugliness.  Please don’t be like them.  Please don’t follow them.  It’s not victorious.

Yes, I understand some of what was voted against, was the elitism and corruption in our current government on all sides of the aisle.  Dad and I are dissatisfied with that too, but that didn’t give us an excuse to vote for someone who, not only stood up on a platform of being “un-political” but also stomped on racial minorities, religious minorities and women.  With Donald Trump, it seems you can’t have one without the other.  I want to be wrong about that, but I have a feeling I’m not.

Boys, please be kind, gentle, brave and strong leaders in your world.  Dad and I will try to be good examples of this, even when our government does not follow suit.  The “keep trying”, that’s victorious.

You two have a unique position in our country.  You are in a privileged class.  You are two white males in a society who hands you opportunities not given to people who don’t look like you.  You have power others aren’t given.  Use it.  Use it to make the change you want.  Use it to love and lift up others who don’t yet have that power.  And when equality prevails, joyously give that power away so that you won’t be looking down on anyone, or standing on top of anybody’s crumpled shoulders.  That’s the thing about equality and power, someone has to lose it before others can gain it on an equal level.  You will lose some of that power and privilege.  That’s a good thing.  Yes, it might hurt a bit, but that’s okay, most of the time change hurts before the good stuff happens.  The transition is the hard part, but it’ll be worth it, I promise.  Your eyes will be opened and you will come to see how others have not been given the opportunities you have had.

Even before that transfer of power, hold hands with people who don’t look like you, who don’t worship like you, who don’t think the same things as you.  Hold hands on that equal ground and converse.  Learn from each other.  Find out what they need and give it.  Ask for help and graciously receive it.  Find out if they are hungry and eat together.  Make sure your dining tables are round, nobody at the head, everybody sitting down at the same level, talking, laughing, having tough conversations with each other.  Don’t be afraid to ask the hard questions.  Don’t puff your chest when you don’t understand.  Instead, keep asking questions.  Keep listening.  And be honest.  Don’t shy away from feelings that society tells you aren’t typically male.  It’s okay to be afraid.  It’s normal to feel lonely and anxious and imperfect.  Don’t cover those over with macho-ism and aggression.  Don’t be fooled into thinking that a tough shell is strong.  It’s not.  To be vulnerable is hard and it is strong.  Open yourself up, dig down and lean into what you feel.  Listen and be patient when others do the same.  Don’t shy away from truth, your own and the truth you hear from others at that table.  And then use that truth to unite for good.  Initiate equality around your own table in your own little world.  It’ll spread because this is how our world is supposed to be.  It’s how people work better together.  Start small and let it spread.

Tuesday night was a hard one for us, yes, but don’t be halted by your despair.  There is still hope because Donald Trump does not reflect everybody.  He especially does not reflect you two because you are both kind, empathetic, brave and loving.  The hard part is that he does reflect some.  That’s why we need to work for change.  We need to make sure that speech and press remain free, religious liberties prevail, and gender equality happens in the workplace and everywhere else.  We need to listen to science and take care of the environment.  I’m glad you are smart enough to know that just because the president speaks that way about women and acts that way toward them, doesn’t mean it is right.  It is wrong and it always will be.  If he passes laws against others based on religion or ethnicity or gender, don’t follow them.  Break those laws so you can open up your home to those who are pushed under and trampled on.  Walk the dirty roads and lend your hand to feed mouths and hearts.  Hope is not dead because we are in this together.  Dad and I will stand with you.  We will feed and love together.

Just as Dad reminded you on Wednesday morning, don’t fight hate with hate.  We don’t hate others because they, or their parents, voted differently.  Not everyone will agree with you.  Don’t let that silence you, but don’t let it be an excuse to spew hate back either.  Be confident and kind in your differentiating opinions.  Always, always critically think on everything.  That critical thought is a super power.  Use it, even if that means you disagree with Dad or I.  No matter what, think and analyze, then act.

Stories are already coming out about kids who are coming to school doing hurtful things.  The bullies are being empowered.  Mexican American students are being given fake deportation letters, swastikas are being drawn on bathroom walls, black students are being told to go back to Africa and LGBTQ students are being told to “get ready.”  The marginalized populations are being pushed farther into the corner.  Now I know that one man does not bear the full responsibility of these actions.  It seems though, that his winning the election has opened up the door for how some others choose to live lives of hate.  This makes our job clear.  There will be kids in your class and on the playground who feel uncertain and afraid because of the election results.  Stand up for them if others push them down.  Stand with them when their religion or race is demeaned.  Stand by them when their sexuality or gender is minimized and dismissed.  Speak up for them.  Speak up for love and equality.

I hope you will always think back on Tuesday night. I hope that in the very near future, you will get to see the very first female president elected to lead our country.  I so want to be with you to experience that.  Let’s sit on a couch eating chips and guacamole, crying tears of joy rather than despair.  I want to experience a world with you in which we know that no matter your gender, your race, your religion, your sexuality, you can lead if you are qualified.  I want a re-do of Tuesday night, but with a different outcome.  In the meantime, let’s be the change we wanted to see.  Let’s love others around us.  Let’s give and receive.  Let’s invite people over to break bread with us.  Let’s vote for those with loving character and brave action.  More importantly, let’s help each other have loving character and stand with each other in brave action.  

I’m in if you are, what do you say?


Mac and Cheese

I pulled into the driveway after grabbing a few items from the grocery store.  Spring weather had newly sprung so all the neighborhood hooligans ran around outside.  Jack paused from the kid mischief going down in our front yard and turned in my direction.  From the serious look on all the other kids’ faces, some mystery needed to be solved or monster defeated.  It could have been in the middle of their favorite game, ghost in the graveyard, I’m not sure.  (I still don’t understand that game, no matter how many times the boys explain it to me.  All I know is there are ghosts and zombies and all them end up running from their hiding place screaming bloody murder.  Normally, I have to check about four times each game to make sure nobody has been murdered or maimed.)


When he saw me pull the car in, surprise and shock spread all over Jack’s face.  Immediately, he ran over to the driver side window and motioned for me to roll the window down.  I obliged.


Jack:  You are back so soon!


Me: Yeah, I only got three bags worth of groceries.


A satisfying realization changed his body language.  His shoulders and core relaxed.


Jack: OOOH.  I thought you were going hardcore shopping.


Then he leaned into the car for a hug and smacked me on the cheek.


Jack: I’m so glad you’re home.  You smell like mac and cheese.


And with that compliment given (and it was the highest of high accolade because mac and cheese is his favorite food in all the world), he hopped off to go back to playing with the neighborhood juvenile delinquents.  I brought my apparently non-hardcore groceries into the house with a smile and a warm glow in my heart.  


Jack doesn’t crack open like that very often.  Most of the time he is inside his own head, a habit he gets very honestly.  But when it happens, he can make you feel like a million bucks.  I’m not sure if he knows his own power over Tim and I.  If he ever tells us we smell like mac and cheese again, we both may just roll over and give him anything he wants.  We best not let him in on this secret weapon of words.


Maybe I’m more impressionable because as the boys get older, the more nostalgic I get.  The baby and toddler snuggles have been replaced with video game hangouts, deep dinner conversations or goofing around in the rare moments we don’t have somewhere to be.  Each of them are coming into their own and it is so fun to be a spectator.  From day one, Tim and I treated them as individual whole people, not half adults or big people in waiting.  But the older they get, the more their individuality shines.  They have more of their own ideas to share and more opinions to formulate.  Slowly they are separating from us.  Physically, the need us less and less as the days accumulate, but emotionally we are still their guiding star.  Normally this evolving would make me sad, but I know that they will always be our boys, whether they are little or not.


Today Jack is nine.  Our baby is nine.  NINE.  He is goofy and smart and sensitive.  His self proclaimed nickname is Sweet Fart, but he is still Jackie and Jackanoonie to us.  Last week, he hit his first home run, a three-run home run no less.  He is still a string bean, but no longer little in any sense.  Recently, all four of us have a new obsession: Magic the Gathering.  This game elevates our nerd to a whole other level and we are proud.  So far, Jack has beat us more than he has lost.  One on one, I have been unable to win against him.  He’s a wiley, strategic, smart one, that baby Jack.  


I am thankful I get to watch him in action everyday.  And for the individual he is and the layers he is adding on.  I am thankful for his sense of humor that he gets from Tim (instead of me, thank goodness).  And for his mechanical, crazy smart mind.  I am thankful I smell like mac n cheese to him and that he still kisses me on the cheek in front of his friends.  I am thankful for the previous Jack, the now Jack and the Jack to come.  All of them will always be my baby, even the future Jack, no matter how big and tall he grows.

Mac and Cheese