4 0 2

402 days. 402 (plus or minus… mostly minus) posts.

Tag: love

Day 1100: Kind of a big deal

My fiancé and I are getting married sometime in the next two weeks, depending on how you look at it (we picked a destination wedding, so the legal part is happening separately).

We’re. Getting. Married.

Marriage is a big deal, right? And for all its common-ness, it’s a provocative subject. As an institution, marriage had little to do with love until relatively recently. And it had little to do with two equals creating a partnership until even MORE recently (not-so-fun fact: most states didn’t consider marital rape a crime until the late 1970s).

The median age for getting married is going up, and the number of marriages most of us will have in our lifetime is going up.

Marriage is evolving, as things do.

Joe and I are both pretty pragmatic people. We know the marriage statistics, advantages and pitfalls. We know exactly what tax benefits our union will result in, and we’ve made some strategic choices. We elected for pre-marital counseling by way of the Prepare/Enrich assessment, which gave us data (Pie charts! Graphs! Percentages! Yay!) to analyze.

Our engagement has been filled with preparatory exercises designed to help us understand what we’re getting into, and why. And by all accounts, we’re doing everything right, if not romantically (nothing says romance like empirical data).

But I’m getting the sense that we aren’t preparing for marriage, exactly. What this actually feels like is preparation for continuous preparation. Or continuous change. Or maybe just continuously taking another person into consideration.

Because we’re both in our thirties, we have established independent-everythings—routines, schedules, habits, friends, etc. Every day, we make micro-decisions about how much our physical and emotional worlds should overlap, and where we can each bend and flex to accommodate. And sometimes we hit surprisingly hard edges. (I just think beds look better when they’re made!)

Ultimately, we’re both asking ourselves why we want to do this. For me, the answer is pretty simple. I love him, and I see how our personalities naturally support and balance each other. We accept each other. We challenge each other. We’re kind to each other. We have fun together and we respect each other’s independence. We both like learning. He makes really good quiche.

And when I think about my future, I want him to be there—even though I don’t know exactly who I will be or who he will be.

So in these days before we sign our papers and stand with our families and agree to keep picking each other, I’m feeling some mixture of totally chill and excited-bananas. The bed is messy. The quiche is in the oven. And despite our best preparations, neither of us has any idea what we’re getting into. Which is half the fun, right?

messybed.jpgThat bed.

Day 1035: A Manifesto

This evening I went searching for an old blog from a couple of years ago, in order to find a factoid that I’ve since lost.

I didn’t find what I was looking for, but I did find the below manifesto, from February 13, 2013. I had forgotten all about it. I’m reposting it tonight in the hopes that 1) it will cement itself deeper into my being (although I no longer have a fish… rest in peace, Brian Boitano The Fish), and 2) maybe it will trigger you to remember your own version.


A Manifesto

I will wake up every morning glad to be awake. I will be open and honest. I will feed my fish. When I fear I’m becoming closed off or closed in, I will gently peel back my layers.

I will turn my face to the sun. I will change directions. I will sleep soundly.

I will look for the light in others. I will be confidently intuitive. When my confidence fades, I will be happily self-conscious.

I will be smart. I will be savvy. Maybe not savvy.

I will be wrong sometimes. When I am wrong, I will admit it. I will eat cookies. I will cook lentils. I will smile at children and I will pet puppies. I will swim like a turtle. I will not judge others. When judgment creeps in, I will notice it and take a breath. I will not be perfect.

I will love my family. I will hug my friends.

I will be so quiet that I can hear every leaf shifting on every tree in my neighborhood. I will laugh so loudly every leaf will shift. I will cry. I will let go.

I will stand up for those who can’t. I will water my plants. I will lose hope. I will find joy. I will remember to buy toilet paper before the last roll runs out. I will ask for help and I will help others.

I will dance. I will rest. I will write.

turtle glide

Day 880: Swings, Songs and Advice for New Moms

Almost three years ago, one of my favorite friends and mentors had a baby boy. His name is Colin, and he has always been one cool cat, even at seven months old when I first blogged about him.

Because it’s been a few years (no idea how that happened), I asked Colleen if I could interview her again – this time, about about motherhood, wifehood, babyhood, toddlerhood, and what she would say to a new mother who receives the same diagnosis for their baby that was given to Colin.

Colin

Colin is a measured performer and a quick study. He can figure out what makes you laugh and then milk the situation before you even know what’s going on. I asked Colleen what Colin’s personality is developing into, and what she sees in Colin of herself and her husband, Chris.

“Reading and entertaining rank high for Colin. Book was his first word. I think he would spend the entire afternoon being read to, if he could. And while you are reading to him, he will inevitably make a funny face, snort or try to get you to smile – that’s the entertainer in him.

He’s a huge fan of Louis Armstrong. And he loves to swing, be surprised,” [Interjection from me: it’s true – he loves to be surprised. Whereas I’d probably cry and pee my pants a little, he just laughs.], “sing along to any number of songs, and play ball. He throws better than I do.

Colin Swinging Down Syndrome

Case in point.

He has Chris’ sense of perfection. Before he was walking, he would practice pulling himself up in hiding before he did it in person. We would watch him on the baby monitor. He has the persistence to keep trying something over and over until he is happy with it.”

As a nearly three-year-old, Colin walks, runs and takes exuberant leaps off one of the chairs in the living room (which has since been turned around to face the wall as a preventative measure). He’s also one of about 400,000 people in the U.S. living with Down Syndrome.

Advice

The original diagnosis was an admittedly scary and difficult one for Chris and Colleen. They received it moments after Colin was born, and they weren’t sure how to react. True to form, they made it through the initial tumbling and came out smiling on the other end.

“I knew Chris would be a good dad, but there is a whole other level of falling in love with your partner when you see them as a loving parent. I couldn’t really understand what that looked like until I saw it firsthand.”

Knowing what she and Chris know now, I asked Colleen what she would say to new parents of a baby with Down Syndrome. 

“Recently I read something that really rings true, so I’m going to steal the thought. If you were to go to a new parent and tell them all the things that would go wrong in their child’s life – like, when they are six months old they’ll get really sick and you will be up with them for nights on end trying to figure out what’s wrong. Or at seven, they’ll fracture their arm jumping off the bed. Or their best friend won’t be their friend anymore when they’re 11, and it will really hurt their feelings – If you told a new parent all the bad things that would happen in the future, instead of helping them be overjoyed with their new child, they would be scared to death. How can a mom protect her kid from that? But that’s not how it happens for most new mothers, thank God.

We were told (or read on the Internet) all the things that could/might happen to Colin throughout every stage of his life. But the truth is, some might happen and some might not. So I would tell a new parent to throw all the opinions, presumptions and thoughts aside and know that someday very soon, you will not see your child as any different.”

Colin Selfie Down Syndrome

Colin’s first selfie. JK, mom took it.

She also offered some incredibly sage advice to all the new mothers of all the babies, regardless of their situations:

  1. “Go easy on yourself. In the beginning you can become delusional due to lack of sleep. Everyone will say ‘sleep when the baby sleeps.’ If you can do that, great. If not, then do what you can do to relax. I couldn’t sleep when he slept, and I beat myself up for it over and over.
  2. Find a small group of people you trust, who will listen and talk with you. Thankfully, I had a handful of people who would answer the phone or text me back at 3 am. Remember that someday these people are going to need you to return the favor.
  3. If you don’t have a doctor (or occupational therapist or physical therapist) you trust, then get out of your current relationship and find a new one as soon as possible. And don’t be embarrassed to do it.
  4. Take time to allow yourself to welcome this little one into your home. This baby needs the same things from you any other child would need.
  5. Surround yourself with the people who look at your child the way you want the world to look at your child.
  6. Remember that people mean well. Really. I’m sure I said some stupid things to new parents when I didn’t really know what being a new parent meant. (They either forgave me or were so tired they weren’t even listening.) People will have opinions about your child and what you are doing/should be doing/shouldn’t be doing, and so on. That’s ok. They want to support you any way they know how, and they probably have no clue what is going on in your life. So listen, say thank you, and then call someone in the group from #2 to talk about it.
  7. For the proud new mamas of a child with Down Syndrome, you may want to run and hide right now, and it doesn’t feel fair. But once you come to terms with reality, just know that the child in front of you will blow your mind someday soon. Their capacity to reach their goals is the same as any other child when given opportunities and support.
  8. Remember that your child will be their own person even if they share the same diagnosis as someone else. People will make generalizations, like, ‘Oh, those Downs kids are so stubborn/sweet/easy/loving, etc.’ Is that true of Colin? Sure, sometimes. It reminds me of when people used to assume I played basketball because I’m tall. My son and your kid will be different from each other. Will they share similar characteristics? Sure. Do I share similar characteristics with some WNBA players? Sure.”

Right? Sit with that advice from my wise friend and pass it along to the people in your life who need it. And if you want to learn more and support people with Down Syndrome, check out these great organizations:

Ruby’s Rainbow
Changing the Face of Beauty
Think College

Day 127: Happy Day

Admittedly, I don’t go to church much anymore. I really enjoy connecting with the thing that connects all of us, but as I’ve gotten older I’ve enjoyed it more in nature and in meditation than in buildings and through structure. Time may shift me again, but I feel connected and content for now.

That said, I went to church today. The sermon was lovely. I felt welcomed and loved and totally free to find God in my own way.

Below are some sermon takeaways that I’d like to share.

1. Some people go to church once or twice per year because it has a cultural and historic place in their life. I’m one of those people and it’s okay to be a person like me. We’re still welcome.

2. Loving yourself, your family and the good people of the world is not enough love. Loving everyone—the bullies, the hurtful and violent ones, the lost and the mean—is closer to enough. The goal is all love all the time. And love is love, whether or not religion is part of your personal fabric.

3. Everyone thinks they have the best dad. The pastor told us a story about a friend whose daughters were arguing with their friends over who had the best dad (cute right?). The pastor explained that in listening to the recap of the argument, he felt everyone was right. Although the girls had different dads, they could each believe in the truth and best-ness of their own dads. The pastor told us that he believes in the truth of Jesus Christ and can proclaim him to be the one true savior, but that God’s mansion is a huge one, and there are many ways to enter into it. It’s okay to believe in your truth while honoring the truths of others.

4. New life is everywhere, all the time and in everyone. We are new every single day. Take advantage of it.

So, a very happy Easter to you.

Also, happy Passover.

And happy Cesar Chavez Day.

dock and water

This picture always makes me think of “newness.”

Day 87: Presence Day, Part 2

In honor of day two of Presence Day, I’m proposing a few of additions to our Presence Day regimen.

  • Meet a good friend for a beer. Talk about the concepts and issues important to you, like kindness, racism, sexism and good balsamic vinegar. And how you’re completely comfortable putting international travel on your credit cards.
  • Admit you don’t know something. Then learn about it.
  • Think about someone you love. Then call them, just to say hello (and that you love them).

seaweed