My Daughter’s Brand of Magic

 

It doesn’t seem to matter what stage my daughter is at. I often look at her with wonder and think, there is no way I will ever forget this.

But then she evolves and I struggle to remember. What exactly was she like at two years old? That other version of her fades away and the person who she is right now is front and center, stealing the show. Sure, I remember in broad strokes what she was like at two (there was a lot of climbing…) but the details of her brand of magic at that age seem so fuzzy.

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Image source

Right now my daughter is 3 1/2. She still says “Lello” (yellow), yesterday asked for a “lollyplop” (aww!!) and would prefer being naked to anything else. I have a hunch this won’t last forever.

All I can do is stay present to it all. Soak in her little whispers (‘Mommy, let’s pretend to be an alligator and get daddy!’) and try not to laugh when she stands, pouting, arms crossed, imploring “I want a Pogistle (popsicle) right now!”

You now the old adage, this too shall pass? Well I tend to like that saying when life is craptastic. But when life is lovely and joyous and maketh my heart overfloweth, well, it seems more than a tad unfair. photo-1460176449511-ff5fc8e64c35.jpeg

Nevermind. This version of her magic will blend in the background when the new one emerges. And I certainly wouldn’t want to miss that.

Do you have any tricks for remembering the magic?  Please feel free to share below or on Twitter orFacebook.

 

 

 

 

Facing Anger (And Reluctantly Admitting My Husband Was Right)

Every window in my house is currently steamed up. (No, it’s not what you think! Jeesh, don’t make me blush.) The reason? I live in Florida. It is summer. The humidity is higher than Donald Trump’s bangs.

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high hair, high humidity. (photo source)
I just returned home to this heat from 

vacation in the cool, humidity-free Northeast. No matter. I am loving the all-consuming stickiness.

At last: the outside world is matching my inside world.

As vacation ended and some unpleasant realities of life creeped back into my consciousness, anger began seeping out in all the ways that Oprah would advise against. Projecting onto my husband. Snapping at my daughter. Scowling about towels left on the floor and muttering loudly under my breath.  A tiny voice within squeaked, hmm you seem pretty CHARGED UP about this…perhaps something else? To which my ego (angrily) replied, NO! Really, I  AM this angry over my husband whining about needing a nap after he slept ten hours last night! (Yes this really happened. Normally I would I would chuckle and lovingly mock him and tell him to shut his pie hole. I would not be full of PRIMAL RAGE.)

I was full of PRIMAL RAGE.

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Who knew? A google search for “primal rage”returns this fantastic image from an early ’90s video game.
I’ll spare you the details of the who and what that led to my anger. It isn’t necessary. What I will share is how surprised I have been at the depth and fierceness of the anger—and my unwillingness to simply name it for what it was.

Why, I wondered later, is it so hard for me to just say, “I AM ANGRY AT X AND I NEED TO JUST SAY IT OUT LOUD!”

Many wise souls have pointed out how resisting what is is the source of our suffering. Certainly it was the source of the suffering between my husband and myself, as he threw his hands up and said, “Whoa, why are you so upset with ME? I know this isn’t about me, this is about x! Stop projecting!”

He even predicted that ten minutes later I would be back, apologizing, and admitting he was right.

Damn it, I hate when he is right.

I think it all has to do with anger being a secondary emotion.

I read the term “secondary emotion” for the first time a year or two ago. I had this major “AHA” moment. I had been lumping anger as an emotion with all the rest. Turns out, anger is special. It is just the first layer of a delicious cake of emotions. Perhaps it is the crispy charred caramel bit atop a Crème brûlée. You have to poke through it to get to the creamy, smooth center, the meat of the thing.

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If only anger tasted as delicious. Image source.
Which, in my case, turned out to be sadness. So. Much. Sadness. Once I finally admitted to my husband that he was right (sigh), that I was not actually angry at him, I crept into a spare bedroom and wrote a little. The tears started flowing and they wouldn’t stop. Streams and streams of tears. I hadn’t cried like this in a very long time. I let it run its course but it took an awfully long time for my eyes to dry up.

No wonder I was hiding behind the anger. Who wants to unearth all that hurt and sadness?

I’d love to carry my metaphor forward about the dessert and crème brûlée, something trite about how sweet it is to finally break through all the flavors and eat the gooey custard middle. But that is not the case. There is nothing fun or delicious about resisting anger, feeling anger, and then crying for twenty minutes.

For me, the closest I can come to that happy ending is through my writing, which always helps me unpack what I’m feeling and find some self-compassion in the process. Not as tasty as a French dessert, but I’ll take it.

 

 

The Sinewed Bonds of Family

The other night I woke at 5:30 am—that liminal time where you still have one foot in a dream world—and a word appeared in front of me. I sat up straight in bed and knew I had to write it down, this gift from the dream-space. I googled the meaning, took a screen shot, and saved it in my phone.

I went back to sleep and upon fully waking vaguely remembered something about a word popping in my head. Aha, I had been clever enough to save it in my phone! There it was: sinew.

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I’ve sat with this word the last 24 hours. I’ve let it accompany me on the comings and goings as we visit my in-laws for the week.

The other night, I heard someone rustling around in the kitchen before dinner. Iced tea had just been made. There was a click of a radio being turned on. For a moment I thought it was my own mother, summer tea in hand, small kitchen television turned to CNN.

It wasn’t my mother of course, but my mother-in-law. The ache that was lingering in the background, a sullenness that was a small throb, came right to the forefront. Oh, I miss my mother. Oh, I miss my father. I am not here to fill that space, though, I reminded the small child within me. This visit is for my daughter.

I am soaking in the joy of seeing her with grandparents, a grandfather who teaches her how to play “pea porridge pie” and explains to her the merits of free market capitalism. A grandmother who insisting on combing my daughter’s unwieldy hair and telling her, “ears are not just for listening, but for tucking hair behind!” Cousins who shoot nerf guns at her and share their bikes with her. Oh, this fills my heart. This is family. This is not my family, but it is family.

In the midst of all of this I thought about my word sinew. I read the definition. Deeply within, I fully understood why this word appeared before me in the early morning.

Tough fibrous tissue, uniting bone to bone, or muscle to bone. The thing that gives it strength or bind it together.

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Gray’s Anatomy, Public Domain source.

Alas, my family’s ties are sinew. The ties that currently feel stretched to their limit, so taut and fraught with tension you think, surely they must break, just might withstand the stress.

 

This sinew—this connective tissue, our shared DNA, the bonds that unite us bone to bone—are designed to bear it all, I am reminded. The stuff of survival, of ropes and weapons, they are resilient.

Like my family, the word is of Germanic origin.

As I sit in my in-law’s kitchen, I will observe the sinews of my husband’s family (not without its own bonds stretched tight in places, a good lesson to keep in mind.) And as I sit in the liminal space that is the uncertain relationship with my father, an in-between place of its own that is not what it was and not yet what it will become, I will close my eyes and clutch this word. sin·ew.  Perhaps a whisper from the beyond that in the end, ties won’t break, and are stronger than they seem.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Signs of Spring

It is spring in Southern Florida. You have to look closely (it is easy to miss the subtle signs among the constant sunshine and blue skies) but it is here.

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Magical little dragonfly. Kind of weird and cool at the same time. Image source.

 

On a walk yesterday I noticed what appeared to be baby dragon flies. Have you ever seen such a thing? At first I didn’t even know what I was looking at. Were they flies? Were they butterflies? They seemed like something out of a fairy tale. One little booger landed on my hand! She had bright red wings. Magical.

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Flowering bougainvillea. image source.

As I walked further I suddenly noticed tons of
flowering bougainvillea that
seemed to appear out of nowhere. Overnight entire branches were now full of the bright pink blossoms.

And the baby anoles! They are the lizards you see everywhere in Florida. I noticed they were absent from our yard for a bit. Weird. And then in the last week or two tons of the little guys started to appear once again, darting around, climbing the lanai screen and scurrying under foliage.

I am heartily embracing these signs of spring. It may not be daffodils and forsythia (gosh I miss forsythia) but I’ll take it.

If you have read any of my recent posts you might have caught on to the fact that things have been a wee bit heavy in my life as of late. (Understatement?) I recently wrote about how it felt like I’ve been stuck in the winter season.

Since writing that post, a heaviness has lifted. I am pretty sure the writing itself had something to do with it. It never ceases to astound me how the simple (and yet so difficult) act of witnessing and acknowledging our pain is enough to make it go POUF. Even when it is heavy and dense and feels like it stretches back a thousand lifetimes. Doesn’t matter. Poof.

Crazy isn’t it?

I am fairly new to Florida and I’m still trying to figure out what the seasons exactly are (other than rainy…and non-rainy) but I will tell you: It feels like spring.