In an attempt to escape city life for a day, the kids and Zoey the Dog accompanied me on a day trip into San Diego’s East County this weekend. I grew up in these parts, always dirty and mostly unplugged and one day I’d love to raise my kids the same way. One day…
I mean, with beautiful views at every turn, fresh air to cleanse the body, and nature to nurture the soul, how could anyone want to return to freeways, sidewalks and pollution? I think we all need to unplug more often.
Have a great week, everyone!
Earlier today, while I was in the living room trying not to die from yet another heat wave in San Diego, my daughter was in the kitchen for the umpteenth time as if something different would be in there with each visit, and she hollered over to me, ‘Hey, Mom, what would be a really great surprise?’
I didn’t even have to think of an answer. ‘Rain. That would be a really great surprise.’
She laughed, and clanked around in the kitchen some more. ‘Uh, but then it would be really humid. How about Channing Tatum showing up at the door with some double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream?’
I blinked. She’ll be twelve next month. Too young in my naive parenting mind to have a Tatum crush. ‘Yeah…that’d be a surprise, all right,’ I mumbled. Then I realized she was opening the cabinets, opening the fridge and obviously not doing dishes, like I thought. ‘What are you doing?’
‘It’s a surprise,’ she answered.
It was well over 100* outside and not much cooler in the house. I doubted she was crazy enough to attempt making something to eat on the stove or in the oven. I was totally wrong. After some verbal and irritated prodding from my sweaty throne upon the couch, she finally told me she was making homemade gnocchi.
I wanted to say to her: You’re crazy, child! It’s a million degrees in this house! Eat an apple! But hey, she had the desire to cook, said she’d been watching a cooking show and was in the mood. So, I let her make gnocchi. And garlic butter sauce. She didn’t burn down the kitchen and they came out pretty good. I’ve full faith she will inherit her father’s abilities in the kitchen, which is a relief.
Fast-forward a few hours to now. I’m reviewing audiobook files for work and put the TV on for background fodder and just happened to click over to CNN where a repeat of the Republican Debate is on. My daughter, wanting to spend time with me even though I’m working with my earplugs in, draped herself across the end of my bed out of absolute boredom and watched the debate for over half an hour. She even chatted about some of the topics, but her comments were mostly about the funny faces that Trump is known for. We aren’t political in this house, definitely not Republicans, but we have an open dialogue about all kinds of things. Regardless of whether or not she understood half of what was discussed, I’m amused she lasted as long as she did. I mean, she could have chosen to watch a Disney channel show instead in her room, alone.
When she finally sauntered off to find something more interesting to do, it struck me how much she’s grown up. Her seven-year old brother grumbles with protests and escapes the room like his butt is on fire any time I put the news on. But she’s slowly transitioning into a young lady. Thankfully, there’s a few years before that truly happens, but I can see little tid-bits of the girl slowly leaving and the teen peeking through.
Her father and I should be happy. We should feel proud and as if we are hitting another monumental milestone with our oldest child, but in reality, it feels sad. Bittersweet. When a baby is born, we can’t wait for the first time they smile, laugh, roll over, crawl or say that first word. But then we panic because a crawling baby gets into everything and we wish for a moment they were still tiny and immobile. A talking toddler is sometimes exhausting and often times rude, making us question why we thought language was an appropriate thing to teach them. And puberty – that’s something different entirely. The first decade of her life is slipping away and she’s inching closer and closer to independence and I’m left wondering how quickly the next few years will go.
I imagine that one day, not too far away from this one, she’ll be living on her own, cooking her perfected gnocchi for her friends and listening to political debates in the background while she moves about her little apartment or house doing chores. And at the end of the day, she might curl up on the couch with a girlfriend or three to relax and watch a movie. No doubt, she’ll be enjoying a bowl of double chocolate fudge brownie ice cream, watching Channing Tatum in his latest film.
And she’ll be happy. She’ll be healthy. She’ll be her. The little baby her dad and I brought into the world, that went through the busy crawling months, the rude and stubborn toddler stage, the challenging middle school years and blooming teens to end up the beautiful adult she was meant to be.
I hope to see that happen. To be there as she grows into herself, like she’s doing now, eleven years old, soon to be twelve. The girl who still wants to lounge on her mom’s bed and will suffer through a political debate just to hang out. She’ll get my attention tonight, because one day she may not need it. She’ll have successfully grown up, just like her dad and I have spent years raising her to do, only to realize too late that it wasn’t enough time…
And that is why parenting is bittersweet.
Yeah, how did that happen? Also, if you haven’t been exactly paying attention to the calendar this month – June is almost over. O.O If you feel the sudden urge to freak out, it’s totally okay, I’m doing that myself.
This morning I was pondering this Throwback Thursday, and realized the first half of 2015 has been a quietly productive one. The 10th TMDBook was published, and the fourth audiobook was added to the collection. Woot! The first two books of the Find Me series are available for listening now, and Dying to Remember just came out!
Piper has new challenges to overcome, new names to learn, and she is faced with a new Station occupation. Does she really want answers to the questions that never leave her mind? How did the Station come to be? What lies beyond? Who is Andurush and what, exactly, does he want with Piper? She must ask herself, once again, if she has what it takes…but this time it isn’t about saving lives, it’s about discovering what lies beyond death. Would you want to know?
Station books 1 & 2 are available on Audible via Amazon
There’s writing to do today to make a dent on the 4th Station book, and I’m feeling nostalgic, so Spotify is rotating me through songs mostly older than my kids, which oddly doesn’t feel that long ago. Third Eye Blind, Death Cab for Cutie, Modest Mouse, The Verve, The Kinks, Lou Reed, The Animals, Bush, Matchbox Twenty…I could get lost in the ‘oldies’ that feel like they came out just yesterday. As my daughter inches closer to teen-hood, I’m struggling to understand how the time got away from me. It’s natural, sure. But did Semi-Charmed Life really come out the year I graduated high school? DAYUM. I remember being 18 years old like it was, well, yesterday…
And there I am, snapped laughing (Or talking? I don’t know, but neither are all that flattering lol) with my long hair and thick eyebrows (props to Debbie Rogers for actually saving this picture and scaring the shit out of me with it by sending it to my phone a few months ago…). I don’t remember this particular day all that well, but I do remember that t-shirt: “QUIT staring at my shirt”. Ironic, considering I hated guys staring at my chest, so I wore a shirt that made them read words displayed across my chest. O.o I was SO angsty, right? *dripping sarcasm* I was a good kid. My Mom was ridiculously lucky. And after her upcoming birthday this year, my daughter is only six years away from being the age I was in the above picture. *cue Twilight Zone music…or Unwell*
I wish I’d been writing back then, that I had listened to Mr. Kirk in high school and ‘kept writing’. But I didn’t. I did kinda try, but I didn’t actually do. Not until 2011 when my daughter, who was 8 at the time, asked me what I always wanted to be when I grew up.
“A writer,” I answered.
“Well, then why aren’t you? You always tell me I can be what I want when I grow up, if I work hard,” she quipped back.
I looked at her, this perfectly innocent kid who didn’t know the first thing about writing a book, and smiled while telling her, “You know what, you’re right.”
Not a moment goes by that I don’t smile, remembering that day. Because honestly, she helped push me over the edge of ‘wanting’ and into the act of ‘doing’. Kids are fabulous at this, because for them, there’s no procrastinating. When you are 8, everything is so simple. Regardless of what you thought you would be doing today, if there’s something you missed, something you always wanted to be, as my daughter would say, “Well, then why aren’t you?”
I spend a lot of time talking to my kids about equality – whether it’s how they share their toys with each other, or how they see the world. Fortunately, I’m of a generation where it’s been much easier for me to see those whom I meet as who they are: people. My daughter is 10, going on 20, and lately has been asking me a lot of questions like…
Why can’t two men or two women marry each other if they want to?
Why do other people care so much about who marries who?
Love isn’t the same for everyone?
My answer is always something along the lines of this: Love is love. It can’t be squished into a box and handed out to only the people who ‘deserve’ it. It is an organic, living thing. And then I go on to tell my kids that some people want to keep love squished in this box for only those who are like them, but love should be set free, since everyone has the right to love whom they want, and be respected for it.
As a parent, I think one of my many jobs is to teach my children about acceptance for those who might be different, but especially love – for themselves and for others, regardless of what beliefs label people.
Our job as parents should be to love our children despite who they grow up to love.
The point is not WHO our children one day love but that they DO love. If they find that, then as parents, we succeeded.
On a sidenote…this is one of my daughter’s favorite songs right now: