HEY Kid..yeah I am talking to you ..yes you that cute little girl with the orange turtleneck and FABULOUS 1970s plaid jacket. I heard yesterday was the international Day of the Girl and inspired by a friend’s Facebook post I thought I would have a long overdue talk with you.
I am so sorry I never took care of you. I remember taking this picture, I remember despising this outfit, the fact that mommy cut my hair, that I was so too tiny to stand up in the class picture and sitting forward so my feet would touch the ground..I remember feeling ugly and out of sorts. That feeling of being ugly, not good enough and just out of place is something that haunts us going forward, after a while it is easier to just give in to those feelings and accept them as your truth..we end up being able to see the good in everyone but ourselves and I do and I don’t know if the happened all at once or slowly over time..but it happened. SO today I want you to hear me loud and clear…You are so adorable, you matter, you are unique with your own rhythms and vibes ..hold on to that. Dream big, don’t settle ..most importantly don’t let others opinions shape your vision of you.
Believe it or not we are exactly 6 months away from turning FIFTY! I know you think fifty is old and it seems like that age is so far away it will never happen ..trust me I still am holding my breath waiting for the day to arrive. I still can’t believe I made it to forty nine. In case you are wondering..A lot has happened to us in the days weeks, months and years since taking this picture ..a lot of things we have absolutely no control over ..and then there are the things I regret and the things that make me feel like somehow I failed you/me..I am now a mommy and I have daughters who are beautiful, talented, and so so very loved.
Mommy leaves us right after this picture is taken..she threatens to swallow pills ..and tells us where to go in case she does not wake up..and we don’t understand what that means ..but we know we want to get away. We have to live with Auntie Helen for a while and even though we love it there and she makes us feel warm, safe and loved ..we know we are kind of on the outside ..and yet we know we want to stay. Mommy eventually comes to stay with us there and we go home with her..but in so many ways she is gone and she is different.
School it turns out is complicated by court ordered bussing in Boston when we are about to enter kindergarten and so we are sent to Catholic School, but not the one close to where we live..we go to the one that is a longer walk and we never fit in. School is miserable until the eighth grade and even though we are doing well academically..no one supports us and tells us just how important all of it is. In high school..we find our tribe. The friends we make change our life for the better…and just so you know ..they are the ones who are our rock and are still here even at almost 50..
Things get super complicated just before we turn 16, mom it turns out has lung cancer. A funny thing about that..we are in that pain in the ass phase of being a teenager and we hate everyone…mom tells us that if she dies no one wants us and we think she is a psycho..turns out she is right because when she gets sick in March we are told it is our fault she got sick..that little tidbit gets debunked ..but emotionally it stays with us even now. Mom dies in July, 58 days after her 49th birthday and the floor drops out from beneath us.
Little girl, I kept your love of books, and I still love words..turns out our dad was the same way. I tried to connect with our sister Kate but she refuses to have anything to do with us for reasons she will not share..our dad was the man who called in the middle of the night and woke us up..I wish we were deeper sleepers ..I still don’t sleep in case you are wondering…I wish we never heard the things mommy said to him, especially the things about us. It took me a long time to understand the things she said were because she was hurting and people who are hurting will hurt others to feel better. The things she said though ..they hurt then and they hurt now. FYI..dad comes to see us once, we get so excited but that is all..we write to him and to Kate and never hear back..he died the year we are 40 and thanks to some research and help from DNA science (something that will fascinate us in both biology and chemistry classes YEARS before it is available for anyone who wishes to find out if they are really Native American or it is just a family myth) we find out the truth about who dad was/is and that his death was the result of Alzheimer’s disease..and that scares the crap out of me. Turns out not only do we look a lot like him..but thanks to stories shared on him memorial page of his obituary..we find out we are a lot like him..it is enlightening and unnerving all at the same time. He was a coward all the way to the end and kept us a dirty little secret.
I want you to know I tried to do right by you..but I also had to do right by the older me and dodge a lot of curve balls. Do you remember all the things you wanted and wanted to do and never got the chance? Things like tap and ballet lessons.. A mom who shows up for your special events..Having your own room.. Living anywhere but in the projects…not having to shake your bag for roaches every day… Having a subscription to Highlights Magazine..you know one where you could do the puzzles and the connect the dots.. being able to buy books when the Scholastic book fair comes to school…wearing clothes that are not hand me downs…having friends to play with in the neighborhood…have a daddy…have a sister..take a vacation..Go to Disney World..having someone tell you how amazing you are? Well when our kids are born we did all that for them…or at least we tried to be everything they need us to be for them. I gotta tell you Being a mom is harder than playing with those beautiful baby dolls that Auntie Helen gives you ..being a mom does not come naturally and we are so scared that we will make the same mistakes mommy made ..but we make it somehow and the kids are doing alright. Before I forget to tell you.. you will discover that dog’s are not scary ..despite that scary doberman that chases you on Sumner St and tries to attack you..we just got a new puppy ..a really cute French Bulldog that we named Dottie ..we also have 2 other doggies and we have had cats , hamsters, fish and guniea pigs ..but dogs are our favorite
We spend a lot of time running away and feeling we don’t belong even in our own skin..but we are 6 months away from 50..we outlived mommy ..and it is time to come home. So kid, I am back and I remember .. I want to give you a hug and celebrate your spunky spirit and let you know it’s ok to get away .. but I also want to remind you it’s ok to come home ..all I ask is don’t leave me kid ..we need each other ..we have another 50 .5 years ahead of us..and those kids of ours need us… xo xo