Happy Birthday Brighid

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It’s not only children who grow. Parents do too. ~Joyce Maynard

My oldest child turns 23 in an hour and a half.

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22 was a year of big things for Brighid – not always good things, but big things.  She spent most of the year living away from home, learning the good and the bad about running a home, paying bills, and struggling to balance everything.  She also moved back home, swallowing a bit of pride, learning how to share with sisters and do chores all over again – teetering between being a real grown up and a grown child.  She made changes in her career goals, altering her educational plans so that she ends up graduating a full semester sooner.  She lost – then found – love.  She made genuine re-connections with friends, and made genuine new friends that have become increasingly important in her life. She has gone from informed and interested voter to informed and invested candidate.  She may have even made one or two decisions on her own about what to wear when she’s going out.  That alone brings a tear to my eye.

Honor Cadet

As we begin her 23rd year together, I see things differently than I did a year ago.  I see a more determined, more sure person than I saw at age 22; one who seems to have found a path she’s comfortable on and convinced she can navigate.  She seems certain about the goals she’s set and her ability to achieve them.  She has fewer questions and more answers.  When she asks my advice, is not so she can go against it; it’s because she might actually benefit from it.

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Then I finally realized what it was I was seeing.  As Brighid has grown, so have I.  I’ve evolved as a mother, and without babies in the house, I can see these kids as they truly are – their personalities, quirks, and their individual brilliance.  I recognize them equally as people and as my daughters.  I am at the same time both awed by them and impressed with them.  With each passing birthday, they grow; I grow; the vision we have of each other grows.

Each birthday is a milestone – bittersweet to be sure, but growth always is.  Gone are the beautiful babies I rocked to sleep, but they have been replaced with these amazing, incredible people I am so grateful to know – grateful to be a part of.

These are my daughters, I suppose.
But where in the world did the children vanish?
~Phyllis McGinley, “Ballad of Lost Objects,” 1954

Happy birthday, Brighid.  I am as excited for the accomplishments I know you will achieve as I am proud of the ones you’ve already earned.  Love you!

Paul Ryan

 

An Open Letter to Husbands – You Won’t Read This in Cosmo

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God knows, I love my husband.  He can be thoughtful and considerate, and rarely goes into a store without bringing something out for me.  He’ll go into WaWa or 7-11 for example, and come out with a bag of cheese curls or a chocolate bar.  Then he’ll run into Walgreens and bring out a fitness magazine.

Yeah, I know.  How he hasn’t been murderized yet is a pure miracle.

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I am taking it upon myself to write this letter to all husbands, though, my own included, to avoid the brutal execution of ignorant men across the planet – the ones who order you a mushroom and extra garlic pizza when you asked for plain cheese, then whine that you’re ungrateful because they brought you a “surprise” instead of what you wanted.

Dear Husbands:

You’re lovely, really, and quite thoughtful, in your own way.  However, there are some things you just haven’t quite grasped about living with the adult female, and in your own best interests, possibly preventing excruciating bodily harm, you really need to know these things.

1 – Do not congratulate us on how great we are doing on our diet by bringing home Krispy Kreme Donuts.  Or Dunkin’ Donuts.  Or Tim Horton’s Donuts.  To simplify, if you are celebrating weight loss with anything that contains the word donut (or the more proper doughnut), you are doing the wrong thing.

2 – Please do not come to bed after browsing an internet “documentary” on a site that requires you to verify that you are 18 or older and expect that the average female specimen has the ability to to contort her body into such a way that she can give you a back rub, trim your nose hairs, cut your toenails, compliment your manliness, and suck her own toes.  The women in your “documentaries” are aliens.  No real women do those things.  Not even for diamonds.  Or Jaguars.

3 – “Helping” around the house when company is on the way does  not mean go clean out the glove box in the car.  It means scrub away the spot on the kitchen floor from the root beer you spilled not five minutes after your wife last mopped the floor, then vowed not to clean up your mess, resulting in a battle of wills your wife has been winning, until this minute when she now has to scrub that spot clean for company unless you finally do it.

4 – You are not “babysitting” when your wife has to run out to the store and you are left with your children.  You are “parenting” – babysitting implies I have to pay you, feed you junk food, and book you in advance for all major holidays.

5 – You are not “parenting” if the time you spend with your children involves you propping a bottle up on the edge of your desk to feed the baby so it doesn’t interfere with the gaming controls on your video game.

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6 – Lastly, if you see it in Cosmo, read it in Hustler, or gaze at it on Fit Magazine, it’s not real.  Those women and the deeds they claim they do are made up.  Like unicorns.

I hope I’ve saved a few lives today.

When Parents Have to Grow Up

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You all know this kid.  It’s my beautiful daughter, Brighid – one of my Beauty Girls.  And many of you know that I’m struggling with some of the decisions she’s made.

When Jim and I got married, in our wedding programs, I chose to include a passage from The Prophet by Khalil Gibran.  The poem moved me in many ways, as a young woman entering marriage.  But once the romantic part of being engaged, planning the wedding, and embarking on a new life gave way to 9 to 5 jobs, scrubbing toilets, and embarking on motherhood, the fascination with The Prophet was put aside for the reality of Erma Bombeck.

Until now.  I’m not sure why I stumbled upon this today, but I did, and I find wisdom in the words of The Prophet.  If nothing else, I recognize that even parents have to grow up.  We have to adapt from being parents to infants into being parents to toddlers.  And with each step, we are parenting our children so they become less and less dependent on us and more and more anxious to make their own way in the world.

So it is with these words from Khalil Gibran – the poet who’s words I chose to represent my marriage – that I am going to try to hold fast to as my daughter decides that now it is her turn to make her own way in the world.  There are growing pains to be sure, as the mother of an adult.  I pray these words will help ease the pain.

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.

You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.

You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.