Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Graciest Grace

"Though she be but little, she is fierce."

The morning that we took Grace home from that hospital, she was barely six pounds. Her car seat threatened to swallow her whole, and she was so tiny that I was panicked over how the hospital could possibly let us take her home.
Didn't they know that neither of us knew anything about babies? We had no idea how to bathe a baby or breastfeed or bottle feed or deal with that scary belly button? We didn't know how to hold a baby or change diapers or swaddle or any of the stuff that you were obviously supposed to know- we knew puppies and kittens and how to tie our shoelaces, but not much more. I remember feeling like a nurse would surely notice that our friends had wheeled me out in a wheelchair with this precious cargo and come to snatch Grace out of our amateur hands.

They didn't. And she survived. Maybe even thrived, although we are too close to tell yet- that is one for the history books.

And here we are, eighteen years later. My Grace is still little, and she is indeed fierce. She is a little blonde whirlwind; she is my heart walking about freely in the world. Even as I still know every freckle and every scar down to the little one under her eyebrow, I realize that she is creating her own world, full of scars and freckles that I will not know.

We have raised, through all of our mistakes and inexperience, an amazing human being. She is wild and messy and flits from one experience to the next. But in her meanderings, she will search out the kid who needs a hug or kind word, stand up for the underdog, fight for what she needs to fight for, and keep trying to be the light. If a friend is broken and hurting, she will invite him into her world to remind him that he is loved. My Grace will talk someone out of driving drunk and pick them up, knowing full well that they will be sick but safe in her car. She will share her lunch with the kid who doesn't have lunch, and feel it is her mission to save every puppy/kitten/cat/dog in the world.


She will make many mistakes along the way, but that is what happens when you are a kid. You learn, and move on.

For you, Miss Grace, I wish the sun and the moon and the stars. I wish that you continue to be a fighter, and get back up every time you fall. I wish that you keep your fierceness always, because you are stronger than anyone I know. I wish that you keep your heart and arms open, so that you can experience all sorts of wonders on your path. I wish happiness and wisdom and as many puppies and kittens as you can hold.  I wish that you keep learning from every experience. I wish that you continue to be the Graciest Grace you can be.

Happy Birthday, cupcake. Peace and love and bonfires and chocolate, XOXO.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

The Reality of "Should" and "Are."

Every person on Facebook, Twitter, and any other corner of the internet has something to say about the Stanford rapist. Which is what he is- not "swimmer accused of sexual assault" or "star athlete." He is now a convicted rapist, albeit one who gets off with a sentence slightly longer than a semester at college.

As the mother of both a teenage daughter and a teenage son, I have a jumble of emotions about this verdict and how it has played out in our media.


I am so sad for the woman who has to learn to live with and heal from a trauma that she saw splashed across headlines.

I am mad that a judge thought that six months was an adequate punishment for rape. RAPE. Homeless people get longer sentences than that for lying on sidewalks in certain cities in California.

I am relieved that there are good men, brave men, who see an assault occurring behind a dumpster, and know that they have the power to help an unconscious woman and to catch a rapist.

And I am fearful for my kiddos, even as I trust that I am raising good and brave people. I want to tell them that yes, YES, you should feel safe to make stupid decisions like drinking one glass too many of hard punch at a college party and be safe. You should be safe wearing whatever dress or skirt you want to wear, without fear that someone will see that as an invitation.

You should be safe, and you should be able to trust those around you to help you, and not hurt you. "Should" is the operative word here, because "should" and "are" are very different things. You will not always be safe, because there are bad people waiting to catch you at a weak or vulnerable moment. Bad people don't always look like the bogeyman on TV; they often look like the cute swimmer or that guy in your class. Bad people can be charming- they might be more than happy to refill your glass or get you another drink.

I wish safety and security for you as you do silly teenage things and find your way. But I also wish for you the ability to be wise and try to avoid situations that can be unsafe for you, so that you never wake up to the horrors of pine needles in your hair and a rape kit on your mind. And even more than that, I wish and want you to be the helpers, the brave ones, who help take care of others. If you see something wrong, stop it. Use your voice, dial 911, kick and scream, do whatever you need to do, so that you are the light and the helpers that we need in the world.

My favourite blogger, Glennon Melton Doyle, talks about rape culture, and what we need to teach our kiddos. She talks about getting consent every time you want to hug or kiss- "we ask people's permission to pet their dogs every time, so why wouldn't we ask permission to pet each other?!"

Mind blown.

Ask permission. Get permission. Respect if someone says no. Respect if they say yes. Respect if they say yes, but then change their mind.  If you don't want to give permission, don't. Even if you said yes yesterday. Remember that your body is yours. Respect yours and respect others.

Hard but important talks need to be had. I know I will have them with my monkeys, even if I would rather talk about our dogs or summer vacation. I want them to think about staying safe and strong, and helping others to do the same.

Peace and love and respect and light, buttercups. XOXO