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On Being Girls

My ten-year old daughter, Blondie, is a people-pleaser.  She comes by it naturally…I have only recently learned to do what will make me happy instead of doing whatever everyone else wants me to do.  So I can’t exactly blame her.  And I love that she has such a sweet heart.  She doesn’t want to hurt others’ feelings.  She doesn’t want to offend.  She wants to make everyone happy, often at her own expense. 

I see this especially with her best friend.  The little 9-year-old girl who lives across the street from us is, well, a brat.  She’s used to getting her own way constantly, even with her parents.  It is common to hear her yelling at her mom or dad, talking back, and throwing fits when the world at large doesn’t give in to her every whim and desire.  She sets her own bedtimes, watches rated R movies regularly, and manipulates her way into situations that no little girl should be in.

Last week, I sat in my room with the window open and listened to the way she talked to my Blondie.  Every time Blondie made a suggestion, it was shot down, and Blondie backed off.  Every time Blondie did something her friend didn’t like, she got yelled at.  And Blondie took it.  And it bothered me.  It bothered me a lot.

Later, I talked to my sweet girl about it.  I explained to her that while I was proud of her for putting others before herself, I also didn’t like to see her being yelled at and always giving up her own ideas to someone else’s.  I told her that she can be sweet and strong all at the same time, and that she needs to stand up for herself sometimes.  I explained that while it’s good to be giving and loving and unselfish, she also can’t let people walk all over her and push her aside to get their own way.

But she’s ten.  The most important thing to her right now is that her friends want to play with her.  She wants everyone to like her.  She wants her friends to be her friends and her fear is that someone will be mad at her.  And I, unfortunately, understand. 

Much of my life has been lived trying to make others happy.  I have given up my own desires, my own opinions, and my own strengths so as not to make anyone “mad” at me.  I did what I thought I had to do to make people like me.  And in the process, I lost myself.  It has only been within the last three or four years that I’ve figured out how to be myself regardless of what others might think.  I can have my own opinions and desires and still keep my friends…at least the ones who are really my friends.  I finally…mostly…get it.

So now the next lesson…how to teach this to my daughter.  How do I teach her to be kind and giving and unselfish while also teaching her to be strong and courageous and to stand up for herself?  How do I help her learn to put others first and yet also to do what’s best for her?  Those two concepts seem to be paradoxical, but I know that it’s possible.  I’ve learned that it’s possible. 

It’s really hard being a girl.  I wish daughters came with owners’ manuals.

16 Years

We were only children the day we held hands and promised to love each other forever.

I looked into your eyes and they held hope and promise and joy and, yes, maybe even a little fear.

We didn’t know the things in our future, but we knew we would fight our way through them together.

And we have:  through the babies, through the joy, through the war, through loss and gain and lessons and mistakes.

And now I look into your eyes and I see hope and promise and joy and memories.  

And behind it all, there is your love for who I am.

Thank you for your patience, and your strength, and your listening ears when I talk too much.  Thank you for your honesty and your encouragement and always, always your belief in me.

You are my best friend, and the love of my life.  And I would not want to be me without you.

Happy Anniversary, Babe.

Introducing Blondie

The talent in this family is unbelievable!!


To all my friends…in real life friends, and blog friends.  A few weeks ago I wrote about how my sister has been diagnosed with cancer for a third time.  Please click here to meet her.  She is nothing short of amazing, and I am so honored to be her baby sister.

A Brush With (Dr.) Death

I have never been to California.  I have also never been to New York City.  Here in the midwest, celebrity sightings are not commonplace.  I did kiss John Stamos once on the cheek when I was about thirteen and he was making an appearance at my local mall.  I am friends with a woman whose husband was a professional baseball player, and he has a World Series trophy in their home office.  I am distantly related to Daniel Boone.  That is the extent of my experience with all things celebrity.

Last night I met my friend SWC (she has a blog but has gone private…some of you may know her) for dinner and a walk around town.  We ate really yummy Mexican food, got some Caribou coffee, and were wandering around a bit downtown when we noticed a cute little old man walking toward us.  S said, “Look at that cute, cozy old man over there.”  I agreed…he was a cute little old man in his cardigan sweater and hat.  It was only then that S recognized him, and I realized she was right.  That cute, cozy old man was Dr. Jack Kevorkian.  Otherwise known as Dr. Death. 

S stopped him and confirmed his identity.  We asked for an autograph, but apparently his lawyer won’t let him sign autographs.  But he does do pictures, so I took my friend’s picture with Dr. K.  He asked if we were registered voters.  He said it was a pleasure to meet us.  He shook our hands and smiled.  (By the way, he had the softest hands I think I’ve ever shaken!)  He was a very sweet, cute old man.

Now, I’ve never supported assisted suicide.  I don’t, at any point, think that a person can be “useless”, and I believe in being strong and staying strong in the face of whatever life throws at you.  Please don’t think I’m cold and heartless.  I have read testimonies of those who wanted Dr. K’s assistance to take control of their own fates and die on their own terms.  I understand that those individuals were in extreme pain and misery, and were only hastening the inevitable.  And I feel for them, I really really do. 

In fact, I’m able to see the other side of this issue.  I can truly see why Dr. K felt he was doing the right thing.  I can see why those poor people felt the need to end their suffering in their own way, in their own time.   And despite the controversy, despite the prison sentence, despite it all, I think that Dr. K really did have good intentions, and really did feel he was helping people.  I don’t think he’s evil.  I just disagree with him.

It was very surreal, meeting this man in person after the reports I’ve heard about him in the media.  I’ve read and heard about the hunger strikes, the controversy, the names he’s been called, his crazy and adamant lawyer.  I watched the news on the day he got out of prison, and have heard that he’s running for office.  I know the stories.

And yet, last night, he was just a cute, cozy old man in a light blue cardigan.  He was just walking around downtown enjoying the beautiful weather, like S and I were.   And I have the picture to prove it.