Skip to main content

Dear Carly (on your 9th birthday),

 I can't remember what it is like to turn nine years old.  From watching you turn nine, it must have been difficult because it seems like everything is either really, really greator really, really bad.  Some days I think I might get whiplash from the mood swings (and you're not a teenager yet!).   But overall, I think nine must also be really wonderful.  You seem to be full of joy, even moments after being full of woe.  It's as if the joy just pushes the other stuff out.  It practically oozes from your pores.  More than that, on the days you choose to be happy, the whole world sings with you.  People are infected by it, drawn in to your sweet smile and shining eyes.  Attracted like bugs to a light.  You shine, dear little diva, so brightly sometimes it's blinding.

We just spent three weeks together in California, and I must have complained too much about your behavior because your dad believes we are oil and water right now.  I'd prefer to see us as oil and vinegar - spicy, but delicious when combined correctly.  Yes, sometimes I do believe we slide right off each other and bounce around listlessly, unable to combine.  But, other times I can almost see inside your head to what you're thinking of doing next - in fact, your Aunt Cha Cha and I were able to predict your next actions with a fairly high rate of accuracy some days.  For all that I might have been frustrated or that I might have complained, I was also really proud of you and happy to be with you.  Before we left for California, someone told me that you had the nicest manners and were so polite.  They told me that parents/aunts/uncles/grandparents/etc don't seem to spend enough time teaching their kids how to behave, but you were so "well-spoken."  And, yes, I agree.  Okay, so maybe you forget to say please as often as you might - and thank you - but overall, I think you're a pretty nice girl.  Also a pretty, nice girl.  The distinction is important.  We can have all sorts of things in life - clothes, looks, money, friends - and we can be all sorts of things in life - kind, rich, silly, strange, funny, mean, crazy.  Most of us are some of those things in combination.  But, if you can be kind, if you can be thoughtful, if you can be generous and faithful - those things will mean much more than any of the rest, I think.

As I often do on your birthday, I think back to your entry to this world.  I think about how I didn't know you were here yet, and how I wish I could have known.  I think about holding you the first time, not on this day, but later.  I think about how I missed the moment where you first blinked and looked out into a wide world that now you are exploring, making your own.  Your birthdays are bittersweet, but I am so grateful for each one.  For each day that I can hold you close, push back the hair from your face, look into your eyes and see myself reflected.  If we are oil and water (or oil and vinegar), it is mostly because you are so very much like me.  Stubborn and rash, dramatic and controlling, silly and creative, wishful and sometimes shy.  We share these and more, little things maybe.  Perhaps we cannot, do not, will not, share eye color or the shape of our nose.  Instead, we share the little things that make up the shape of our souls.

Tonight, as you sit next to me playing with a collection of birthday toys, I can only think to say how lucky I am, how grateful I am for all that you were, all that you are, all that you will be.  I am grateful for each hour, day, month, and year we spend.  I am grateful for ties that go beyond blood and the rough road that winds behind and before us.  I am grateful for all this.  I am grateful for you.

All my love,



Anonymous said…
She is a Tario!
Anonymous said…
She is all kinds of a Tario! :)

Popular posts from this blog

Dear Carly,

I assume that one day you will come to me wanting to know who you are, where you came from, where your other family is and why they gave you to us.  I offer you little bits of information already, but certainly not crumbs enough to satisfy the appetite.  Perhaps it won't matter to you.  I am assuming a lot, already, about how adoption will impact your life.

People often wonder why adoptive parents are hurt when their children seek out biological roots.  I have the answer, and it's very simple.  Adoption - at its core - makes us question the legality, authority, voracity, and validity of parenthood.  For most adoptive parents, first you must come to terms with an issue that strikes at the foundations of mortality: fertility.  From birth, most of us are driven to form families.  First we are nestlings, nurtured and weened and eventually taught to fly.  Then we are nest-builders, filling our lives with the stuff necessary to drive life forward.  Knowledge, safety, money, a sturdy …

Fragmented re-introduction

I dreamed a dream once of what this would be like.  Of life.  Of patterns and songs and ticking off boxes to find my way. 

Trouble was, I keep looking at the wrong list.

This year's list:

- Turn 40 (check)
- Move again (check)
- Send the boy on a mission (check)
- Finish admin license
- Get lost (check)
- Get found (check)
- Lost again (check)

Wait, that went off track. 

Adulthood is a lot of getting off track.  And back on.  It's weird.

I thought at 40, I would have it all together.

But, I'm barely keeping it from falling apart. 


So, this is me where I am now.

40, working, waiting.  My boy's on a mission in Boise.  My girl's 12 going on 20.  My husband hates his job most days, and loves it alternatively.  Same for me.  We live in a small town I don't like very much and dream of going somewhere else, but we don't know where that is. 

I want to be a writer, but I don't spend time writing.

I read something the other day that gave me hope: Guy Fieri…

On being away from home and turning sixteen: a letter to my son

Dear Josh,

I missed your sixteenth birthday.  I'm sure you recall - or maybe it wasn't so bad because you spent the whole day with your friend watching movies.  Godzilla and Guardians of the Galaxy, you've said.  It's no surprise to me that Godzilla was your favorite of the two.  That atomic green monster holds a special place in your heart.

It was very difficult for me to be away from you when you crossed this threshold in your life.  I remember turning sixteen, being sixteen, and wondering when I would feel like I was actually sixteen.  When I was sixteen, I went and found my first job, I started driving myself around, and I pretty much felt like I was in the wrong skin.  I'm only now, at 37, beginning to feel in the right skin.  Or at least comfortable with the skin I'm in.  But you - well, you don't seem to have a problem being you.  I can't explain how very happy that makes me feel, how very reassured.  Because it can be really hard not to like you…