On not taking what was never mine.

I'm having to learn to subdue the things I share.

It's a hard lesson for me, really. I have – for years now – been fairly unabashed about being totally frank about almost all aspects of my relatively insignificant life. I've talked about sex, boobs, money, illness, fears, embarrassment. Mistakes. Disappointment. I've lain myself bare over and over. It's been therapeutic, and I've never regretted anything I've said.

This year, though, my big kids entered the social stratosphere. Phones and accounts and the whole nine. Text message mothering is in full swing at the Steen/Marsh household, guys, and it's a beautiful thing.

But now that school is in session and I've realized how anything that I say can no doubt circle back full force on the kids, I feel a little…lost.

This blog is so special to me and I will never fully leave it behind, but the stories aren't just my stories anymore.

My kids deserve a face and a day to day that isn't sifted through for things to talk about, analyze, or recount. I want them to know that I, above all people, respect their rights to be who and what they are on their own two feet. They have always deserved this, and if I have violated this trust in the past then let this be my apology.

 

I will not go away.

I will still be a proud mom and I will probably still embarrass them with birthday posts or letters or general weirdness.

But I am saying this: Max, Ava – I will not steal your rights, whatever they are. Whether it's an experience, a breakthrough, a learning moment, or even a joy…

I will let you tell your own stories.

I hope that you do.

 

A decade of you

Ava, tomorrow you will be ten.

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I remember being ten. It was strange and awkward and I was not a teenager but I SO was not a little girl anymore thank you very much.

You are amazing. You inspire me and worry me and make me so proud all at once.

I’ve said before how when I found out you were a girl I was so worried. Worried because l was so bad at being sure of myself and confident and true to the amazingness I knew I had within myself.

I won’t lie, I see some of that in you sometimes. I see you pause, unsure of your next step and timid about your choices. And in some ways, of course that’s good. You’re supposed to pay attention and question yourself.

But before it becomes too much of a question in your head, let me tell you again:

You are enough.
You are smart and capable.avaagain
You’re a leader.
You’re creative and funny, strong and so sweet.
Of course you’re beautiful, but beauty is the last thing I wish for you.

For you, my first daughter – I wish for you the imagination to find your dreams, the courage to claim them, and the strength to follow them. With every discouragement I wish you a lesson learned and the determination never to give up.

I love you, and I hope beyond hope that I will never see you doubt it.

Happy birthday, my sweet girl. I love you so much and I am lucky to get to know you. I cannot wait to watch who you become.

Blank screens are depressing

Important things have passed.

My oldest turned eleven on Friday. Sunday was Father’s Day.

I choose to write first about the day of fathers today, because we all know I don’t like to think about my kids getting older and hey Max, if you’re reading this in ten years….you’re 21, let’s go get margaritas.

 

So, Father’s Day.

My father has always been a force in my life.

Sometimes a force of fear – I mean, I still don’t know what would have happened if he ever found out about senior skip day. Or all the European alcohol. Or the (totally platonic) bed full of 5 terrified people after my first viewing of The Exorcist.

Now you know, Pop. I’VE CONFESSED.

Sometimes a force of ingenuity. I’ll never forget coming home and finding my very first car in the driveway – one that he traded a gun for – and thinking that no one in the world could ever get as much shit done as my dad. Did you ever read about that one guy who traded all the stuff on Craigslist and went from something crazy like a piece of gum to a Corvette? THAT DUDE LEARNED IT ALL FROM LARRY WILKES.

Sometimes my dad has been a force of inspiration – I know that any “some assembly required” project is no problem because I am a product of my dad. My dad could assemble and rework anything ever and make it not only functional BUT KICKASS. He had a scuba store in Corinth Mississippi, people. He can do anything.

 

My life has not been perfect. But I’ve never doubted that my dad would move mountains for me.

In that, I know that I am lucky.

I’m also lucky in that my children have fathers who – while neither of them are quite on the trading-firearms-for-transportation level – love them and would do anything for them. And do. They love kids that aren’t theirs in any way except me. They love where they don’t have to. Where most don’t.

Seriously. Some people don’t have that. I see it every day and it makes me ache with gratefulness.

So even though it’s passed and even though my dad might not read this, I’m thankful for the fathers in my life. I’m lucky and I never forget that.

From the dad who gave me life to the dad I share a bed with, I know every day that I am where I am because of you.

 

Thank you.

 

Not forgotten

A week ago yesterday, my first baby girl turned nine.

Normally I’m on top of this kind of stuff. And Ava, because you are my daughter, you will one day look back into the troves of Internet history, you will see that in 2013 I didn’t write a post about your birthday until over a week after your birthday. You will inevitably read into this many things – neglect, ill will, suppressed resentment.

None of that will be correct. The sad and less interesting truth is that I am busy and I’m incredibly skilled at putting things off when I don’t want to face them.

And I don’t want to face the fact that you’re getting older.

I remember being young. And I don’t want you to have the moments I had. The times of being convinced that no one understood, no one cared. The preteen-erotica and angsty-poetry writing hours.

I know feeling that way is normal. And necessary.

But you’re so fantastic.

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I never want you to doubt that because at some point the way you think about yourself becomes a key part of your identity. Right now you know how amazing you are.
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Never lose that.

You’re perfect. You’ve made my life better for nine years now.
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Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I love you.