Friday, February 9, 2018

To parent or not to parent? It's not even a question!

Dear Irie,
We went to Chuck E Cheese today, and I am utterly convinced that I was being punished for some terrible crime against humanity that I was unaware I had committed. I don't like crowds, but I manage, and so the fact that it was probably dangerously close to breaking some kind of fire code in that place, the crowd wasn't the problem. It was the people (parents) within the group.
I try very hard to teach you and your brothers the right way to behave in the world. Not because there is always going to be someone there to punish you if you don't, but because sometimes something is just the right thing to do. So when I make you wait in line only to have two little girls run up and break in front of you when it's your turn, it frankly pisses me off that their mother is nowhere to be found. Actually strike that, because I did find their mother chatting with a friend as I and another mother asked her daughters to step back.
And then as you and your brother were spending your tickets on prizes, Andrew picked a ring with a mustache on it, and the little girl next to him got right in his face and said, "boys don't wear rings." Any time that I have ever heard you or your brother say "ugly" things to other children, I have reprimanded you. I may not always make you apologize, but I always explain to you why you shouldn't have done that. But this mother, she said nothing.
I'll admit that when it comes to parenting there are a billion ways to do it and get it right, there is no perfect way and honestly, most of the time I don't know what the hell I'm doing. However, I have a hard time with the way parents like these allow their children to do whatever they want at the expense of the children around them. True, neither of you were devastated, except you were not happy that you had waited and you thought these girls were going to take your turn. I think it's more my problem than yours. It's hard to teach you kids how to be good; it would be so much easier to tell you to do whatever you want. And part of me wonders if I am doing you an injustice by making you patient and kind, afterall, isn't it the squeaky wheel that so very often gets the oil? It certainly seemed to be the case when I was in the work world.
So I am stumped, sweet girl, do I say screw it and tell you to take what there is to take and speak your mind when you feel like it or do I keep fighting the good fight? Do I keep trying to make you think through your words and your actions, and does it make you weaker if I do that?
The truth is I don't know, though we both know which path I'll choose and I will continue to worry and wonder that I am doing it right, and you will continue to say "but he" or "but she" when some other poor child is poorly parented, though it looks like so much more fun from your point of view.
All I can hope is that one day you will thank me for not letting you become an arrogant and spoiled adult who thinks the world owes them. And at the very least, your teachers will like you.
Love you,

Friday, May 12, 2017

Motherless on Mother's Day

Three and a half years ago my mother died, suddenly and tragically. One moment I was washing dishes and the next I was identifying her wedding bands. She was twenty days from her 54th birthday. After that night, I knew for certain that no matter what we do, we are never guaranteed another day with those we love. There are so many things I never asked my mother, so many topics I still need her thoughts on. So I started writing letters to my own daughter, so she would never have to ask herself what her mother thought or felt.

The following is the letter I wrote to her on May 12, 2014 - the day after my first motherless Mother’s Day.

Dear Irie,
     It’s the day after Mother’s Day. My first motherless Mother’s Day. I survived it, probably because essentially it’s no worse than being motherless every other day of the year. I have no cards or gifts or flowers to commemorate the day, there is no tangible gift. I didn’t want a gift this year because  for years I bought my mother gifts for Mother’s Day, and now those gifts are sitting in a house that I will soon clean out to make my own. It is my last gift to her: to take the home she loved and fill it with love and laughter and the smell of southern cooking, the way she always did. You see, she couldn’t take any of the things that we bought her along with her, but I do hope she was able to take her memories, because I am sure even Heaven gets lonely without the three of you there.

     So instead of things, what I do have, though not exactly free, is absolutely priceless. I have the memories of a 24 hour quick trip to the beach. I have the vision of your little brother, Crawford toppling backwards into the water as a wave knocked him down, and yet he got up laughing and crouched down for the next one. I have the memory of your bravery as you ventured further and further out to sea and the sound of your name in my ears as your daddy and I called you back, the way you hugged me at dinner as we ate shrimp boil and I rocked Crawford to sleep, and the happiness as your big brother Andrew dug into his own plate of shrimp and then ate ice cream that looked like Play-Doh. I am filled with the happiness that can only be felt from tucking a warm baby (no matter how big or old) into bed after they fall asleep somewhere unusual and then waking up to the voices of those same babies telling you happy Mother’s Day. I have the words sent to me by friends and family that loved my mother and our little family.

     Ironically in my attempt to escape thoughts of my mother, I found myself only steps away from the spot where we spent countless summer hours sitting under an umbrella and watching you and your brothers play in the sand while we talked about everything and nothing all at once. It was in those moments that all of the years of pushing and pulling against my mother became worth it. It was there in those beach chairs with the sound of waves breaking in the distance, that I told her how badly I wanted children but couldn’t conceive, it was there we rejoiced when finally I found out you were growing within me, and it was there that we planned your perfect future with no clue she would never see any of it. We were cocooned in our shaded world where Maw Maws watched their granddaughters become women and danced at their weddings instead of being ripped away, leaving us to alternate between the world we planned with them and the one we must navigate without them. It was those moments with her and those glimpses of her -- not just as my mother and your grandmother -- but as a woman and a friend that she gave me every year for my birthday and that I wish I could give her now.  And although every moment was not perfection, I am reminded often that our perfectly imperfect life fits me just fine.

     For the past six and half months I have felt like an anchorless ship, tossing on a sea that is not always calm. The thing no one mentions about losing your mother, is the irony of it. You see the one person I want to talk to about what happened to her, is her. The only person I feel would understand and talk me through the pure injustice of what happened, is my mother, and yet she’s not here, and for the life of me I can’t figure out how to be okay with that.

     I was thinking today that there should be some magic clause that brings the people we lose back to us to help us understand why we lost them in the first place, because although others will talk us through it, frankly it’s only the thoughts of the one we lost that we care about; it is their reassurance that they are happy and in a better place that we need, their affirmation that we crave, not the words of people who only hope that it’s true. I want to ask her how to heal the broken pieces of my heart, and yet I remember being three years old and her holding me against her as she cried for her grandmother, I can still feel her sadness as she mourned her own parents till the day that she became the mourned. I fear that I will never get over her because I see that she never got over them. And really I guess that’s the way it works.

     The thing about missing your mother, is that you don’t know you miss her all the time. It is only when I let myself think about it and truly feel it, that I realize my body has become weakened by the weight of missing her. And though I wish I was given power over when I miss her, I am not.  I can go days, maybe a week or two without that sickening feeling when reality sets in and I realize she is actually gone and not simply living in another town or on vacation.

I miss her most not when I am at my lowest, but when I am at my highest.

I miss her when I am so happy that I cannot wait to share that happiness with her,

I miss her when I am excited and I need someone to be excited with me.

I miss her when I have a plan or a dream that I want to hear spoken aloud so that it gains weight and becomes reality.

I miss her when I need someone to believe in me the way that only a mother truly can.

I miss her when I need someone to think it can be done because I want it, when I need practicality to weigh less than the pure fire in my gut.

I miss her when I dream peacefully and wake to the feel of her kiss on my forehead and the certainty that she has been with me.

     I wasn’t always a great daughter. I believe that is true for most of us with any real spirit of our own.  And yet, I can’t truly regret most of it. -- I was a daughter and she was a mother, and neither of us could escape the struggle of me becoming who I needed to be, and her making sure that I survived it. My mother rarely, if ever, yelled. We waged a silent war of wills that we somehow survived and came out closer in the end.

     As I scrolled through Facebook today, after avoiding it on Mother’s Day, I was swamped with picture after picture and post after post of mothers and children and the expressions of love and appreciation that they shared. I wonder though if they will feel this way on July 28 -- the day I have a birthday without the woman who gave me life or October 17 -- the anniversary of the last time I hugged my mother and told her I loved her, thinking I would talk to her the next day and eat at her table that Sunday. I hope that even on those days that seemingly mean nothing, mothers are loved, and appreciated, and told so.

     As I sit in my mother’s house, filled with things but no people, I realize what she knew all along. You, baby girl, are my greatest gift, my greatest blessing. I do not need gifts or flowers; in all this world, all I need is you, and your brothers, and love that comes without conditions.
Happy Mother’s Day to the three of you, because without you, I would have no reason for celebration.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

You have the right to say NO

Dear Irie,

My mother never ever talked to me about rape. I don’t blame her, in our house sex was not discussed, so violent, forced sex was not to be dissected. Because of this and maybe because of the culture I was raised in, I grew up believing rape was something that happened violently at the hands of strangers. Sadly, that isn’t the case or, more accurately, it isn’t only the case.

Over the past few days the internet has erupted over the sentencing of a rapist and the responses by his victim and his father. Most people are in agreement that this rapist did not get a sentence that fit his crime. He took away a woman’s peace of mind, her self confidence, her sense of safety and who knows what else, and in return he was given six months in jail. His father believed six months was too long for “twenty minutes of action”. Even writing those words brings tears to my eyes as I try to imagine what those “twenty minutes of action” actually translate to in that woman’s world. Those “twenty minutes of action” will follow her for the rest of her life: every time she wants to have a drink but worries that this could happen to her again, every time she meets a new man that she may be interested in, every time she wakes up with the feel of his hands on her, every time she looks at herself in the mirror and she wonders what it was about her that made him think it was okay to do this to her. I am only projecting what she might feel, though she did express many of her thoughts in a statement she shared at the hearing, a statement that began with "you don't know me, but you've been inside me, and that is why we're here today." Words that, as a woman, make me nauseous and angry and so very helpless. And yet, I applaud her for standing up even if it had little effect on his sentencing.

At school a few weeks ago, we had to show a video about sexual assault to our students. The video was more a lecture of a woman sharing her experience with sexual assault. Half way through the video a boy said, “well, now she’s just asking for it.” I couldn’t stop the presentation but my stomach rolled with the injustice of his words and as soon as it ended I addressed him, because I know it is remarks like that that keep victims from coming forward. It is what keeps us wondering if we were really raped or if it was somehow our fault. It is what rapists count on to keep us quiet. So know this my sweet strong, yet fragile girl: it is never your fault.

Every woman- no matter how drunk or sober, no matter how many men she has or has not slept with in the past, no matter how much or how little clothing she is wearing- every woman has the right to make conscious and coherent decisions about her sex life each and every time she has sex. You always have the right to say no, I don’t care if you have had sex with him before, you can always say no. I don’t care if you are drunk, you can say no. I don’t care if you think you owe him or you’ve told him you love him or he swears everyone is doing it and you’re just being a bitch- YOU CAN SAY NO. And if you are unable to say no because you are not conscious, that should be answer enough.

In the case I mentioned earlier, this rapist’s picture shows a clean shaven, nicely dressed, preppy kid. What we’re not always told is that rapists look like that too. Rapists look like our boyfriends and our neighbors and our classmates and hell, even our teachers and our preachers. Rapists look like people we come into contact with everyday. And we have been conditioned in many ways to excuse what they do: they didn’t know better, they were drunk, they didn’t realize I didn’t want it, or he  bought me dinner or I really care about him so how could I tell him no? None of those are reasons to have sex with anyone. The only reason to have sex with a man is because you want to. I’m not going to get into when you should have sex or whether or not you should be in love or married or yada yada yada, but I am going to say that in your life no matter how old or young you are, no matter how long you have known someone or loved them or whatever else, if you do not want to have sex with him you have the right to say no and have him listen. And your reasons for not wanting to don’t matter. It could be because you don’t feel ready or you don’t feel sexy or his breath stinks. No reason is too silly or too serious, you have the right to say no.

I wish I could say that was it- say no and you’re safe, but sadly it’s not the case. And so yes, you have to be diligent and you have to watch your back and, yes, you have to be cautious of even the nicest, sweetest, choir singing, All-American clean cut kid. I hate it for you and I hate it for your brothers, but our reality is there are people out there who believe they are entitled to anything- even your body. I wish I could make that not true for you, but with sentences like the one just passed down I’m afraid that’s not changing anytime soon.

Be brave, baby girl. Be strong.

Say no if you need to. Say no if you want to.

And know that no matter what our society ever says, it is never your fault and I will always have your back.



Saturday, May 7, 2016

Snapped Control

I’ve always oscillated between control freak and laid-back hippie, like I need my life in order so then I can just chill out. I thought of course that this would carry over into parenting: proof positive that a high GPA doesn’t mean you truly know anything.

My first indication that parenting was going to severely test my control freak tendencies came when my husband and I decided to get pregnant. Decided, as if it would be just that easy: I wanted it, so it would happen. Only, it didn’t happen. For months and months, it didn’t happen. In my need to control this situation I read everything out there on how to get pregnant, since apparently the old fashioned way wasn’t quite cutting it, I remember spitting on glass to see if my saliva dried into a fern pattern and peeing on more sticks than I could ever imagine, but still there was never a positive pregnancy test.

Finally, we discovered the problem and were able to move past it and in May of the next year I found out I was pregnant and was due in January. Only, I wasn’t supposed to be due in January. I’m a teacher, we have two months off in the summer, I was supposed to have a baby in late May, early June then I could spend the rest of the summer doting on my tiny bundle. But I couldn’t complain, not when I was so happy to be pregnant and certainly not when there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.

At our first ultrasound we were thrown for another loop. As I lie on the table and the technician did her magic with the wand, she pointed out the strong heartbeat of our little one, then she said “and there’s the second heartbeat.” My husband and I nodded, neither of us all that interested in my heartbeat. “No,” she told us, “the second baby’s heart beat. You’re having twins.”

Don’t get me wrong I was ecstatic, I had always thought that having twins would be really cool, but still I had not planned on it, so all my dreams and visions had only involved one tiny bundle.

My pregnancy was relatively normal, we went to a ton of ultrasounds since twins are considered high risk. The babies were healthy and strong, everything was going as planned. And then on December 5, a Friday afternoon, I left work early and went to the doctor for my weekly appointment. “Are you having any discomfort?” the doctor asked. I looked at him like he was crazy. I was 33 weeks pregnant and measuring 52. You know what kinds of animals make it to 52 weeks? Horses, whales, elephants. I couldn’t sit in booths in restaurants and I couldn’t comfortably reach necessary parts after going to the bathroom, I hadn’t seen my feet in months, and I couldn’t get up if I lied down - I just kind of rolled side to side like a turtle on its back: some discomfort was a bit of an understatement.
If I had actually sat back in this chair, we would probably have had to hire a crane to get me up :)

“What I mean,” he clarified, “is, do you feel any tightening in your abdomen? You’re in labor.” Uh uh, nope I was not in labor. No, I was only 33 weeks, I had not packed a hospital bag, I had not finished getting ready for my little people’s arrival. I was once again not in control, but I was definitely in labor. Off to the hospital I went and I stayed for two days while I was pumped full of fluids and steroid shots and something to help keep those babies cooking. That first night the nurse offered me a sleeping pill, sure that I was never going to sleep with all the beeping from monitors and tubes going into me, I accepted. The thing about sleeping pills I didn't understand though is if you don’t actually go to sleep you turn into a drunken college student version of yourself. I was crying and apologizing for crying, blaming myself for not doing something to keep the babies from coming too soon before finally, blessedly falling asleep. I was officially neither in control nor laid back, and these kids hadn't even arrived yet.

I managed to make it through the weekend without delivering and I was sent home on bed rest, where I was forced to sit and do nothing, something I wish I would have taken more advantage of at the time.

Wednesday morning, less than 72 hours after being discharged from the hospital, my water broke and we were back. This time there was no stopping my now 34 week babies and at 8:03 that morning I delivered my son, followed seven minutes later by my daughter. I remember being exhausted but also feeling like there was nothing I couldn’t do. I had created people, I had grown humans and by some miracle they were here in the flesh. But my delivery was also not what I had imagined. There was no quiet birthing room with music playing with just my husband and I and the doctor, I delivered naturally but in an operating room filled with a complete audience.

Because my twins were preemies there were NICU doctors and nurses, because it was a shift change there were two doctors there for the delivery, there was an anesthesiologist that I never even used, I’m pretty sure at some point a marching band came through. I never imagined so many people would see my hoo ha!

I remember vividly the doctor saying “oh shit” as she delivered my daughter. I later learned that my daughter, who was born breech, had had her arm around her neck and when the doctor moved it to deliver her it snapped her humerus. But she healed, rather quickly and I learned my most valuable lesson as a mother.
Irie and her very tiny arm splint. 

I am not in control.

Oh I may pretend to be, 

I may hope to be, but I am not.

Things are going to happen in my home, in my world, to me and to my children that I cannot predict or stop. I have to let that go, I have to impact what I can and ride the rest out. When people hear that my daughter’s arm was broken they are shocked, appalled, saddened: any number of things, but in a way, I am thankful. I was terrified of these little people and how I was going to change the world to work for me and them, and I can’t do that. There will be times when I figuratively have to move an arm out of the way and it will no doubt get broken, but it will heal.

My children may not like everything that I do, there may be times I disappoint them or upset them, but they will heal. There may be times they disappoint or upset me, but I will heal There are a lot of things that we can do wrong when raising children, but there is very little that they can’t bounce back from. They’re resilient little creatures, and I’m thankful to learn that so am I.    

These two sweet angels were worth every bit of control I lost!

Monday, May 2, 2016

If I Should Die Before You Grow, These are the Things That You Should Know: Replicating Crimes

If I Should Die Before You Grow, These are the Things That You Should Know: Replicating Crimes: Replicating Crimes As far back as I can remember I was never Mommy’s little doll. Although pictures tell a somewhat different story, in m...

Replicating Crimes

Replicating Crimes
As far back as I can remember I was never Mommy’s little doll. Although pictures tell a somewhat different story, in my memory, we were never the mother/daughter duo I see all over my Facebook feed from today’s moms or even what I remember from my own friends growing up. I blamed this most solidly on my younger brother’s existence and then simply on my mom probably not liking me very much, which of course was her own fault, because I am totally likable! Seven years ago I gave birth to my first two children: twins, one boy and one girl. I gave birth essentially to a tiny replica of myself, from her blue eyes, to her dimpled cheek to the way she swings her hips and the sassy way she talks. It was then that I thought maybe, possibly, there was a chance that some of the blame for my mine and my mom’s relationship belonged to me.
Sometimes no matter how hard I’m working toward that mother/daughter duo, my daughter just doesn’t see it. Back in the Fall her school had a mother daughter night. I signed us up and was really looking forward to going despite the fact that people, especially mothers from her school, are really not my thing. Anyway, Monday I started getting sick, by Tuesday I had lost my voice and Thursday night I had body aches and chills. Friday at work, I sat balled up at my desk rocking back and forth, unable to eat lunch and praying my meds would kick in so I could get through the next few hours and get home for a nap before mother daughter night.
When we walked in the door of the school that night, I was already sweating. My fever was breaking as they ushered us into the cafeteria to do Zumba. Wait! Pump the brakes! What the hell? On Daddy/Daughter night they got to dress up and dance, it was like a little date night. Now I had to do Zumba in skinny jeans and Toms, without a sports bra, someone apparently wanted me dead. And did I mention I had ten stitches in my scalp at the time. But I pushed forward, I zumbaed despite my clothes sticking to me and feeling like I was dying. I jumped around and swung my arms and shook my shakable body parts, until finally my sweet baby looked up at me and said, “let’s get some water and sit down.” So we got water and we sat down and we watched the super mother daughter duos zumba. Irie sat looking longingly at the little aerobicizers so I offered to go back out. She told me I could sit, but she hopped up and went back on the floor. I sat for maybe a song and watched my beautiful, vibrant little girl zumba alone and I thought this is one of those times when I could be with her, when I could enjoy what she enjoys and show her that I like her, so I got up and I went back out to finish up with her.

The rest of the night was a bit of a blur; we played a game, did a craft, ate some ice cream and headed home. We walked in the back door of my childhood home and found my husband and two boys eating pizza and watching Batman. He asked how it went. “It was fun,” Irie told him, “but Mommy sat down instead of exercising with me.” I felt like I had been hit in the stomach. Her voice was so full of disappointment and sass. I reminded her of the three songs I had powered through before sitting, my husband reminded her I had been sick for a week, but she only argued that I had sat down when she wanted to dance.
I walked away, through the same small hallway my own mother had passed through, by the same laundry room where she had washed countless loads of my laundry, even when I was in college, and into the kitchen where she had cooked numerous mundane meals and I cried. And I wondered how many times my own mother had tried to reach out to me, how many times had she chosen what I wanted over what she needed and how many times had I thrown that back in her face with my lack of gratitude, with my own short sightedness that comes with ignorance of a mother’s sacrifice? My mother always made those sacrifices look so easy and I don’t know, maybe for her they were. Maybe she got some selfless gene that I lack, but I can’t imagine that I didn’t hurt her from time to time with my egocentricity. Because looking back I see her life as a constant giving in to what everyone around her wanted, whether it was what to watch on TV or where to go for dinner or vacation. Even after I had children, my mother quit her job, her little bit of independence, to take care of my twins while I worked and she never accepted a penny. She made mothering so easy for me because she picked up my worries and took care of them for me. I often told her how thankful I was for all she did, but I never told her I was sorry for the times in my youth I pushed her away because she was taken from me before I ever realized my crime. I just hope if it is true that my daughter is so very much like her mother, that one day I can be like mine.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Parenting VS Friendship

It was a mild January afternoon. We hadn’t had school that day but I was on the basketball team and so we had had an early practice and my mom had picked me up. The car ride home was nothing special, any  other typical Monday with me riding shotgun in my mom’s small car. We pulled in the drive and I hopped out, jogging up the back steps, constantly in motion.
“Don’t go upstairs yet,” my mom told me, just as I was about to leave the kitchen and hibernate in my room for the rest of the day. I stopped, waiting. It was just the two of us in the kitchen and she said, “I know what you did last weekend.”
This is where I tried to play cool, blank face, even breathing. There was no way she knew what I did last weekend. No one knew, except the people there and though not all of them were that bright, they all understood self-preservation and we would all go down for our debauchery. I shrugged, tried to play dumb, but her certainty had me doubting this fishing expedition I was sure she was on. Then I remembered…my diary. The one my mother had bought me to record all my thoughts, feelings and secrets. The one I had recorded all of those things in and then stashed away in my room. I ran upstairs and found the incriminating booklet only slightly askew from where I’d originally left it. I bounded back down the stairs and into the kitchen, launching it at her and yelling, “Go ahead, read the rest.” We stood on opposite sides of the kitchen, the diary lying like a grenade on the battleground between us. We were enemies now, that invisible line of neutrality we had toed for years had been breached and there was no going back.
I wasn’t scared though, because I thought I understood my adversary. She was quiet and meek. She was the mother whom we ordered around and who cleaned up our messes and cooked our dinner. She wasn’t the one who wielded the power: that was my dad, the one I was most  like, she was no match for me. Then she said the four words I feared most: “I’m telling your daddy.” I stared back at her in stunned silence. Mothers did not tell their daughters’ secrets to their fathers, mothers and daughters shared secrets with each other. But that had never been me and my mother and so I knew she would tell and my bravado suddenly faded and I begged her not to tell. She stood firm and I waited all day and all night with bated breath until they went to bed. I breathed easily, thinking I had escaped, because I did not yet understand that sometimes the hardest conversations between a husband and a wife happen on a 76 by 80 inch mattress in the dark. Eventually my reprieve ended and my father came lumbering down the stairs and all hell essentially broke loose. My mother remained calm throughout, which I found odd since she had essentially set the whole thing in motion and she was never calm in a crisis. Through it all though I just kept thinking: She chose him, she had chosen my father, her husband over me her daughter.
For years that stayed with me and I looked at my friends and their moms and then I would look at me and my mom and I would see that my friends and their moms weren’t’ just mother and daughter but friends and confidantes, something I was sure my own mother and I would never be. I swore if I ever had a daughter I would never tell her father her secrets, she would be able to trust me. We would be friends.
Seven years ago I gave birth to my first two children: twins: one boy and one girl. I gave birth, essentially, to a tiny replica of myself, from her blue eyes to her dimpled cheek to the way she swings her hips and the sassy way she talks. And I realized - I am not her friend. I may never be her friend. It’s frankly not my job to be her friend. My job is to raise her to someday be an adult who’s not a druggie or a prostitute or maybe even a politician. And as easy as that may sound, it’s damn difficult. No one knows how to be a mother, even following the example set by my own mother doesn’t work, because the world just gets more and more difficult to predict.

My mother was killed two and half years ago. One minute I was washing dishes, thinking of calling her to complain because yet someone else had complimented my husband on having all three kids in the grocery store, when no one ever compliments a woman for doing the same thing, and the next minute I was identifying her wedding bands. We never talked about the day she read my diary or the betrayal I felt, not because she read it but because she told my dad. I wish I’d have told her I get it. I do. I get that she didn’t NOT choose me. I get that it didn’t matter if I liked her or was happy with her.

My daughter and I aren’t supposed to be friends, not right now. I hope that one day, we are as close as my mother and I became once I was older and she could trust that she had done her best, but until then my daughter may not like me and we will not be friends. But one day I will see her be someone she can be proud of, and so I am telling you Irie Elizabeth (and Andrew and Crawford too): I will read your diary. I will look through your backpack and your cell phone and whatever else Apple comes up with to drive me crazy. And I will tell your father and anyone else whose help I may need to save you from yourself. I don’t care if you  get angry or  think you hate me, because I love you and I love you the way only a mother can: fiercely, unconditionally and enough for both of us. That’s a mother’s true strength, not yelling and dominating, not putting the fear of God in you. Our strength is that while we’re cooking your dinner, or washing your clothes of cleaning up your mess, we’re also carrying the enormous weight of our love for you  and that is a burden we never put down.