An Open Letter to My Dad on His 68th Birthday

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


We blew this photo up nice and big for the kid's gallery wall. You know what a gallery wall is, right? His room is white and cream and dark wood and soft neutrals peppered with dark green. I stole one of Papa's pastels of the mountains from Waterville, kind of like the one we had at our house all those years, and we hung it above the changing table, the changing table you and mom had for me. You'd like to hang out in the nursery, I think. We do. We try to read to him at least a few days a week. The cats come, too. We don't limit reading material to baby books, either. Last weekend he learned about regional styles of barbeque--important stuff. The rocking chair has nice back support. I know you'd like that.

You always told me I'd be surprised how much changes in a year, and at this time last year, I was recently unemployed, making mom hang out with me a lot, and feeling generally pretty bad for myself. It was cool to have the time to take a step back and think about what I wanted next, but it was scary, too. And you weren't there to tell me what to do and for me to tell you thanks but I'll do what I want anyway. I don't think I even knew what I wanted. A hug, for sure.

So I dove into what made me feel like I was making a difference. I invested in my relationships more. I took trips to see people. We drove your little Z3 (we named her Bev, btw) home from Southern California. I learned how to be a pretty good wife and I gave your grandcats a lot of supervised outdoor time. We also grew our first real garden. It was a pretty simple existence, but by the end I learned to like it. It's the kind of existence I know you'd have told me should make me feel more content than it did right then. Or maybe you wouldn't have. Five years later, I honestly don't know anymore what you'd tell me to do and be...just that you'd care that I'm happy, and you'd be proud of me for trying. And I'd know that that's enough, just like it always has been.

It's supposed to be a full moon tonight. Maybe that'll bring on this little dude and you'll get a birthday baby. I understand if you're not super eager to share, though, since you already share with Uncle Don. You KNOW I understand not wanting to share. Either way, I hope you work some magic up there and bring him safely here to meet us soon because I am SO DONE talking to people about my belly.

Mom's here waiting on your grandson to arrive. We're going to meet her for ice cream and a walk along the marina to look at boats. Raz and I recently rediscovered how good coffee ice cream is, so maybe I'll get a scoop of that for you. We'll see how I'm feeling. No matter what, we'll celebrate you and think of you and make memories with you, because if it weren't for you we wouldn't be us, and this kid who has no idea what he's in for wouldn't exist either.

Crazy how much can change in a year, huh? Happy birthday!

I love you,

For those who are interested, 2016's letter is here, 2015's letter is here, and 2014's letter is here.

Yes, Duh, I Took Maternity Photos

Friday, May 5, 2017

I had always planned to have maternity photos taken. It was one of those things that felt like it absolutely had to be captured on film, no matter the size of my cankles. Besides, it had taken us a while to get here and I wanted to be able to remember how I looked, how I felt, how much we loved each other in these moments of being just the two four of us before we'd become at least three five for the next 18 years. It was non-negotiable.

For months, I ordered and tried on dresses and Raz rolled his eyes. "More options?" he'd ask. Duh, bruh. Never enough options. I wasn't trying to be like Demi or Ciara with just some naked/undie pics, and I wanted to keep the vibe simple, but I still needed to feel pretty, and like myself, and--let's be real here--sexayyy. Well, as sexy as possible with a bowling ball attached to my torso.

And you know what? Even now, 39 weeks in, it still doesn't feel real. I say that all the time. People comment on my belly constantly. And yet I have no concept of what this thing is or how it's going to change us. Maybe I needed more proof. Perhaps the photos would show me this gut I grew was for a bigger purpose, that one day, I'd turn around at my kid's graduation and finally realize I GREW HIM IN MY BODY. Maybe that will never happen. Either way, we have photos.

I knew the only people for the job were our friends, The Sullivans, who took our absolutely epic mini bump photos and who I contacted immediately after my sorority sister's beautiful wedding in Coeur d'Alene last summer.

My original intention was to be mostly solo, but that went away as soon as we arrived. Not only is Raz a much better and more beautiful model than I am, he carries a sense of absolute self-assurance I've only ever seen from my dad. The boy can look right into the lens and own. It. 
I just love him.

One of the things I've most appreciated in getting dolled up with him to take pretty pictures is that I get to see from an outsider's view how we look at each other. I'm pretty proud of those looks we give. I made a commitment to myself a long time ago that I would prioritize my relationships over anything else and I always dreamed of having a partner who was not only my PIC, but who also looked at me the way he does. To see here how I look at him makes me really, really proud of what we're building. We're bringing this kid into a good thing. I'm truly thrilled for that.

Just strollin' with my boys.

I couldn't get away with not showing my belly, so when Laura suggested a couple boudie shots, I complied. I'm glad I did. Here it is up close and personal. You're in there, kid! And you're getting bigger than I want to think about. Also, my belly line is not symmetrical down my belly button and that kinda irritates me, but when I asked my midwives about it, they came back with "Well, are your organs symmetrical?" Touche?

We're growing a family, man, and that is a great and powerful thing. I don't know that I'll ever come to comprehend how great and powerful it is until I'm sitting at the head of the Thanksgiving table and all my grandchildren are fighting over the last scoop of mashed potatoes around me. And even then. Will it sink in? I asked Grandma and she said no.

Here's hoping this next chapter is as beautiful and as full of learning as all that have come before it. That's one thing I can wrap my head around coming absolutely true.

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