Mermaid

We are in the third month of 2020. Coronavirus has us in its grip. Every other moment is an “oh shit” moment because I touched a doorknob or my face or didn’t wipe down a hard surface. Lordy, there are so many hard surfaces in my life. Over the last three years I’ve considered hard surfaces and where I breathe and what I touch because too many people in my life have endured cancer and cancer treatment.

Fuck you, hard surfaces. This is for my mama who is going through another round of radiation. She is samurai-ing back the new cancer spots on her spine. She loves to sit in the back yard and look at the birds. She told me she wanted a pair of binoculars so she could see them more closely. Tonight I found her a pair of binoculars. Tomorrow she can sit in the backyard and see her birds. She thanked me for the find of the binoculars, she hugged them to her chest and she carried them into her room. Earlier, before she went to radiation treatment, she sent me photos of the blooming trees in my backyard. She reminded me of how beautiful they are. Yeah, my mom and I have met the hard surfaces before. But hard surfaces pale in comparison to the beauty around us.

And maybe, just maybe if we let go of fear, we won’t have to wait until cancer or coronavirus to appreciate the beauty of life around us. I’m sure going to try.

At 9:00 p.m. on July 1, 2019. Max texted me: “Are you home. Mom. Mom. Are you home. Are you home right now.” I responded: “Yes honey. “I’m in my room. Where are you?” He responded: “In my room.” I texted back: “Okay lol. I love you.” He texted back: “I love you too.” Max’s room is 10 feet away from mine. Love doesn’t know distances. I’m so grateful for that. We are all closer than we think to love and beauty.

I used to say I didn’t want to be a mom. But now, I can’t imagine my life otherwise. My sons have made me a better human being. They have given me the capacity to be a better daughter, friend, partner, lawyer, and whatever else I am meant to be in this life. It isn’t easy. But nothing worth having ever is.

Last week, Max headed off to New York to audition for the jazz studies program at New School. We’d had a challenging week beforehand so we didn’t have a chance to shop for cold weather east coast clothes ahead of time. We were packing the night before. I gave him my wool socks and we were putting multiple sweatshirts into his carry on. He didn’t have longjohns, so I said, “I’ll give you a pair of my yoga pants.”

Early the next morning he texted me, “Mom, should I wear the yoga pants under my jeans on the airplane?” After I thought about it for a while, I texted him back, “Yes. You should.” And my son wore my mermaid yoga pants to New York. In this family, we don’t do hard surfaces. We do mermaid yoga pants and samurai fights. We do love and we kick cancer’s ass. Wash your hands. Be who you are. Unabashedly. That is how we win the fight against coronavirus and cancer and fear and hate. Be a mermaid, you badass, beautiful warrior. I love you.

Letter to my sons

Dear Boys,

This is a love letter to you. Every day that you have been alive is another day that I managed to keep you alive, another day you were not eaten by wolves or bears. Every day you have been alive, is another day you learned another lesson, made another friend, walked another mile, skated another park, played another song, wrote another poem, another day you made your mom proud. Every day that you have been alive, every day that you have taken a breath outside my body, you have been a love letter to me.

I did not expect you to grow up so fast and so soon. I used to get frustrated about coming up with another damn chicken recipe for our family dinners. Tonight, I sat alone at the kitchen table with a new chicken recipe dinner.  It was good. However, I made it for all of us and all of us aren’t here anymore. I could feed the leftovers to the dog, but his ass is getting kinda big. Anyway. I do regret those times I got frustrated when I was getting a meal ready for a full house. I hope you never do. Because there is no love quite like a full gathering at a kitchen table.

I did not always know what I was doing momming you. I still don’t. No parent does. There are lessons for almost everything in life except being a parent to the exact human you are assigned to be a parent to. When you were hurt or sad or suffering and I could not fix it, I can honestly say I have never known heartbreak like that before. But it is not my job to make it all better or fix it all for you, as much as I want to. It’s my job to let you go and grow.

Once when you were both old enough to be left at home alone (maybe you were 16 and 13 years old), I left you and went out for the evening. I told you, Shane, “You’re in charge of putting together dinner for you and Max. There’s pizza in the refrigerator and stuff to make salad.” When I returned a few hours later, I checked on you. You each had a bag of microwave popcorn and a Coke and you were playing Xbox Live with each other (one upstairs, one downstairs). “What’s this?” I asked you. “Well, we weren’t actually hungry, so we just had a snack,” you said. I asked Max, “Are you okay with this?” Max said, “Shane is being so nice to me!”

From this, and my many other attempts to script your lives, I learned that while I have a modicum of control and I can provide some suggestions, you are both ultimately responsible for what you do and how it will all turn out. After I had you boys, I had to reconcile myself to the fact that my heart and my soul will be walking around outside my body for the rest of my life. This love letter is to you, my heart and my soul. I believe in you. Keep doing good things in this world. Make it a better place. Show up. Work hard. Be kind. Say please and thank you. Recycle. Vote. Donate. Serve. Love. Visit your mom. I’ll make a new chicken recipe.

Love,

Mom.

This is what cancer looks like

This is what cancer looks like. It’s exhaustion. After the biopsy appointment that was supposed to last four hours and you’re in the hospital, cold and alone and hungry for seven hours. And no one thought to sit with you or hold your hand or offer you solace or call your family. You are elderly and tired and cranky and just want to go home. Instead you’re told to just wait in platitudes. And left alone in the hospital room.


This is what cancer looks like. The pharmacy denying your pain medications even when your doctor says you need them because there’s a new tumor or your pain has become so unmanageable that you cannot sleep. Because “we” are fighting a war on opioids. So you’re just collateral damage because palliative care for cancer patients does not factor into winning a war.

This is what cancer looks like. One day to the next, trying to maintain a routine, and schedule, a sense that maybe tomorrow your life will be back to normal. You are fighting for that routine and that normal. And it isn’t. But you keep at it, walking the dogs and cleaning the kitchen and tending the garden and making meals. Because that is life. Life is the small things that sustain and keep you going. So you keep going.

This is what cancer looks like. It is everything you thought was going to be your life winnowed down to a small point of taking this breath and then the next. And the next. So you keep breathing.


This is what cancer looks like. Like me – the daughter of the parent with cancer. Or – the son. The father. The mother. The wife. The husband. The partner. The sibling. All of us who watch cancer and at times feel helpless to stop it. Helpless to ensure treatment. Helpless in the waiting rooms, in the emergency rooms, in the hospitals, in the doctor’s office, and at the bedside.


This is what cancer looks like. Some days, it may look like cancer is winning. But it isn’t. We cannot give up. Not for my mom. Not for your loved one. Because one day, cancer isn’t going to look like this anymore. One day, we will kick cancer’s ass. Today, I am the tired daughter. Tomorrow, I’ll be back in the fight. Never give up. My mom has not. No one should. Keep fighting.  #f*ckcancer

Be a Jedi

One particularly gray day in October of last year, I came home to pick my mom up for her radiation therapy because her usual home health care provider kept forgetting her appointments. And my mom called me and said, “My helper is not here and I’m going to be late.” I raced out of work and drove home to get her. As it turned out the appointment was for a different time. When I found out, I was frustrated and tired and my mom started crying and it was the worst thing ever because she had not cried, not once, not even when the first oncologist we saw said to her, “I think if you want to travel you should do it now because I don’t know if you will be here next year.” I hugged her and I said, “I’m sorry, I’m mad at the situation not you, mama.” I took her to the appointment at the oncology center later. And while my mom was getting her treatment, two cancer patients began sobbing hysterically in the waiting room. I’ve sat in several cancer waiting rooms. There should be a much better design for them. A much, much better design.

I’d given Max my old lap top computer but it kept freezing so I took it to the Apple store in the mall. So after I took my mom back home from her doctor visit, I picked it up. As I was leaving the parking garage, the exit gate kept getting stuck. I was several cars back in a very frustrated line of people trying to get out and home. For some reason I remembered a date I’d had with a man I really liked the year before. We had parked at the mall and he’d gotten stuck exiting, too. He had jumped out of his truck and ran back to my car to kiss me before the gate opened and he drove away. Three months in, he met someone else and as far as I know, they’re doing well. Anyway, I finally made it out of the exit gate and drove away.

When I got home, I told Max I wanted to go for a walk and he said, “I’ll go with you, Mom.” And we started walking. I began telling him the frustrated story of my day and he said, “Hey, Mom. Let’s slow down. We’re just taking a walk right now.”  I said to him, “Max, I’m a little frustrated tonight. I’m just thinking about how sometimes people get their power through anger and guilt. They use that to manipulate others to get what they want. And honestly, I did that too. But it doesn’t feel good. I’d rather feel empowered by asking for what I want with love and respect.” And Max said, “Well, you get the same result. But with the first, you get a result with hate. And the second, with love. It just depends on whether you want to go to the Dark Side and be a Sith Lord. Or whether you want to be a Jedi.” I said, “I love you, Max.” He said, “I love you, too, Mom. And I think you should be a Jedi.”

Today, finally, we got the insurance approval on the estimate for the cleanup from the smoke damage to our home from the Kincade Fire. One of the contractors texted me in the middle of a hectic work day to schedule the cleanup of the “contents” of our home. Bedding, linen, clothing. When I finally got home, I walked into Max’s room and told him that we had to clean up his room for the contractors. He said, “I don’t want them to clean my room. There’s no smoke damage here.” (These are not the droids you’re looking for.) In typical Max and Mom fashion, we fought about it for about 10 minutes. Max went for a run. I texted my friends and ate chocolate and talked to my dog. And then, I realized this. Max could clean his room up. And it could be sanitized from the smoke and the past. Or I could just let it go. Because he’s leaving for college so very soon. And when he does, I will be furious when I have to clean up all the shit he leaves behind. But I will also be grateful to go through the reminders of every one of the 17 years that he spent here, even if they do smell like smoke. Fuck it. I cancelled the “contents” cleanup.

I went in and apologized to him and said, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking. I don’t know why there’s a need to have anything taken away. I got it straightened out with the contractor and they’ll just come here and clean the house.” I said, “I guess I was a bad Jedi today. I don’t think I was a Sith Lord.” Max said, “Mom, it’s okay. Even Jedis have bad days.”

Tonight, I went for a walk under the full moon shining down over the familiar blocks of the neighborhood I have lived in for 15 years now. Fifteen years ago, I thought I was moving into the white picket fence of the rest of my life. It turns out I was being tested for the armor and the saber. You will arrive where you are meant to be, I do believe that. It may take some days of loss and being stuck and heartbreak and fire and smoke damage and fighting with your kids. The important thing is, if you’re going to stay in the fight, do it as a Jedi. Use the force of love.

Be a Unicorn

I started this poem in 2016, right after my divorce. I finished it last month. I call it “Divorce.”

Lonely tastes like dust

Bitter steel

Turning into rust.

Lonely is the sound of pain

Glass shattering

Blood stain.

Empty is a cold embrace

Fake lover

Taking space.

Empty screams like a siren

Chasing dreams of love away

Don’t come back again.

Alone says courage, my dear.

All of this will pass.

And you

Will still be here.

This year, I made it through Thanksgiving and Christmas relatively unscathed. I made it through my Max turning 18 and my Shane turning 21. Even though my kids are now adults, it’s pretty clear I will never stop momming them. It just means being a mom moves to another more complex and a more expensive level. Next week is New Year’s Eve and I’ll make it through that as well. I’m very happy to say “peace out” to 2019. It’s been an action-packed year. I’ve said goodbye to expired relationships, appliances, and too many sweet friends, gone too soon. I’m ready to say hello to 2020.

It’s been five years since the Wasband and I split. When we were getting divorced, some of my friends told me I would “have no problem” meeting someone else to be with but guess what. As it turns out, that wasn’t true. And also, being with someone else is not the remedy to a divorce. Or to anything, really. I’ve learned that it’s important to be happy and fulfilled alone. You can’t be mean enough to yourself to effect real lasting change in your life. You can only do that by accepting and loving yourself. I’m getting there. It’s a journey, not a destination.

Tonight, for Christmas/Hanukkah, my mom gave me the awesome gift of a stuffed unicorn named Cinnamon. Tonight, I am happy to chill with the unicorn Cinnamon Girl, a glass of good Pinot Noir, and write a little bit. Alone. Tonight, I’m proud of myself for being courageous in the face of feeling lonely and empty. I’m still here. And I’m pretty damn happy.

I hope that if you feel empty or lonely you can believe me when I say those feelings are just reflections of thoughts you labeled yourself with and you can kick their ass in the journey to being the best version of yourself, alone. To the brave, badass, beautiful you who doesn’t give a f*k what anyone else thinks or expects of you. I think you should be proud of yourself for how far you have come. Because you’re amazing. You’re a damn unicorn.

Go where the love is

When Max was in Cub Scouts, he was working on the requirements for one of his badges. We were going down the checklist. “Max, do you know where we keep the emergency telephone numbers?” “Yes, they’re on the refrigerator,” he said. “Good,” I said. Check. We kept going down the list. First aid kit, care of bleeding, choking, etc. He assured me he knew it all. I said, “Max, do you know if you have an escape plan for the house?” He said, “You mean if there’s ever an earthquake?” I said, “Yes, or a fire.” He said, “Yes. I’d get the hell out of there.” Check.

On October 26, 2019, we were evacuated from our home as the Kincade Fire burned to the north of us.  We had been packed and ready since the Tubbs Fire in October 2017. But as the high-lo sirens blared and the police drove through our neighborhood announcing, “This is a mandatory evacuation,” I began to panic. My Max said to me, “Mom. Stop. Breathe. It’s okay. We are going to be okay.” I packed myself, my mom, and two dogs, Tommy and Lilo, into my car. Max took our other dog, Atticus, and all the musical instruments he could cram into his car. And we headed to my dear friend’s home*, south, away from the fire.

The next day we watched the videos and television footage of the fire burning towards our home. We watched as fire engines drove up and down the streets of our neighborhood. We watched as firefighters and first responders set up their command center in the county park half a mile from our house. We watched as firefighters fought flames back in the backyards of our neighbors and friends. I started crying. And Max said, “Enough, Mom. You’re done watching this.” He closed my laptop. And he hugged me. And he told me we would be okay, we would start over if we had to. He told me he had saved money and we could use it to begin again. My then-17-year old son who has always been an old soul, became a young man in front of my eyes that week. He took care of our family. And for that, I will always be grateful to him.

We went back home five days after we were evacuated.  

When I look at my sons, I am consistently grateful that I didn’t fuck them up. Or if I did, that at least they made it to adulthood as good human beings. Someone once told me that mothers and sons share cells and that those memories create an innate, intuitive bond between you. I’m sure it’s the same for mothers and daughters. Which, I think, means that by however many degrees of separation and cellular memory, we are all connected. Mothers and fathers and our children. All of us.

When fires burn towards you, get the hell out of there. Go where it’s safe and your tribe will love and take care of you. Know that badass, brave firefighters and first responders will risk their lives for you to come home again. They are part of your tribe, too. Maybe remember to say a prayer that they get to go home to their families.

I hope your holidays are beautiful and bright. I hope you are at home and safe. And if you’re not sure, I think home is anywhere and everywhere love is. So, I think that you should go where the love is.

*Thank you, merci, arigato, Rene, and my beloved tribe, for taking care of us.

Wonderful World

Max and I had an intense conversation one evening five years ago about creationism versus evolution. Max was concerned that there were children who were being taught that the world was created by magic space fairies (I didn’t even know that was a thing) and that science had no part in it. However, he also questioned whether existence was really based on matter or thought. Big stuff for a 12-year-old. As he left my room and headed to bed, he turned to me and said, “Mom, if I walk out of this room and you don’t see me anymore, does that mean I cease to exist?” “No, Max,” I said, “I know for a fact that you exist because I am very sure about where you came from and I am pretty sure it wasn’t magic space fairies.” “Okay,” he said. “Just checking.” Sometimes my kid thinks himself right into and out of a corner.

This past Monday at 6 a.m., I walked in to make sure Max was up and ready for school. His red hair was piled on top of his head, like mine. Both of us were wearing sweatpants and yesterday’s regrets. “C’mon, dude,” I said. “We can do this.” He lifted his head up and groaned. I flipped on his lights and said, “I’ll be back at 6:30 a.m. You HAVE to get up!” Again, he groaned and fell back onto his pillow. I had court and was pulling on my shoes. “MAX, get UP.” At 7:00 a.m., I went back in and said to him, in my best Mother of Doom voice, “MAX you have to get up NOW RIGHT NOW or you are going to be a TRUANT today!” He lifted his head up and opened one eye and said to me, “Mom, I don’t have school this week.” It took a moment to register. Oh, right. Thanksgiving was Thursday. No school. Shit. “Okay,” I said. “I’ll turn these lights off. Get some rest.”

I’ve had so many of those Bad Mom moments. I forgot snack day. I was late for pickups. I didn’t wash uniforms. I didn’t sign homework. I was late and missed the race, the award, the performance. I fought with their dad. I got a divorce. I didn’t save their pets from dying. I didn’t keep their hearts from breaking. I missed the memo and picture day. I begged the yearbook teacher for one more day to include photos. I didn’t check the school calendar and see that this week was a break.

Last night, my sons and my mother and I sat down for Thanksgiving dinner together. I told Max, “Do you remember when your dad used to take the whipped cream and squirt it right into your mouth?” Max said, “Is that what whippits are?” I said, “Close enough.” After about a half hour of eating and listening to classical music, Shane asked me, “Do you have anything more upbeat?” I put on another playlist. My playlist was a compilation of unexpected covers. When Joey Ramone began singing “What a Wonderful World,” I started dancing mosh-pit style behind Max. Shane said, “Mom, did you do whippits tonight?” I said, “NO, but my generation invented the Pogo, Shane. So I’m gonna dance” Then I was breathless from mosh-pit dancing in my kitchen Maybe I did need some shots of Reddi-Whip.

Later that evening, I went out for a walk in a chilly Northern California evening. I walked out the door that I honestly thought I walked out for the final time a month prior, when the Kincade Fire forced my entire town to evacuate. Some of the blocks I walked were so dark I couldn’t see the sidewalk in front of me but I’ve walked there so many times, I didn’t need light. I knew where they started and ended. I’d wondered when I returned from the evacuation. Should I leave? What if the next time fire takes my home? Do I want to risk that heartache? Am I a bad mom for staying – or will I be if I leave?

I returned to my house after my walk and it was warm and cozy. My house still smells like smoke. There may be more fires. And more rain. But this is the house my sons grew up in. Where leaving a room does not mean you disappear. Because you belong here. It’s messy, there’s a lot of pets and laundry and unfiled papers. This house is where my kids are, where there’s a kitchen with a mosh pit, and where you can hear Joey Ramone singing “It’s a Wonderful World.” Yes. This is home.

#donebetter

A few years back, Max called to ask me to bring home pepperoni hot pockets. I said, “How was your day?” He said, “Actually not that great.” “Oh,” I said. “You know, I think you’re starting to go through puberty.” He said, “MOM, I HAVE BEEN GOING through puberty. It’s very stressful.” Oh I understand. Because adulting – same.

A few weeks ago, I texted Max and asked him if he wanted me to get him anything from the grocery store. He texted me back: “Can you get Oreos, milk, cheezits and hot pockets. I need it for my stress eating diet.” I doubled up on that request. Because -well, just – same.

I just bought Max more pepperoni hot pockets and the other stuff on his list. I know. They’re not healthy. But let’s be real. It’s all relative. My boss said to me several times when I was struggling as a first-year attorney. “Perfect is the enemy of done.” What we do – and what my sons do – are with an intent to make this world a better place because we were here. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Maybe if it’s done with love, it’s perfect. I’d like to think so.

There’s a lot of perfectionist notions, great sweeping assumptions, that could give way to done. Or at least to the next step. Like: Getting to the perfect weight. Falling in love with “the One.” Eating organic/vegan/carb free/keto all the time time. All of these perfectionist goals have a silver lining. They can be subject to change, Which means, to get there, wherever you want to be, just means you have to change your mind. That’s the greatest power you have, by the way. To take a step and not judge yourself for it. And to know that the goal is whatever makes you happy, whatever that goal may be.

About a year ago, I had a text conversation with Max:

Me: I’m sorry I yelled at you this morning. I was having a bad morning and I shouldn’t have taken it out on you. 
Max: The damage is done. 
Max: Jk. I love you Mom.
Me: I love you and I’ll pay for therapy.
Max: It’s ok. I’ll sell my body to make the money.
Me: Omg.

It is easier to be mad at yourself and admit defeat than to take one step towards a goal. It’s hard to apologize when you’re wrong. It’s hard to let something go from your life and admit it no longer serves you. Both are equally difficult. And equally necessary. You can’t take the next step if you’re stuck in the past.

My kids have never let me off the culpability hook, so whining about change has never been an option. For me or for them. Whether they know it or not, my responsibility to raise good men has been the underpinning to almost all of my major decisions. I am a better person because of this, I think. I may be a better human overall because I’m their mom.

As I write this, I am waiting for my Max to come home from his latest gig so we can finish college applications. As I write this, my Shane and I have come to an agreement about how to take an online class on writing together, which took some serious texting and a few smart-ass (typical) comments. As I write this, I realize I am hungry and I go downstairs and warm up a pepperoni hot pocket. Pretty sure Max will be okay with and understand me eating one of his stress diet staples. Often, as I am sure you do, I get stuck in what I should do versus whether what I am doing is right. And then my sons remind me.

From Max’s tenacity, I am reminded that if you get to a place where you are stuck, you just have to keep going until you are not stuck. From Shane’s steadfast calm and smart-ass humor, I am reminded that wins may be incremental but as our Samurai ancestors knew, incremental courage wins the war. And that is how imperfectly “done” will change the world. Which is really the point. We want this world to be better for our kids. And so I’ll get up tomorrow to be better and to do better. For my kids. And for yours. Keep going.

Current Balance

I set my kids up with checking accounts with debit cards to teach them about finances and how to manage money BEFORE they graduated from high school.  In early 2017, I found myself in the throes of trying to explain bank logic to a 14-year-old including why the bar mitzvah check he had kept in his drawer for a year didn’t count as “savings.”

Yesterday my Shane called me on the way to his bank to ask me if he should start using checks to pay his rent. I began explaining check registers and reconciling check registers to him and that there may be a charge for getting checks from his bank. Finally, he said to me, “Mom, I think I’m just going to get a cashier’s check for this month’s rent.” I said to him, “I think that’s a great idea.”

Today Shane called me and asked me if I could confirm that he had written his first check correctly. He’d decided to go with getting checks. He asked me what the various items on the check register were and we covered how to fill out his check register and how to reconcile his account. He got it all. Perfectly. I said, “You’re doing a lot of adulting today.” He said, “Yeah, I’m not sure I like it.”  I’m damn proud of him. And yes. Adulting sucks.

I never learned in high school how to balance a checking account. In high school I learned how to sew a straight hem and bake muffins (I still cannot do either, thank you). I did not know what a checking account was or that I had to balance it until I got my first job as a legal secretary after college and bounced multiple checks. It was not until after law school that I finally figured out how to balance my checkbook. And it was not until after my divorce that I actually began to do it.

One of my favorite bands, Poi Dog Pondering sings, “Complicated – it’s all right. Wanna get it right this time.” I am grateful for all that I have. For sure, it’s complicated. The law degree. The home. The car. The stuff. The shoes. I want to get it right this time. I really hope I get it right this time.

I did not go to school and graduate just to pay for school for the rest of my life. My dream of being an attorney should not be subjugated to the loan that paid for it.  I do not want my kids to believe that dreams die for mortgages and debt. Yes, pay off your shit. But your salary, your debt, and the money in your bank account do not represent your value.

I think our available balance is the difference between infinity and some random number (eight dollars did not then or now at all represent the Maximum-ness of the Max for sure) in a bank. I think our current balance is the minutes left in this day. I think our true currency is love and we need to spend it every damn day and as often as possible. I think our value is defined by how much we give, not how much we keep. I believe, maybe, it isn’t that complicated. And we’re all going to get it right this time.

Cracked Heart

Max told me when he was still in elementary school, “I was immature in 2nd and 3rd grade, but then I started getting pretty grown up once I got to 4th grade. Now that I am in 5th grade I am definitely getting grown up. Then in middle school I will be a teenager so there’s that.” I asked him, “What about high school?” “Well, I will be all grown up then and I will probably have my own place. But my girlfriend and I will still come and visit you. But not every weekend because I don’t want her to think I am a mama’s boy. Maybe more like once a month or something. You’ll be okay with that, right?”

At a certain point your kids become adult-ish. They no longer require you to feed them, sign them up for stuff, wash them, drive them. They actually don’t include you much in their lives any more. It’s a moment you should have been prepared for because let’s be real. You did it, too, back when you were in high school. Back when you became adult-ish.

When Max first started high school, I remember going into his room to get him for dinner. “Dinner’s ready!” I said. He looked at me and returned to his phone. I said, “Don’t give me the teenaged angst eye-roll. I have a copyright on that.” He eye-rolled at me again and said, “I will be down IN A MINUTE.” I did the mature parenting move. I walked out of his room, closed the door, did an eye-roll (copyright 1976) and said, “THIS is how it’s done.” I take my momming wins wherever I can get them.

I have been divorced since 2015. I’ve learned a lot, dating again in my 50’s. About a year ago, I gave up completely on dating for a while. I was tired of putting my heart out there and getting it handed back to me. But I now believe that every relationship is a lesson and it brings you closer to being the best version of yourself. That’s your gift. And you are here to bring your gift to this world. If you don’t, the world will never have it. And that would really suck.

It’s been a hard fight against my own brain to get here, but I am truly fucking grateful. For each relationship in my life. For the one-time dates that went nowhere. For the amazing friendships with badass women that sustain and support me without judgment. For my divorce and for all the relationships that cracked and broke my heart. Because I think if you’ve got a cracked heart, that just means there’s more space for love to be poured into it. Like gold gets poured into the cracks of broken pottery in the Japanese art of Kintsugi, to emphasize and celebrate and make the breaks beautiful.

Last summer, my sons, my nieces, and I went to Oahu’s Northshore to stay for a week. To visit our family and just to be together. We stayed in a two-bedroom local cottage, happily crammed together. Every morning we wandered into the kitchen and made coffee, tea, and our own version of loco moco. We spent our days exploring the local beaches and restaurants. We met up with our family and body-surfed at Ewa Beach.  And we promised that we would come back again. As soon as possible. Because being together filled up and made beautiful all the cracks in our hearts.

For every relationship that never happened, there are so many more that do – and will. Those are the ones that fill the cracks of your broken heart and make it shine. That is your gift to the world, your shining, beautiful, brave heart. That and maybe – your teenaged angst eye-roll. But I still hold the copyright to it.