Why a Trump Presidency Terrifies Me

This is a post about politics. I don’t think I’m going to change anyone’s mind, but I’m going to write this anyway. Feel free to walk away now if this is not your thing.

I remember in 2008 and 2012 that there were republicans who made outrageous claims about what our country would be under Barack Obama. They said that he would institute Sharia Law. They said he’d take all the guns. They said he would single handedly destroy the country. I rolled my eyes until I thought they would fall out because the Barack Obama I knew wanted the United States to be successful. He wanted to build jobs and boost the economy and give us health care. He gave me hope for a future that I wanted for this country.

And almost 8 years later, he hasn’t instituted Sharia Law (because he’s not a Muslim, which we knew all along). He didn’t take any guns, even though arguably he should have. He helped rebuild the economy. He helped create hundreds of thousands of jobs. He provided healthcare to children and families. Yep, maybe the Affordable Care Act has issues (which, overwhelmingly, are the fault of the insurance companies who put their profit above all else) and maybe his tax plan doesn’t favor the wealthy, but this country is better than it was 8 years ago. Period. This is agreed upon by historians, economists, military generals and most reasonable people. We don’t have to agree on this, but statistically, we’re better off than we were 8 years ago.

And now it is election time again, and I feel strangely like I think Republicans felt in 2004 and 2008. Hillary is slightly favored to win, but Trump is a huge threat, and I am terrified. And I am trying to withhold some dramatics on this because some of it is certainly not based in reality, but at the same time, a Trump presidency promises some very troubling things.

I am concerned that he is a huge threat to the LGBTQ community in this country. He has vowed to nominate a justice to the supreme court who would oppose marriage equality. His vice president wanted to make requesting a marriage license a crime for gay couples and he supports conversion therapy for gay teens, which has been shown to drastically raise suicide rates in these kids. They want to walk us backward several years and overturn marriage equality. They want to allow states to decide, which will prevent families in states like Utah from being able to be married or receive the same benefits as straight couples. This will harm families- adults and children alike.

I am concerned about Trump’s relationship with Russia and with China. I’m worried that he does not have any understanding of foreign affairs and that his willingness to taunt and make threats to nuclear countries is putting a lot of people in potential danger. Do I think we will be bombed by these countries? Probably not. But might it cost us allies that could be important in the future? Yes. Definitely. And might it eventually lead us into wars we don’t need to be in? Yes.

I am concerned that Trump’s plan of using tax breaks for the wealthy only and trickle down economics, which has never worked and which helped lead us into the great recession, will undo all the economic growth of the last 8 years. Economists across the country have agreed that cutting taxes on the wealthy will only benefit the wealthy. This seems like an obvious move for a billionaire businessman who has done everything he can to avoid paying taxes, legally, I realize, for several decades.

I am so far past concerned that I can no longer see concerned in my rear view mirror, of Trump’s health insurance plan. Allowing insurance companies to cross state lines will definitely drive competition, but with the abolition of the ACA, companies will once again be allowed to charge women more, they will no longer offer free/affordable birth control (and they want to defund Planned Parenthood at the same time), college grads who are still finding a good job will lose the coverage under their parents. And people like me will be excluded or charged astronomical rates because we have pre-existing conditions. We will be prevented from getting health insurance in any affordable way because we are the ones who will use it. Because the insurance companies won’t make as much money on us because they’ll actually have to pay for things. My 4 year old son will not be able to get insurance if his father loses his job (which, if our health care system crashes, is a possibility) because when he was 10 months old he had a traumatic brain injury.

I’m concerned that Trump shows a complete and utter disrespect for women. If one single woman came forward and credibly accused a man of sexually assaulting them, that would be concerning. But when we have a presidential candidate, on tape, admitting to sexually assaulting women, and tens of women coming forward accusing him of doing what he said he did, I cannot dismiss that. Maybe it won’t impact his job performance, but how can I, as a woman, expect Donald Trump to fight for my rights- for equal pay, for equal insurance coverage, for childcare assistance, for anything, when he shows a complete and utter lack of respect for women? How can he lead a country where women make up half the population? How anyone, literally any woman on this earth or anyone who cares about a woman, could ever overlook this astounds me.

Hillary Clinton is not perfect and I will not pretend that she is.

She has admitted to making mistakes with her emails and maybe that’s off-putting to some people. But I’m assuming that you are also calling for Colin Powell to be investigated, as he also used a private email server when he was Secretary of State. And I’m assuming you’re calling for George W Bush and Dick Cheney to also be investigated as they deleted hundreds of thousands of emails after they were subpoenaed, and likely, many of them continued information about the Iraq war that was started on false presences. If you are only outraged about Hillary Clinton, you are either extremely ignorant of actual current events, or you are a hypocrite. Take your pick.

She was Secretary of State during the attack in Benghazi and she first, erroneously reported that the attack was related to a movie. She was wrong, she has admitted that, and provided all the requested information. She has been investigated up, down and in-between, and to the tone of thousands of dollars and hours, and found to be innocent in any wrong doing. And if you are calling for her imprisonment for this, I assume you are calling for the imprisonment of Colin Powell and Condaleezza Rice, under whom there were 11 and 9 embassy attacks, respectively. If this is your hill to politically die on, you better be calling for the investigation of Powell and Rice, or once again, you’re a hypocrite.

She’s a woman. And if that’s why you’re not voting for her, then you are a shitty human being. I am not sorry for saying it.

She stood by her husband after he had multiple affairs and he has been accused of sexual assault. Definitely we shouldn’t re-elect Bill Clinton, because he is not respectful of women, but if you are really punishing Hillary for staying with her husband and not punishing Trump for cheating on his wives, then, once again, you are a hypocrite.

Hillary Clinton is one of the most qualified candidates for president that we’ve ever had. She was first lady, which gave her a much better understanding of the stresses and procedures of the presidency than most politicians have. She was a two term New York Senator. She was Secretary of State. She has fought her way up from the bottom, from modest beginnings, through law school, as a public defender, all the way up to the precipice of the presidency.

If you simply disagree with Hillary’s policies in the same way I disagree with Trump’s, then it makes perfect sense that you wouldn’t vote for her and I don’t think anyone is asking you to do so. But if you are buying into sensationalized news stories from alt-right websites, and that’s your reason for not voting for Hillary, you need to take a hard look at your choices and your understanding of what’s really at stake in this election. Read the reports from experts in economics and military strategy and civil rights. Turn off Fox News (turn off MSNBC if you’re watching that too) and read stories from other news sources, look to news sources abroad. Look at what the world is saying, because aside from Russia, they are telling you to run, screaming, away from Donald Trump. And that should mean something.

There is no question that this election is historic, I just hope that it is historic for the right reasons, rather than for the wrong choice.

On Locker Room Talk

I have little intention of discussing politics here (I’m with her, and proudly, I might add), but I am going to set aside that plan for a moment. This is more important.

Last week an audio recording surfaced of Donald Trump discussing that he has sexually assaulted women, and it’s okay because he’s famous. If you haven’t listened to it, please do. This is how he speaks when he thinks no one will catch him. He was 60 years old. He was not a teenager who didn’t know better. He was a grown ass adult.

To say that I am beyond disgusted by this would be a dramatic understatement. I’m furious. It’s disgusting. It’s indefensible. And it should disqualify him from being a human being, let alone from being president of this country.

And the defense from Trump and his supporters has been that it is “locker room talk.”

No.

I reject this.

All men do not talk like this and we should not devalue the experience of good men by lumping them in with this piece of trash.

Crappy people talk like this. Men who don’t value women talk like this. Men who think they are above women talk like this. Men who think women are sexual objects for their taking talk like this. This is not normal discourse and it should not be excused as such.

I want to be absolutely clear about something here- if you engage in this kind of locker room talk, and by that I mean, if you say these kinds of things or if you allow the people around you to say these things, you are not welcome in our lives. Period.

One of my most important parenting goals is to teach my sons to respect women and to understand consent. To treat women as equals. To respect their boundaries no matter what. And to respect their bodies. That kind of “locker room talk” is the antithesis of what I want my boys to hear.

And so if you talk like this, please see your way out. We have no room and no tolerance for you here. I’m not sorry and you won’t be missed. This is more than politics, this is humanity and I won’t stand for this from the people in my life.

Gut Struggles and Victories

About a month ago, we found out that William doesn’t have Celiac. I think I wrote he was being tested, but in case I didn’t, Will was tested for Celiac several weeks ago.

Well, he asterisk doesn’t have Celiac because if he also has a different issue he could have Celiac, but we’re feeling pretty confident that the test result, sans-asterisk, is correct. But, we still just don’t know what’s up with his gut. He swings back and forth between constipation and loose stools, he’s got a giant bloated belly and just doesn’t grow well. And his iron is like scary low. It’s less than half of the bottom level of normal. And it’s dropping. Despite a surprisingly iron rich diet.

Despite all of this, we had a fairly major William gut milestone this week. We have finally weaned him off all his reflux medication. We’ve tried twice earlier this year with epic failures both times, but this time, he’s off and without any noticeable issues.

Will was started on his first reflux med when he was 4 months old and was diagnosed with severe GERD with Sandifer variant. We added a second medication within a few weeks when the first med didn’t cut it and even then, it was almost constantly a struggle to keep everything controlled. It was a struggle to eat, a struggle to gain weight. A struggle to grow. And we dropped one medication almost a year ago, but this second one, it has been a struggle unto itself.

And now he’s off of it. Hopefully this will also improve his iron absorption since it can be known to reduce iron absorption, but I’m not holding my breath (dosage and timing seems to make it unlikely to be the cause).

I still feel like we are somehow missing the big picture for Will. It’s not food allergies (it’s also not FPIES, I’m fairly confident). It’s not Celiac. I just don’t know where else to look or if it’s time to stop looking and just live, which is mostly what we’ve been doing since the Celiac testing came back. He is growing, albeit slowly (6th percentile for height, 9th for weight!), and he is developmentally right on track. There is much to be happy about.

But even with that overwhelming happiness, it seems that I just can’t help but always have this small section of my mind on worry mode. Like there’s a tiny siren going off and I can’t ever fully quiet it. The majority of the time I can ignore it, but it never really stops. And maybe it won’t until we have an answer, or until all the abnormalities stop altogether. Hopefully the latter comes soon, for all our sake, most of all my sweet Will.

Into the Tube

A week or two ago, my Timehop app showed me a picture of Elijah at the eye doctor. I actually doubled checked the date because I didn’t think there was anyway that could’ve been a full year ago, and yet, it was. This event was only important because of why we made and attended that appointment- it was just a few weeks after Eli started complaining about headaches. They were on and off, but really slowed him down, and we wanted to rule out vision as a cause. Vision was and is still not an issue, which is good. But, in a year, the headaches have not stopped and the cause is still not known.

Which is why Eli is having an MRI tomorrow.

While an MRI in and of itself is hardly a scary test, because he’s 4 and because there is absolutely zero chance that he could even attempt to stay still in the MRI tube, he’s being put under general anesthesia. That’s where it changes from boring and loud to slightly dangerous and a little bit terrifying.

We booked it 3 months ago and I basically put it out of my mind since then. And now it’s here. Last week I was feeling way more apprehensive than I am now, mostly, I’m just ready to have this behind us and to have some idea of what’s going on inside his head.

My concerns are varied. I’m (reasonably?) worried that he has the same brain/cranial malformation I have. When I was pregnant we did several high level ultrasounds to try to rule it out, but we knew that we couldn’t possibly know for sure. It’s not necessarily been proven to be genetic (there is a strong suggestion of this though, so it wouldn’t surprise me), so that’s somewhat in our favor. Also, his headaches don’t really seem consistent with a Chiari malformation, which is also comforting.

I’m more worried that it’s going to show damage from the injury/bleed he had when he was 10 months old. If we’re being honest, I fully expect something to show up related to this. It would be kind of amazing if it didn’t. But I’m still sort of gutted by the idea of it. I know it doesn’t change anything, I know he is who he is regardless of whether there is damage from that event. I need no reminders. But I also know that hearing or reading that his brain suffered permanent damage from that event is going to be a lot for my heart to handle.

And then there’s the unknown. A year ago I was much more worried about that than I am now. The headaches haven’t evolved, they’ve ebbed and flowed (flown?) the duration of the year, he doesn’t have any other neurological signs, so I feel like the likelihood that there’s anything nefarious is virtually zero. I couldn’t possibly be more grateful for this.

I can’t possibly convey how ready I am to be past this event. I know he’s going to be fine. I know it’s not going to be pleasant and that Elijah is going to be scared, but I also know that this is the right choice and that having more information will be worth the unpleasantries required to get that information. And hopefully that information will be super boring and the only information we will get will be ruling out anything more than an unfortunate genetic predisposition for headaches.

Growing Safely

On first glance at my kids, it would seem very obvious that Will is a harder kid to parent. And in a lot of ways, he is. He is more temperamental than Eli ever was. He’s more prone to public (and private) tantrums. He has had a lot of health issues and he continues to be a less than ideal sleeper. And I adore him, just as I do his brother. But as Eli grows, I’m starting to see that while Will is in a tough season of life, Eli seems likely to be more challenging for me to parent.

Eli is extremely sensitive. I see so very much of myself in him, which is not necessarily a good thing.

He hates getting in trouble and he will lie, to your face, to avoid it. Not in a devious, trying to get away with being poorly behaved way, but in a, will do anything to avoid having adults be upset with him kind of way. He will ask, several times a day if we are happy, which is his 4 year old way of asking if we’re mad at him. And if we are frustrated with him, he gets incredibly upset.

But it’s more than that. He’s not shy, he will talk to any person on the earth without any concept of whether he’s interrupting their lives (so basically he’s a 4 year old), but he is self-conscious. He loves to sing, but if we try to record him singing, or if we stop singing, he will also stop. He worries about what his friends will think of him and if someone isn’t kind to him, it breaks his tiny little heart. He tells us he’s “feeling a little bit sad” at least once a day, as a result of something someone has said/done towards him. Granted, not all of this is significant in nature, today his daycare teacher made him feel a little bit sad because she wouldn’t let him push Will off a swing, but still. Lots of sad.

And this presents a huge challenge to me. Because I am that person. I hate getting in trouble, I live in fear that I’ll get fired from my job despite the fact that I work my ass off to be a good employee. I got in a disagreement with someone on social media this week about something I said and it ruined my entire day. Like Eli, I care deeply, WAY too deeply about what other people think about me. And I think it was my sensitivity and my tendency to let my hurt feelings show, that contributed significantly to my being bullied, heavily, in elementary school. When I say heavily, I mean to the point that I had to change schools after 2 excruciating years.

And that’s why it’s really tough for me to not “bully proof” Eli. I try to buy him clothes that fit in with other kids, sometimes accidentally pushing him away from his inclinations towards more “socially acceptable” things. I didn’t want to let him wear Sesame Street socks to school last week because I’m not sure that it’s still something the kids in his class like (but I did anyway). I want to make sure he speaks in a way that is age appropriate. I just, I have to stop myself, almost daily, because I want so badly to protect him from what I experienced as a child, but I know that doing that squashes his personality, which is arguably even worse. It’s hard for me to imagine sending him to kindergarten next year because I feel like I’m sending him to the wolves and I’m so scared that his incredible, gentle heart will be broken.

It ends up that while Will tests my patience daily, Eli tests my heart as often, if not more. I struggle more with how to help him grow up as himself, safely, than I do with all of William’s tantrums combined. I always heard that parenting was hard on the heart, but I never fully grasped the depths of that truth. I do now. I understand a small part of what it is to send your heart out the door, knowing fully that someday it will be crushed by someone else’s words. I understand the desire to wrap your child in metaphorical bubble wrap to keep them safe, even at the expense of fully experiencing life.

I realize that the issue here isn’t Elijah, it’s me. But I sense that this struggle, the need to keep him happy and safe while also allowing him to be fully himself, is going to span many years of our lives. I’m thrilled that I get to be his mother, the one who lives this struggle, because he is more than worth it and I adore this boy more than words could ever fully capture. I can’t wait to watch him grow up and grow into who he wants to be, even if it’s harder on my heart than I ever knew it could be.

First Day Feelings

This morning my baby started preschool.

We are extremely lucky that Elijah was already enrolled at an amazing preschool that is one of the few places that takes non-potty trained 2 year olds, so it was a no-brainer to move William at the start of this school year. We went last week and met the teachers (Elijah’s is the same as he had all summer, so it was a sort of non-event for him) and we absolutely adore Will’s teacher.

Will

And today was just, it was a delight. William was happy to check out his new room, he was thrilled to take his big kid lunch box and walk in like his brother. I’m not sure he realized that I was leaving him there, since for a year he has come with me to drop Elijah off and then we’ve gone to his daycare, but you couldn’t tell.

elijah

And as the boys walked out to the playground, Elijah grabbed William’s hand and said, “William, do you want to come play with me?” Will of course said yes and just as I thought my heart couldn’t possibly be any more full, Elijah turned back to me and said, “Mom, don’t worry. I won’t let him get sad.”

IMG_0975

They ran to the sand box and I burst into happy tears. Happy because we’ve found a school that we just adore, that we feel safe dropping our kids off. And happy because of the incredible generosity of our older son, to his brother. I have never felt luckier to be their mom than in that moment.

By all accounts, both boys had great days. Elijah played with his friends and William enjoyed his new classroom, his new friends and was a delight all day. The preschool director saw me at pick up and said it was as if William had always gone there. He acclimated that well.

both boys

Hopefully the coming days will be every bit as delightful as the first.

What a Difference 2 Years Make

I am still just not over the fact that my baby is two. My baby. Two. It’s almost like he’s not a baby except shut your mouth he’s a baby. Forever.

1 day!
1 day

6 months and 1 day!
6mowill

1 year and 1 day!
12mo1

18 months and 1 day!
will18mo1

19 months and 1 day!
19mo

20 months and 1 day!
20mo

21 months and 2 days!
willmo21

22 months and 3 days!
22mo

23 months and 1 day!
23mo

24 months and 1 day!
24mo

William: Year 2

Will-

Today you are 2 years old. My baby. My sweet tiny boy. I cannot believe it. It has gone so fast and suddenly here we are. Two.

Month 24

You are loved far and wide and proclaimed by all as the sweetest little boy. And it’s true. You have the gentlest, sweetest heart. You love to snuggle and hug and you would love nothing more in this world than to sleep in my bed every day of your life. You are my tiny buddy and though you have a big personality, you’re also sensitive and cautious and it’s easy to forget that because of your tendency to slip into toddler hysteria from time to time (time being a word for minute).

Month 24

You are also just the chattiest. I mean it. You are still a little tough to understand, but you have SO much to say. You regularly confuse strangers with 5-6 word sentences. Your daycare teachers are always astounded at what you say to me at pick up because we have full conversations about your day. You are so very bright and I’m almost afraid of all the things you’ll learn this year. Your capacity for mischief seems pretty large.

Month 24

You love your brother so fiercely that it overwhelms you at times and frustrates him as well. You think he is the coolest and later this month you’ll start preschool (WHY TIME, WHY?) and get to go to his school, too. I think you’re going to like it and I think having your big brother around is probably the best bonus for you.

Month 24

Your likes this month include: Mommy, Daddy, Eyijah, Thomas the Tank Engine and his pal Percy, Toy Story (the obsession. It is a thing.), the cats, bubbles, your grandparents, buckling your car seat buckle (except, funny story, you can’t say k sounds, so you always yell “I DO MY BUTOLE!” and say that several times out loud quickly and you will understand why we die laughing every time we get in the car. You parents are not mature.), pouches, chocolate milk in a cup (never a box, always a cup), having us drape your blanket on you for sleeping, sliding things down your brother’s car ramp.

Month 24

Your dislikes this month include: being told no, not getting something you want, walking (“me me up, mom!”) any distance greater than about a foot, when your brother “trades” toys with you, eating (generally), fruit, vegetables, naps, being told to do something you don’t want to do (basically, not being in charge).

Month 24

The past month you have really changed from a baby to a boy. You participate with others, you seem to understand bigger things more than before. I can see the wheels in your head turning, see you solving problems and making connections. You are a lot like me, both as a child and now. You’re easily frustrated and I can see you trying so hard to do things or fix things, but your emotions are just big. They’re just bigger than your sweet tiny body right now.

Month 24

I am anticipating that this next year will be a tough one, even tougher than last year. You are desperately searching for boundaries and I’m trying my best to stay patient and calm while you struggle to understand the world around you. I adore you, even on your most difficult and scream filled days, I love you in ways that would be completely impossible to explain. I remember every moment of your life, the way it felt like my heart would explode with joy the first time I held you. The way I feel each night when I tuck you into bed.

Month 24

Month 24

You are my second baby, my second toddler, but you hold such a piece of my heart that you would never know you didn’t come first. You are not without struggles, but these struggles are more than worth it for all the sweet moments and abudant love you bring us. I feel lucky every day that of all the moms, I get to be yours. That I get to help you grow into a child and a man, that I get to be your cheerleader and your teacher. That I get a front row seat to all the amazing things you’re going to do in your life.

Month 24

Month 24

Please know that whatever next month and next year bring, my love for you, my sweet little love, is eternal. It doesn’t matter where you go or what you do in this life, my love is constant, and you can rely on it whenever you need to.

Month 24

Month 24

Happy birthday, my sweet little William. I love you to heights that words cannot reach, in ways that sentences will never adequately describe. I am truly the luckiest because I am your mom.

Love,
Mom

One of those very random catch up kind of posts

I have opened up the blog several times this week to write and then the allure of laziness takes over and I don’t. Things are basically good. And busy.

The boys are ending their summer school sessions this month. Eli ends this week, Will has one more, then they both have a week off together. And the last week in August, Will starts preschool and my children, for one golden, beautiful year, will attend the same school. I am so excited about this I can barely contain myself. It helps that I deeply love our preschool and know that Will is going to be in such good hands there.

Speaking of Will, he’s in the middle of a bout of enterocolitis from something we can’t quite pinpoint. I’ll spare you the details, but we’ve cut out dairy and apples on suspicion that one or both may be the culprit and now we have to wait a few more days to see if things change, diaperly speaking. He’s not bothered, which is good, but it’s not pleasant for any of us at the moment.

He’s also hurling headfirst into the terrible twos like a man on a mission. Everything results in a hysterical screaming fit- not fight is too small for him to pick. It’s going to be a long few years with this child of mine. And it’s just a really, really good thing that he’s very cute.

Also, we got a kitten. And she is lovely. We (foolishly?) let Eli name her, and thus we have an adorable long hair/Maine Coone mix named Featherfluffy. Not Feather. Not Fluffy. Featherfluffy. So.

Sweet little Featherfluffy came home from the shelter with a wound infection (from her spay surgery) and 3 different viruses that have cost us several thousands of dollars to treat and have resulted in the sweetest little kitten on earth, who also happens to have a persistently runny nose (months. Months of snot) that she sneezes all over the damn house. I love her, but there is just so much snot. And! Because this isn’t good enough! She will have this virus for her whole life. It may, hopefully, go dormant, but she in times of stress it will re-emerge. So when (heaven forbid) we lose our older cat (not for MANY YEARS) we won’t be able to get Featherfluffy a companion because she will just give that cat the same virus. she’s already given it to our older cat, who thankfully has a much milder version.

Starting later this month, I’m picking up an extra day of work each week. Eli has to attend school 5 mornings a week (it’s part of the pre-K program), so since I would already have to pay for 5 days, it made more sense for me to add more work. Will will attend 4 days and I’ll get to have one day of just mom/Will time, which I think will be good for my insane nearly 2 year old. He could use some attention. It will also allow me to pick Eli up early one day a week so he can have a little break from school.

Other than that, there’s just not really much at all going on. We are happy, we are healthy (even Will is doing pretty good) and life is good. And hopefully we will continue to be this way. And maybe I’ll even remember to write occasionally. No promises.

Summers of Love

Nearly every summer of my childhood, we spent a week with my family in Ventura. We crammed 15+ people into a three bedroom house. We showered outside, often in pairs to save water and keep sand out of the house after hours at the beach. We collected shells and wiped tar off the bottoms of our feet, knowing we’d track more in the next day. We spent hours upon hours in the ocean. Stopping only to eat a snack and catch more sun before diving back into the murky seas. Some of the best (and admittedly worst, but that’s a different story for a different time) memories of my childhood were made here.

I remember, with great clarity, waking up early in the morning, when all my cousins were sleeping, and finding my grandma outside. She was an early riser and the two of us would go for walks alone to search for sand dollars before everyone else woke up and found them. I remember fondly taking short cuts to the donut store through the wall by the liquor store to bring back breakfast for the family. I even remember the time my grandpa told me that if my cousin and I walked the recycling all the way to the recycling center we could keep all the money we earned. It ended up being less than $2 for a half an hour’s work. My grandpa had a great sense of humor.

Last week, for the second year in a row (the third time in 4 years), we made our way to Ventura with a segment of my family- my mom, my aunt and her family, my sister and her family and our family of 4.

My boys spent 8 days with their cousins, who they rarely see, but adore. We made our way onto the beach every single day we were there and we spent hours upon hours in the sand and in the ocean. The boys squealed with delight as waves washed over their ankles. Eli cried actual tears when we had to leave because he, like me, never wanted to go back home. I barely saw my kids outside of the ocean because they were so busy spending every spare moment with their cousins that it was almost like I was childless, but in a good way.

And all I could think was how much my grandma, who started this tradition, would’ve loved to see it. Family was paramount to her. It was the reason she woke, the reason she lived and breathed. She only met one of the cousins that was at the beach this year because of her sudden death 14 years ago, but I know without hesitation, that she would adore all of them. She would love, like we all do, Eli’s sweet nature and his gentle spirit. She would love Addie and Will for their endless spunk and persistence with all things. She would’ve practically levitated with joy hearing her family sing together at church, her 12 year old granddaughter leading the entire church in a psalm. Everything about it would’ve delighted her and I think we all felt that.

It felt so very appropriate that we were there for what would’ve been my grandparents’ birthday (they shared a birthday, which also, oddly always seemed appropriate). On July 26th, they would’ve been 91 and 90 years old. My grandma has been gone for 14 years, my grandpa for 2. My heart stills aches with their absence, but I was just so deeply happy this week, living the memories that they gave to us, the traditions they started.

For my grandparents’ birthday, we walked to my great aunt and uncle’s house, which is where we stayed in the summers when we were kids. We ate piles and piles of spaghetti and laughed about the memories we had made there and about our big, wacky family. It was joyous, but I think we all felt exactly what was missing. It was a strange conflict- the joy from the family that was gathered and the sorrow from those who couldn’t.

We are home now, rejuvenated and relaxed. Tan and a little chubby. But happy. I hope that someday my boys will remember this trip and the ones before and after it, the way I remember my childhood beach trips. I hope that each summer they will count down the days until we leave, the way I always did. And I hope that the legacy of love that my grandparents left us will take center stage for decades to come.