to my daughter,
we spend a lot of time in the car. therefore, we have a lot of conversations in the car. on any given day, we can cover a variety of topics: your school day, what’s for dinner, our weekend plans, who held who’s hand on the playground (!), cancer, music, politics. . . it runs the gamut. sometimes, you express confusion or fear, and i take advantage of you being “strapped in” by a seatbelt – a captive listener, with nowhere to go – in order to address some heavy issues. i try to strike a balance between teaching you what i believe is right versus letting you form your own opinions. this isn’t always easy, particularly when it comes to issues that i feel very strongly about. one such issue is the freedom of love.
this month, one morning in the car, you expressed some embarrassment about your parents not being married, like many of your friends’ parents. i tried to address your concerns, and we talked through what a family looks like. i reminded you of how lucky we are, to be surrounded by a diverse network of family dynamics. women married to women, unmarried couples with kids, interracial relationships, adopted children, people that have divorced, as well as the “traditional” married man and woman with children. i could see the wheels turning in your head. i know i had already established a foundation for this conversation, over many other previous discussions. we have, multiple times, talked about how love doesn’t fit into a nice, neat little box labeled: “woman and man fall in love, it is easy and perfect every day, and then they easily conceive children, who are are always healthy and perfect every day. everyone gets along all the time and live happily ever after. the end.”
so here’s the thing, my precious daughter. i appreciate you feeling comfortable enough to express your embarrassment to me about your family. i understand that some days, it seems like you are the only one that doesn’t fit into that nice, neat little box. i feel that way sometimes too. but you and i both know that love is too big to fit into that box. you have already demonstrated, at the ripe old age of seven, that you believe that relationships aren’t to be based on gender, or marital status, or skin color. this is HUGE. my heart swells when i listen to you express these opinions – hearing you support the freedom of love, yes, but also that we mustn’t pass judgment on others. soooooo many people seem to focus on what they believe is right and good in other people’s relationships. the fact that you are already learning not to do this is remarkable. the other aspect of this is when we turn those criticisms inward. this is where things get tricky, for me, as well as for you, so it seems. here we must remind each other, and ourselves, about that nice, neat little box of perfection that doesn’t really exist. we don’t expect others to fit into it, and we shouldn’t expect it of ourselves either. instead, we should focus on doing what we can, each and every day, to express our love, in little and/or big ways. and as your mother, i can be honest with you about your family, mistakes made, lessons learned, and how we can better ourselves as individuals and as a family, as we continue walking on this life’s path together.
i have no idea what’s in store for your future, in terms of romantic partnerships. but i do know that if we continue to respect others’ love as well as our own, we will be okay. thank you for your enormous heart.
here’s to a lifetime of love all around us.