- My mother. She raised me to be fiercely independent, terrifyingly brave and painfully sensitive. It’s a different thing to be an outspoken woman who accumulates new skills instead of searching for a husband to do the dirty work. She taught me to be that lady and it has saved my life, daily. My mother would laugh if I told her I couldn’t do something, then she’d come over and we’d learn how to do it together. Defeat isn’t a place we unpack our bags and stay- and I learned that from watching her fight her way out of some scary situations. I’m very proud to be her daughter.
- My father. He gave me some of the hardest lessons by his lack of effort. Yes, he also burdened me with some awful daddy issues, but I learned a lot of resilience in not ever being able to count on him or look to him for guidance. I have a gay dad I wouldn’t have had, and he taught me to paint and cross country ski. I had a stepdad who gave me a laundry list of fantastic daddy issues (hello chef fetish and my deep love for boys who can keep up with me in the kitchen) and who was there to scare off boys when I was a sassy teenager with too much sex appeal.
- Father Day. I’m a closet Catholic and it was only when my eldest two children were small that I really let myself explore my faith. I attended mass regularly and helped teach CCD. I fell in love with being a good wife and mother, something that felt celebrated every Sunday when I got to see my dear friend Dennis. He navigated my extreme Pro-choice beliefs, caught pinkeye with me when I was going through my first communion classes at 8 months pregnant, and held my hands and cried with me when my son was born blind in one eye. I know what it feels like to be wrapped in the comforting arms of faith and I know it because of Father Day. That has brought me so much peace.
- Ms. Billie Joe Biddle. This one hurts deeply as she just passed away from cancer. Ms. Biddle was my Junior High English teacher and she taught me how to write. She gave me a deep and abiding love for a thesaurus and gave my papers back when she knew I wasn’t making an effort. She introduced me to books she loved and stories that held special significance. She loved bubbles as much as I do now and always sparkled the brightest amongst her tribe of charitable Angels. She gave me the tools to find the words to express how devastating the loss of her, is… and I will be forever in her debt.
- My children’s fathers. I have two. The first was my best friend ever, and we grew up together while trying to play house and raise babies. We were way too young and still we made a really happy home. I’m happy for both of us that we found love beyond what we had, but he will always be one of the most special people in the world to me. He was there for me in ways nobody has been before or since. Years after we divorced, when my beloved dog died, I called him and he came immediately. He’s been an incredible father to our children and I am forever grateful to him. The second was absolutely the nicest man I’ve ever dated. He’s also the best father I could imagine. He lives and works out of state, but stays present on the phone, visits when he can and is 100% in my corner at all times. He’s loving and nurturing with our baby, he’s respectful and generous to me and he communicates kindly with me. We are incredible coparents under some difficult circumstances to navigate and I’m eternally grateful to him. I chose incredible fathers for my children, if nothing else.
- My Fancy Best. I’ve had close friends in my life before but not like her. She makes sense out of my chaos and she knows me better than I know myself. I was flailing and crying about the same old Favorite guy at lunch last week and she stopped me dead in my tracks. F- Well from now on you have to look at him like he has herps, crabs and gangrene.J- Gangrene of the penis?
F- Don’t forget the herps and crabs. No more oops I did it again.
She has a way of saving my whole world from imploding. I can text her and the next thing I know I’m sitting across from her, laughing over some bubbles and the reminder that I must be doing something right if she’s my best friend. She makes my life worth living in the most devastating moments and I can get through anything with her on my side.
- My children. The eldest has taught me basically everything, along with some fun stuff I learned with him when he was a small, inquisitive boy. I miss him desperately and pray he comes back some day. My eldest daughter is my heart and my ride or die best friend. She’s been by my side through some pretty intense shit (hello homebirth, thank you for the endless birth control you hath provide) and is always willing to roll up her sleeves and do life with me as my copilot. My little Dumpling is the tiny love of my life. She’s a Cancer, like me… and is snuggly and loving in ways I can’t even describe. She leaves me little pictures she’s drawn of us, shares everything with anyone, effortlessly… and is the sweetest kid you’ve ever met, with the quick wit and hilarity of a stand up comedienne. She’s pure delight and I thank all my lucky stars that she’s my little partner.
- My brother Zachary. I didn’t have a relationship with my dad but he gave me my brother. We look a lot alike, in fact we are very similar and he makes me feel like I have family from that side of my gene pool. When I’m hanging out with my brother, I feel like I’m at home, wherever that is. Life gets busy and time gets away from me, making it harder to keep in touch as much as I’d like, but I know if I call, he’ll answer… and we’ll laugh… and he’ll make me feel that same connected way that he always does.
- My sisters. I have 7 but each one holds a special place in my heart that nobody else could fill. They’re an ambitious, beautiful, smart, funny, talented, and incredible bunch and I would be lost without them. I don’t know how anyone gets through life without a sister and I feel so blessed to have so many. I realize I’m sneaking 7 people in for the price of one on this, but I can’t leave any one of them out.
- I feel like a narcissist for this, but I have to add myself to this list. I love learning the hard way and have made too many ridiculous choices to count. I fall in love with the potential in a man, not the reality and I’ve learned some really awful shit as a result of that bad habit. I’ve grown up a lot in the last year and feel more grounded than ever. Hoarding stupid shit that stressed me out has been a wonderful habit to break, and the clearing surfaces have taught me that I’ve found more peace in letting clutter go than in potentially losing something special. Picking myself up, dusting myself off and getting my shit together has been awful at times, but I’m damn proud to have come through the worst of times and found blue sky on the other side. At the end of the day, you really only have yourself to rely on and your own influence is the one that matters most of all.