Thursday, May 25, 2017

On Children

Today I had the honor of watching Samina perform as The Moon in her end of the year play. She had been reciting the part for a while now, but I had no idea that the part would be (a) sung and (b) a solo! I know I'm biased, but she was P-E-R-F-E-C-T. My heart is still bursting with pride for her and her fearlessness and grace.



And my sense of admiration immediately had me thinking about this wonderful piece by Kahlil Gibran.

On Children

Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life's longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.


You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.
You may strive to be like them,
but seek not to make them like you.
For life goes not backward nor tarries with yesterday.


You are the bows from which your children
as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite,
and He bends you with His might
that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer's hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies,
so He loves also the bow that is stable.



You may not remember today, but trust me on this: you were the sweetest moon ever, dearest Samina!




Saturday, April 15, 2017

To Sami on your 5th birthday


Dearest Samina,

Starting to sound like a broken record, but it truly seems like just days ago that I met you for the first time. I will never forget how I immediately recognized that same feeling I'd had with your sister: a profound sense of familiarity. Like we had already known - and loved - each other in some ancient, far away life.

Now, 5 years later, your friends and family - and old ladies at the supermarket - flock to you and your magnetic personality. Charmed by your contagious laugh and that mischievous grin, and those jolly chocolate brown eyes - and by the inspiring image of a long-haired, swirly dress-wearing girl with lip gloss carrying around a pair of Hot Wheels and kicking a soccer ball.

You are generous with your affection and smart as a whip, the ever observer who shocks me constantly because absolutely nothing goes over your head. You are wise beyond your years and - maybe my favorite trait of yours, though it's hard to pick just one - you have such a seasoned sense of irony, innately aware of life's both big and little jokes. But you are also deeply empathetic and quick to size up any situation, better and faster than most adults I know.

Not a day goes by that I don't feel fortunate to be your Mommy. Thank you for trusting me, for making us all belly laugh, for bringing such love (paired with aggravation) to your big sister, and for teaching us all how to stop and smell the roses.

Happy 5th birthday, sweet Pookie. May you always find the courage to stay true to yourself.

We love you so much,

Mommy, Papà and Sofi

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What we can do

This week feels particularly grim. It's hard to see past the executive orders, the cabinet appointments, the painful "press conferences", the media blackout. As it is most likely intended to do, it brings a mist of hopelessness over what was already a trying time, and it is most certainly going to get worse before it gets better. But I do believe it *will* get better. As long as we fight the desire to just unplug it all and run and hide. We can do that too - we MUST do that too, to keep us sane and motivated - but we also need to have a plan of action.

We need to keep ourselves politically active, first and foremost. For some thoughts regarding that, you can see (among many others): www.womensmarch.com/100/ and https://petitions.whitehouse.gov/. But many of us are feeling like that's not enough. And so I've been brainstorming about other things that can be done, beyond the realm of politics and policy. Small-seeming gestures that can change lives in tangible ways, and I would like to share them with you and invite you to join me in any of the ones that feel pertinent to you:

1. If you have any kids in your life, read them stories with feminist heroes ("I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark," "Rosie Revere, Engineer," "Grace for President," "Malala Yousafzai: Warrior with Words," to name just a few), or any books that can start discussions on issues that are important to you.

2. Stop and talk to a stranger today. Anyone. A homeless person, a granny at the supermarket, your grocery delivery kid. Make eye contact. Offer them coffee. Share a laugh.

3. Volunteer: at your local library or soup kitchen, nursing home, your kid's school.

4. Pay it forward: pay for someone's coffee or Target purchase or groceries.

5. Donate. Clean out some closets and bring them to your nearest Goodwill, synagogue or neighbor in need.

6. Cook a meal for friends. Even better if they are new parents or have a large family, etc., but even just for your neighbor. Just because.

7. Make new friends. That woman you always run into and chat with at your kid's baseball game? Ask her if she wants to go out for a drink sometime (and then actually go!).

8. Make art. Take your angst and make it into a painting, a poem, a story, a collage, a photograph. Then share it on social media to inspire someone else.

9. Make a concerted effort to help. Give up your seat on the bus, help an elderly person carry his shopping bags, give someone your parking spot, wash your friend's dishes while she's in the other room, shovel your neighbor's driveway. 

10. Take a long walk outside every once in a while. Let yourself feel however you are feeling and make a plan of action while you're sweating out your worries.

11. Go to town/local government meetings. Even if they're about things you know nothing about or couldn't care less about. Be present. Take notes and follow up.

12. Put a little something in the tip jar. At the bar, at the coffee shop, at the coat check.

13. Buy things from local shops, donate money to an artist, offer to work the front of house at a local theater, support the local arts by going to their performances and inviting friends to join you.

14. Subscribe (I mean with money, not just free online) to a trusted news outlet.

15. Talk to any friends who may not have voted in the last election and help them register to vote/help them find out about when your next local elections are and get involved with them.

16. Perhaps the most important of all: go rogue. Force yourself not to accept authority on instinct, but really think critically about what you are being told to do/reading/hearing/what is being asked of you. Get support from ally friends if fighting the standard means you may be affected negatively (and you will). Fight the good fight, starting with your own mind.

I could go on and on. I truly believe that the way we carry ourselves in our daily lives is of the utmost importance. As the saying goes: "Be the change you wish to see in the world."

I would love for anyone and everyone to contribute their own too, so please, please share any others you may think of! And THANK YOU.

Let's roll up our sleeves, friends!








Monday, January 23, 2017

They were marching for you, too.

Have you ever looked for an empty seat on a bus or in a college lecture or at the movie theater next to a woman, instead of a man, to avoid being bothered?

Have you ever pretended to listen to music on your headphones so men would leave you alone?

Have you ever been totally giddy at the idea of joining a women’s-only gym?

Have you ever walked into a car dealership to have their first question be “So, what color would you like?”

Have you ever had a story to tell every.single.day about being (often vulgarly) cat-called as you walk to work?

Have you ever had a friend wait for you to safely get inside your house before they drove off?

Have you ever been told you should smile more/asked why you are always so angry?

Have you ever been told you are a crybaby, a bitch, an idiot because what on earth could you have to complain about?

Have you ever purposely not made eye contact with a man so he wouldn’t get the wrong idea?

Have you ever felt uneasy around a man, but couldn’t put your finger on why?

Have you ever “spotted” a friend at a bar to make sure the guy harassing her would just leave?

Have you ever tried to make yourself "a guy's girl" to be cooler?

Have you ever changed your outfit 10 times before a job interview because you didn’t want to give off the “wrong vibe”?

Have you ever had to water down your views or opinions to avoid being seen as a "bitch"?


Well then, those women were marching for you, too, whether you wanted them to or not.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Diary-entry daughter update

I was going through some old posts and realized I haven't done a diary-entry daughter update for a while. I like keeping track of their likes and dislikes and where they are emotionally (them and me) and love looking back on them, especially on particularly tough days!

So...here we go!

Sofia...


You are definitely the scorekeeper in the family, with one eye constantly out for wrongdoers or injustices. You are also -- despite that or because of it -- our in-house, curly-head-in-the-clouds poet/songstress/artist, night-time story reader, and inventer. You Love school, all italics with a capital "L". I have never met another soul as curious as you (besides your father), and I think I have chosen it as my favorite thing about you, followed closely by your all-out enthusiasm, adventurous tastebuds, and how easily things just slide off your back, pushed right off with the force of one of your silly belly laughs.

You have never been a "simple" child, but you and I have muddled through the first-born storm together, clinging to each other as we figure it out. You feel 10,000 emotions simultaneously and it's hard - nope, impossible - to tame them, or you, when you are upset or excited or any of the million emotions in between. But the older you get and the more I understand how you tick, the more confident I feel that you are going to be just fine. And that fills me with so much relief and appreciation for you.

Current loves: crafts and handicrafts of any kind, gymnastics, playing with your sister, going out to dinner (especially sushi), playing outside, reading out loud to us in both English (favorite is anything Berenstain Bears right now) and Italian, slipping into bed to go to sleep after a long day, swimming, snuggles from Mommy, fake karate with Papà, laughing, spending time with your entire extended family, travelling, homework (I KNOW!), asking questions, putting on dance "shows", cheesy summer pop music (thanks, camp van), animals.

Current hates: being scolded, practicing piano when you're tired (and thus fighting with Papà), getting bossed around by your sister, getting in trouble for bossing your sister around, injustice, mosquitos, most kinds of cheese, being bored.

I don't know what I'd do without you Sofia...but, mainly, I don't know who I'd be without you. You have taught me so much about what it is to be a good person, a truly kind, patient, and generous person. You test me - sometimes your head is so far up in the clouds that I want to shake you awake - but it mostly comes from my fear that you'll miss something or get hurt. But mainly I am just so proud of who you are becoming, and the older you get, the easier and more interesting it is to talk to you and hear your perspective on things. Thank you, my sweet Peanut, for helping make me the mom, and person, I am today.

Samina...


Our little sneaky monkey! You are the personification of "Sugar and Spice."

People take to you in minutes, and your instant ability to make friends is my favorite aspect of your personality, as well as what I admire most about you. You don't seem to abuse this power either - except with your sister, who you absolutely love to push around - which might just in fact be your unquestionably favorite hobby.

You and I have a very close relationship, and I have to admit that I feel like the Queen of the World when you need some cuddles and cry out for me. And though I joke about it, I think I will miss it when you're older and no longer need to stuff one hand down my shirt, other thumb in your mouth, in order to relax ;)

There are tough sides to you too. Whereas your sister has a very powerful sense of empathy and right and wrong, your favorite pastime is testing boundaries, seeing just how much you can get away with. It's frustrating, but underneath my scolding I also am proud of your rebellious nature.

Your sister is your idol, though you would have to basically be tortured at Abu Ghraib before you would admit it. You miss her when she's not around, and the older you guys get, the more I feel my first place importance in your life fading, while you make room for your sister on that pedestal. As much as I'm nostalgic for it, I couldn't entrust you to a better soul though, so make sure you listen to your sister - she is looking out for you, sometimes even better than I ever could.

Current loves: playing with your baby dolls, playing with your sister, playing outside, sweets of any kind, gymnastics, pretending to read books, story time, cuddling, sucking your thumb, animals, travelling, watching TV, makeup and dress-up, wearing dresses and only dresses, running, teasing your sister, swimming, birthday parties, dancing, doing everything your sister does, spending time with your whole extended family, candy, negotiating, laughing.

Current hates: being scolded, feeling like anyone is laughing at you, having to turn the TV off, getting blamed for something you didn't do, getting bossed around by your sister, feeling out of control, wearing pants, being forced to do anything.

There is no lovelier sound in this house than your laughter, Sami. Your sunny disposition is the cure-all in this family of overthinking philosophers. But underneath that carefree exterior is a keen observer, who says little but hears everything, and stockpiles every thread of information. You are sunshine and joy, with a hint of thunder and a handful of lightning. Your greatest gift to me is what you teach me about the definitions of loyalty and self-love.



Like I tell you every night before you fall asleep: I am so lucky to be your mom, my beautiful girls.
May the world give you everything you've ever dreamed of, and may the hard times always be surmountable. And may you never, ever forget that your Papà and I will always, always, always have your back.

















Thursday, August 18, 2016

Cultural shift

As our trip starts to wind down, marked by the last day of camp tomorrow and the start of our last week stateside, I can't help but reflect on the past 2 months.

Andrea and I decided a few years ago that it was really important to us that the girls experience life (the culture and language) over here, mainly because one day (who knows!) they may decide they want to go to college in the U.S., but also because it's just so important to us that this part of themselves feels familiar.

And familiar it has become. The other day, Samina walked out of the bathroom singing the hokey pokey, and out of the blue referred to sneakers as "tennis shoes" yesterday. And Sofia...she recently schooled Andrea about what someone's "jam" is. Mix that together with the "van music" (music her van drivers put on for the morning commute), pop tunes ranging from Justin Bieber to Flo Rida, and I believe we have ourselves two mini Americans (ok, mini Italian-Americans to be precise...they still don't like to mix their first and second courses on the same plate).

I am just so proud of them for all of this. The flexibility and open minds, courage and adaptability that they have shown really make me tear up daily. They are remarkable little human beings and I am so glad we have had the opportunity to provide them with this room for growth (thanks mom and dad!) and the chance to spend some quality time with the other parts of their family too, and to make some first-rate memories together (NYC, Woodloch, Sesame Place, and the list goes on...leaving for the shore tomorrow!).

While all 4 of us are looking forward to heading back to our home and the other half of our friends and family, we can only smile at the memories made...and gasp a little bit at how big the girls seem to have gotten under the hot sun and fresh outdoors that their summer camp experience has provided them with.


See you next year, New Jersey!




Saturday, April 16, 2016

Samina turns 4


Like every mother before me, I am truly bewildered at the fact that my baby is turning 4.

For our family, Samina represents a sort of Joker in the deck. She almost always wakes up with a smile, but then you never really know what the rest of the day will bring.

Her thoughts and actions are unpredictable - which I am slowly starting to accept as a good thing - though it makes for some stressful parenting at times. She is tigerishly defiant and independent, endearingly mischievous and so, so hysterical.

Her will cannot be bent, unless there is television or some sort of dessert involved. In many ways, she is what the rest of us in the Rossi family lack: pure, uncontaminated rebellion. Yet, she is also passionately loyal and gives the most delicious spontaneous hugs in the universe.

Her current favorites: playing with her sister, jumping on the trampoline, riding on her scooter, being outside, passionately talking to her dolls with a purse swung over her shoulder, chocolate, Night Fury from How to Train Your Dragon, pretty much anything on TV but especially Super Wings and Paw Patrol and (sigh) Dora, accessories, anything sparkly, fancy shoes, lip gloss, tiny objects, skirts that spin when she dances around, music, constant chatter, books, animals, annoying her sister, making people laugh.

You're a handful, Sami, but I hope you never change. I hope your zest for life and your sense of irony follow you always, and that you continue to find irreverent joy in all of life's little details. I am in awe of you, and I envy you, for these traits, and I am so very charmed by the original, loving, clever little person you are turning out to be.

We love you so much, Pookie!

Ti vogliamo un mondo di bene, Always,

Mommy (and Papà and Sofi)