Thursday, October 17, 2019

Love Letter on a sunny Autumn day

Facebook just served me up some memories, including one of my love letters I'd written about my girls a few years, I figured it was time to write another, updated one!

At this moment in time, Sofia is 10 years and 4 months old and Samina is 7 and a half. 

As we enter into the pre-tween years with you, Sofia, things have become...slightly more complex. The tween years mean growth, and growth means pain. You are starting to move away from me, question me, rebel against me, hold anger towards me. I have to remind myself on the daily that this is all normal and healthy and, well, required in so many ways. I've always believed that people who never rebelled against their parents in some form never really grew to their full potential. And, as with all things, our girl is ahead of the times. 10 seems so early to me for all this painful change, but I know that you are just ready for it. You are so in touch with yourself and what it is you expect from this world. I know those expectations will get blown to bits, especially over the next 5-10 years, and that scares me so much that it keeps me up at night sometimes. You are going to be disappointed, heartbroken and so, so, so angry -- and all I will be able to do (and can presently do) is BE THERE. Entirely, wholly, without judgement and without trying to fix anything. And that is so hard for me, and perhaps the biggest life lesson that Parenthood has taught me, thus far.

There are so many wonderful things about this new growth, too, though. You have become an avid reader, you remain one of the most curious people I know, you will try any food in the universe - some I would even avoid! - and you are so filled with empathy and a keen understanding of the workings of the human heart. You just love to laugh, and you give love with such a force - that same force that nearly knocks me over when you're mad. The ups are Up and the downs are Down. And I can see myself in you, in so many ways and for so many reasons. My greatest wish for you is that you are able to keep that fire lit in yourself, but find a way to manage it and give it focus and utilize it in a constructive way. And that you find people in her life, besides your family, who will love you unconditionally for that fire - not despite it, but because of it.

Which thus brings me to Sofia's biggest fan: Samina. Samina, you are a tough nut to crack. You prefer to keep your emotions to yourself most of the time. But, man, are you funny. Your silliness is a salve in this house, as is the gentleness that you on occasion bring out, to our utter glory. Sometimes after a hard day, the only thing that makes me feel better is snuggling with you, right up face-to-face with my Pookie. You have a calming effect on me that nobody else has - though, make no mistake, you also can drive me totally bonkers sometimes. 

Your sense of independence is the thing I admire most about you: your clothes, your music, your playing, your decisions. They are all purely yours, 110% and without apology. This can be frustrating for your papà and I, but you should know that we also love it. My greatest hope for you, Sami, is that you are able to keep that unapologetic love for yourself alive, to not give into peer pressure or the weight of the culture around you and lose sight of who you are and want to be. I will be here to remind you, every chance I can get, that we love you for who you are. 110%.

When you both were born, the moment they put you into my arms, I felt like I'd known you before. There was a familiarity, a sense of having-lived-this-before, that rushed over me like warm water. With each day that passes, with each day that becomes a month that becomes a year, that eventually becomes a decade in your case Sofia, I feel that connection to you both grow deeper. Our days ebb and flow - I am not always the best version of myself with you two, admittedly, and some nights I am filled with regret about that. Watching you grow fills me with love and admiration and pride, but also anxiety and grief and a previously-unknown feeling of mourning. For the moments we will never get back, for the racing sands of time, for my desperate hope that your papà and I will be given the chance to witness all the future has in store for you both. 

So, my wish for both of you is this: that you always, without fail and without condition, know how much we love you. That you are unafraid to take new risks and find new paths, because you know we are here for you. That you recognize, at least one day, that our nagging and pushing comes from a place of adoration and a hope that you both can realize your full potential; meaning, that you both can become the very best versions of yourself that you can be. Whatever, absolutely whatever, that entails. 

I love you, my silly, beautiful girls.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Samina turns 7!

Wow, I can't believe the last time I wrote was for Sami's 6th birthday...and now, here we are, she just turned 7 a couple weeks ago! I feel I need to write a little love letter to my baby though, so here goes.

Dearest Sami,

You are your own person and I genuinely hope, every single day, that is something you will never lose. Your sense of self, your multi-colored outfits and soul, your keen sense of comic timing, your (seeming) lack of self-consciousness. I would love to take credit for it and say that it's thanks to these last 7 years of childhood that have made you so confident, but the truth is you were just born this way. Knowing who you were and what you wanted, what pissed you off and what made you happy, from day 1.

Moms always say they learn more from their children than vice-versa, and we are no exception. You (and your sister) are a constant source of inspiration to me. I am awed by you both. You really do help make me a better person, and perhaps most importantly you have shown me what absolute, no-strings-attached true love really means. What it feels like to be so wholly loved and accepted, no matter.

But enough gushing. Here's a list of your current loves and hates.

You currently Love:
Candy and chocolate, snuggle time with Mommy, playing with your sister, music and dancing, laughing, family, buying new clothes, books, squishies, getting your nails done, SHOES, tv and movies, taking pictures, rollerblading and generally doing dangerous feats outside, parties, making messes, making us laugh.

You currently Hate:
Getting in trouble, having to turn off the tv, feeling someone lied to you, feeling made fun of, getting up early in the morning, not getting your way, weird-consistency food, saying goodbyes, cleaning up, having to put on sensible shoes, when anyone you love is sad.

Samina, my baby girl, the clown of our house. Your presence in our lives is a constant reminder to find the joy - the color - in everything. And I will never be able to thank you enough for that.

We love you, Pookie,

Mommy, Papà and Sofi

Monday, April 16, 2018

Samina turns 6!!

Dearest Sami // Pookie // Sammy-Whammy // Baby Girl // Baby Doll // Shnoogle Bunny // Monkey,

Oh my, my baby girl turns 6 today!!!! 6 whole years of bringing magic, laughter and sass to the Rossi family.

Here's where you're at:

Sweets and junk food, family, shoes, playing with Sofia, slime, snuggles (usually in that order), running, laughing, playing outside, making us laugh, makeup, reading/pretending to read, sleeping in, taking long showers or baths, snow, screen time of any kind, swim meets, pretend play, having guests over, going out to dinner, piano, summer, all animals, surprises, when your sister compliments you (even if you would never give her the satisfaction of letting on), freedom.

Anyone telling you what to do/think/feel/wear/eat, getting yelled at, wearing your smock at school, feeling made fun of, having to wear a coat/sweater/hat, homework, getting rid of old toys or clothes, not having privacy, transitions, hearing us tell stories to other people about you, aggressive kids, weird food consistency, unkept promises.

May you continue to always find joy in the details and friendship absolutely everywhere. May you continue to know your value and fight for it, cry when your sister gets yelled at, find the irony in absolutely everything and always ALWAYS know that we have your back. Always.

Happy 6th birthday, little rebel. Never change.

"Just because you find that life's not fair it
Doesn't mean that you just have to grin and bear it!
If you always take it on the chin and wear it
You might as well be saying
You think that it's okay
And that's not right!
And if it's not right
You have to put it right!
But nobody else is gonna put it right for me
Nobody but me is gonna change my story
Sometimes you have to be a little bit naughty."

- Matilda, the musical


Mommy, Papà and Sofi

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Happy 8th, Sofi!

My sweet, tenacious, responsible, peppery Sofia turns 8 today and I - of course - am half in denial. Where oh where has the time gone?

There is nobody quite like Sofia. You know that famous poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow? This one:

There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
 When she was good,
   She was very good indeed,
  But when she was bad she was horrid.

That pretty much sums it up!
My curly-headed wonder daughter is the most gorgeous creature inside and out- so kind and empathetic, curious and judicious. Her understanding of herself is right on the nose - so much so that recently she rightfully described her own best trait as gentilezza (kindness) and her own worst trait as being irritabile (irritable). With not a pinch of help from us older folk. Her teachers have only positive things to say about how she gets on well with and helps her classmates, has been blessed with tireless curiosity, and has a level of concentration that couldn't be broken with a tornado.
There is another side to Sofia - a whinier side, that is often bubbling right under the surface. She does NOT like not getting her way - she likes it even less when the one winning the battle is her sister. But Andrea and I - as difficult as it is to reason with this side of her - have learned to accept and really appreciate it for what it will surely bring her in the future: independence. Because, while Sofia lives for human relationships and conversation, social situations and chaos - she also knows when to say no, and nobody (but nooobody) is going to get her to change her mind, come hell or high water. This will, I think (well, um, I sorta know from experience) serve her well in the future.
Current loves: painting ceramics, pretending to be a swim teacher or a ballerina, the movie "Ballerina", putting on "shows" for family and friends, swimming, running, playing piano, getting fancy, playing with her sister, taking showers, sushi and restaurants in general, gossip (lawd help us), parties, people, having people over for dinner. Did I mention she thrives on chaos?
Current hates: when her sister is annoying, when her sister won't play the game the way she is supposed to, when her sister touches her leg by accident when they're sitting on the couch (insert eye roll here), injustice, being yelled at, scary movies (which also includes Frozen, by the by).
Sofia, you are growing into such a wonderfully complex little person. You are so tough too - overcoming your fears, looking them right in the eye, and pouncing away to the finish line. I admire that, I admire you. I am learning so very much from you, and we are all so insanely lucky to have you.
Happy birthday, my delightful Peanut. We love you more than words can really say.
Now let's go rock this summer!
Mommy, Papi & Sami

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): and 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!