Sunday, April 23, 2023

Happy Birthday, Happiness

 I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my daughter's 19th birthday.  

[Gulp. 19.]

Darling Daughter,

I have that lovely joy of waking up in the middle of the night and unable to go back to sleep.  Not every night but enough to be annoying.  Early this Friday morning I awoke at 1am all grumbling that I had to face hours of lying in bed staring at the ceiling when I joyfully realized... 

I could listen to your radio show at 2am. 

Which is just bizarre because I had a radio show in early hours of Friday morning when I went to college. Adding to the bizarreness of it all is you are rowing like I did. You are also attending the same college I attended. 

Which is where the similarities stop. 

You are much smarter than I. Really.  Your focus and dedication to academics has earned you a spot in the college Honors Forum after only one semester. You also have a way more robust social life than I ever did in college.  You're telling me about parties and gatherings I never would have been a part of. I am so excited that you are making college yours.

When I called the radio station at 2am I knew exactly where you were sitting, how dark the room was and how it feels like no one is listening (which is kind of true since the live stream isn't working and what college kid owns a stand-alone radio these days).  You had me listen through the phone and I got to hear you introduce Scarlett by Claud and Stressed - A Colors Show by Doechii.  We talked while the songs played then you had me introduce myself on air and even announce that listeners heard Mariah the Scientist's 2 You

While it is an honor to have you in the spaces I once called my own, it is a joy to watch you make them yours and be even better than I dreamed I could be.

Happy 19th birthday.

I love you,


Saturday, April 23, 2022

Happy Birthday, Happiness

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my daughter's 18th birthday.  

[Oh my god.  That says 18.]

Darling Daughter,

Earlier this week we sat in a sample lecture at the accepted students' day of a college you are considering.  The psychology professor talked about personality traits and stated there is research indicating that personality can be known within hours of someone being born.

Which is why your Birthday Letter is always titled "Happy Birthday Happiness".  

You prove this Professor's point.  You beamed out happiness within hours of arriving in the world on Friday, April 23, 2004. You have personified happiness since Day 1.

As you embark on adulthood hold onto your happiness.  You exude it when you get up and rarely have that grumpy teenager sheen.  You ensure your happiness when we travel by planning the itinerary.  Our trip to Southern California last month was pretty much all your planning.  You meticulously mapped out the great college tour of 2021 and were proud of how it all worked out.  You came up with fun ideas when you, Dad and I went to Iceland.

But it is not just when we travel (which I love to do with you because you are fun to travel with. And really hope this continues) but also in all parts of life.  You are genuinely happy when you complete a task, even before you receive feedback.  I admire that you appreciate your efforts. You have worked a variety of jobs and the act of working gives you satisfaction. 

You deserve to be happy.

Of course there will be days, weeks - painfully even months - when happiness could be elusive but that is different from being worthy of happiness.  You bring so much joy to the world and the people around you through your hard work, love of music, big smile and compassion.  Always remember that you also give yourself happiness.

As we drove back from the college this week we played - several times - Lizzo's new song About Damn Time.  It couldn't be a more perfect tune to celebrate you turning 18.

I'm way too fine to be this stressed, yeah
Oh, I'm not the girl I was or used to be
Bitch, I might be better


You get better every day and that is reason alone to be happy.

I love you,




Sunday, August 22, 2021

Love, more

It seems only fitting that the day my twin boys turn 21 years old we are preparing for the first hurricane to hit our region in 30 years.  Their shared arrival certainly upended our lives and changed our history as a family.  

However, this year feels different because while they are separate people my message to them is the same.  

So I return, once again, to this completely ignored space on the interwebs to acknowledge my twin boys' 21st birthday. 

Dear son and son,

Every year for your shared birthday I write each of you a letter that I don't actually give you but I post on this blog that I barely go to.  Every year I make an observation or five, impart some wisdom, assure you both I love you then wish you a Happy Birthday.

This year is different.  This year you both are turning 21.  Watching and listening to you both this year has been watching you be the adults you are.  The adults you are becoming.  I finally get to truly marvel at who you each are and not worry that my awe will overshadow some lesson or punishment. Because it is hard to be the stern disciplinarian assuring you have manners and common sense when being awe-struck.  Now I just get to be awe-struck.

While being a parent of young children and teens is fun and rewarding, I've been waiting for this time.  The time I get to just listen and not have to fix something because now you both have the skills and resources to do it yourself.  The time when we talk not because of some obligation but because we want to share something, laugh about something, figure out something or just remember.  Rest assured I'll still listen to your problems but more often than not I hope you'll figure out that you have the skills, strength and means to fix them yourself.  It may take some time, even years, but you'll figure it out.  Then I'll get to be awe-struck again.

This is the big birthday for all of us.  You're adults and I'm your adoring mom.  A role I will treasure and relish and celebrate.

Just like I do each of you.

Happy birthday.

I love you so very much.


Friday, April 23, 2021

Happy birthday, Happiness

 I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my daughter's 17th birthday.  

Dear Darling Daughter,

Here we are again.

Another pandemic birthday.

This is not what you or anyone who has a spring birthday thought would happen when celebrations were squashed last year.  Your plans for a Sweet 16 party were dashed because we were still under stay-at-home orders.  We hoped by this time in 2021 it would be over, that we would be out and about and you could have the bash with twice the blast to make up for the missed milestone celebration.

But we aren't there yet.  And you are facing it with your humor, grace, intelligence and some grumbling.  I'd worry if you didn't grumble at least a bit.

The milestone you didn't miss this year, although was a few months delayed, was getting your driver's license. Yet even that was caught up in the first few days of the pandemic.  The day of your final driver's education class was the day the state shut-down and your class was in limbo.  The Registry of Motor Vehicles wasn't offering learner's permits or tests.  But you were able to finish your class via Zoom and take your permit test online at home - something that was only offered for a short time.  It seems so normal now but a year ago it was all weird and yet you handled it.

Then the actual driving - being behind the wheel - began.  

There were times you fought me, tooth and nail, when trying a new skill, a new situation or even driving when you were in a bad mood (because one has to drive in any mood). Even though you are normally fearless you were plagued with doubt about driving.  It is never fun to push you but when I know you can do something that is my job.

When you passed your driver's license, in a snow storm no less, earlier this year you subtly danced through the parking lot back to our car.  You celebrated and beamed.  You drove by yourself around that day and now drive yourself to the train station most days to get to school.  You've driven on highways, Storrow Drive and Boston streets.  There are still days you marvel that you can do this.  

I don't.  I know you can do the tough things.  You have a core of strength that you have barely tapped.

Not even a pandemic has scratched the surface. I know it.

I love you,

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Love, More

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my twin boys' 20th birthday.  I'm still marveling that these 6'1" young men started off on August 22, 2000 as 30-week preemies each weighing less than four pounds.

Dear son,

You were ready for college when you were 12 so finally getting to move into the dorm in a different part of the country was just a natural continuation of who you are.  You quickly made friends, settled into the rugby team and found the freedom of college life just what you hoped it would be.  Your rugby team even made national championship to be played in April and life was good.

Then a global pandemic hit.

You had to finish your freshman year in your childhood bedroom.  You couldn't return to your grocery store job because of concerns for my health.  You are facing a future that feels stunted and limited.

Yet you still have hope.  Still have purpose.  Still have your insane energy that makes you bounce around like a 6'1" Muppet.  You've been working on a U.S. Senate campaign and getting excited about how elections can make a difference.

We are navigating how to live together after you tasted the freedom of college.  You have generally been a joy to be around except for the late night kitchen raids (do the dishes).

Happy birthday.

I love you so very much.


Dear son,

College wasn't your thing and you were scared to tell me.  I am sorry you were ever worried to talk about what was important to you.  Since then you found a job with a paving company and then, mere months later, took a job with another company that quickly trained you to hook up gas lines.  You come home with stories from the field, random baked goods from grateful residents and a strong sense of purpose.  You are valued at the job and have colleagues who are mentoring you.

You are managing to thrive during a pandemic.  It is exciting to watch you make your own decisions and deal with the consequences.  You agonized about telling your boss you were giving your two weeks notice.  While the easy way out was to text, you thought through what to say in a phone call. In the end he was gracious and you are still in touch.

Thank you for being true to yourself.

Happy birthday.

I love you for being you.


Thursday, April 23, 2020

Happy Sweet 16, Happiness

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my daughter's 16th birthday.  

Dear Darling Daughter,

This is not how you wanted your 16th birthday to be.

You had it all planned since January.  Well actually you started planning on the day you turn 15 because that is how you roll but we'll leave that part out.  You were going to have a dinner with friends this past Saturday, have cake and dinner of your choice this evening with me and Dad then head to your surrogate auntie's house to sleep over.  The day after your birthday you were going to Saratoga Springs, NY to spend the weekend at your first regatta as a varsity rower while your dad and I were going to fly super early in the morning to California to watch both your brothers in the National College Rugby Championships.  It was all planned.

Then a pandemic struck.  All those plans were cancelled and our lives were upended.

My worst birthday as a kid was around age 7 or 8 years old when I got a stomach bug and my parents had to postpone the party, stick the Ohlin's cake in the freezer and have the party a few weeks later.  But I still got to have my party pretty close to my actual birthday and Ohlin's cakes still tasted really good after being frozen.

Your 16th birthday, in fact this particular teenage year, can't easily be rescheduled or postponed.  You aren't getting to row with the varsity girls - a goal you've worked towards for over a year - and every regatta has been cancelled not to be rescheduled.  You were going to attend a dance with your boyfriend who you haven't seen in nearly six weeks.  That dance cannot happen and we don't know when you'll be able to see him.

That is what is so hard to watch for you, your friends and all other teens and young adults.  This is the age when you have big moments that can't be done over because they celebrate a distinct achievement, a particular point of time and age or a rite of passage.  There is nothing in our society that is particularly momentous about being 27 or 32 or 51 though ask someone about their teen years and there are stories, events, moments that could only happen during that age.

Yet, and yet, you have been the strongest, most reliable one in the house of five humans and one dog.  You have been diligent about your school work, take very seriously being engaged and present during Zoom class time and have stayed connected with friends via all those things you use (maybe that last one you were actually in-training for just this situation).  You have rowed every day on the erg your team loaned out.  You have, mostly, kept it together (hey, no one is perfect) and tried to stay positive through this.

Your happiness, the happiness you've had since you were born, keeps shining through.

That's what I hope you remember from this.  What your stories will be when you recount this time 40, 50, 60 years from now.

That you got through this with focus, determination, grit and happiness.

Happy Sweet 16.

I love you,

Thursday, August 22, 2019

Love, More

I return to this completely ignored space to acknowledge my twin boys' 19th birthday.  I'm still marveling that these 6'1" young men started off on August 22, 2000 as 30-week premies each weighing less than four pounds. In a week they head off to college.

Dear son,

The other day the boat had to be taken out of the water so it wouldn’t be buffeted about during high winds and incoming storms. It needed to be driven across the bay to a launch deep enough to accommodate the trailer. Your dad drove the truck and you were driving the boat. I hopped in with you.

That 20 minute ride was thrilling and humbling. Thrilling because it was fast and bumpy. The sun was shining and we were laughing. Humbling because driving a boat is a skill I don’t have. If we got in a predicament I’d have looked to you to figure out the next step. You were confident and knowledgeable.

This is the first of many things you’ll do on your own, skills you’ll gain without me, experiences that I will never hear about as you leave for college next week. I know you will move forward with purpose, learn and grow from your mistakes and make a difference.

I love you more than you will ever know.

Happy birthday little man.


Dear son,

Yet another article has come out about how oral health care has contributed to the overuse and abuse of opioids. Earlier this summer you had jaw surgery requiring an overnight stay at the hospital. You bleed for days. Yet you dealt with the crushing, mind-numbing pain with little more than ibuprofen and ice packs. You were begging to go back to work six days after the surgery despite not being able to chew or use a straw.

You are stronger than you give yourself credit. As you head off to college next week remember that strength. Remember how you overcame crushing pain and very bleak moments. Remember that you wanted to work while still in pain because it helped take your mind off it.

Life is going to be full of opportunities, challenges, pain and triumph. Your path isn’t going to be a straight course through a set of check boxes but you will figure it out. And it’ll be amazing to watch.

I love you more than you will understand.

Happy birthday little man.