My Daughter, My Friend

Elizabeth Cecilia

me and liz, 2011

“Who are you looking for?” the unfamiliar preschool teacher asked me. “Elizabeth,” I responded. Miss I can’t remember her name checked me out, looked me up and down, and stated rather bluntly, “Are you her babysitter?” Surely, you pale-skinned and overly-done blond-haired person belong to some other kid, she seemed to be thinking. “I’m her mom,” I said, with a smile. “She’s mine. Definitely my daughter.” Elizabeth ran toward me wearing clothes full of dirt, her dark hair dangling into her face, her small hands pushing it away. Elizabeth’s olive-toned skin glistened in the sunshine.

elizabeth, baby girl

The first time I took Liz out into the world it was her spirit and her happy smile that caused people, generally women and young kids, to claim “She’s so beautiful” and “She must resemble her dad”. I laughed and wrapped those compliments around my expanding heart and admitted that, Yes, she got her father’s Honduran looks. Little girls and boys would hold Elizabeth’s hands, touched her baby-soft skin and coo to her. All she had to do was smile and the people fell in love.

little liz

When Liz grew into a toddling child I had purchased a variety of my style clothing. 6 outfits in all. I figured if she didn’t look like me, maybe she could at least dress like me. I put one outfit on her after another. And click click went the camera. There was something dark-purple with polka dots and lime green tights, pin-striped blue-and-white overalls, a light pink like cotton candy sweatshirt dress, a barely there pink jumpsuit, a second jumpsuit, this time green, and turquoise shorts topped with a tie-dyed all the rage t-shirt.

Well, in the end, dressing like me didn’t pan out too well because as she grew older, I quickly discovered, for the most part, Liz’s choice of clothing is the opposite of mine. I wear jeans, t-shirts, and either a sweatshirt or a cardigan all the time. My hair is always pulled back. She prefers dresses. She allows her hair to flow gracefully over her shoulder.

I like the comfort of tennis shoes. Elizabeth? Heels.

How about when it comes to exercise? I love, and I mean love, to wear baggy too big for me workout gear. Liz? Well, of course, everything is fitted nicely and looks so modern. So hip.

So, it may seem that Elizabeth and I are different. In looks, sure. Clothing, yeah. Mostly. But in how we feel about each other. We are equals. I love her. More deeply than she will ever know. She loves me, unconditionally. Faithfully. This world is a better place because Liz is in it. Her smile enhances life as we know it daily. Elizabeth is my daughter. Elizabeth is my friend.

Dear Elizabeth,

I brought you home with me, 27 years and seven months ago. I held you in my arms while you slept. Fed you when you cried. Bathed you, soothed you. Your smile has grown with you, never wavering. You have maintained a kindness I wish the whole world could embrace and make their own. When you were a young girl, you would hold my hand – knowing I would always be by your side, guiding you. You looked up at me with a love I had never known before, a love only a child can give. So innocent, yet full of life. As you grew into your teens, you continued to open up to me, let me be a part of your life. You trusted me, I trusted you. I cherished the fact that you would come to me, talk to me, tell me everything knowing I would help you figure things out. You, Elizabeth, have made mothering a wonderful experience for me. I am very proud of the road you travel. The calmness you possess. The friendships you hold close. The love you share. Everyone should have an Elizabeth in their life.

I Love You truly,

MOM

P.S. Hug me all you want. Warmth is a wonderful feeling.

A Girl and her First (and last) Bottle of Wine

wine bottles

16. years. old.

Yep, sixteen is the age I was when I learned wine just didn’t work for me. You see I vomited, threw up, barfed after an afternoon of overindulging in drinking wine. At the beach. Under the hot sun. With my sixteen year old friend. We were having fun. Working on a tan. Well, she was. I was working on a sunburn. We were just lying there, on the Newport sand, on top of some colorful beach towels. Extra large. Lots of space. We talked. We laughed. We drank. Wine. Red wine. Without much food. My friend had a handle on it. Took it slow. Unlike me. I drank from that bottle as if I were drinking water. I didn’t know that I should slow down. That I would pay a price later. All I knew was that I was feeling pretty cool. Drinking wine. Underage.

When the upchucking and the hangover finally left. Left me alone. To have headache-free days. I knew that was it. I would never drink wine again. Couldn’t stand the smell, or the taste, of it. And all these years later. I still hate the smell and taste of wine. Don’t drink it. Not even when everyone else around me is enjoying a glass. All because I foolishly drank way too much wine when I was sixteen. Drank too much while simply having fun with my friend, at the beach, getting drunk.

#selfie

meThumbsUp

I learned early on, without being told, that I had to look out for myself. To be independent. Somehow I knew that if I wanted to get anything done, I had to do it without help.

I was the tenth child born into my family, so my arrival was most likely nothing too exciting for my nine brothers and my teenage sister. They most likely had other things on their minds, something else besides another baby in the house.

As I grew, I learned that anything I hoped for had to happen because I wanted it to occur.

I remember being young, but old enough to ride a bike out on the street, in front of the house. One day, I experienced my first flat tire, and wasn’t sure what to do about it. None of my brothers was around to help, or just didn’t feel like it, so I searched high and low, looking for a patch kit to repair the inner tube. Right there, in that garage of ours, and using my common sense, I managed to pry the tire away from the metal rim by using a flathead screwdriver, pull out the tube, fill it with air, dip it into a container of water, and look for bubbles. I then patched the hole, returned the tube to the inside of the tire, secured it to the rim, and filled the patched tube with air. The tire was bolted back onto the bike’s frame and I rode off. I was so proud of myself for accomplishing something I knew nothing about. I felt very independent and at that moment realized I didn’t need anyone’s help, with anything. Me, Daphne Anne, was very capable of getting things done.

My independence deepened, which affected the way I molded my life, when I found my first job, at age 16. Like any young kid wanting to work, I wanted my own money to spend the way I chose. But more so, I assumed I must have been a financial burden to my parents, and I wanted to ease any stress they may had been feeling, having to find extra cash for this or that. Therefore, I, first and foremost, will always depend on me and rarely ask for help. Which many might say is a fault I should ease up on. But, I’d say, it’s a personal fault I can deal with.

valuable values

i value my parents, and how they modeled what it means to be a good person

i value love, patience, understanding
happiness, health

family, friendships, relationships

diversity, freedom, independence

nature

warmth
kindness
smiling faces

children and cats

i value simplicity
living like there is no tomorrow
teachable moments
making a difference in someone’s life

i value laughter, loud cheerful laughter

i value quietness

i value rudy, liz, roberto, and brad

i value me, the mirrored me
public and private

i value honesty
open-mindedness
concern for humanity

kisses
caresses
and hugs

i value life

A Boy, A Girl, Their Aunt, and Some Barf

The phone rang. My mom answered. All I could hear was my mom’s  side of the conversation. She said, “Uh-huh…Yeah… Oh, sure.. When?… Alright… Ok… They’ll love that!” Then she hung up. Aunt Marge had asked my mom if my brother Andy and I, ages 10 and 13, respectively, could take the train down, to visit her and my uncle for several days.

Aunt Marge and Uncle Bill lived in a gated apartment building, in a small, but elegant living space. The fridge was full and the TV was turned on. One night they had plans with friends. Not us.

“Kids, Uncle Bill and I are going out tonight for a few hours. Will you be alright on your own?” our aunt asked.
“Yes,” we both answered, politely.

As the front door closed behind them, Andy and I immediately started antagonizing each other. We knew each others weaknesses. Scary stories and scary movies. We told each other gruesome tales and watched even more frightening thrillers. Suddenly, and I am not sure why it happened, Andy felt sick. Maybe it was because we just told too many, over the top, could be real life stories, or simply because we overate all the junk food we could get our hands on.

“I think I am going to barf!” Andy choked out.
“Hurry! Go. Go into the bathroom!” I demanded.

He threw up, that’s for sure, but not directly into the toilet bowl. His aim was awful. Vomit was everywhere. On the seat, on the floor, on the lovely bath mat.

“Ugh! I feel gross!” Andy moaned, his face cherry red. His eyes teary.
“Ewwww!” I responded with the only vocabulary I could think of.

Then I walked him to the couch, sat him down, covered him with a blanket, switched the channel to a comedy with the laugh track on full blast, and plopped myself onto the opposite end of the sofa. An hour had passed when I heard a key jiggling in the lock.

“Hello. We’re home!” Aunt Marge exclaimed.
“Oh, hi,” I said. “Andy got sick. He threw up.”
“Are you okay?” she seemed concerned, walked over to him. Felt his forehead.
“Yeah. Daphne was telling me scary stories. I guess they literally made me sick!”

I laughed, doubled over, cracking up, admiring my little bro’s sense of humor.

Aunt Marge walked into the bathroom. “What the ____?!” Well, she didn’t really say a bad word, but she said something with an angry tone.

“Why didn’t you clean this up?!” She was staring straight at me. The older kid. The one who should have known better. The one who should have known to scrub away all the bits and pieces of Andy’s regurgitated food. The one who should have understood the value of cleaning up before the owners of the pristine apartment returned home after a fun night out. Without a word I shrugged my shoulders, opened my eyes wide, and pinched my lips together. I had nothing to say.

Later – minutes? hours? days? – after Andy and I had returned home, Aunt Marge called the house, talked to my mom. All I could hear was my mom’s side of the conversation. “Uh-huh… Yeah… Oh… Alright… OK… I will tell them…”

“Aunt Marge says she thinks you are a brat,” she told me. “And that you lack common sense.”
“Really?” I was actually surprised, and hurt, because never in my life had I been referred to as a brat. I sighed, felt tears pooling against my lower lids. I told my side of the story.
“Being a brat doesn’t sound like you at all, but I do understand Aunt Marge’s point of view,” my mom stated. “Sadly, she says no more visits for the two of you. None.That’s it. Done.”

Andy and I lowered our heads, ashamed. We felt dumb. But then we looked at each other and tried not to laugh. But, laughter ruled. And, thus, we let loose.

a letter to 16 year old me

Dear Daphne,

Remember to be yourself. Believe in who you are. You don’t need to be like her. Or her. Or even her. You have as much to offer as they do. Maybe more. And what’s so bad about that girl. The one over there. The one everyone seems to be avoiding. She’s just being herself. Just wanting what we all want. Friendship. Go talk to her. She will appreciate your kindness.

It’s not about popularity, but rather about integrity. So, just be you. Speak up. Talk. It’s not hard at all. Just ask questions. People like to answer what they know. So ask them about them. Their life. And fit in your life stories. When you can. When there is a break in conversation. They want to get to know you, too. They do.

Go out. Enjoy hanging out with people. Stop worrying about what everyone is thinking. Who cares. No one, really. All the downs will make the ups so much more rewarding. Remember that. Life is a series of lessons. Lessons to help mold who you will grow up to be. A person who cares about others. About life. A person who is a realist. Someone who knows anything can happen anytime. Anywhere. To anyone.

So simply enjoy your youth. Laugh. A lot. Out loud. For the world to see. To experience. Fall into bed each night knowing, there is so much more to life. Than being an insecure young girl.

♥ Love your wiser, more mature, experienced self.

ostracize

True story. Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

2girlsarguing

Abby was a nice girl gone sort of mean. And uncaring. Not intentionally but because her best friend lied to her. Abby had money. Money she had been saving to use toward an investment in a new purse. But. Her best friend took it. Anna took the money. And ran. When Abby asked her friend about it. Did she know what happened to it? Anna just said no.

But, then along came another friend. Not the best one, but the Second Runner Up, and she said that Anna did indeed take the money. Second Runner Up friend saw her reach in and take it. Take it and shove it into her front pocket.

Anna cried. Said no I didn’t. But Abby didn’t believe her. She believed her best friend just lied. To her face. And that made her angry.

So she started to hang out with Second Runner Up. Spent time talking with her. Telling her how much she didn’t like Anna anymore. That she didn’t trust her.

Abby and Second Runner Up told everyone. And everyone told everyone. So now, everyone didn’t want to talk to Anna. Anymore. They didn’t trust her.

So, Anna sat alone. And as she pulled the stolen money from her pocket she wondered if she’d be someone’s best friend. Again. Some day. Soon.

Ah, Parenting

“Mom, will you come with me when I move into the dorms, when I leave for college?” Brad asked me this question years ago as he was observing parents carrying luggage and pillows up the stairs, into the massive buildings, in anticipation of ‘letting go’, helping their children start a new chapter in their young lives. We were inside the campus bookstore at the University of Arkansas, browsing, when Brad’s thoughts meandered to his own future.

I remember when I first became a mother. I was young! Yet, I was ready. Elizabeth was placed on my chest eight days before our 2nd wedding anniversary. Roberto popped in three years later. And finally, Bradford, a whopping 8 years later. Definitely planned, planned, and planned! I embraced motherhood. I was meant to guide (yes guide, not control!) these children of mine through life, to help them learn new things. They were  continually raised with focused guidance, making sure peace, love, and happiness were being absorbed daily.

Elizabeth began at a very young age (year 3, to be exact) to ask very personal questions.  You see, when a child is that young, she has no idea that her questions might be hard for mom and/or dad to answer. That was the beginning of my understanding of what a very important job I had been gifted to undertake. Not only was I supposed to help the kids develop morals and values, and simply love them, I needed to be there (individually, and as a group) emotionally.

I honestly feel Elizabeth opened me up, way back when she innocently, yet inquisitively, asked “Where do babies come from?” She taught me, in that moment, what kind of parent I was going to be. Neither of us realized how great the relationship between my three youngsters and myself would develop over the years. I simply listen, openly. In the end my kids like having me around, like my company.

So, when Brad asked me if I’d be with him, I knew he asked because he likes me. “Of course,” I stated. “Good,” he returned. “Because I want you to help me.”

The RED Bracelet

red braceletTasha was sitting on her bed twirling the red leather bracelet that was clasped around her left wrist. It was her lucky bracelet. The one she was given as a birthday gift from her grandmother a few years ago. She told Tasha that it was a good-luck charm; that it was magical, making only positive things happen.

Across from Tasha, sitting in her huge overstuffed chair, was Lily, her best friend.

Lily envied Tasha.

She wished she could, just once, borrow Tasha’s lucky bracelet. But, Tasha has admitted to Lily that she never let anyone wear it, for fear of it losing its magic, resulting in something going radically wrong.

Lily completely understood, and would probably feel the same way; yet, knew that somehow she was going to get that bracelet and wear it to her first acting audition, tomorrow afternoon.

Tasha got everything. No matter what she did, it always worked in her favor. When she wanted a certain guy to ask her out, he did. With no effort on her part. When she didn’t bother studying for her final exam in Chemistry, no problem. She wore her bracelet, and passed, top of the class. When she wanted a new car, her parents bought the Mini Cooper she’d been googling. And, therefore, Lily knew that Tasha was going to ace her college interview, in a few days, at Yale, and be offered early admission. No problem.

“Just once,” Lily whispered to herself.
“Hmm?” Tasha questioned.
“Oh. Nothing. I’ve got to go. I’ll see you later,” Lily stated.
“Alright. I’ve got to jump in the shower anyway. I’m having dinner with my grandparents tonight. See ya!” she chimed.

Lily closed the front door behind her, and immediately rounded the house, walking towards Tasha’s bedroom window. Just as she peeked in, she saw Tasha close the bathroom door. And, just as she knew Tasha would, the red bracelet had been taken off and now lay on the bedside table. Lily smiled slyly and walked back around to the front entrance and re-entered the house. She could hear the water running in the shower, and hear the hum of the bathroom’s fan. Quietly, and very quickly, Lily sprinted into Tasha’s room, grabbed the good-luck charm, then left, locking the front door behind her.

Later, as Tasha was dressing, her mom knocked on her bedroom door, asking Tasha if she was ready to leave. “Almost,” she answered as she reached down to pick up her red bracelet. She cocked her head to one side, narrowed her eyes, and pursed her lips as her hand stopped midway towards the table. She looked left, onto the floor, then right. Tasha got down on her knees and looked under her bed. But to no avail. Her good-luck charm, her magical bracelet was gone.

“Lily? Did you take my bracelet?” Tasha said into the phone, panicked.
“Your bracelet? No. Weren’t you wearing it when I left?”
“Well, yes. But I took it off when I got in the shower, and now I can’t find it. I just thought maybe…..” she trailed off, thinking, wondering where it could be.
“Oh, I’m sure it’s there. It must be,” Lily reasoned, knowing she’d slip it back into Tasha’s room the following afternoon, after her audition.

“Tasha?! We’ve got to go,” her mother hollered. “We don’t want to keep Grandma and Grandpa waiting.”
“Coming,” she nervously shouted back.

“I’ve got to go. But I feel kind of strange. Like I shouldn’t be going anywhere. That I need the bracelet. Especially tonight. Well, anyway, I will see you later, Lily.”

Lily smirked. She felt guilty; yet, she didn’t care. “See you.”

“Tasha can have one night of something not going her way. And anyway, she’s going to see her grandparents. What positive luck does she need for that?” Lily told herself. “For once, Tasha will envy me, after I get the starring role from tomorrow’s audition!”

Tasha sat in the back seat of her parents car, twisting her wrist where the bracelet should be, when suddenly they were hit head-on by a drunk driver.

The paramedics were trying frantically to maintan life in both Tasha’s parents while she lay dead on the paved road.

Lemons and Liz

IMG_8262IMG_8164Liz is my pal. My friend. My daughter. And when she talks, I listen. When she gives me advice, I’m focused. Tuned in. To everything she has to say. Including healthy advice. Things she’s learned about eating properly, ideas that make my day brighter, lighter, uplifting, and overall body-better feeling.

So, when she brought up the importance of drinking lemon water I couldn’t wait to get home and slice up some of those sunshine-yellow nuggets.

I know. I know. Nothing new. Heard it before. Just a reboot. An old idea renewed. But a valuable idea nonetheless. And, honestly, coming from Liz, it’s an old idea that she believes needs new attention. And, well, I consider her a valuable healthnut guru. Why? You might ask. She’s healthy, love-wealthy, and definitely wise, I’d answer.

Therefore, I’ve been drinking it up. Water saturated with lemons. So good. So refreshing. So easy. So worthy. So me. So Liz.