To my son’s step-dad on Father’s Day

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Today is your first “official” Father’s Day. The first day we can celebrate you as a step-father to Holden since we’ve been married shortly less than one year ago. A special day indeed as we are spending it together, and I will love and cherish the moments. Usually we don’t have this. For some reason there was a level of understanding this weekend, further healing.

No one asked you to be here, but here you are.

You’re here, and it’s also much more than that.

You’re his heart, his guide, his protection, his stability, his home. His Kick.

No doubt, something special exists between the two of you. He shows his love for you in all the ways he knows how, for a wild-haired and bright-eyed four-and-half year-old. You’re the one that gets the most affection- the most spontaneous touches, the hugs, the snuggles. He gravitates towards you. He needs to be around you. Hugging your leg. Sitting on your lap. Laying his head on your shoulder.

In a candy store, he picks up a box of Good & Plenty’s. “Can we get these for Kick?” he asks knowing you like them. You’re on his mind.

His eyes watch you, follow you. Waiting for the moment your eyes match his. He smiles knowing you see him. Hoping you’re proud of him. Then quickly glimpses at me to make sure I saw the connection. He focuses on you. Mainly. Always you.

You stand tall and firm. He dances and bobbles around you. Lives in his childhood wonderment and returns to you.

You let him in just enough, and he lets you in fully. You’re teaching him a steady balance of vulnerability and boundaries.

And for right now, You’re the only one whose disappointment or discipline upsets him. He takes it, learns from it. All it takes is a few stern words. It’s as if there’s some magic or power behind that deep voice that speaks his language.

He wants to do what Kick does. Shoot a bow-and-arrow, go fishing. Often times when we’re not with you, he doesn’t hesitate to remind me, “That’s what Kick does!”

“Hey, Kick!” resounds off the walls in our home.

It replaces “Hey, Dad!”

I often wonder what it’s like to be in your shoes. Not being given the title “Dad” for the presence, the love. Not getting to be totally acknowledged by the word. Because that’s exactly what it is, a privilege, a recognition for all that you do for him, for us. I feel that way about being called “Mom” at least. Every time I hear that little voice say it, I think about the preciousness. I would imagine some pain exists below the surface not hearing that little voice say it, though we all know the magnitude of your involvement in his life. “Hey, Kick!” does resonate own sweetness.

I think back to the time Holden was a few months old… a year old… a year and a half. The word “Dad” couldn’t leave my mouth alone, without tears… without anguish. My voice quivered.

Time heals. Much later than that we began to read books at bedtime on Dad’s and Step-Dad’s. I was strong enough then to say the word “Dad” aloud, around the time Holden was able to speak. Partly because I knew I needed to do it for him, but because you instilled within me some kind of strength also. A team effort.

One day Holden will decide what he wants to call you. When he has developed enough to fully understand. To make decisions. To use what you’ve given to him. To hear the word “divorce” and make sense of the world. Of his life. Of his relationship with you.

For now, he loves his Kick. In this moment. All day today. And that’s what he knows.

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Meantime.

Time passes by so quickly these days, it seems. I have to remind myself to come up for air amidst all that we have going on. Selling a few houses, moving a few times ourselves, being a full-time student. I ran my first half marathon in December! Did I mention I have a three year old, too? It’s no lie I am busy, just like everyone else in the world. Yet… I’m at a standstill within myself- this meantime I call it.

I’m about to wrap up my second semester in graduate school next week, pursing the masters that will allow me to practice as a mental health therapist. How swift the time has been, yet it feels like I’ve been in the program all my life. In an ironic way, it’s been one drawn out life lesson for me. I can only wish I had some of these skills when I was young and naive. Sometimes I question why I needed to learn all that I have later, whereas some get it from the beginning. But, I know I already have the answer to that one. All that I have learned thus far has paralleled my own tribulations and journey to overcome. I knew I was in a bad place just three years ago, but just how bad? That reality check came as each prescription flashed across my professor’s power point. “The more drugs they need implemented, the poorer the prognosis.” My lucky number was 6.

As my eyes are buried deep within the DSM-5 and binders large enough to encompass my big family history, life all around me is moving right along. Friends are getting married, more babies are being had. So much happiness and milestones to be shared and celebrated. My heart is full. And I stand still, in this meantime, eager yet waiting for my own progression to pick up where it left off. But, I need to do this in the meantime. All the little steps to deliver immense accomplishment: bettering myself for my own good and for my family, practicing a career that I was made to do starting at 29, overcoming all my obstacles… being happy.

With my own marriage to Nick quickly approaching, I am getting married during this meantime. Literally married on Saturday, back to school on Monday. However, it’s just that right, and just that natural, that it can happen during the meantime.

And within that life moving right along is my sweet boy, my Holden. Growing and changing every day. The guilt I have brought upon myself has been my biggest battle… guilt for not being able to be with him more than I can right now, during meantime. How many pickups from school I haven’t been there for, how many dinners I haven’t cooked, the few times I’ve been absent for a tuck-in. I’d imagine this struggle is similar to that of every working mom out there. I think I feel it so heavy because I was a stay-at-home mom beforehand. Before the chaotic meantime.

Nick jokes that I won’t ever get two-and-a-half years maternity leave again! The funny thing about that is that I know that and I’m okay with that. Because after my meantime, I will be set. Time will probably be a little more predictable than when Holden was born… I guess that leads me to something else I’ve learned. I needed Holden, he needed me. My need for him was deep, he was my emotional crutch and the only thing I had control over at the time. I needed to be there for him at every minute of the day, every day of thee week, for me more than him. How grateful am I now that that time has come and passed.

Still, I have had to learn to not take one second of time with Holden for granted in this meantime. I know I shouldn’t. But sometimes the weariness and exhaustion on days where I’m so physically and emotionally drained and can’t wait for my head to hit the pillow as I wrestle Holden like an alligator just to get his pajamas pulled over his head and fight all the way through brushing all 20 of his teeth, knowing there’s a kitchen to clean, emails to respond to and papers to write… you get the point. Holden never fails to remind me himself of where my heart needs to be. Like the first time I heard, “I love you too, mommy.” Or when he asked me, “You happy now?” Or when he holds my hand and says, “You my best fwiend.” All during my meantime.

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Shhh.

I’m a wild mom. I’m a loud, singing, wrestling, walk-like-an-elephant, dance-til-you-drop mom. All within the comfort of my 4 walls. You’d probably only catch me doing the C-is-for-Cookie march in a crowded aisle of Target when Holden is being especially entertaining-demanding.

You gotta be like this when you have a toddler, especially a boy. They either are “running or sleeping” as another mom-friend recently described her two-year-old boy. How many people have I told lately that, “Holden doesn’t sit down, lay down. Unless he’s harnessed in a car-seat or sleeping in his crib.”

So basically, you just got to make a fool of yourself to keep your boy entertained, active, and happy. And hopefully, ultimately to instill lessons within him to be himself no matter what. We can save that for a different post.

He’s definitely got the crazy gene somewhere within him too. Thinks it’s hilarious to yell, be goofy, and especially… to scare people. He loves the anticipation. Starts sweating. Can barely keep his mouth closed before his deep chuckle emerges. Surely he inherited this from his Lula, or my mother Karen. Let me remind you, A mom is a mom.

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Boo! Hiding in the gym locker to scare me.

For the past few months, the bigger and louder the better. Any dance, song, walk, crawl, wrestle, or tickle. Everything had to be exaggerated. His brows rise, smiles wide enough to see from molar to molar. That high-pitch giggle turned to the deep, bellied chortle that was my goal to hear.

Not satisfied with my efforts until I hear something like this:

Though Holden loves to play a lot and be loud and goofy, he let me know how much is too much during a recent bubble bath. Apparently I was belting the ABC’s too loud for him to handle. He dropped his smile and stared at me with a head still full of suds. Whenever we end a song together we both clap and say “YAY”! Not this time. He brought his index finger to his nose, and I think, picking again, but no.

Ssshhhhhhhhhh. He says to me.

Stunned, I start to laugh. Louder and louder too, for this is the first time I’ve heard him use the consonant “s.” As my laugh got louder, so did his shh-ing!

I don’t believe anyone in our family has taught Holden to be quiet. It’s just not what we do. So, I’m grateful his new school is teaching him things that I don’t (manners), but especially for those consonants.

***Disclaimer, I do teach manners***

Sweet Becca Jean

She tragically passed away two years ago today. She was young, 22, she was vibrant and she was just beginning her life after graduating from college a few weeks earlier. She was my sister-in-law, the only sibling-in-law I had at the time. Which made her the only Aunt to my son on that side.

I’ve wanted to write about her for quite some time now, honor her life. Remember the stories. How I wish I’d written down the stories sooner, now that it’s later they’ve been slipping away slowly. That’s what happens.

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How I’ve never laughed harder than the time I complimented her romper, and she with a smile from-ear-to-ear, turns to me and says, “Oh this? It’s not a romper, it’s just stuck in my ass!” Then she chuckled her contagious laugh, and we would laugh about it for days to come. So many stories, so many laughs.

Originality. One of her boldest qualities.

The sharp knife of a short life. These were lyrics to a song that became popular shortly before the incident. How that song would come on my radio while driving and the tears would fall. That knife was too sharp. And that life too short. I’d think of her, remember her innocence.

I am also too grateful to know that now she is in a better place, being taken care of, being celebrated. Her soul rejoicing in pure happiness. No distractions now, just pure love.

Sweet Becca Jean.

I see her often, as I see and feel so much of her in Holden. Her mannerisms, her body. The way his mouth moves when he eats, when he kisses. Some of his looks. Most of his looks. Those one-second glimpses he can give when his eyes meet mine; chills run down my spine as I feel her presence. His own guardian angel.

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Becca was known to make others feel good about themselves. Always complimenting, always encouraging. Sticking by your side. This was no different in the way that she treated me from the moment we met. Her love for me didn’t lessen over the years but became even more apparent when I became a mother. Always telling me, “Sami, you’re such a great mom. Holden is so lucky to have you.”

She took to me. She loved me.

Not long after her passing, Holden and I moved home. In a matter of days, time unraveled itself quickly. I left my marriage.

As mentioned in Rock Bottom and the Inner Journey, one of my earliest posts, I very possibly may have felt this presence for the first time, not long after moving home. Upon seeing a butterfly flutter and feeling the sunshine on my face… I felt hope when I needed it the most. The warmness of her heart still radiating. Still caring for me, still caring for Holden.

How little I know about her role, what her purpose had been in this lifetime. I’m not God. But what I do know is that that role was much bigger than what she would have thought she was capable of- especially when it came to affecting my life, Holden’s life. Much greater than any one of us could understand. She helped me during days no one else could, and that was after she was gone. And I pray that she knows I’m thankful for that.

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Favorite small business #3

Alexandra Mainieri, LLC

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Photo by Sid Seruntine

This is my sister. She’s beautiful, she’ sweet, and she’s a bit sassy. You should probably hire her to do your event makeup.

You will probably walk away with more than just a pretty face. Because she’s personable. She’s insightful. Interested in your own happiness.

When Alex isn’t busily working away as a makeup artist on a movie set, you can find her promoting her new business Alexandra Mainieri, LLC. A licensed Aesthetician and certified makeup artist, Alex uses all that she’s learned through the Aveda Institute and California Makeup School to deliver perfection from a pallet. A true artist at work. So, if you’re a reader in the Baton Rouge / New Orleans area and in need of some expertise, holla at my sista.

Find her website at http://alexandramainieri.com/  and like her facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/AlexandraMainieriLLC?fref=ts .

Alex is my go-to expert for beauty tips. She’s been trying to enhance me for years. I think that’s the role of the little sister. You don’t argue, you just do whatever the big sister wants you to. Even if it hurts. Thanks for trying, Alex.

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I just had to get my eyebrows waxed at a young age because Alex was doing it. Wanted to always be like her. The problem was we got them done by “Shelia.” Yes, that was the exact problem. And in a questionable location in town. Mom insisted Shelia was our friend. Here we are, years and years later. Those eyebrows never quite grew back. We both blame Shelia. And Mom.

We also blame mom for some questionable apparel selections in our dress-up chest.

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Growing up with Alex had its moments. Primarily because of the innate wad of jealousy carried in most younger sisters’ stomachs as soon as they’re born. I reminisce on the time we both tried out for the Nutcracker. Alex got the part of the beautiful angel child who got to deliver to flowers to Clara at the end of the show. And me? Me? I got the part of the clown. The left-handed clown who came out of Mother Ginger’s skirt doing kart-wheels across the stage. And Mother Ginger’s stilts? She wasn’t on stilts under that skirt. She was sitting atop the shoulders of a very sweaty Chinese man who was cussing under that skirt the whole time in front of all of us clown kids, the rejects.

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I think it’s safe to say that growing up so close in age (16 months apart), we weren’t always the best of friends. Partially because Alex was never too keen on sharing with her baby sister. It wasn’t cool.

I was scarred for life when Alex, and our cousin Danielle together left me out of their lip-syncing home video of Billy Ray Cyrus’ Achey Breaky Heart. I will have my revenge at her future rehearsal dinner when i reveal that exact video in hi-def.

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She always had the prettier ballerina costumes. She also had a way smaller forehead than I was blessed with. She always got to lick the brownie batter from the bowl. Such better clothes and toys too. Well Alex, all those times when you weren’t home and left your door shut, I’d sneak in and wear those exact costumes. I’d snoop around your room, play JockJams on your boom box. I’d lay on your bed that had the bed-in-a-bag from Bed, Bath, and Beyond, that I wanted so badly with the yellow flowers and pink swirls. I’d try on your earrings sitting at your vanity. I’d snoop through your drawers and wear the charm bracelet from your boyfriend. Finally, the best part I’d save for last. I’d open your closet and see it. Top shelf, the highest spot to keep safe from little sisters. It was so beautiful, and it was calling my name.

Mall Madness. There it was. The lights from heaven were shining on it, and I could hear the “allelujah” song erupt.

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This was the ultimate board game for girls. Especially superficial ones like me. You could swipe all the credit cards. It was good practice for when I’d become an adult. I’d carefully open the box and lay out all the pieces, swiping card after card. I preferred it much more than the Sweet Valley High board game underneath it. I couldn’t even open that box as I was tortured all those times she did allow me to play that one with her, only so she could dub me as “Enid” or something like that. Whoever it was, it was the unpopular one with the green background. She’d always be the pretty blonde “Jessica” in pink of course. Because you were older you’d say. This was your rationale for lots of things- like riding in the front seat.

The high school years were ugly. I’m not referring to our acne, dental work, or crooked eyebrows either. Though, those were just as ugly. Our relationship was ugly, especially because we had to share a bathroom. You’d lock me out for hours before school started, only to emerge with the most beautifully tussled hair with a cut like Jennifer Aniston. I’d be lucky to get one quick comb through my bowl cut before we were out the door.

There was that one time I had so much anger built up inside me that I finally snapped. It was a freezing nothern Indiana winter day. Mom wasn’t home. I was tired of Alex “claiming” the TV room (because she was older) day after day before I even had a chance after coming home exhausted from school. I, with determination in my eyes and lips gripping my braces, darted towards her. Straight to Alex laying on the couch and… Smack! Slapped her right in the face. VICTORY! Though, the shortest victory ever lived. Within an instant, though it felt like slow motion, Alex looked at me with an expression that conveyed she couldn’t believe I had actually gone through with it. Her temperature was rising as she slowly started to arise from the couch. This was my chance. I booked it. I was almost to the top of the stairs when I felt the lock around my ankles stop me in my tracks. She had grabbed them and was hovering behind me. I had no time to think as she pulled me down the stairs, chin hitting every step. I prayed we’d never get to the bottom because I didn’t want to know what was coming. In fact, it must have been so traumatic because I don’t remember what happened after she sat on top of me once reaching the bottom. I must have purged it from my memory.

There was also that time I threw my retainer box right at her head when we had to share a cabin on a cruise. I vividly remember she didn’t want her little sister tagging along to the “night club” for pre-teens. Sorry for that.

In time, Alex and I did become closer, supportive. No more jealousy swam in my veins towards her for being prettier and cooler than me. My view of her wasn’t clouded anymore by the stigma of the younger sister. We became friends.

Though our college years were spent apart, our relationship stayed strong, knowing we were both a phone call away though in different worlds. I started to realize a quality that existed in Alex I may have not noticed before. That quality? Loyalty. Unshaken, strong loyalty. For me, and for anyone else in my family. I accredit this loyalty with Alex’s obsession with The Godfather series and our strong Italian heritage.

Mom and Alex took a spring break trip during one of these years. While on the beach, some kid threw a ball right at mom’s head. Within seconds, Alex immediately picked the ball up and pelted it right back at the thrower, yelling at him for hitting her mom. She was my hero.

The loyalty didn’t hinder as the years passed by, it strengthened in every experience. Protecting me. Protecting my naiveness from the corrupted world around. Never judging a decision made by me, but always supporting every one.

That loyalty especially came into play a couple years ago, as I found myself filing for divorce with a five-month-old son. Alex was there. Crying with me, holding me. Helping me with the baby. Reassuring me that my life would move on, that none of it was my fault. An even bigger aid in my healing than I’ve probably ever thanked her for.

We’d laugh so badly until we’d cry listening to her imaginative rants about just how far she’d go to protect me. I remember those conversations vividly as they were amongst the first times I laughed again. With one look, I’d see her temperature rise thinking of a hypothetical situation and what she’d do about it, much like the same face I got back in the day in reaction to me slapping her right on the face.

She’s the perfect combination of sass and a sweet soul, and she always has been. Even beneath all those bitter, hilarious memories of our childhood.

Alex really does inspire me. Despite our rocky relationship in the first half of our lives. Kidding though; it really wasn’t that bad between us. I have pictures to prove it. Though, I do sort of feel like there just must have been a camera present to capture these “one time” moments of occurences.

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Like, the one time she did share the brownie batter.

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Or the one time she actually let me dress up in her pretty ballerina costume. Even to play with her! Not having to sneak into her room and try it on when she wasn’t home. And pretend I was getting to play with her. This was the real deal.

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Or the one time we actually were hugging. I don’t know if it was genuine or if it was because we had new sets of “Quints” waiting for us in our Easter basket.

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And finally, when Alex let me be Princess Jasmine, and she Aladdin during playtime. The only giveaway to what this little picture was about was our magic carpet.

In retrospect, it seems like Alex was easily and always my biggest fan regardless of my memories. How time changes things, because now, I’m her’s.

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If ya got one good friend in this life, ya lucky

Miss Gertie used to say it to her 13-year-old daughter Christine and best friend growing up in a small town in the south of Louisiana. They’d fold their arms and knelt across the bed from one another. Talking about what teenagers talk about. First kisses, cars, life aspirations. Dreams of their first apartment together at  the Pontalba house in New Orleans. Conversations would go on for hours, only to stop for Miss Gertie’s tea with a side of saltines and butter.

“If ya got one good friend in this life, ya lucky.”

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That’s where it all began. My mom’s lifetime best friendship with Christine.

It wasn’t a surprise that this past Monday that there was not a dry eye amongst the congregation as mom read aloud the eulogy at Christine’s funeral. Unfolding their lifetime relationship. These ‘first’ conversations publicly praised to all that loved Christine probably for the first time.

A life that ended “too soon” as people say so commonly these days.

How was 43 years of friendship to be summarized in one small speech? How could you possibly say everything you’d want to say? These were the questions mom struggled with as she picked up the pen and started to write. Their friendship wasn’t something one could put into words. Countless memories, countless conversations, countless feelings. They made each other better. Partners in good crimes. Up at the altar, mom displayed a certain grace one would think would be similar to divine intervention.

For mom Christine was not a friend, but a sister. “Aunt Tine” was one extraordinary, loyal person. A mentor. A lover. A supporter. A believer.

One of the sweetest souls you’d hope to come across.

A friend you could only hope for your own child to have. A friend I would hope Holden can have.

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I heard recently a line that I haven’t been able to shake. “We all have an expiration date.” Sounds terribly harsh, but it’s terribly true. It’s easy to live day-by-day making decisions as if we are invincible isn’t it? But it’s moments like this- having to watch mom profess her 43 years of friendship in a matter of 15 minutes, losing those closest to us, ones that lived and were always there- that remind us that of that exact fact. Kind of makes our “big” deals not seem like such “big deals” in reality.

Life is short, but sweet for certain.

Rest in peace, dear Christine.

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http://obits.nola.com/obituaries/nola/obituary.aspx?pid=164193135#fbLoggedOut

It’s a family thing

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I knew the game at a young age.

When it’s around you all the time, you soak it in. Just like a language. Baseball was mine, my family’s language. Us kids? We grew up in the dugout. All four of us. Standing right next to our dad, the coach. Just as he did next to his father growing up.

For us, it’s never “just a game.” It goes beyond that. Way beyond.

I chewed bubblegum and scuffed my shoes in the red dirt covering up the wet sunflower seed shells. Always wore a helmet. Dad made me. Mom usually french braided my hair to fit under that helmet when it was my turn as bat girl. I so looked forward to those games where I could indulge in the variety of Bubblicious or Big League Chew. Occasionally I’d have myself a bag of sunflower seeds. I’d chew and suck on them until my mouth was raw of saltiness.

I could barely see over the steps that led up to the field. But I watched, learned. I knew what was going on. I knew the strategies of the sacrifice bunt and anticipated the turn of the double play. I’d get excited about a good at bat, but even moreso a bad one because I’d wait for whoever it was that struck out to walk back towards me with his head down. I knew the second his dirty cleat reached that top step the reaction was coming. The cuss word, the jolt of the helmet back into it’s cubicle. I couldn’t wait to see it happen. It was like they didn’t know or care that a little girl with a cheek full of gum was there watching. Looking up to them. The men, the boys. The well rounded, all-American, good-hearted baseball players. The good guys.

Baseball was a lifestyle. Is a lifestyle for my family. Full of motivation, discipline, commitment. I learned these qualities spending all those years in the dugout. Quietly I’d watch and learn right from wrong. Occasionally dad would look my way and give me a wink or subtle smile. It felt safe there, despite the high-frequency of f-bombs and jockstrap/cup adjustments right before my pre-pubecent eyes. Literally, eye-level.

There’s just something about the sport. At the college level at least, all I know really. Something good at its root. Something that pulls on my heartstrings. A reason to celebrate, a reason for heartbreak.

My son is two years old, and already knows this. My dad’s first gift to him was a leather glove with his name embroidered on it. “Papa’s field” is his favorite place. I can’t drive past it without him pointing and whining to get out. He pushes himself up against the corner of our section’s seats, eyes zeroed in at Papa standing in the dugout. The slightest glimpse from him towards Holden and his arms go up. His face reads “Papa, come get me!” He yearns to run on the field, play catch.

I’m grateful for this, for the sport of baseball and the role it will play in Holden’s life. As it’s done for the few generations before him, I’m hopeful that it instills in him what it’s done for us. It’s just a family thing.

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Daddy’s little girl

All I want is for you to be happy.

It was something I had been hearing from him over and over ever since I could remember, so there was no surprise that this was the theme throughout his toast at my 2009 wedding. The speech that wasn’t about my new husband and me, but about my dad and me.

I was happy. I was giving him what he wanted. I thought I was happy.

I had always been his baby girl. His youngest daughter, so naturally he was more protective over me. I was never as strong as my siblings though, extremely vulnerable, not too good at holding my own. So he always did it for me. I depended on him for decision-making. I trusted him more than myself, still do from time to time.

Ironic to see that one major decision I made without him led to the demise of my happiness, or the self-invented happiness I had at the time.

You see, I put my dad in a tough predicament. One in which I suppose many fathers find themselves in when their daughters become “in love.” One in which I have also come to kick myself over and over for even putting him in that position. He didn’t deserve it. He had a picture of my future. The future he wanted for me, raised me to have. The future I didn’t get in the end, or during this short period of my life. But what’s a dad to do when all he wants is for his daughter to be happy? If she thinks she knows what constitutes that happiness, all he can do is support. So that’s what he did. And still does.

Ironic also to see that my dad was also the backbone to my healing process, my hero. Mom and I used to joke that during our Dark Ages, he needed to just hook us up to IVs in the living room and go comatose until it was all over. Dad was going to take care of it all, it was going to be okay. We can laugh at that now. And it is okay now. Because of my dad’s support.

I am forever grateful for the strength he provided in lieu of my own when I needed strength the most.

You see, my dad in the profession that he has, one that is extremely demanding of time and emotion, has a lot on his plate. Every day. I always get a good smile out when people ask what my dad does in the off-season. As if it is a part-time job. Sometimes I wish it was, so he could have a little break for himself.

Little do many people know the sacrifices that he has made for the last 35+ years in collegiate coaching to get where he is. I know these sacrifices weigh on his shoulders from time to time, but I want him to know I never felt sacrificed.

I recently started watching Modern Family, Season 1 (encouraged to do so by my friends). The third episode begins with a question of fatherhood, what it means to be a dad, etc. I believe the quotation that wrapped it all up was that “90% of being a dad is just showing up.”

I think showing up would include much of the following. Rushing home to tuck us in at night after a long day’s work; running on the outside of the fence next to me while running the mile in track growing up (yes, for all four laps around); endless hours he dedicated to tutoring his kids through high school; walking alongside the pool cheering for us kids with every breath of air we took during those summers on the swim team (which we all despised…mostly due to having to wear a swim cap); gasping with his eyes clothes every time I was tossed in the air as a cheerleader; every phone call made to give a pep talk before a college statistics exam; every phone call made to support after those college statistics exams. These are minor examples.

I’d say he showed up. I’d say he’s done more than that, and still does.

It’s a family joke we have that dad is our family manager. He’s our guidance counselor, our tutor, our coach, our friend, our supporter, our provider. The list could go on. I don’t know how he does it with the profession that he’s in, but he does. For all that he does for his family, I’m surprised he can have a profession.

Though, we will definitely all admit it’s not a normal career for a father by any means. We never took family vacations. I guess we still don’t. Growing up I guess our vacations consisted of each one of us kids deciding which away-trip we were going on with dad and the team. I repeatedly chose Minneapolis for the Mall of America of course. I was twelve on one of these trips. If you’ve taken a glance at the picture of myself at thirteen way down at the beginning of the blog, just know that twelve wasn’t too different. And I got to sit next to my enormous crush on dad’s team on the plane ride. A dream come true. I, with braces beaming, complimented his pink shirt. He must have been 20. Corrected me the shirt was actually salmon-colored. My first heartbreak. But it was okay; Daddy was there for me.

Lifetimes later, he’s still there for me. Still consoling me, guiding me. Teaching me what’s right and wrong. I will be forever grateful for the immense support given not just during difficult times in my life, but also for just “showing up.”

6, 16, 26. Doesn’t matter what age I’m at. I’m still daddy’s little girl.