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Friday, January 30, 2015

To Tova, In The Future.

To Tova In The Future --

I know, open letters are passé. You may not even know what one is when you get this, if you find it buried on some archaic version of this space that will probably resemble something close to what 8 bit looks like to me, now, but no matter.

You're just shy of four and a half as I write this, sitting on the couch next to me watching Sesame Street. Please tell me there is Sesame Street in the future. I cried the first time you guys, you and your big brother, watched it, because it was just such a big part of my childhood. If you choose to have kids, I wish this for you too. Not the tears, but the bonding over Big Bird and Cookie Monster.

But I'm getting ahead of myself.

What I want to talk to you about actually, is a realization that pretty much guts me every time I think about it.

You see, beautiful girl, your father and I (as you have pretty much already figured out at this point) are no longer romantically involved. In a way, we'll always be family because of you and Kiedis, because you tie us together in a way we can never completely undo.

But as it stands, our core unit has gone from four to three and already, I see the patterns changing within the three of us and I see you maturing faster than Kiedis.

So we need to talk.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

What you don't know about me just yet, dear girl, is that your mama has a litany of minor to remarkable health issues and complications that separately may just be inconveniences, but in combination will surely shorten my time here with you and your brother. And God willing, you two will surpass me in that time by leaps and bounds.

But what you may not also realize just yet is that your brother is a very special person. It is so incredibly hard to tell at this point in both of your lives what he will be capable of, and what will be too much for him to bear on his own.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

And you'll probably figure this out sooner rather than later, but as mama to both of you, the brunt of his care, his progress, and his advocacy has been left up to me. I'll tell you the stories as they become appropriate to know, and if you do choose to have children of your own someday you'll start to understand what that has been like, why things were so hard in the beginning. Through that, you'll also start to understand aspects of why your father and I couldn't continue our lives as a joint unit. In no way is that meant to state that you or your brother had anything to do with it -- you didn't in the least -- it was more how we both handled the unexpected stress and struggle that came with special needs and medically fragile parenthood for both of us. We made different choices in how we handled that. Those choices were irreconcilable. And now I can't speak for your father and what choices he will make. I can only speak for myself, for the loads I carry so that you and your brother may have the childhoods I dreamed for you before I met you both, and further on the lives I hope for you both.

And someday, my sweet girl, these things will be left to you.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

I never meant for this to be how it played out, that you would be his caretaker, his advocate. I hope, out of love for him as you both grow, these roles are ones you take on out of that love and support I see between you. Already, you help him (and me) in more ways than a child your age should have the maturity to handle. Yet you do it with grace and aplomb because he's your Bubby and you are just such a loving and open-hearted human. I have no doubt you will continue to be his best and strongest cheerleader, no matter what he ends up capable of.

But the fact remains -- in the best case scenarios, he will still need your emotional support to suffer this world not built for brains like his. And in the worst case scenarios, he will need you to be his constant, his safety, his routine, when I no longer am able to be those things.

He is your singular tie to the days that we are living right now -- your only full sibling, the only other person in this world to have lived life in the same places and times as you in these childhood years.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

He will ground you, dear Tovalah. As you will do for him.

In a way, I know this from my own adulthood relationship with my brother, your Uncle. I know this in the ways we have grown to be so vastly different and yet still the same as we were when we were you and your brother's ages.

And I know, as the sibling who needs the extra care, as the one who can't always function in this world without kid gloves helping me along, how very important you will be to him, even if he grows to be a fully functional, independent adult.

His relationship with you will be the longest of his life, as is true for you as well. It is my hope for you that you learn to see the beauty in it, that the experiences you have with him will grow your compassion and empathy for others who are different, and for those who just struggle from time to time. I hope you find your strength, your voice, your courage through not only these avenues of maintaining his care, but in loving him for his differences and seeing him for the wonderful person he is, when you look.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

I hope you learn to ask for help when you need it, and that you will be surrounded in your life by people upon whom you may rely. I hope that you never stop learning and trying to make the most educated choices not just based on research, but on both of your needs. I hope you will be able to see him as I do, for the sweet gentle soul he is, for the ways he sees the world and how it changes everything you see about it, too.

I hope you never feel over-burdened. I know with him there are moments of overwhelm for everyone involved but I truly hope that you will continue to be his bestest friend and will act from that place, not one of genetic obligation.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

And I hope, when I am no longer able to be with you both, that you will be the love each other needs to endure. I hope you will lean on each other and be comfortable in doing so.

Family is hard, my girl, in ways you can't fathom just yet. Soon these days of innocence will be gone and all you will have will be each other to hold on to and I am doing everything within my power to build you both up in love and kindness so that you have solid foundations to grow upon, both in your separate lives, but most importantly, together.

So keep making these memories with him. Keep being his friend. Keep trying and engaging and loving and supporting because he is going to need you someday, and you, sweet girl, will need him just as much.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

I love you both more than I'll ever be able to tell you. You two are the greatest people I know, the most treasured humans in my heart, as you are very much pieces of my heart and my soul out in the world, living your lives in ways I never could have imagined for myself.

Keep doing that. Keep looking at this world with wonder, hand in hand. Keep loving and giggling and yes, even fighting because how else will you learn to respect differences of opinion, and thriving despite the odds and despite whatever life throws at you and even when you don't feel like you are worth love because you both are so very worthy of so much more love than I can begin to show you, though I will surely never stop trying.

I hope this life is kind to you, and that this world grows to be an easier one to inhabit both in general and specifically for you both. I hope that you grow together while pursuing your own interests and dreams.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

And I hope at the end of the day, you know that you have each other (and me) forever, for always, and no matter what.

A photo posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

I love you, baby girl. I have faith in you, and in your brother.

Now go eat something and don't forget to let the dogs in and clean the cat boxes and turn off the coffee pot and charge your phone and always leave a light on and lock the door behind you.

Love to the moon and back,

Mommy

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Our Project 52, Week Four: Blue.

I know, I kind of skipped last week. I had an idea but zero time to make it happen.

Anyway.

As I've gotten older, I've come to realize that I'm pretty much a Midwestern girl through and through. I love this part of the country. I mean, I super enjoy other parts too, but here around the Great Lakes is where I feel the most at home, the most in my element.

And there's something to be said for the winters here, in all of their blustery glory.

Let's say it all together: the cold never bothered me anyway.

(Because I was a Girl Scout and I know how to be properly prepared for such things.)

I first noticed it a few years ago, when visiting family in Chicago one Christmas. The color of the sky in the winter with fresh snow on the ground is just pure magic. And in the Windy City, you see more of it on the regular than you do, say, in a tributary valley where everything lingers a little bit longer than it should.

But sometimes, sometimes Ohio doesn't disappoint.

#ourproject52


#ourproject52

My neighborhood isn't the prettiest, but on days where the snow hasn't quite been disturbed by pedestrians yet and the suffocating grey clouds clear, there is a certain beauty to be found.

I live for these mornings. They remind me I'm alive.

On a technical note, I've just been using the no flash setting on my camera. I haven't gotten brave enough to play with the ISO and so on just yet. I learned taking these photos, at least in that setting, that I have to have something for  the camera to focus on, so unobstructed views of just the blue sky weren't happening, which kind of disappointed me. I'll have to try and figure that out.

Anyway. Go forth and check out the other blogger's takes on blue this week!

*This post is linked up with Everyday Eyecandy & Lipgloss & Binky for their #ourproject52 challenge. Go check our their posts for helpful tips and to see all the other wonderful bloggers participating!*

Monday, January 26, 2015

#365feministselfie, A Recap.

I know the last week of January is a bit late for an end-of-the-year reflection but eff it.

I started the #365feministselfie project on a whim, with a plan to be as kind of silly with it as possible. I didn't want to take pretty pictures, I didn't want it to bear weight. I just thought it would be fun.

I didn't know then, a little over a year ago, what the year would hold for me.

Looking back, I'm so glad I did it. Not only to document the obvious changes I underwent as the year wore on -- but actually, because the biggest lesson I learned from it was how to look at myself with love. To see my strengths, to embrace my weaknesses, to learn to let go of the things I couldn't control and live in the moment, no matter what kind of moment it was ... to be vulnerable and therefore fearless, in my own way.

Of course, some amazing things happened along the way. My initial post about beginning this project was recognized as part of Schmutzie's Five Star Friday, a weekly round up of nominated posts from the blogosphere. I was honored by BlogHer as part of their Voices of the Year Keynote at the 10th annual conference for one of my selfies. I met celebrities and musicians and authors and new friends and old friends and I invited people in, to my heart and my head and how I see this mad world and people weren't scared or repulsed or judgmental -- but kind, accepting, supportive.

Sure, there's been a fair share of rubberneckers and a few trolls, but as with any drama in life, you'll have that.

But the biggest thing that happened for me along the way was that I found a voice I didn't know I had. A voice that wasn't afraid to stand up in the literal arena and ask a celebrity for a photo in front of hundreds of people. A voice, despite shaking, that could say with confidence that I deserved better and actually believed it. A voice that stopped worrying so much what others thought because I could finally start to see in myself beauty and grace and love and I didn't need that outside validation, the whispers telling me how I should look or act or feel. I found a voice that gave me the space to be me and to do so with confidence and hope and, yeah, I'm going to say it again -- love.

I can't tell you what it's like to finally have that after 30 solid years of not.

Sure, I bet I've lost followers because they're tired of seeing my face all the time, and I've probably gained some that don't understand what it is I'm actually doing here. But it isn't about the stats to me with this, no. At a time when my words, for varying reasons, failed or betrayed me (or had the potential to do so) these photos kept the story going, often times speaking more eloquently and honestly than I ever could convey through my fingers at a keyboard.

If anything, this project helped me to believe in myself and my words even more, because I know now more than ever the power there is in telling your story, however you choose to tell it.

So, if you want to feel a little dizzy, here's all 365 of my feminist selfies from 2014 in 15 seconds.

A video posted by Tabatha M (@so_tabulous) on

And if you want to take a peek at them at a more leisurely pace, I've put them all into a Flickr album, although some of the captions were cut off in the upload so you may have to traipse over to Instagram to see comments and whatever.

I toyed with making a Blurb or Shutterfly book out of them, if even just for myself -- and I might, yet.

I wasn't sure I was going to continue in 2015 -- I was worried the year would lose some of its salience, some of its importance to me and I suppose potentially to others if it didn't end and have closure. But as I watched my fellow selfie-ists commit to another year and chat about their reasons for continuing, I realized I was grateful to still see their faces everyday, as they have become my compatriots and moreso, my friends.

So I decided to continue, because this year already holds big things for me, and my story is so very far from over yet.

I think this post from a fellow selfie-ist sums it up pretty nicely:

A photo posted by Toni (@ohyes_that_girl) on

So here's to the revolution -- of society, of the male gaze, of our community being seen and heard and getting things done -- but also, to the revolution within ourselves, the radical notion that we are people ... people with stories worthy of being told and people worthy of being loved most of all by ourselves.