Family

Dear Grandparents (and other generationally older relatives): It has come to my attention that you may need a guidebook to understanding my generation and our children. You would think that, because you raised (or were nearby for the raising) at least one of my children's parents, you would be knowledgeable in grandchild/grandparent relations. For the most part you would be right, but you have not factored in one or two very important components to your relationship: your grandchildren's parents. In sweeping my kitchen floor this evening, I found two Easter pez dispensers, a coupon for diapers, some crap from the Oriental Trading company and six unsharpened pencils, all with the name of your financial institution. And I just swept this morning. This stuff would be fine if 1.) It was...
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Dear Mom and Dad, We see it, you kow. The exasperated look you get when we ask you to do things differently with your grandchildren than you did with us. We see the pain in your eyes even as we give our reasons for why we make different choices than you did. We don't mean to hurt you. You have to know that upfront. Just because we decide to do things differently than you did, it does not mean that we are judging what you did as "wrong." We are just trying to do what we think is right based on the research we have done. We all understand that we survived and thrived with your parenting choices. We give you credit for all the love and care you took in raising us. We understand that you did the best you could with us and that you only wanted our lives to be better than the ones you had. It'...
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Dear Grandparents, You are sometimes zany and wacky and some of you smell like chicken noodle soup all the time and others of you smell like discontinued perfumes from the 1920s while others of you smell like cigars and cinnamon. You wear clothes that either match perfectly or don’t match at all but you almost always wear your pants much too high as though Clint Eastwood were the poster child for your generation. Your cupboards are full of foods that may or may not have been purchased five years ago and you seem to think an acceptable dinner is steak with a side of steak (or maybe that’s just my grandparents?). You live in Florida. All of you. Don’t try to tell me you are in Palm Springs or somewhere in Arizona because I am convinced that all grandparents live in Florida. Florida...
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To the State of Ohio legislature, every Ohio magistrate in family court, and the lawyering minions: This is a story of a guy who filed for divorce and thought there's no way what ensued could happen to him. If you tried to write the works of deadbeat dad's across the heavens, and all the water on earth were ink, you could drain the oceans dry. As divorced men, we must accept a certain amount of skepticism. The assumption by the courts is that you will not take care of your children. You will leave them with your parents or friends to venture into the inevitable rebound relationship that is doomed for failure. Or you'll try to recapture your youth by hanging out in bars, and possibly pick up some bad habits along the way. The other assumption is that the mother is infoulable. She's...
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Dear Sister, Congratulations! This week starts your journey into college. It’s an experience you’re sharing with more young women than ever before, and I couldn’t be more proud of what you’ve accomplished. I’ve known you your whole life, and watched you follow your passion for lacrosse, community service and the Beatles. But there’s something that’s never really been on your radar: feminism, and what it means to be the smart, educated woman you are in today’s society. You know what, I get it. I know these issues may sound highbrow and scary, or they may conjure images of marching through the streets with burning bras and unshaved legs. But they’re things you’ll face head-on in the next four years, and I want to offer you the advice I wish someone had offered to me when I first...
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Dear Sister, It has been a long time coming to sit down and write this letter to you. It’s a difficult one to write, and I imagine, may be equally difficult to receive. I have had this on my heart for some time, never quite finding the right moment to express my feelings. In our case, expressing our feelings often meant exposing our vulnerability, and for us our vulnerability was a weakness we couldn’t afford. But its time you hear this from me, so here goes. I need you to give up on the notion that you will ever be the favorite. It’s just not going to happen. Its time to let this one go. I realize that for years, since we were too little to know any different, we have been competing for the title. So much so, that I would wager almost all of our disagreements, at their core, may...
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Dear Annalily, Last weekend you turned 13, (or as you sometimes call it, “tenty-three”). You’ll be starting high school soon too, and I’m cringing as I write that because dear lord it makes me feel old… I feel like I should give you my “sage advice,” being your older sister, but you already are wiser than me in so many ways. I could tell you to stay true to yourself, but you already are. In fact, you are one of the strongest people I know. I could tell you that even when you are stressed or sad or lonely, the feeling is only momentary and everything will be okay. But I know you already know that, because you’ve taught me those lessons yourself. You are my best friend. There’s nobody who gets both my jokes and my problems like you do. I can shoot a single glance at you,...
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My dear sister, My baby, why did you grow up so fast? Before you were born, mom promised me a doll and our middle sister wished you were a little elephant! I loved you from that moment. You are a young woman now. Little sister, I want you to know that you are perfect just the way you are: body, soul and mind. In one more week you’ll be finishing school but don’t be scared my little one, you don’t need to have it figured out. I hope you follow your dreams and I hope you have the courage to listen to your heart. Stop looking for your “other half” because you were born complete; look for someone who makes you happy. Guard your heart but don’t be afraid to fall in love. Boys will hurt you, friends will leave, promises will be broken; don’t let pain make you bitter. Trust the Universe...
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Dear Jill, First, let me say, I love you. Our family isn’t one for expressing our feelings out loud, unless it’s anger, so I wanted to change that. I love you. I have always loved you. You are my older sister and I respect you. We haven’t talked for a very long time. We don’t write each other, we don’t phone each other and I find that terribly sad. Some how we grew apart and I wish I could change that. I’m not sure how though. Maybe you have some ideas? There are lots of days I miss you so much, in fact most days. I’ve tried emailing you, through Facebook, but get no response. I used to call you and leave messages, but didn’t get phone calls back. So I guess I gave up. I’m kind of ashamed that I gave up, but the non-responses hurt me and I was tired of being hurt. I know you...
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Hey baby girl, Happy 16th! I can’t believe you’re so grown up. You wrote the perfect heartfelt note to me on my last birthday. We were 3,000 miles apart, and celebrating without you didn’t feel quite right. I hadn’t seen you in three months, and I missed you like crazy. When I read your happy birthday Facebook message, I instantly burst into happy tears in the middle of a bar. I was blubbering, and everyone in the bar turned around to stare. It’s my turn to one-up you now. I hope you read this somewhere like fourth period geometry and have an embarrassing cry in public, too. It’s cathartic, try it. Here it goes. Your birthday always makes me nostalgic. Grandma and I were in a hotel lobby when we first heard you were born. “You have two messages,” the concierge told us. The...
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