essay no. 1

California Coast

You show up at my bedside promptly at 6:00 am Avie. Sometimes I get lucky and it's 6:15 or (gasp!) 6:30. You are quiet, and I wake because I feel you staring at me. In your hand is a (insert dress-up item of choice) black leotard/Snow White dress/tutu and fairy wings.

Hi Aves, I mumble, cracking open an eye.

Mama, can you put this on me? You say, holding your costume directly in front of my face.

I sleepily smile instead of turning the other way and telling you to go back to bed. I've done that before and it doesn't work. I've learned that by relenting to your request you will merrily play dress-up for a solid twenty minutes, allowing me to wake slowly. Usually you'll climb into Coco's crib and I hear you two playing together through the baby monitor. Eventually I get up, step into my slippers and we march downstairs for breakfast.

It is at the breakfast table that we decide what to do during the day. Most of the time our agenda is wide open. We go to the park when we want to, we play dress up for as long as we care, we dance in our loft if we feel like it and watch movies when a thunderstorm rolls in. I like it this way.

I savor these days. I never wish them away. In fact, I question whether you really need one year of preschool next fall before kindergarten. Just so I can have more days like this. You are only three years old as I write this. And Coco is one. It's hard for me to fathom life outside of what we live daily: early morning risings, occasional trips to Disneyland, walks to the park, cheering you on as your ride your trike out front.

And yet I know someday it will come. Someday you are going to leave and I will not be the center of your life. It's a hard thought to wrap my head around. I feel a lump forming in my throat already just imagining that day. Maybe because the day I left home was a hard reality to face.

I decided to go to college on an island in the Pacific Ocean, not knowing a single person. The day started early as I ran a few last minute errands. I walked in the door and heard a familiar sound. My parents were arguing and my stomach sank. This wasn't anything new, but it took a turn for the worse when my mom packed her suitcase and sped away without saying goodbye. We tried calling her. We waited for her to come back. But, in the end she never came and it was time to leave. Megg drove me to the airport and I made the five hour flight alone.

It was only when my dad hugged me goodbye that I remembered his words of encouragement a few years prior. On a race day unparalleled to any other in my running career he pulled me aside. Missy, we are hill runners. When the hills come at mile 4, that is when your power begins. It's in our blood. Push yourself up them and keep the momentum going. You'll leave everyone else in the dust.

So. The day marking my independence, something I was sure would be exciting for everyone involved, turned into anything but. However because of the story that played out that day, I learned that hills are not merely in running races. Life itself can be quite hilly at times. Mountainous, even.

But this is where you are lucky girls. Because we have an uncanny ability to power up those hills. We have it in our genes. I knew it when my mom left that day, or when I studied in London. Or when I ran the Boston Marathon. Or when I brought the two of you home from the hospital as newborns. Every single time, I made it out ok. More than ok. Much, much better because now I have you two.

As much as I want to forget the day I left home, I force my self to remember it. Just so when your day comes and I am torn between utter thrill for you and a fear that matches it, I can be happy that I get to watch it happen. You get to choose what you want to be, who you want to be, and how you will make it happen. And you will make great things happen, largely due to the extra strength we have running through our veins.

Lucky me to be there for you too. Because I will be. And I will be cheering you on. That I can promise you both.

What I love most about Missy is her pledge to make her girls' childhoods (lives) magical. She really is that kind of mother.

*Catch up on delightful's weekly essays here.  


Tara said...

What beautiful, inspiring words--for yourself and for your girls!

molly said...

i quite like this feature of your blog. beautiful words, just beautiful.

kelli said...

I loved this and have so many thoughts:

*how hugely significant our role as parents is: how your experience being parented negatively impacted you, then changed you.
*how you now have this resolve to just be there, so in turn, how everything played out the day you left for university will change your girls for the better.
*how this all comes full circle: I don't believe everything happens for a reason, but rather we can be guided and changed by our reaction to those hills and mountains that make up our lives. It says a lot that you've powered through them.

p.s. I love the running theme. Your little Avery really does have it in her blood. I've seen it.

Delynn said...

Missy, David and I so enjoyed reading these insights from you -- they are a delight. He went to print out a quote from you and the computer went crazy; now we have pages and pages of your darling blog. We aren't sorry for his mistake! That was a terribly disappointing Hawaii flight, but what an incredible resolve it produced in you. We are so proud of you on many fronts...

marzi said...

wow this is amazing and powerful! makes me realize how much i take for granted every day. tomorrow will be different because of what i've just read. thank you.

thepainterfamily said...


you are such a genuine person
the picture shows it,
your words prove it!

Jill said...

i loved reading this, thank you for sharing missy. i can tell you really do make living magical for your children, i think it's a wonderful gift for them. you are inspiring.

as i read i was reminded of a line from The History of Love "And then I thought: Perhaps that is what it means to be a father -- to teach your child to live without you." everything we do for our children is to help them live their own lives, even though we may wish to always keep them right by our side.

(kelli, i love the essays)