Love is a Pink Shirt

Things I believed in when I was young: unicorns, super powers (okay…I may still kind of be hanging on to that one…), Tooth Fairy, Santa Claus, the Chupacabra, and happily ever after. As I grew up, I wondered if I would ever be able to attain the fabled ideal – true love. I, by inherent design, was/am a skeptic, not a romantic. The world we live in really doesn’t help the case for real love.

Love can be harsh. Most of the time it’s confusing. A lot of the time, love hurts, like really hurts. The big question is that if love is the potential pinnacle of sucktitude, why do we even try? What’s the point of putting ourselves on the line, making ourselves vulnerable for what could be our eventual downfall? What the heck IS real, true love? Does it even exist or has it gone extinct like dinosaurs or purple leisure suits?

Last Saturday night, my husband and I rushed to a hospital in Appleton, Wisconsin. We were told his grandfather didn’t have much time left on this earth. If we wanted to say our goodbyes, we needed to do it asap. When we got there, the room was full of family visiting. True to our usual form, there were many funny stories and sarcastic one-liners being thrown around. Grandpa was sleeping and fitfully so. His breathing was labored and his color was drained. There, hanging on to his left hand, was Grandma. I stood on the periphery of the room mainly observing while throwing in a random comment here and there. What I observed, touched my heart so greatly.

While conversation floated around her, Grandma gently stroked Grandpa’s hand and softly placed kisses on top of his knuckles. Every now and again, she would smooth his white, whispy hair. The silent tears she wiped away made a few slip from my own eyes.

At one point, my sister-in-law commented how pretty Grandma looked. Her hair was curled and she had a sweet, pink shirt on. Grandma replied, “I wore pink because this is Ike’s favorite color on me.” Then she went back to touching the back of his hand and whispering to him now and again.

That moment has been playing around in the back of my mind for the past few days. Especially now that Grandpa has passed on. In that moment, I saw the greatest example of real, true love. Love isn’t grand gestures and pricey gifts. It isn’t the perfect words or always doing the right thing. It’s holding someone’s hand when they may not even know we’re there. It’s being by someone’s side as long as we can no matter how tired, or scared, or heartbroken we may be. It’s all of the little things that add up to something great.

Love is the incentive to wake in the morning. Love is what helps us laugh when what we really want to do is cry. Love keeps us going when all we want to do is quit. Love is the smile we need. Love is the squeeze of an aged hand to let us know how special we are. Love is a crinkled smile. Real, true love goes beyond any romantic ideal. It’s real. It’s scary. Sometimes, it hurts. Like really, really hurts. But, it’s so worth it. If I can ever attain the smallest fraction of the love Grandpa and Grandma shared, my life will be a success.

So, if I ever start to question or get cranky or discouraged or try to hold any of my relationships to some impossible ideal, I will remind myself of one thing:

Love is a pink shirt.

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“Pink Sweater and Blue Clothesline” – Tomie DePaola

 

 

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I Am Not Enough

Okay. So, you’ve read the title but stay with me. I’ve come to terms with a truth and thought I would share it with you. When it comes to being a mom (and really everything else – wife, daughter, sister, friend…), I am not enough. Believe it or not, I do not mean that negatively but realistically.

Last week, I posted this on Facebook:

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The struggle is real, people. I have three children in sports and one who does a lot academically. They each have something going on at least a few times a week and without fail, all those places to be seem to fall in the same time slot. What’s a mom to do?

I’ve always admired those moms who seem to have it all together. Their kids are awesome and look great. They’re the moms who are at every event sitting there looking all put together and relaxed. I’m the mom that rushes in – usually late – and sits down agitated because as soon as this one is over, I have to rush to the next one.

I know exactly what you’re going to say, “Now Becky, we mustn’t compare ourselves to others. We never know what someone else is going through. Remember that you are doing better than you think.” First all, I’m not comparing myself to everyone else (for the most part), just making general observations. Secondly, I have to be doing better than I think because at this point I don’t think I could do much worse. Positive thinking, right?

Last night, I had a mom dilemma. I had to be in two places at once – LITERALLY (and I mean like the proper use of “literally”). I did my best to split my time and left my daughter’s softball game to take my son to pick up his Little League Uniform with the intentions of hustling my booty back to the softball field in time for Parent’s Night with my daughter. I rushed as quickly (with minimal speeding) as I could from picking up my son’s uniform but…

Yep. You guessed it. I was too late. My daughter took it all in stride but it broke my heart a little. I had to face the truth. I am not enough. How is it possible for a mom to be enough? The simple answer – we can’t.

After the kids went to bed, I did what any mature mom would do and sat down to cry for an hour or two over what a terrible mom I am. After the tear-well done run dry, I tried to put things in perspective. I came to the same conclusion: I am not enough. I am never going to be enough, HOWEVER, that’s okay.

On the way home from my epic failure, I had a hard time not letting a couple of tears fall. My 11 year old son was in the car with me. He asked me why I was upset. I explained that I was sad that I had missed something so important for his sister. That I was having a hard time being there for him and his siblings because I just can’t see to be everywhere at once. After a few beats of silence, he did the most amazing thing. He reached out and held my hand and we rode in silence that way for the rest of the way home. What a wonderful heart to know just what I needed. That made me realize that there must have been some moments where I was enough and was able to teach him or influence him to be such a sweet young man.

In those times when I can’t be enough, I need to lean on others for help. There is no shame in being a mom who needs help. If you are the Pinterest-cut-your-child’s-sandwiches-in-art-worthy-creations-mom, you’re awesome. You’ll get no Pinterest shamming from me. If you are the I-haven’t-showered-in-three-days-and-I-just-found-Cheerios-in-my-bra-but-I-don’t-remember-eating-Cheerios-mom, I think you are awesome too. Call me if you need a nap and I’ll do what I can to help and maybe even bring you something besides Cheerios to eat. If you’re somewhere in-between, excellent! If you’re like me and have those moments when you feel like an utter parental failure, you are not alone. Seriously. Ask for help. Lean on someone. Just know that no matter how perfect that well put-together mom who brings the awesome snacks for her kids and seems to have the patience of a saint is, she has meltdowns too. She even forgets important things AND she can’t be in two places at once either.

I am not perfect. She is not perfect. You are not perfect.

I’m not ALWAYS enough but SOMETIMES I am. So, I don’t know about you but I’m just going to work on being realistic. I’m going to cherish and relish those moments when I am enough and be thankful when they happen because what it all boils down to is I am so happy to be a mom. I have the most amazing children who make me laugh, make me smile, make me cringe, make me roll my eyes, make me cry, and make me so very grateful that they are mine. They are the absolute best thing I’ve ever done. They’re fabulous and I love them. The kicker is? They love me even though I’m not perfect.

I don’t have to be “enough”. I just have to be their mom.

Christmas is My Mother’s Voice in My Head

Recently, I was asked what is Christmas to me. I gave the rote answers about the birth of Jesus Christ and how it is the season of giving. We had a nice conversation and went our separate ways. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that to me Christmas is my mother’s voice in my head.

Anyone who knows my mom knows what a beautiful singing voice she has. When I was a child, she frequently could be heard singing as she was cleaning or cooking. Matter of fact, her singing was a good indicator of her mood. She played records a lot and if she was singing along with the records, all was good. If she wasn’t singing, you probably should quietly back away from the kitchen.

I learned how to sing by sitting next to her at church. She did this thing where she would sing soprano on the first verse, alto for the second, tenor for the third, and if there was a fourth verse she was all about that bass. (Sorry…couldn’t help myself. The awesome part is that she probably won’t get the joke.) My childhood was full of music from everything to choirs to community plays/musicals and even singing The Messiah. It was awesome.

One of my absolute favorite things to listen to was to her sing “Silent Night”. You see, she always sang this beautiful descant. I don’t really remember a time that she didn’t sing it. It’s like it was just always there.

Each Christmas, I look forward to hearing Silent Night because the coolest thing happens. Even though my mom is almost 2000 miles away. I hear her voice. It’s amazing because in that moment I’m 7 or 13 or 18 or 22 and sitting next to mom. Memories of Christmas flood back in an instant. I have a Grinch moment where my heart grows three sizes only mine wasn’t two sizes too small in the first place but I guess that’s beside the point. Christmas to me is my mom’s voice in my head. Crystal clear, right?

Christmas is the memories we make with the people we love. Christmas is having a Christmas movie-a-thon with your sibilings all the while quoting every line of every movie. Christmas is your sister creating the Nativity out of all of your Cabbage Patch dolls. Christmas is helping someone else have something when they would otherwise have nothing. Christmas is going out as a family and cutting down a tree and letting your husband pretend to let the tree fall on him. (If you know mine, that will make sense.) Christmas is family gathering together outside at 7:00 p.m. in the dark on a Saturday night to go sledding when it’s only 5 degrees outside – even when you reeeeeeeeally don’t like the cold.

Christmas is watching my kids try to figure out who their Secret Santa is that made their bed or left them a note. Christmas is the quiet of the night once all of the kids have gone to bed and I can sit in the living room and enjoy the lights of the tree and the falling snow. Christmas is the time we spend together and the memories we create. Yes, there are some very special gifts that are given to us along the way but the reason they mean so much to us is because of who gave them to us and the thoughtfulness behind them.

I don’t mean to take away Christ in Christmas. I think all of this falls in line with the honoring and celebration of the birth of a Savior. It’s service and love and family. It’s our connection to life and each other. Those connections are the basis of our existence here on earth – to love and lift each other. Take the time to pause and look around. Cherish each opportunity to be kind.

And, if we’re lucky, those connections and memories will allow us to feel close to those we love no matter how far away they may be.

Merry Christmas.

Takes One To Know One

When I was a little girl, I used to play in the shelter of our carport. Arizona summers get pretty warm (I know. Thank you, Captain Obvious…), so the shade of the carport was an absolute must for outdoor afternoon playtime. Underneath the carport was a small retaining wall that surrounded windows to our basement. I loved walking back and forth on that wall. It was nothing more than rough cement but to me it was the balance beam in my illustrious imaginary gymnastic career. One day, while trying some daring moves, I slipped and fell. I must have thrown my hands out to catch myself because I scuffed up the palm of my left hand pretty badly. I remember a lot of dirt and blood and pain. I remember the panic of not knowing what to do. I did what most kids would do at a moment like that – I yelled for my mom. I swear she was there before I even finished calling. I may have strung out my call a little bit, but she was there…like magic. She fixed me up, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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Fast forward to my fifth grade year. We always rode the bus to and from school. Any kid who has to ride the bus knows how eager you feel to get off the bus. No one wants to stay on a second longer than necessary. After a particularly stressful day (Don’t laugh. Fifth graders have stressful days too.), I was sooooooooooooooooooo ready to walk through the door of my home and be done with the day. The bus driver stopped, my sister and I got off, we looked at the driver for the okay to cross the road to our house, and he gave it. I walked across the road but didn’t make it all the way. The young driver of a pickup truck thought he could hurry and get by instead of having to wait. There was a feeling of pain in my forehead, a weightlessness as I flew through the air, and more pain as I landed back on the ground – face down. With both my parents at work, my aunt who was a nurse at the time came to get me. She checked me over, treated me, and took me to my grandmother’s until my mom could come get me. I toughed it out. No tears from me even though I had a goose egg on my forehead and massive road rash on my arms that my aunt had to scrub all the gravel and dirt out of. No siree…no tears from me. My mom rushed in my grandma’s house. The moment she walked into the room all those tears let loose. She picked me up, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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When I was about thirteen, I got really sick. It started out as your run-of-the-mill cold but lingered and worsened. It ended up turning into bronchitis. My mom took me to the doctor to get some antibiotics to help me heal. That was all good in theory. That night I became super ill. I couldn’t keep anything down. Every 30 minutes, my stomach tried to send a rejection letter via my mouth. Apparently, I was allergic to the antibiotic. Who the heck is allergic to antibiotics? Well…me. Knowing timing was everything, we rushed to the ER in between the *ahem* rejections. It was a long wait. I know it was. It had to be so frustrating for my mom because she had to get up and go to work early in the morning. But she never said a thing. Never complained. She just took care of me, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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At 18, I was loving college. For the first couple of semesters, I lived at home with my mom. She was awesome enough to share her car with me – a pretty, red Grand Am. Anyone who knows my mom knows she loves red. We worked things out that while she was working, I could have the car to get to and from home and classes. Then I would get the car to her so she could go to her classes after she finished work. As I was heading to class on one particular day, I came to the train tracks by the campus. I was crossing over the train tracks when I realized there was a car that was not stopping at the stop sign. I guess I was a little lucky because I had slowed down to go over the tracks. I wasn’t lucky enough though because the driver ran the stop sign and plowed into the driver’s side of the vehicle. It spun me around and left me stopped a few feet from the tracks. I tried to open the door but couldn’t. I tried to kick it open with my foot only to experience EXTREME pain. I had messed up my foot. A friend of the family who also was a policeman, and on-duty, drove up shortly after. He called my mom and then worked to get me out. My mom was able to get a ride to be by me. I believe my first words were, “I’m so sorry about your car.” You see, it was her dream car. She loved it so much and I smooshed it. With tears in her eyes (and a few in mine), she told me she loved me more than a car, gave me a hug, and I knew I’d be okay.

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There are so many moments in my life where something has happened where I was hurt, whether it was a physical hurt or a hurt of the heart, and my mom was there to help me, give me a hug, and assure me I’d be okay.

I called her today to wish her an early Happy Mother’s Day. I love talking to her, offering sarcastic replies, and making her laugh. She has the best laugh. If you love listening to her beautiful singing voice, you should hear her laugh. The kind of laugh where you take her off guard and the laugh escapes before she can stop it. As we were hanging up, she wished me a Happy Mother’s Day and told me what a wonderful mother she thinks I am. Hours later, I’m still thinking about that and I’ve come to a conclusion. When my mom told me what a wonderful mother I am, I should have told her more than just “I love you”. I should have told her thank you for all the late nights when she took care of me. Thank you for all the times I was hurt and she was there in a blink. Thank you for all the times when my heart hurt and she just hugged me because a mother’s hug is the best kind of medicine. Thank you for all the times she let be me – awkward, caustic, weirdo me. More than anything, when she told me that she thought I was a wonderful mom, I wish I would have said that it was because of her.

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So, this is for my mom but the rest of you are welcome to read it too.

Mom, if I am a wonderful mom it’s because of you. I know none of us are perfect but I can’t imagine anyone loving me more than you do. I know I drove you NUTS (and still do). I know I worried you sick sometimes (and probably still do). I know I made you cry sometimes – sometimes happy tears, sometimes not (I hope I just cause the happy ones now). You have the most amazing heart of anyone I know. Once you take someone in, you keep them there. It’s a very esteemed privilege to be loved by you. I’m so incredibly grateful and humbled to be one of them. Thank you for teaching me how to love. The world is a beautiful place because you are in it.

And you think I’m a wonderful mom?

Well, it takes one to know one.

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Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.

 

I Still Can’t Fly But That’s Okay

When I was growing up, I loved watching “Bewitched” reruns. I was convinced if I just practiced I could tap into my own magical powers. For what seemed like hours, I practiced my nose twitching skills hoping for some kind of results. Alas, the soap in the dish never moved. My room was never spotless when I returned to it. When it was clear my nose held no power, I moved on to reading minds. I know what you’re thinking – such a silly girl. Maybe not so silly since I knew what you were thinking just then. Anyhow, after realizing mind-reading wasn’t one of my powers, I moved on to flying. I won’t go into all of the details but by the time I was done, I ruined a couple of  umbrellas, fell out of a couple of trees, twisted an ankle or two, and ripped up a good pair of jeans. Miraculously, I never broke any bones. I think that is because I was never foolish enough to try and jump off of the roof of my house. That would be crazy! I’m was (and still am) too afraid of heights to do that. That realization along with my failures cemented the fact that flying was just not my thing. I kept trying and trying different things in hope of tapping into any dormant powers. Then something truly horrible happened – I hit puberty. Even worse? I started to care what people thought of me.

I forgot all about my undiscovered powers. My new quest was to try to fit in. As the third of four children, I felt like the oddball. It didn’t matter if it was true – I mean I did try to fly – it made me feel very unsure of myself. Everyone in my family was athletic or at least coordinated. I’ve been hopelessly awkward from the word go. I tried basketball, softball, volleyball, and track. How did I do you ask? Please view this painfully accurate portrayal:

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Any other questions? I’d like to say that by the time I hit high school I figured things out, but I’d be lying. Matter of fact, I still haven’t quite figured myself out, but I’m getting to the point where I’m okay with that.

So what about my special powers? Well, it’s only been in the past 10ish years that I’ve started thinking about all of that again. I’ve refreshed my love of super heroes and magical beings. I love Harry Potter, Lord of The Rings, basically anything magical and mythical. As adult as I may be, I guess my desire to tap into any undiscovered powers hasn’t died. My quest just changed a little to find a hero to look up to. The main reason? I have two daughters. From the time they were very young, I have wanted them to have an example to emulate. There had to be someone out there.

About a year ago, I had the opportunity to ask author Deborah Harkness some questions regarding her book Discovery of Witches. We were discussing strong female role models and she stated that we all are strong and powerful we just haven’t realized it yet. She went on to say, “Often, though, [we] are afraid of [our] own power and try to be invisible. We all do that. Owning your own power is a scary thing.” ¹ Wait. What?

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It was an amazing conversation and we discussed the idea of being afraid of ourselves. She finished her comments to me saying, “We all have power. But most of us are frightened to use it and own it. Find yours. It’s there. And it won’t look like anyone else’s power. It’s all–and only–for you!”¹ I was almost in tears. Oh how I wish my 12 year old self could have had that conversation. It’s not that she was telling me that I may have the power to fly, read minds, or be able to shoot laser beams (yeah…I forgot to mention that one). It made me realize that we discount ourselves when we try to be like someone else.

This past April a friend of mine shared a conversation she overheard between her daughter and a classmate. The classmate asked her daughter who her favorite superhero was. Her daughter’s response was (and still is) the best thing I’ve read all year: “Myself.”

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At 10, “B” (we need to protect her secret identity) already knows what I still am trying to work out at 40. WE ARE OUR OWN SUPER HEROES. That is the attitude we need to be teaching our children and more specifically to our daughters, granddaughters, and nieces. I had a conversation with a seven year old girl about who could get Thor’s hammer if he died or retired. (Hey…it was a very serious conversation.) She told me I couldn’t have Thor’s hammer because I was a girl. I, of course, cleared that misconception. Girls all around us don’t realize how powerful they are. Women all around us have given up because they don’t think they are as powerful as someone else. Stop comparing yourself to someone else. Stop trying to be a “new” version of someone else. That’s not how it works!!!

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Let me repeat Ms. Harkness’s words:

We all have power. But most of us are frightened to use it and own it. Find yours. It’s there. And it won’t look like anyone else’s power. It’s all–and only–for you!”¹

We are all so uniquely powerful. Why are we so afraid to be different? No little girl should ever be told she can’t do something because it’s just for boys. No woman should ever be ashamed of “just being a mother” or being career woman. Your power doesn’t look like anyone else’s.

I want to issue a challenge for us all. You are your own superhero – find your powers. I’m still working on mine. I still can’t fly but that’s okay. I’m doing my best to help my girls realize theirs. Don’t be afraid to try. Don’t be afraid to be different. Don’t be afraid to be a girl. And most importantly, please remember that “ you’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.” ²

Sources:

¹ Harkness, Deborah. “I’m Deborah Harkness, Author of the #1 Bestselling ALL SOULS TRILOGY and Professor of the History of Science. AMA!” Reddit, 2015, http://www.reddit.com/r/books/comments/396671/im_deborah_harkness_author_of_the_1_bestselling/cs0w1r9/?context=3.

² Pooh’s Grand Adventure: The Search for Christopher Robin , Karl Guers, director. Walt Disney, 1997.

Birthdays, Stripping, and Avoiding Donald Trump Hair

I’ve been dreading this day for months. Today is my 40th birthday. (I actually cringed while typing that.)

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This birthday has been hard for me. I feel old. I don’t like it. I’m not sure what I thought life would be like at this point. I don’t think I thought too much beyond 30. Between kids and working and life in general I lost ten years. After much reflection and agonizing, I’ve decided that for my birthday, I’m going to strip.stripping giphy

No, not that kind of strip (but I can appreciate the way you think)! I figure it’s time to strip away a few things that aren’t doing me any good. I may not be happy about being older but there are things I’m letting hold me back. It’s time to do some internal disrobing…

Don’t be tense about the past and the present

Guess what? I am not 23 anymore. I loved my twenties. They were so much fun. I could survive on two hours sleep, eat anything and everything and still stay skinny, and only had to worry about myself. Now, if I get less than seven hours sleep I look like I belong on The Walking Dead. I ate a piece of birthday cake tonight and jumped two pant sizes before I finished my last bite. (Please don’t ask me how big of a piece I ate.) Thinking of myself is a luxury. My thoughts are almost completely occupied by the beings in my house who call me “Mom”.

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I’m okay with all that (well, maybe not the weight thing – c’est la vie…). I take much better care of myself now. However, I will admit to the occasional I’m-just-going-to-read-one-more-chapter-until-I-realize-it’s-2AM incident. And let’s face it, those beings I referred to? They are freaking awesome. I’m better because they exist. When you look at everything that way, they don’t really look like limitations, do they?

Untangling my “nots”

We all have nasty, gnarly “nots”. Ever find yourself saying, “I’m not thin enough”, “My hair is not pretty enough”, “I’m not good enough”, “I cannot do that”? See, you’re totally “notted” up. Now that I’m older and wiser, I’ve decided it’s time to do some untangling. My biggest “not” always revolves around my weight and/or my looks. I constantly compare myself to others. Wisdom tells me now is a great time in life. I should feel great in my own skin. I’m established and if I have an extra 10 or [cough] 20 pound cushion, good for me. As far as not being good enough? Total crap. I totally need to unravel that nonsense out of here. If you see me getting kind of “notty”, feel free to give me a comb over. (Just please don’t let me end up like Donald Trump [shudders]..)trump cMIuBz

Losing “wait”

I’ve always told myself to wait for that right time. While I can agree that timing is a huge factor in the success of things, the worst thing we can do is wait. When I was in junior high, I decided to run the hurdles in track. Go ahead and laugh…not that hard…I didn’t think it would be that funny…you okay now? Anyhow, I quickly learned that in order to make that jump you could not stutter step or hesitate.horse giphy

The horse feels my pain…and is way more graceful than I ever was. At 40, I’d like to think I have a bit more perspective. It’s time to reevaluate. It’s time to take some chances. It’s time to lose some “wait”.

Keep your affirmations “Smalley” and simple

Years ago, Al Franken played a character named Stuart Smalley on Saturday Night Live. He was a hilariously needy un-licensed therapist who just wanted to help others and himself. Time and time again his own faults would resurface as he was interviewing or helping others but that…was okay. He would always begin and close with, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me.”Stuart_Smalley

Watch Stuart at work: http://www.hulu.com/watch/272735

No one is perfect. At some point we just have to own who we are. I’m just barely starting to grasp this. It’s going to take time for me to really be okay with who I am. At 40, I still have my work cut out for me to realize that I am nice enough, pretty enough, skinny enough, successful enough, just altogether enough, and doggone it, people like me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Rey Of Hope

There was a distinct lack of strong women (TV & movie) characters when I was growing up. There was She-Ra but she was kind of a sissy. If I ever found myself in a dark alley with The Evil Horde, she would NOT be the first person I’d call. I preferred He-Man, but I always wished someone could have gotten him something other than those pelt-Speedos he wore. Don’t even get me started on the boots with the fur. (Go ahead and sing the song…I know you want to.)

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At least he coordinates well… (Photo: mmorg.com)

There was Wonder Woman. I do love her – even to this day – but did she really have to run around in a glorified bathing suit and high-heeled boots? It must have taken super powers to keep “the girls” steady and secure in her strapless…er…um…outfit. I can do some damage in stilettos, but I’d rather have Docs if there’s butt kicking to do.

What’s a girl to do? Who should she look up to? Luckily, I grew up watching the original Star Wars episodes (IV, V, VI). To say I loved them is a gross understatement. I was (and still am) fluent in Yoda-speak, could talk back to a Wookie like a pro, and fake-light-saber-fight with the best of them. Did I prance around sporting a double-bun hairdo? Nope, but I did ask my mom to try it on me once. Man, how can you expect someone to do that to her head on purpose? Yoda was always cool. A little person full of enormous power? I totally identified with that. I once spent an entire day trying to move my bed with the Force. The results were less than satisfactory.

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Photo: minecraftforum.net

When it came down to it, I desperately wanted to be Han Solo; however, I kept that part to myself. I already was the weird girl (again…still am) and didn’t feel comfortable enough letting that bomb drop. Still, Han was the man. I mean, come on! He had Chewy and let’s not forget the Millennium Falcon.

Fast-forward quite a few years (no exact number needed, thank you) to the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I about wet myself when this movie was announced (sadly, that is not an exaggeration…) I do admit to being a bit skeptical after having been subjected to and tortured by Jar Jar Binks [shudders].

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Photo: imgflip.com (odstcrafter’s images)

I really, REALLY, wanted this one to be great. When I saw promotional material of a young girl, my fingers crossed for the hero I’d wished for so many years ago. I could not wait to see the movie.

Last Tuesday, I was finally able to see the movie. I was most definitely NOT disappointed. ATTENTION: The rest of this will include potential movie spoilers. Read on at your own risk.

Rey, I love you. You are amazing. You are everything I want my girls to be. When you were flying the Falcon and did that maneuver where you flipped and pulled up to vertical so Finn could shoot? I. Was. Hooked. You exuded strength through your insecurity. You did not NEED anyone (though I think this is something you need to work on). Your feelings of loneliness and loss struck a chord, as did the resilience you drew from that. My girls need someone like you around. (Do I realize I’m speaking to a fictional character? Yes, I am aware. Don’t kill my vibe.)

We have forgotten it is okay to be a girl AND be strong. We have somehow been left as beggars on the outskirts waiting for the scraps. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t want to be a man. Let’s face it; they can be kind of smelly and gross (Apologies to my husband – love you Babe!). I like being a girl but “girl” should not be equated with second-class status. Nor should “girl” be associated with weakness. When was it decided that if you are a girl, you must be fragile, submissive, and agreeable? I feel like hope has been kindled. I pray Hollywood realizes we want to see more of girls like Rey. We want to be Rey. She’s a fighter. She doesn’t give up. When life knocks her down, she scavenges to survive and makes her way home on a car hood sliding down a sand hill (a FREAKING huge sand hill). She is loyal even at the expense of her own starvation/salvation. She has an innate sense of right and wrong. She stands up when needed and protects those who can’t do so themselves. She instinctively knows how to roll with the punches – literally and figuratively. Is she perfect? Nope and that’s why she has so much appeal.

I’m starting to wonder if the powers-that-be (I have no idea who they are but they are VERY misguided) feel threatened by her. Did they anticipate her influence? How could they not? They had to know we would attach ourselves to her like a gold-bikini-cladded-Princess Leia chained to Jabba the Hut. (Perhaps not the best analogy considering the subject, but you get the idea.) Why then is she missing from so much of Star Wars’ merchandise? One excuse I read is that companies didn’t want to include her at the time of release for fear they would spoil major plot lines. Pfft! Someone made an error in judgment. Someone thought she wouldn’t draw enough of an audience. Girls aren’t into Star Wars, right? (Enter forehead smack here).

worf

See! Even Worf gets it. (Gif: Giphy.com)

Star Wars is for boys AND girls. It is a universal story.

Now, I know some will read this post and consider sending me advice or directions to the nearest mental health counselor. It’s all just a movie, right? I see it as more. Our girls need some amazing characters to look up to. I’m not saying Finn, Han, Poe, even Iron Man, Thor, Captain American (I could keep going but will reel in my Geek Flag a bit) aren’t great characters, but it’s nice to have a girl in the mix.

Rey has a quiet strength I so desperately want my girls to have. She fought off Kylo Ren more than once. In the end, his assertion of the fullness of his powers was loud, brutal, and forceful (no pun intended). How did Rey conquer? By not fighting his brutality with equal force but with THE Force. Yep. There’s a difference. She did not thrash in an attempt to mutilate or brutalize. She paused, centered, and drew on her strength – a small package with an unexpected powerful punch. Perfection.

Interestingly enough, the dictionary defines a “ray” as “an initial or slight indication of a positive or welcome quality in a time of difficulty or trouble.” Ray and Rey…coincidence? I think not.

Rey BB8

Rey & BB8