"The most wasted of all days is one without laughter." ~e e cummings

Saturday, July 26, 2014

My Daughter is Beautiful

Something terrible is happening along the important and necessary path we have taken to redefine what it means to be a Girl. Along with all of the Good that paves this new path; brave, strong, smart, independent, there is a new, and hopefully inadvertent, negative. Somewhere along the way, the word "Beautiful" seems to have become bad.

I have read more than a few blog posts and articles over the past several months which all seem to suggest, not that girls are more than "just pretty faces," with which I think we could all agree, but that calling a girl "Beautiful" might as well be an insult. I read an "open letter," a cease and desist, really, from a mother asking the compliment-givers in her neighborhood to stop commenting on the beauty of her daughter's hair. I read another one, from another mother, who said that she does not call her daughter Beautiful. She'll give her a million words of praise a day, but not one will be a comment on her physical appearance.

You guys. We have taken this Girl Power thing too far. Well, by "we" I mean "you" because I call my daughter Beautiful no less than thousands of times per day (roughly).

My daughter IS beautiful. As I'm sure the daughters of the mothers mentioned above are, too. And I want my beautiful girl to always believe that she is, so I tell her. Often. And I'll keep telling her until my words become her own and she recognizes the pure and natural beauty that has always been and will always be Her.

Of course I tell, and will continue to tell, my daughter that she is Kind. And Talented. Generous and a Clever Problem-Solver. Bright and Sensitive with a killer Sense of Humor (even at two! She slays her brothers with mere mention of poop and toots). She is Compassionate. Loving.....Brave. Strong. Smart. Independent. I will continue to extol her many and various virtues on a daily basis so that she knows that the best parts of her don't go unnoticed in the busy and the hectic and the Oh My God, You Guys, Just Put On Your Shoes!

I call my daughter Beautiful because, when I'm commenting on her beauty, I'm pointing out her natural beauty. I don't put make-up on my 2-year old and then comment on the length of her lashes or the shape of her cheekbones. I don't highlight my baby's hair and then swoon over her gorgeous cornsilk curls. I don't show her an Instagrammed close-up of her denim-blue eyes and then tell her they melt me. I don't dress her up in fancy clothes and then say she looks Fabulous. When I say she's beautiful, I mean that She is beautiful...all crusty-nosed and bed-headed and pouty-faced and mis-matched and dirt-covered. Because she truly is...as any mother could say of her child.

In fact, shouldn't childhood be precisely the time we are telling girls and boys, loudly and repeatedly for the world to hear, how beautiful they are? Before they have a chance to compare their image to those on the covers of the magazines in the grocery store check-out line? Before they have a chance to hear from their friends in third period about eyelash curlers and push-up bras? Before they have a chance to hear a negative comment made to them by an insecure peer? Before they have a chance to want thousands of Likes on a photo-shopped selfie?

Now is the time. I will call my daughter Beautiful. I will smile adoringly at her as the sweet grandfather at the Post Office calls her a "Pretty Little Lady." I will voice my agreement as the store clerk gushes, "Well, aren't you just the cutest thing?!" And I will remind her every day that She is Beautiful. Just the way she is...and however she chooses to present herself.

And you know what? If my daughter tells me that when she grows up she wants to marry a prince and be a princess, who am I to judge? I bet the Middletons are pretty damn proud of their daughter.

Lesson Learned:
Calling my daughter Beautiful does not limit her in any way, and I'm not going to let the internet convince me otherwise.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Thank you, Montana

Three small children, who behave wonderfully on planes, for a combined total of 13 hours (not including 7 hours in the car to and from airports) on two different days over the course of a week, including one two-hour stretch of sitting, delayed, on the tarmac....are amazing.

Thank you, you incredible little travelers of mine.


[I will ignore, for now and for always, the unbelievable meltdown of my 4-year old, which occurred in baggage claim upon our return. It was, after all, midnight and he hadn't after all, since a 9am nap, slept.]

A large, far-flung family, who makes time and takes the time to be together whenever possible, is pretty amazing, too.

Thank you, my family.

Uncle Matt and his Cobra Cast
Deep conversations with Uncle Will

Cousins in a hot tub, watching over a game of corn hole being played in the yard below.
But the star of this show was Big Sky.
Thank you, Montana.

For the cabin we stayed in...

An early morning in the yard of our cabin.


[the details, artwork, craftsmanship of this cabin were amazing]


played in...

Their own climbing wall in the backyard.
slept in...

It's a real, live Berenstain Bears bed!
...and woke to...

[views from our porch]

It was perfect.

Thank you, Montana, for Whitefish Lake.
I am in love with the Montana rocks that line the bottom of all the lakes.


[Don't tell anyone, but I took some home with me. A lot, actually. I had to throw away my sunscreen and my shampoo bottles so I could meet the 50lb. weight requirement.]


Dam Builders



And for the sandy shores of City Beach, around the bend of the lake...


Thank you, Wildlife of Montana, who quietly put on a show for us...the many deer who visited our cabin each evening, the marmots and the ground squirrels who ran underfoot, the bald eagle who sat patiently while we all grabbed our phones...



...and the bison we saw, but couldn't capture on film, from the car window.
Sam hoped to see a black bear. I wasn't disappointed that we didn't.

Thank you, Lion Mountain for providing a hike that our big group could handle...



...with a spectacular payoff at the top of the climb.



the cutest little hikers ever

Thank you, Sweet Peaks ice cream shop, for being just a few blocks away from our cabin.
Because, even if your cones are tricky for a two-year old...


The effort was worth it. 


Twice.

Thank you, Glacier National Park, for taking my breath away with your beauty.









And thank you, I guess, to Going-to-the-Sun Road, for literally taking my breath away as we hugged the edge of the mountain, 1000s of feet in the air, with a low, old, stone wall as our only protection against certain death. I couldn't properly inhale for the entire drive up to Logan Pass....but, again, it was worth the climb.




Thank you, Big Mountain, and the investors that have transformed your ski slopes into a year-round adventure park. We had an amazing time coasting down your alpine slide and
fearlessly riding your chair lifts...

Okay, Sam and the boys were fearless. Molly, too. I was white-knuckling it all the way up, marveling at the Camp Kids who were there, hopping on and off like they were on a swingset, instead of 100ft up in the air WITHOUT SEATBELTS.
But once we reached the top, the views, though smoky from the Washington State wildfires....
were spectacular.



And the trip down in the (fully-enclosed) gondala was just my speed.



My favorite little mountain kids.
Montana, you're beautiful.

Lesson Learned:
I'm already planning our return trip. We love you, Montana. 
And we love you, too, Matt and Megan! Thanks for putting your roots in Big Sky country, so we'll keep having a reason to visit. Can't wait until Baby Leo joins us on our next adventure!