Tag: IB (Page 1 of 2)

Carole King and Beautiful

A few weeks ago, I saw Beautiful, the musical about the life and career of singer-songwriter Carole King. I really enjoyed it on multiple levels.

Before the show, I basically only knew Carole King from the Gilmore Girls theme song, which I sing to my daughter all the time. Where you lead, I will follow…

Turns out, King was sort of Taylor Swift before there even was a Taylor Swift. Her career began in her teens, and she wrote tons of oldies hits that I love. “I Feel the Earth Move,” “You’ve Got a Friend,” “One Fine Day,” and many more.

At first she was primarily a composer, writing the music on her piano, while her husband penned the lyrics. Other artists and groups recorded their songs. Later in life, King and her husband divorced, and she began to write in a deeply personal style and record those songs herself.

I think what struck me most was that, despite working in pop/rock and roll, King was always a self-described “square,” and very comfortable with that. She had extraordinary talent and a healthy level of ambition, but she was also very down to earth. She didn’t want to be stylish or sexy or cool, she just wanted to be herself. A good wife and mother. A successful songwriter.

King’s story reminds me that you can do both.

(Which isn’t necessarily the same as “having it all.” I think the musical does a good job of showing that it isn’t easy. There are sacrifices and costs.)

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Mothers and daughters

Dear IB,

Today especially — my first Mother’s Day — I have been thinking about my Ama. All the little memories that I have of her. All the things that my mother has told me. The small details that paint a larger picture. The stories that become legend.

You will hear about my tiny hands reaching for her as she boarded a plane back to Taiwan. The way we traded “wo ai ni”s over crackly long-distance phone calls. The disappointment on her face when I didn’t do as she asked. The crinkle of her eyes, and the softness of her cheeks.

I don’t really pray, but when I was pregnant with you, I spoke to my Ama a lot. She was a midwife for many years, and in my broken Mandarin, I asked her to help me through this, to keep you safe. I believe that she heard me. I believe that her spirit walked with ours.

Today I have also been thinking about your Ama. Everything she has done and continues to do for me, and now for you too. All the memories you will have of her. All the stories I will tell.

You will hear about her hand squeezing mine like Morse code, and me repeating the pattern back. The time she she tried to make Velveeta mac and cheese, but substituted mayonnaise for sour cream. Her exceedingly high expectations, and her unwavering support for my writing. Her love of Dairy Queen, Ralph Lauren clothing, and baby oil. Her laugh. Her art.

Part of the reason I feel that my Ama was watching over us is that your Ama happened to be visiting when I went into labor with you. Your father was away on a business trip, so without her there, I would have been alone for most of it. Instead, I had her by my side the whole time. She held my hand and fed me ice chips. She was there when you were born, and she wasn’t even mad that you stole her birthday. She said that you were beautiful.

And of course, I have been thinking about what you might one day tell your children about me. It’s hard for me to imagine you fully grown, me old and gray. But I look forward to it. I look forward to everything with you, the good and the bad. I hope you’ll have many fond memories and interesting stories of me. I’ve already got so many of you.

Love,
Your mother

And even though I taught my daughter the opposite, still she came out the same way! Maybe it is because she was born to me and she was born a girl. And I was born to my mother and I was born a girl. All of us are like stairs, one step after another, going up and down, but all going the same way.

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

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Six months, a lifetime

IB 5 months 001

My little IB is 6 months old today. I don’t know where the time went.

Or maybe I do. It’s weird how time works now, at least in regards to my daughter. She is always and everything.

She is always going to be the little wiggleworm I carried inside me for nine months. She is always going to be the sillywill that chomps on our knuckles and smiles at everybody. She is always going to be the girl who asks me to French braid her hair and snuggles with us while watching football. She is always going to be the middle schooler who does homework at the kitchen counter while her dad cooks dinner. She is always going to be the teenager who I drive to soccer games and movies with her friends. She is always going to be the college student who texts instead of calls, and brings her boyfriend home for the holidays.

She is then and now and someday. Every moment all at once. Everything that has already happened, and everything that is still possible.

I didn’t know it would be like this.

It’s funny how normal, and how miraculous, this is.

 

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Little steps

Valentine's Day 004

For the past two nights, my little girl has slept the whole night in her crib in her nursery by herself. It wasn’t exactly planned, but we knew it was on the horizon. She is getting too long for the bassinet we keep by our bed, plus she has become a pretty good sleeper, and I was starting to feel (or at least wonder if) we were disturbing her more often than the other way around.

Part of me is wistful about the change. Even though we had to keep a light on and a fan running, it was nice to have her next to me. I could just peek over at her sweet face anytime I wanted.

But a bigger part of me knows that this is best for her, and that’s what’s most important. That’s what growing up is. Little steps toward independence.

Luckily we’ve still got a long way to go.

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Resolve

On January 1, 2016, I was in the midst of trying to get pregnant. I wouldn’t have called it a new year’s resolution, haha, but it was definitely a priority. Now I have an amazing little girl, a living symbol of my love and luck, dozing beside me as I write this.

When she was born, my mother told me that I would have to work harder than ever, so that my daughter would be proud of me. At the time, I rolled my eyes, slightly annoyed. But my mom was right. I do want IB to be proud of me. I want to set a good example for her. I want to show her that dreams are worth working for. And, hopefully, that they can be achieved.

To that end, I have just one resolution for this year. In 2017, I am going to finish a new manuscript. Even if I have to write the whole thing with one hand in the Notes app of my iPhone. (No, really. That’s the only way I’ve gotten anything done with a newborn so far.)

Writing a book doesn’t mean selling a book doesn’t mean making a lot of money or getting good reviews or launching a successful lifelong career. I cannot control those things. I can only control one thing: the words I put on the page. But that’s where everything else starts. That’s the most important part.

There are other things I want to do this year — travel, read, exercise — but only two will take pieces of my heart. Only two will make pieces of my heart. My writing and my daughter. I hereby resolve to give them everything I’ve got.

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