Tag Archives: Emily

Pride and Horcruxes

Horcruxes are evil (obvs) and reincarnation can’t happen until after you’re dead. So… how do I explain my little friend Emily Grace?

Me and Emily 2013

First, do you follow my friend Emers Lemers over here? You should. She’s amazing. Also, she’s eight. EIGHT. And she writes crazy insightful stuff like this post about swallowing your pride. At eight. (Can’t stop saying eight. EIGHT.)

My entire life, I hated group work. I hated it because I had to do all the work. You know, because everyone else was dumb, no one else could do it, and I wanted a good grade. (Please note: I’m being facetious, not an a-hole.)

It wasn’t until I started blogging at nearly 30 that I realized maybe I was wrong… that maybe my introversion made group work hard for me, but that friends and relationships are vital and necessary and unbelievably important because everyone has their own unique set of strengths and weaknesses. Strengths and weaknesses that should be recognized, appreciated, and embraced, not picked apart.

What if I had recognized all of that some 22 years earlier? What if I had recognized even some of that 22 years earlier?

Emily Lema… that’s what.

I talked a bit about my struggle with infertility yesterday (don’t worry, I’m not done– just taking a break as I recover from the extreme cramping that comes with an HSG), but why, I wonder, do I feel the need to have a child of my own, when clearly, a child of my heart has already been created by someone else?

Emily is like a horcrux– a place where I store a piece of my soul. As long as she is around, I will go on. Emily is like a reincarnation of myself, a chance for my soul to walk the earth once again, except I am still very much alive. So what is she then?

A kindred spirit? A bosom buddy? A soulmate? Just amazing?

Who knows– but I’m glad that she is. And I’m crazy glad that I know her, that I have known her since she was a mere babe, and that I’m going to get to watch her grow up with such intense fascination. She is family to me.

They say that our lives are “unrepeatable experiments lacking a control” and it’s true. But Emily is kind of a second trial of my experiment, with the conditions tweaked a bit. And this is my chance to know– what if at the age of 8, I had been capable of recognizing my need to swallow my pride and to give other people a chance? Emily will teach me. I can’t wait.

Me and Emily 2011

PS: I already know that my Emily girl is a real big Harry Potter fan, but will she dig Jane Austen, too? All signs point to yes, only time will tell!

Advent for Thirty: Making Peace and a Hug from the Number 30

The good thing about turning 30 is that you have plenty of warning– you know it’s coming for a good long time. And let me tell you, if you don’t have babies yet, lots and lots of people spend time and energy reminding you it’s coming, just in case you’ve forgotten. So that’s nice.

Despite the long period of fair warning, I’ve only really thought a lot about turning 30 over the last year. Twenty-nine suddenly made it feel really close and all those baby warnings seemed real and important and I got kind of freaked out.

Ok. I got really freaked out.

But I got to be 29 for 12 whole months. And that’s a lot of time to get over it. Lots of things helped:

Under the Tapestry was a big one. Every time I air a Festivus-style grievance you guys are SO CRAZY supportive and it doesn’t feel so bad. I scream, “Can I get a witness?!” and you scream, “but of course!” and it’s awesome! (I talked to my therapist about it– he pinpointed validation and shared experience as the types of reassurance and support I totally crave. Thank you, therapy!)

Friends, friends, friends! Friends help– big time! And here in Marshfield I have really, really good friends ranging in age from 24 (she was 23 until the end of December… your birthday is throwing off my impressive range, Em!) to over 50 (at which point it would be unkind to share the specifics, but you must know how much I love you, M!) and everything in between. They’re all awesome. All of their lives are different. And I don’t care one iota how close or how far any single one of them is from the age of 30. I imagine the same ought to apply to me. (Side note: if I extend coverage of my friends by age range to the entire country, I can include my friend Emily who is 8. EIGHT. Oh. And she has her own blog now! It’s something else, you should totally check it out! You will be seriously impressed. She’s 8. Good grief. Can you imagine how incredible she’ll be by 30?!)

The Jeff and Kari plan. I love the way I met my friend’s Kari and Jeff. Kari’s sister is married to one of Seth’s best friends (at least so far, but a major falling out is anticipated). I adore Seth’s friend’s wife (regardless of any falling out– we’re staying friends!) and over the years I have gotten to know and adore more and more of their lovely families. Jeff and Kari didn’t start their adventure, or their rapidly growing family, until after the age of 30 and Kari is so crazy positive about it– and encouraging of me! Can’t tell you how much I appreciate that kind of support!

Time and the number 30 itself. Given all the time I’ve had to make peace with 30, I can say without a doubt that I have made it. Plus, the more I thought about it, the nicer the number 30 sounded. It’s a nice round number. Kind of seems like it wants to give me a hug… and I suspect that it will. I’m not generally much of a hugger, but I can certainly appreciate the sentiment and take comfort in the fact that the hug is only metaphorical– no actual touching necessary 😉

Did you watch Sesame Street when you were younger? I did, and I loved it. (I suspect it fueled my extreme love of all things Muppet even today…) One of my favorite little skits ever was when a guy sang “U Really Got a Hold on Me” while a big letter U hugged him over and over again (the link is to the actual skit on You Tube– it’s totally worth the watch). That’s how I’m imagining this big hug from 30– not only have I made peace with it, but I’m to the point where I think it might just be awesome.

What’s in a name? Everything, if it’s Grace.


Dang– I’ve been missing a lot of posts lately.  Last night’s detour was completely necessary though.  I made four accidentally enormous candy corn jello shots last weekend and I needed to trick some people into eating them last night.  Only Sister Doctor fell for it.  At least they looked nice and festive even if they were mostly disastrous.

Seems awesome, right? It’s not.

I have a nice story for you today to make up for it– get ready to find some grace!


When I was in fifth grade one of our first classroom assignments was to draw a self portrait… but with a twist.

First, we had to look up the meaning of our name and then incorporate the meaning into our drawing.

So, I looked up Rachel.  The meaning?  Ewe.


So, I looked up ewe.

Lady sheep.  Nice.

My teacher was excited and thought I should draw myself with short, curly hair (wool, if you will) and little sheep ears.  Or not!  I was in fifth grade and I was a nerd.  I was not about to draw myself as a sheep.  Can you even imagine?  (Incidentally, that was the year of the shroom-cut.  Wool for hair?  Yeah, it could be worse…)

So Plan B: middle name.

And I looked up Ann.  (Which was my middle name before the Social Security Administration let me change it to anything I want– nothing too exciting here, but it could have been!!  I chose Vonck, my maiden name, just like my mom did.)

The meaning of Ann?  Grace.

Grace?  That was something I could work with.

So I drew my fifth grade version of grace.  I was wearing a long, red, Disney princess style dress and white, elbow length gloves.  Pearls around my neck and sparkly, dangling earrings from my ears.  Hair in a fancy up-do and perfect make up.  (All of this as a fifth grade illustrator, mind you, so nothing amazing.  I‘m sure it included blue eye shadow. It was nineteen-ninety-something after all.)

That fancy pants version of myself was what I thought of when I heard the word grace for a long time.

I think perhaps I had confused the idea of grace with the ideas of elegance, class, and finesse… to be graceful.

Or maybe confused is the wrong word.  Perhaps the real idea of grace was just beyond me at the time.  Which is likely considering that it’s still hard for me to grasp even today… many, many years removed from 5th grade.

Fortunately, I have spent much of the last… umm… approximately 20 years?  Yeah, about that.  So I’ve spent the last 20 or so years slowly figuring out what grace really means.

And WOW.

Even the limited understanding I have of the concept is enough to leave me somewhat floored.  It’s a powerful idea really, that you can be “flawed” and still be perfect.  That you can do “bad” things, but still be a good person.  That you can sin and yet you still have infinite opportunities to be forgiven and to be loved— even at your most unlovable moments.

Perhaps it’s cheesy to put too much stock in song lyrics, but I really think that Mumford & Sons say it so crazy succinctly and brilliantly and understandably in their song Roll Away Your Stone:

It seems that all my bridges have been burnt

But you say that’s exactly how this grace thing works.

It’s not the long walk home that will change this heart

But the welcome I receive with every start.

The whole song is great really, but I’ll play it on repeat again and again and again (especially while I’m running) just to hear that line.  I love it.  It resonates with me so strongly.  That idea, that we can always try again, no matter how bad it seems, is what I’ve searched for for a long time.

Want to know something kind of crazy?*  My little friend Emily, the one I keep telling you about– the amazing girl who colors my vision, survives my attempts at destruction, and is in so very many ways just like me… her middle name happens to be Grace.  And she is grace to me, because she gives me a chance to start over loving myself… and giving myself grace from the very beginning.  It’s powerful stuff.

Now, when I talk to her beautiful and amazing mama and hear about Emily’s struggles, it’s so meaningful to me because I can give Emily grace in the same situations in which I’ve so long been unable to give it to myself.

I really think we all deserve that from ourselves, even though it’s hard to do.  Forgiveness is difficult, even for other people, but I know I tend to hold myself to a ridiculously high (and largely unattainable) standard.  (But I’m sure you’re not like that…)  Life seems a little better with a dash of grace though.  When I can stop the second track for just a second to give myself a break, knowing that I can try again and do better next time.

I suggest starting with a pair of elbow-length satin evening gloves.  You can only go up from there.


*Ok, ok… that wasn’t really crazy.  Grace isn’t a terribly unpopular name.  But to me, it’s quite meaningful.  And if you knew Emily’s parents and knew how unbelievably graceful AND grace-giving they are, you’d really appreciate how big of a deal this is to me.  It’s big.  Bigger than my hair on a rainy July day in New Orleans.  Big.

The little girl I adore and my inadvertent attempts to destroy her.

Ahhh, another beautiful Mexican morning.  After a gorgeous breakfast overlooking the Sea of Cortez, my husband and I came back to the villa (I really can’t call it a “room,” because that’s just not what it is…) with those niños I told you about yesterday.  Emily invited me out onto the balcony to journal with her.  How could I resist?

She’s currently sitting across the table from me with paper and pen writing a poem about a strong merman named Draco who played with the mermaid clan (seriously, can’t make this stuff up!), complete with illustrations, while I type this little diddy out for you.

The poem about Draco the merman is probably better, but sorry, you’re stuck with me until Emily gets her own blog.

Anyway, as I look across the table at this sweet girl this morning, I’m reminded 1) of how much I love her and 2) how since I first met her, it seems I’ve made every effort to destroy her.

Yes, I said destroy…

I am ashamed.  But I am going to tell you anyway.

I first met Emily when she was a mere 18 months old.  Communicative, yes.  But 18 months, nevertheless.  That’s ONE.  She was one year old.  (Remember that, it’s important.)

I met Emily the same time I first met her parents and I was suuuuper nervous.  This was my boyfriend’s boss (we weren’t married, or even engaged, at the time– yes, we were living in sin.  You would too if you lived in a place with rents like DC…) and his wife, flying all the way to DC from California.

Boss man.  His wife.  From California, like where people in movies live.  Terrifying.  I was sure they were going to be amazing… and that they were going to realize that I was not.

Turns out, Chris and Melissa were just as awesome.com as I had expected, but in a totally accessible kind of way.  They were just so nice and their little girl was just so sweet that I let my guard down.  I forgot to be nervous for a minute and disaster struck.

Chris and Melissa related to me how much Emily liked things like rocks and sea shells and I got super excited because I also love things like rocks and sea shells.  I love them so much, in fact, that I had several big mason jars full of them in our spare bedroom.  Because I wanted Emily to think I was cool and I wanted to show Chris and Melissa how much they should love me, I decided to go get those jars to play with Emily.

So, in my infinite wisdom and desperation to be liked, I gave a ONE YEAR OLD a GLASS jar full of ROCKS.  Which promptly broke, leaving said ONE YEAR old in the middle of a pile of BROKEN GLASS.

Child endangerment on the first friend date.  Sigh.

And yet, nearly 7 years later, we found ourselves invited to a beach house in Huntington Beach, CA for a week, where Chris and Melissa now let me spend time around BOTH of their children.  Clearly, I had them convinced that my tendency for child endangerment was a fluke.

Except this time, they gave me a fighter kite.  A FIGHTER KITE on a WINDY DAY with two child TARGETS running around the beach below. The good news is, my aim was excellent and I hit one of the targets.  The bad news is, I seriously damaged a child when I hit one of the targets.

The kite went up in the air for all of about 17.6 second before it came straight back to earth like a heat seeking missile locked onto Emily’s eyeball.  Fortunately, Emily is a Trooper with a capital T and she promptly stood up, said, “I’m ok!” and then explained that she was only crying because she was using it as a natural defense mechanism to get the sand out of her eye.  (LOVE HER!)

So the kite attack resulted in a lovely shiner and big old scrape from the outside of Emily’s right eye, across her cheek, and ending at her nose.  On the day before her last day of school.  And now, Emily has this Harry Potter style scar to remind me how I’ve marked her like Voldemort.


Who needs enemies with a friend like me?

And yet, I must be doing something right because the Lemas continue to trust me with their children.  And I must say, I am quite grateful for that because they are incredible!  And while I may be a bit nervous about damaging one or both of these awesome kids again, Chris and Melissa don’t seem terribly worried about it, and their faith in me feels pretty dang good…

Especially in Mexico 😉