Author: Bekah McNeel

Part 4: How they Mistreated Me

May 30, 1992- Here is an impression of my life: Bekah, are you going on a date? Beka (sic): Can I have some milk? Mom: it’s in the refrigerator! Gawley!

As an eight-year-old, writing complete sentences took a lot of energy and effort, and I could not be bothered to explain the connection between this milk imposition and questions about my social calendar.

This is the first time exasperation with my parents shows up in my journal. I’m eight years old, and being told to get my own milk.

1992.Does this look like the face of an 8-year-old who gets her own milk?

I’ll give this much to my adolescent self: My parents were products of the James Dobson school of family management, and their methods have given me years of fodder for dinner party storytelling.  Absolute obedience was their thing, and they expected it with a smile. They didn’t quite demand that we say, “Please sir can I have another?” while we received our whoopin’s, but that would not have been out of character.

I, however, am not one to be outdone…ever.

Jan 11, 1995 – I’m so mad at mom I could SCREAM. Leeanna and I make plans. NO! Mom and Dad have to go to Bible Study so I’m stuck baby-sitting my brat sisters! I don’t even WANT to babysit them. They’re impossible! I’d like to go just one time without having to turn off MY LIFE so I can be unsocial so I have time to bend over backward to obey the #1 rule: DON’T ARGUE. I’d like to be on my way to the Dittlinger Memorial Library with my best friend. But NO! I only need one book. I have an hour and a half to burn. But NO! I finally find my long lost library card that mom wouldn’t spare one measly dollar to replace! But NO! I’ve got to memorize an at-least-20-line long poem by Jan 25. But NO! The day was going just fine and I was hoping to keep it that way. But NO! Leeanna and I have plans for two days. But NO! I’d like to say, or even scream this at her. But NO! Because I have to stand on my head, chew glass, spit dirt, juggle 20 balls, produce quarters, roses and broccoli out of my ears, hold an elephant on my toes a ladder on my nose, repair the O-Zone layer, bring back the dinosaurs, sit through Barney, find out the mystery of the Bermuda triangle, climb Big Ben, read and memorize Webster’s First Dictionary cover to cover and grow beans out of my nose if she says so to obey the number one rule: DON’T ARGUE!

The rage never lasted long, of course. It was usually tied to getting what I wanted, a problem easily solved.

Jan 12, 1995- I’m not mad at my mom any more. In fact, I’m very happy at her. I got to go to the library with Leeanna today. I got 5 books.

Of course, sometimes getting what I wanted wasn’t as simple. 

April 15, 1995- For once I’m not mad at any body. The one thing I really want in the world is to guest star—just once, maybe—on Home Improvement. If there’s one thing I could possibly have before I die, it’s that. More than getting married.

Somehow my dreams managed to be embarrassingly small-minded and yet entirely unrealistic. And I’m sure I had no ulterior motive of making JTT fall madly in love with me during my guest appearance, what with my fuzzy hair and snaggletooth smile. Though, according to my journal, I didn’t care if it ended in marriage, a distant secondary goal.

I don’t buy that for a minute.

The overwhelming theme of my journals is the longing for love. I sniffed out my own ulterior JTT motive by placing it in the context of entries like this one, written a mere four days later.

April 19, 1995 – Annika RUINED my Beckyanna Bousteé poster! [A magazine self-published by me and my best friend, Leeanna. The brand was a clever combination of our names, incase you were wondering about the exotic title.] I am majorly P.O’d at her. She thinks just because she has the chicken pox she can BOSS everybody around. Write more later.


I’m not mad at Annika, but my emotions are aflutter. I want to die in the arms of the man I love most (not now), I want to feel his embrace around my tan shoulders. I want to kiss his wet, tender lips as they near my own. I yearn for the passion of my fantisophical life.

1994. Don’t mess with this smug bitch.

Here, my ailing sister won the game of hormone roulette. The wind blew and apparently I went from enraged (and thus probably snarking and rude) to ambiguously horny (which means I was probably alone in my room, gazing out a window). You might think something dramatic had occurred during the “con’t” portion of the entry, but I probably just ate or took a nap.

Some observations on this:

1) who was the Harlequin romance novelist I paid to write this crap? “aflutter?” “Yearn?” How old am I?

2) Clearly I had yet to kiss a boy with wet lips, as I would later rank a wet-lipped ex-boyfriend as “the worst kisser ever” on that criteria alone.

3) How is it that the same kid who can correctly use words like “astounded” and “accommodations” thinks that the adjective form of “fantasy” is “fantisophical?”

My alternating anger and fantasy, along with my constant whining about how we don’t have enough money to bankroll my lifestyle (more on that to come), were fueled by books. I wanted a dramatic arch and the improbably stylized life of gal pals living in small towns or boarding schools with lots of costume parties and fancy banquets. 

As much as fiction fueled my discontent with reality, I’m thankful. Books enlarged my dreams. Like a baby deer stepping out in the big world, my first steps were pathetic and ridiculous, but they were steps.

Part 3: One Day They’ll See…

That I was the One Who Got Away….


As I mentioned before, my ideas of love were mostly informed by juvenile literature and the few PG rated movies I was allowed to watch.

Oct 25, 1994- How I wish Gilbert or Theodore would just come up to me and KISS me! Wouldn’t that be cool. We would stare at each other until someone said “are you gonna kiss her, or just stand there like an idiot?” And he would long and passionately kiss me!

Dec 14, 1994- Today was…WELL…All I want for Christmas is a boyfriend. All the girls except me (and the “immatures”) have one. This is my wish list: Theodore, Gilbert, Andy

First let us stop and appreciate that I called a group of girls in my class “the immatures.” And then went on to list the three human beings on my Christmas list.

Then we must note, for the impressionable children reading this, that my polygamous and sort of adorable boy-craziness would eventually evolve into something unhealthy.

Sometime in sixth grade, I got tough with God and declared that I could not be happy without a boyfriend. My pining took on a religious quality: I had a hole in my heart that only a boy could fill.

I hate to laugh at my depressed middle school self, because she was really, truly miserable.

But it was like my melodrama had reached its pinnacle, and just when it couldn’t have gotten any more overwrought…my steady rivulet of hormones turned into a busted water main. There were hormones spraying into the street and all the little Emotion St. kids were just bathing in them, whooping and hollering. And pining.

August 21, 1995-Now. About my depression. I’m happy sometimes, but when I’m not happy or stressed my mind wanders to oblivion and I find myself depressed and blind. If only I could fill that space in my life where Linus, Rocky, or Theodore belongs. Once I have that place I can get back to my normal personality.

One of these entries was most likely penned after this event, a middle school dance. At least one of these fine young men was probably mentioned.

The best part is that I don’t even feel ashamed of the fact that it’s the amorphous idea of romance I’m committed to, not another human being. As long as they know how to deliver embraces and flowers.

If a psychologist had said to me, “Do you think you’re just in love with the idea of being in love?” I would have been like, “Hell, yes.” (But with more exclamation marks and in all caps).

August 24, 1995- So tonight my parents began to understand my life. Open house. They followed my fast, freezing schedule. They understand everything now. Except one things. BOYS. Man, Linus is so incredibly fine. Man, I wouldn’t mind making out with him. He has a temperament very similar to my own. Then there’s Rocky. Wow. Mr. Hollywood himself. Brad Pitt watch out. We talk and argue. I want a real relationship. Not like with Theodore, We never even talked after we “went together.” I want someone who will cuddle me, bring me flowers on my birthday. I want a true boyfriend. And I can’t be totally happy until I do. (Linus #1, Rocky #2, Theodore #3, and Gilbert #4)

Occasionally I did have moments of focus, and even glimmers of self-awareness. Medically inaccurate and dramatic, but aware.

June 8, 1996- I don’t know. I just made an alarming discovery. I think I’m in love with FERRIS BUELLER [remember these are pseudonyms, I wasn’t that kind of crazy]. Can you be in love in 7th grade? Andrea and Colin don’t think so. Zac does. Well, what I’m feeling is called lovesick. I feel like if I don’t hold him close I’ll scream. I don’t have the courage to tell him, because I know he doesn’t like me. AAAUUUUGGGHH! I’m an estrogen freak. I’m a pubescent with a hormone overdose. My estrogen level rises every time I THINK about him. More than anything I want him to love me. The reason he can have me is because he doesn’t want me. I hate that. He’s so cold. He’s playing my emotions like an accordion. SQUEEZE, STRETCH, SQUEEZE, STRETCH. I have feelings, you know! Sigh! 

The only thing that would eventually be more agonizing than not having a boyfriend would be some of the lackluster manchildren I ended up dating when I finally filled the Tarzan-shaped hole in my heart.

June 9, 1999-…The night would have been perfect except that Biff was a jerk. He asked me if I wanted to pay for my meal or not (it was so awkward). Then he asked if he could meet my parents instead of taking me home, because he wanted to spend the night at his friend’s house…

This, 15-year-old Bekah, is dating, that thing you’d been aching, longing, yearning to do for so many years. Rather than tenderly responding to your every emotion, your first asswipe high school boyfriend would require you to leave the tip at every meal (and occasionally suggest that you pay for the whole thing, since he drove), and ask your parents to pick you up half way between your house and his. On the side of the road. 

Part 2: One Day They’ll See…

…That I was the One Who Got Away

Like most preteen girls who keep diaries, most of my entries were about love. Or rather, boys. There is very little in them about love…or even monogamy. I cast a wide net.

I think at a young age I realized that it was unrealistic to hope for someone smart, funny, handsome and rich. So I narrowed it down to the one criteria that really mattered: cuteness.

This is hardly abnormal. It also persisted into my adult years. I chose my husband based almost solely on looks. His integrity, humor, and creativity were like the little featurettes on a Pixar DVD. Bonus material.

As low as the bar was for choosing my paramours, I did have wildly unrealistic expectations of what comes next. I felt entitled to my fair share of flowers, songs, and “embraces.”

This pretty much sums love up.

My total misunderstanding of love doesn’t stop me from waxing philosophical about it, then or now.

Feb 21, 1995Dear Gosh. I need love. Not family love. Fileo (sic). In other words, I need a boyfriend…

[I should point out here that not only did I misspell the Greek word “phileo,” but I hilariously misuse it. Phileo is the ancient Greek term for brotherly love. Eros, is what I was thinking of here, but it would be years before I understood what that meant. Thankfully.]

…Someone who will bring me flowers and take me to dinner.You can only live on one tank of oxygen for so long. Soon you need another tank. It is like that with love. First you can live on just family love. Then you need your second tank, fileo (sic…again) (a boyfriend). Or a baby, they can live on liquid for the first while but then they need solid food, fileo (sic,sic,sic). I NEED A BOYFRIEND.

I am 11 here, and apparently intent on dating a well-paid 30-year-old. I don’t specifically mention his Benz, but I’m pretty sure that’s how we would have traveled to dinner. 

 Most entries were passionate, pining odes to the boy(s) on whom I had hopeless crushes. Followed, almost immediately by scathing death wishes upon those same ignorant dickheads.

The narrative I would later write for myself has me as a hapless, unlucky-in-love nerd up until high school, when I “got cool” (read: I figured out my hair and got a waistline, and boys figured out that they liked boobs).

Actually though, I started strong.

I had a “boyfriend” before most of my friends. He even spoke to me. Once. To tell me he liked me.

(Note: I’ve changed the names from these entries to maintain some deniability in case any of these guys somehow didn’t know I had a crush on them. I assume most of them did, but I think we’d all like to be able to pretend we have no idea who I’m talking about. They are now named after the male characters from childhood fiction they most resemble.)

May 6, 1993- He likes me! Theodore likes me! He said it to my face! Next thing you know he’ll be asking me out. What a man.

Is it too much to ask? Really?

After Theodore, most of my crushes matched the rest of my developing body: uneven, nearsighted, and volatile.

Feb 8, 1994 [ After a week of entries about loving Gilbert]-I CANNOT STAND GILBERT! He is a jock. Today I managed to put his foot in his mouth by stepping on his foot so hard he limped. But if he does it one more time I’ll fix him for good. I want respect and I”m going to get it. So if he wants to see how hard I can hit, HECK, he’s gonna see the hard way. IN BETWEEN HIS EYES.

Feb 9, 1994-I have a split personality. Part of me wants to sock GILBERT and the other wants to kiss him. But he better not mess with me or the NEGATIVE side will take over.


I should also point out that fourth grade was the beginning of my conflicted body image. Thanks to my steady diet of young adult fiction, I used to fantasize about my “tiny frame” being “scooped up” in an embrace or daring rescue.

That will never happen.

I’ve never been one of those waif-like feather people, or what you would call “tiny.” In high school, I could literally bench press my boyfriend. Actually, my boyfriend plus 14 pounds.

In fourth grade I started toying with feminism, as an alternative to waif-damsel I would never be. Not knowing how to channel my big emotions through my new “tough girl” filter, I did a lot of things that I now understand to be abusive. But this was before the days of “no means no” and on the tail end of the “give them some boxing gloves and let them solve it in the gym” era, thus I have no criminal charges. 

A mere two months after my Cybil-meets-“Gilbert” episode, our friends from Alabama came to visit. I had a brief history with the middle son, and his occasional visits were a temporary distraction from my otherwise busy calendar of alternating hate and lust.

April 4, 1994- Oh Lord, Dear Lord. Help me! Have mercy on me! I ache in my heart. I love Andy like NO ONE else. And if I’m correct he loves me. But he’s leaving Wednesday. Today’s Monday. I want to tell him I love him but time is rushing us.

April 5, 1994- Dear Lord, Andy is leaving tomorrow, but I won’t get to see him. Lord, WHY WHY!?! I know you’re in control and you don’t want me to hurt, but Lord, I DO.

April 6, 1994- Today Andy left. But I’m not too sad.

As fickle as most of my emerging adolescent affections were, I was actually pretty loyal to Theodore. I carried the torch for him 2nd through 4th grade, long after we had exchanged the only two words of our entire relationship, the first of which happened somewhere around the end of 2nd grade.

Unfortunately the details of the account are lost to the labor-intensive nature of crafting sentences at age eight. Most of my entries from 2nd grade sound like a transcription of things overhead at a sorority party at 3am. 

April 10, 1992 – Guess what. Theodore TALKED to me. But just because Annika is being rude I cannot use the phone. Miss King said I could not use my scissors on the test. 

Sadly, there are many more diary entries with the line, in all caps, “HE TALKED TO ME.” I think the last one was in college. I’m not kidding. My freshman year of college, I found a piece of lost mail belonging to my impossibly good-looking crush. I returned it, and he said, “thank you.” And I lost. my. shit.

Anyway, back in 1994, Theodore, like most devastatingly handsome 9-year-olds, went on to garner many admirers. As my writing sped up, I was also able to preserve more details before bedtime.  

May 2, 1994-Gosh, lots of people like Theodore. He’s my boyfriend (if he still likes me). Today Abby H. comes up and bragingly says, “Guess what. I’m in love with Theodore. He doesn’t like you anymore!” Two thoughts went through my head. 1) He probably likes me more than YOU 2) So? It’s not like you’re engaged to be married!

For the record, neither I, nor Abby H. ever went on to be engaged to Theodore. Neither do I have any idea who he liked more at the time.

To be continued…

One Day They’ll See…


My journals, dating back to age seven, alternately chronicle my most unflattering and unfiltered thoughts, and the banalities of my day. Mixed in, for flavor, is a fair smattering of misused multi-syllable words and overwrought prayers, finally adding up to the most condescending shitlist ever penned by someone who dots her “i’s” with hearts.

I read some passages aloud to my husband, brother-in-law, and sister (who features prominently in my best diatribes). My sister spent most of the time confirming that I was, yes, a total bitch growing up, and that what I thought were my most hidden thoughts, were really pretty obvious to everyone. My husband and brother in law both said that the diary sounded like it was written by an adult trying to imagine what a little girl’s diary should sound like.

And here I am imagining what a glamorous adult would look like. Age 8.

Being raised on a steady diet of young adult fiction and The Baby Sitters Club, my internal narrator was, in fact, an adult writing in the voice of a child. Only I was a child. So my journals are written in the voice of a child mimicking the voice of an adult writing as a child.

Around 5th grade I started reading the classics, including Little Women, multiple times. I start more than one journal in a deliberately classical tone, imagining myself, I’m sure, writing by lamplight in a dressing gown.

Jan 1, 1995- Well, I’m starting off enough new year of hopes, dreams, friends, family, etc. I hope I will make new friends. I dream of my “castle in the sky” from Little Women. Friends and family, well, they’ve been the same for a while now…I play piano. My practice sessions leave a tiny bit to be desired…You might say I’m a teachers pet. I’m darn proud of it. I have two sisters, Annika, 6, and Kierstn, 3. By the way, my name is Bekah Annell Stolhandske.”

Taking my cue from adolescent literature, I treat my diary like a trusted friend. Or rather, a friend with zero boundaries, who repays my constant whining by dangling obligation over my head.

Daily journals were the worst. I remember a constant sense of guilt as a I scribbled random, inconsequential thoughts before bedtime, just to have attended to the glaring blank space. Several entries begin with apologies for not writing. After a few missed or slapdash entries in a row, I get passive aggressive with my diary.

March 2, 1994- Listen, I have a lot to do! Okay? I gotta go.

That is literally all that is written on March 2.

It’s clear throughout that I have what would be called in adolescent fiction vernacular an “indomitable spirit.” In plain English, I was full of myself.

The prevailing sentiment seems to be one of misunderstood genius, unrealized potential, and untapped stores of romantic energy. In short: I was never given the credit I was due, a would-be starlet surrounded by imbeciles. (See photo above…)

The diaries are on the one hand, things I would never want anyone to read. Whiny, misanthropic diatribes and embarrassing secrets (one from my 3rd grade year simply reads “I pooped in my bed last night”). On the other hand, the woes of misunderstood genius, and the generally affected tone indicate that I actually did intend for these to be read one day.

One entry in particular does away with any pretense of intended privacy:

January 1, 1996

It’s 1996! This is the last entry to this diary. I have REALLY enjoyed this diary. This book is to hold all of my secrets, and maybe some day when I’m famous people will pay money to read this and publish it so this is very important.

Of course, a girl needs a place to actually keep her secrets…so I often kept more than one diary at a time. One for the general public and one to be burnt. Those uncensored journals disappeared along the way. I distinctly remember tearing all the pages out of one of them. I might have forgotten about them entirely except for occasional confessions in my SFW diaries.

May 25, 1995

Well. I thought I could trust my two best friends in the world not to look at my other diary about who I like and go tell it. Then today I had to go to the park with them. Luckily I could keep an eye out for blabbs.

I’m sure I imagined the sanitized diaries would market as a highly selective collection of entries offering a glimpse into my precocious beginnings as a philosopher and story teller, filled with obvious portents of my future in the bright lights.

Nine years old and clearly destined for greatness.

Instead, they have become a source of late night entertainment while we are drinking. In college I nearly threw them away in shame, but I’m glad I kept them. Not only to give me insight into my own daughter as she navigates the Class V hormone rapids of middle school, but to remind myself from whence I have come. The thoughts recorded in the journals are embarrassingly familiar. I now dress them in more socially acceptable verbiage, but I still feel like the unrecognized genius for more often than my work merits.

The journal covers thoughts on God, love, family, justice, money, friendship, and the agonies of childhood. And it does so with almost zero insight, at surprisingly shallow levels, for the most part. Aside from a few sad accounts of wounds that are now old scars, there is nothing moving or poignant in these tomes.

If there is one heartwarming or profound takeaway, it is this: Reading through the journals, I’m released to let my freak flag fly a little higher, because it’s hard to outdo the ignoble musings now forever preserved in writing.

So, in honor of 1996 Bekah, I’m publishing the highlights here, as a series of blog posts over the coming weeks. I hope you are horrified. Please don’t stop being my friend.


I like to know how I’m doing. I like grades, evaluations, benchmarks and milestones. If there’s one difficult thing about parenting (and there are many), it’s that you never know how you are doing. Of the 3 million decisions you make in a day, which were right, and which were the ones that will scar your kids forever.

Fortunately for me, there’s an exam for that. I found this in the tomb of an ancient pharaoh’s mother…and copied all her answers, because obviously she did a bang up job if her son became pharaoh and loved her enough to build her a shrine when she died.

Parenting Exam


Create an hourly schedule based on the following guidelines for a two month old baby:

Your baby should eat approximately every three hours, but can start to go longer at night. At this age, babies get three naps per day, ideally at 9, 12, and 3. Naps should be between 45 minutes and 2 hours. The baby should get up when your family gets up, ideally around 7 am. To keep your baby from bad sleeping habits, they should not nurse to sleep. The best way to prevent this is to keep the baby on an eat-play-sleep-repeat schedule. Babies should go to bed no longer than 1 hour after their last nap. Most babies do not sleep a full 12 hours at night by this point. Babies can sleep a full 12 hours at this point.


Approximately how many decibels are added to ordinary household sounds while your baby is sleeping?

  1. 5-7 decibles
  2. 10-12 decibles
  3. 20-25 decibles
  4. all the decibels

Thoughts from a Second Time Mommy

Being a second time mom is so great. Not because “I’ve let all that stuff go.” Not because Moira was over-attended, and Asa’s hanging out in a swing all day.

But because I know how to change a diaper. Fast.

I don’t fall to pieces when he cries.

I’m not afraid of the breast pump.

Mostly, being a second time mom is great because I’m not a first time mom. People aren’t rolling their eyes when I explain Asa’s schedule, or our priorities for his development. No one is telling me not to worry about things, or handing me lists of things to worry about.

People treat me like I know what I’m doing, which increases my confidence that I know what I’m doing. Which leads people to treat me like I know what I’m doing.


Plus, I’m married to a second time dad. That, my friends, is the best surprise of all. First time dad was sweet and helpful. Second time dad is a rock star. He’s not just helpful…he doesn’t need help.

Something New and Good: Asa

On July 20 our family grew by one! He beat his induction by a day, and has kept us on our toes for the last five days and rewarded us with no shortage of snuggles, and pro-level eating and sleeping. I haven’t had time to do much reflecting or meditating…but this is something I wrote in the last days preparing for his arrival. We picked the name Asa a long time ago, and in June and July I became more and more convinced that it was the right name for our boy. Here’s why:


In the grace of the gospel there is a salve for every sore, a remedy for every malady. There is no spiritual disease, but there is power in Christ for the cure of it. – Matthew Henry commentary on Matt 10:1

Asa. It means “healer.” And if ever there were a time when we need healers, it is now. His name will be his charge: to go into the world and right wrongs. To hold hands with the oppressed, and to share whatever power he inherits.

He is our son, born into a world that feels like it is falling apart at the seams. A world that feels broken beyond repair. We did not know when we chose his name that he would be born during a local crime wave, in the wake of explosive racial conflict and the deadliest mass shooting in history. A time when America is so lost for leaders that it is pulling itself apart from the margins. 

We didn’t know that his birth would be a bright spot in a pretty dark time.

But we hope he will be more than a bright spot. We hope that he will be a continual, persistent, light that cannot be overcome. We hope that he will go beyond saying “this is wrong” and do something to fix it. We hope that he will be a healer.

Rev 21:4-5 ‘Jesus will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!”

Lately we’ve seen the limits of our own pursuit of justice, how entrenched our generation is in broken systems. We are more free than those before us, but not free enough.

While we do our tiny part to pursue peace, perhaps the most productive thing we can do is to raise another generation into greater freedom, greater awareness, greater truth.

We are naming him in hope, as our flaming arrow into the darkness. We are committing him to the God of Peace, the Great Healer, in hopes that he will do great things.

Matthew 10: 7-8 As you go, proclaim this message: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give.

Something New and Good: A Son for Such a Time

Every parent of a daughter reads the headlines and cringes. Or cries out for justice. So much violence against women. So much inequity still, even in a world that claims to be past it. That’s just here in my own country. I sometimes can’t even think about the world as a whole.

Since I had my girl, I’ve been passionately praying for her to be brave and strong. I’ve been clothing her with dignity, so that she will stand on the necks of would-be abusers, and cherish the gifts of those who love her truly. So that she will know when to forgive the fumblings of an ordinary “dude,” and when to wash her hands of blood-sucking bastard.

But now…I am about to have a boy. I’m (hopefully soon) giving birth to the headlines that make me so angry. He will be born into privilege. He will be white, male, and the child of professional parents.

We, as parents of the privileged, have to fight against our children’s immature impulses to turn that privilege into entitlement. We cannot feed the beast that says athletes are somehow more deserving than lawn care workers. That their success is proof of their virtue. As much as I want my kids to take pride in their accomplishments, I want them to be even more grateful for generations of investors, workers, and taxpayers who made it possible for them to take the last tiny step across the finish line.

Love is an Endurance Sport

Lewis and I started dating a month before my first marathon. We got engaged a month before my second marathon. We got married a month before I started training for my third (his first). By our first anniversary we were training for an ultra-marathon.

Endurance training is the back drop of my love story.

It’s not really surprising that on the back of a picture frame holding a cute photo of us I wrote, in a fit of dramatic resolution: “Love is not a game of desire. It is a game of endurance.”

You can’t tell in this picture, but this is the day that Lewis carried a writhing, sobbing one-year-old UP the switchbacks of Navajo Loop at Bryce Canyon National Park. He never complained.

At some point in our dating relationship old wounds reared their heads and the giddy, moonstruck, giggles became intense conversations. My irrepressible excitement was replaced by a nagging sense that he was not giving me everything I had dreamed my love story would be.

The truth was this: He was living by a poorly calibrated internal compass and unable to see it was getting him nowhere. We were in an uncomfortable holding pattern waiting for some kind of magic to awaken in him.

I was on the brink of breaking up with him, because I was tired of waiting on his magical feelings to kick in and make me feel like the fairytale princess I’d waited so long to be.

But I remember the night I stubbornly looked at him and thought, “Damnit, I’m going to win this. I am going to outlast your issues with love.”

Because love isn’t for fairytale princesses. Love is for endurance athletes.

The Confidence of a Two-Year-Old, On Her Birthday

Moira’s second birthday started off like most special days in our house, with me overthinking things and stressing everyone out trying to maximize the “special” and minimize the disruption to her routine.

But after a 5 am wake up, and a long time falling back to sleep, we all slept until 7:30, and school starts at 8am.

My plan for donuts and bacon breakfast was foiled by the fact that she ate way too much candy on Easter yesterday, so I felt like she needed something healthy in her belly to take on her big birthday.

Basic meals with Moira take at least 30-45 minutes on a good day, and she was not too keen to cooperate today. We did manage to squeeze in some special things, just a little faster than I had envisioned. She only got to listen to half of her favorite song. Because it’s 8 minutes long, and we’d gotten dressed and brushed out teeth and it was still going…

As she and her dad drove off to school, me watching from the porch, I got a feeling that must plague every mom on her child’s special days: “I just want her to feel special today.”

Reality check: Moira is two, and she’s an only child with an enthusiastic support system. She feels special every day.

Moira - Geronimo Creek

She cheers for herself (and demands that we join in) every time she eats a bite of food she doesn’t like. (We have a Draconian policy that she try everything on the plate, so she’s found a way to motivate herself.)

She looks at herself and the mirror and says, “Oh, you look so beautiful.”