On finding her voice
My mama hates mayonnaise and is not fond of hanging baskets.
My dad has Dallas Cowboys pajama pants and a penchant for ranch dip.
And I am their daughter. I slept one floor above them for 21 years, until the night before my wedding when I crawled into my twin bed and cried, my cheek warm against the cotton sheets, my hands wrapped around the cracked gold posts. I cried not because I was scared or nervous about the wedding, but because I would never again sleep there. Never again hang my feet off the side and onto the carpet. Never talk to my sister in the dark until we both fell asleep mid sentence. It was bittersweet and hard.
For years, I made my chicken casseroles with sour cream. And even though my front porch has hooks for baskets, my begonias sat on the brick steps. When the Cowboys were on, my husband and I were in front of the television, though I was often looking away or sewing. I dipped my chips in Hunter Valley on the living room floor.
I smile like mama, stutter like my dad.
Without knowing it, without deciding it, I’ve found myself liking the same things they like, and vice versa. And somehow, between taking my coffee with two sugars and making peanut butter sandwiches at midnight, I realized I’d lost a bit of myself.
So I made new traditions. I learned to relish my king sized bed, and I tried real tuna salad. I realized I actually don’t really like ranch dip, and I’d much rather be watching E! than a football game.
And it’s okay. After all this time, it’s so beautiful to realize that.
That to challenge their preferences doesn’t weaken them or make them any less special. It also doesn’t make me a bad or rebellious child. In fact, it’s a testament to their parenting that I am comfortable forging my own way through this wild world.
I love my parents to the end of this earth. They are my cornerstone and backbone, and my favorite evenings are the ones spent walking to their house from my own, one hand resting in Robert’s.
But I leave eventually. Once the coffee is gone and the sun is setting, we walk back. To our cottage. Our life together. Our dog in the window.
And today the sun is shining and it’s unseasonably warm and I’m thinking about hanging baskets. And how lovely they would look on the porch. And how pleased mama will be when she stands under them. About reclaiming my voice, saying I love you in a language I never knew until now.