My daughters watch themselves dance in the window reflection. Margot tucks her shirt in, untucks it. Sways her hips from side to side. Tucks it in again. Spins on one foot, her bejeweled plastic heels stomping the turn to a stop.
Mama, when I am 12 I want to fly all the way across the country all by myself with no mom or dad!
Ruby believes she invented the side ponytail. She spends at least 10 minutes smoothing every hair into this intention every morning. The hairstyle changes in one hour. By the end of the day it’s always down, a tangled mess of blond.
Mama, I feel so beautiful.
They visit my sewing studio in search of fabric for the day’s cape. They play kittens, babies, school, family, princesses and vacation. They carry purses full of treasures on their shoulders at all times. Rocks, coins, lip balm, carousel tokens, tiny stuffed sheep, tinkerbell, drawings.
Margot is 6 1/2. I remember wearing a 6x, remember my cat peachy folder, Mrs. Ryding, my mom’s soft brown locks. My girl is promising swirl of thoughtfulness, wisdom, confidence and gumption.
Ruby studies her sister, often torn by wanting to do what Margot does and wanting to do what she wants. She usually does what she wants. Ruby is a promising swirl of tenderness, earnestness, resilience and courage.
I really want my own room but I can’t even handle not sleeping with my sister. Ever.
Our entire family knows every word to every song on the disney pandora station. The girls feel like they win at life, many times a day, when Do You Want to Build a Snowman and Let it Go come on. Recently, the interest has shifted, especially with Margot. She now likes the Katy Perry station. Ruby prefers “princess music.” They talk it through and bounce back and forth until I call it quits and call on Gillian Welch.
You’re hot then you’re cold
You’re yes then you’re no
Do you want to build a snowman?
Or ride our bikes around the halls?
You just gotta ignite the light and let it shine
Just own the night like the 4th of July
It’s time to see what I can do
To test the limits and break through
My daughters want to be together all the time. Even when they argue, pinch and hit — they sit with it. Sit with each other. I feel proud of this, proud of them. One of my primary parenting goals is to give my daughters each other. To support them in their authentic love and problem-solving; to give it to them instead of stepping in to manage. To hope for a strong relationship between them that outlives me. To show them what it’s like when someone always has your back. Inclusivity, empathy, compromise, listening, sharing — all these vital life skills are learned in my daughter’s shared bedroom and through their shared experiences.
(the story of the turtle we found in the road, in the middle of nowhere)
(the story of the toad at the river)
My husband and I are witnessing change that is both profound and ordinary, as our kids cut deeper into their channel of self-discovery and personal style, as they sort through this world. Andy and I swim beside them – in our own channels – sharing their light, sharing our light. Together, finding our way.
We leave tomorrow for one last summer hurrah – a 10 day road trip. After a very full few weeks of working to prepare for this time away, I cannot wait to get out and about, exploring. Our family is at its best when out there, I believe. Oh the glory of no cell service! The blessing of nothing to do but talk and play made-up games in the woods! The time to just be, somewhere between Elsa and Katy Perry, together.
first night (forested images): Lake Alva Campground
second night (river images): River Junction Campground
lost turtle: on the road to Upsata Lake
last photo, THE BAG: by Dharma Door, my new favorite everything tote. My friends own Dharma Door, a company that designs & sources Fair Trade, sustainable homewares and lifestyle products. You can have 15% off your order with coupon code DIGTHISCHICK.