A lot can happen in 4 years. In the past 4 years, I have taught in 4 different buildings. I have earned my masters degree. I have added a furry friend to my home and my heart. I have loved, been loved and been brokenhearted. I have been blessed to add inspirational, loyal friends to my life. I have witnessed friends get married and have babies. I have run until I thought my legs would give out. I have become a part of a new and amazing church that has inspired me to give my whole heart and my whole life to God. I have traveled the world and left my heart in San Salvador. I have watched one of my best friends conquer cancer year after year.
4 years ago, I watched my mom take on cancer for one final battle. I think back on all the things that have happened in the past 4 years and wish so desperately that she would have been a part of each one. I believe she would be proud of my perseverance as I am bounced from school to school. Dewey’s antics would drive Mom crazy, but she would love him for his fantastic cuddling abilities. She would have held me as I cried over yet another love lost and asked too many questions at the mention of another possibility of love. Mom would absolutely love my new friends. And she would be so of the ones that have stayed through the years. Kristen & Trai’s wedding would have BLOWN. HER. MIND. And she would have rolled her eyes because she would have known that the wedding bar had been raised. And oh my goodness, she would have never give Baby Dominick back once she had him in her arms. Mom loved babies! She might not have understood why I felt the need to run 13.1 miles, but she would have been there at the finish line cheering me on. Rock City Church would be exactly the kind of church she could thrive in. Creating a life in another country is definitely not something Mom would have ever done, but I hope she would be proud of my passion to see God’s love shown through me all over the world. And oh how proud she would be to see Amee kick cancer’s ass year after year and really show cancer who’s boss with the upcoming Baby BellWanzo!
I would give every moment up for just one more hug, one more “I love you too!”
There isn’t a moment I don’t want to share with Mom. It doesn’t get easier as time goes on; it just becomes more normal.
If you are as blessed as I was to have The World’s Best Mom (because, let’s be honest…we all do!), give her a hug, send her a text, pick up the phone…let her know that just 1 day is too long to go without sharing even the smallest of moments.
On May 25th, 2014, one of my best friends, Kristen, gave birth to her first child! She is not the first of my friends to have a baby, but she is the first of my best friends to have a baby and be living in the same city as me, so this is a big deal. Kristen, her husband Trai, and both their parents labored for an entire weekend before Baby D burst into this world with plans to do some fiercely amazing things.
Kristen is an only child, so she views her close girlfriends as sisters. This means I’m an aunt! I plan on being a major part of Dominick’s life and I can’t wait to experience life with him.
In honor of Dom being born on May 25th, I have written a list of 25 things I hope to teach him in his life.
I swear to the Good Lord, your mom was super cool once. Don’t ask me to prove it. She’d kill me if I told you half of the things that make her so cool. OR at least wait until I’m 3 vodka sodas in to ask me.
The great game of flip cup. Your mom and I were and still are champion players. It’s like riding a bike.
Be nice to your teachers and do as they say, even if it doesn’t make sense to you. Confession: I grade the “good” kids way easier than the pain in my ass kids. And trust me, your mother will kill you if you don’t get good grades.
Reading is sexy. I mean, sure…video games are cool, but a girl is going to be way more likely to talk to you if you’re a reader.
Gay? Fine by me! Seriously. I’d actually prefer it if you’re gay. By the time you’re able to read and comprehend this, I pray that who people decide to love and marry isn’t even worth a discussion anymore. Plus, I’ll probably be married to a slew of gay men, so I’m sure you’re already in tune with the gay community.
It’s okay to make giant mistakes. Believe me…your mom and I have made some DOOZIES in our day! But when you need help, go to your parents. There isn’t anything you can do to make them love you less. They might be frustrated with you, but I can guarantee that they will do anything in their power to help you out.
Exercise is AWESOME! Getting your heart rate up for just 30 minutes each day boosts your endorphins by like a gadzillion percent. And endorphins make you happy. Happy people just don’t shoot their husbands, they just don’t. Ugh. In this moment, I’m really hoping you’re gay so that you can appreciate that Elle Woods quote.
Hold onto your faith. Your friends will let you down. Your family will let you down. God will never let you down. He may frustrate and confuse you, but He will ALWAYS be at your side with your best interest in mind. God has a wonderful, beautiful plan for your life. When life sucks, just trust that God is working in everything for a reason.
Be good to your friends. Apologize when you’ve wronged them and forgive them when they screw up. We’re human, it happens. But life truly is not worth living without some badass friends at your side. Look at all your aunts and uncles; very few of us are genetically related to you, but consider ourselves family. We couldn’t have made this family work without a little bit of forgiveness, understanding and A LOT of love.
Do whatever it takes to get along with your parents and introduce them to your friends. Yes, they’re super annoying, but they are your #1 fans! They are going to be way more likely to let you borrow the car and stay out past curfew if they know and trust who you are with.
Be nice to girls. They are fragile creatures that need to be treated with respect and care.
Is Facebook still at thing in 2029? God, I hope so! I can only imagine all the cool foods I will be eating and fantastic things I will be doing in 15 years! I will want to make sure all my friends know about it! I digress… Don’t friend your parents on Facebook! Sure, you should be open and honest with them about your life, but your friends are idiots and are going to post stupid things that you would much rather your parents didn’t know about. And the truth is, they probably don’t need to know. Don’t worry… I’ll talk to them about this.
Call your grandparents! Once again, you come from a very loving and supportive family. Would it kill you to tell your grandparents what is going on in your life? Plus, they’ll be more likely to slip a 20 in your Christmas card!
YOU’RE a badass kid, but don’t let that go to YOUR head. Let’s go THERE so we can drink THEIR beer THEY’RE dumb enough to be giving away. If you learn nothing else from me, know the difference between these five words!
We are not guaranteed tomorrow. Embrace EVERY day you are blessed with by finding some small bit of happiness in it.
Surround yourself with people that make you a better man. Shake the haters off and latch onto the friends that tell you when you’re being an idiot, but encourage you to be better than you were before.
You are going to fail at things in life. What will impress people is when you get up and try again EVERY time. You’ll probably even impress yourself.
NEVER drink straight Everclear. You’ll go blind and your man bits will never work right again! Okay…maybe not, but seriously. Not worth the risk.
Be silly and laugh at yourself! People will laugh with you and life is more fun when you’re not worried what other people are thinking.
A few days after you were born, Maya Angelou passed away. She was a brilliant poet and author. She was also an actress, screenwriter, director, civil rights activist, and educator. One of her most famous quotes is “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” In my 29 years in this world, I have learned this to be absolutely true. I can’t remember what one of my ex-boyfriends said to make me angry, but I remember being so angry I threw a hairbrush at his foot. I can’t remember every kind act your mom has ever done for me, but I know she has made me feel loved. The point is, don’t overthink saying the right thing or doing everything right; focus on how your words and actions will affect people later.
Don’t let your significant other be the focus of your life 100% of the time. You still need to put effort into your friendships because who else is going to listen while you ramble on about how perfectly fantastic they are?? And trust me – it can be very hard to earn back friendships you pushed aside for a relationship that lasted half as long.
Learn to cook. There is nothing sexier than a man offering to make dinner.
Something my mom taught me: Never rely on anyone to take care of you financially past the age of 22(ish). Not even your parents. You could and should rely on Mom and Dad to help you when you need it, but learn to be self-sufficient. And never, EVER, expect your significant other to support you 100%. Life happens and you need to know how to take care of yourself.
Something my dad taught me: Always have more than one toolbox to work from. Be good at more than one thing. Your first career choice might cease to interest you someday, or for reasons outside of your control, you are unable to maintain your dream job. Be able to make money doing something else and be willing to learn new skills.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) When we love people, it is more difficult to wrong each other, but when we do (we’re human, so it’s going to happen!), they will see the love in our hearts and be better able to forgive us. Plus, you want to be remembered as the nice guy and not the bully. Loving people should come naturally to you because your parents are two of the most loving people I have ever met. It has never quite made sense to me how two people can be so short in stature and yet have hearts so big. You are truly blessed, Dominick.
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