“I will love you unconditionally....”

“What’s it mean?” I ask, as Katy Perry’s Unconditionally ends.

It’s a little game we play on the way to and from, in the car. After a song we’ve hummed along to (or brazenly belted), is over I ask them: What’s it mean?

“When you have to pay a price for love. Like if I wanted to marry a girl you didn’t like. If I have unconditional love, I’d marry her anyway,” says John, my eleven going on twenty-seven year-old.


“I wouldn’t marry a girl Mom didn’t like,” says eight-year-old Will, without missing a beat.

Atta boy!

“I would!” John shoots back. “I mean if you love someone that much and Mom doesn’t like them that shouldn’t matter. Right Mom?”

Is he kidding?

I love being the mom of boys. But I do sometimes have a worry, or two, about twenty years from now when I am attending the weddings of friends with girls, who hang on their mom’s every word, looking for direction and approval. Will I be consulted on the daily decisions my boys make? I fear I already know the answer.

“Well John, that depends,” I swallow hard. “If that person brings out the best in you and is kind, then that is what is most important. Of course it doesn’t hurt, and can be lots of fun, if they like Dad and me.”

“But you’re okay if I end up with someone you don’t like?”

Way to beat a dead horse John!

“Yes. But you do have to promise me one thing.”

“What?” John asks, with pre-teen edge.

“When it comes to big holidays and events, like Christmas, you have to spend time with Dad and me. I can’t imagine not having you two around.”

“But Mom,” John says. 

“Yes John?” 

“We always spend Christmas with your family.”

Should have seen that one coming.

In my defense, I adore my mother-in-law (and I’m pretty sure she likes me too). But we live closer to my husband’s family and see them more regularly. My family lives five plus hours away and...and...we always spend Christmas with my family.

“You’re right. Maybe I should ask Nanny if she wants us to spend Christmas in Boston next year. A mom always wants to spend time with her kids,” I add for good measure, then switch to the news channel.
That’s enough unconditional love for one day.

Let It Go! Let It Go!


Over holiday break, we ventured to see Frozen with extended family. We don’t go to the movies much and so it was pure pleasure to experience the enchanted story-line of sisterly connection and a duplicitous prince charming.
In fact, by the time main character Elsa began to sing the now Oscar winning lyrics: “The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside, couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried...”

I think there may have been a tear or two trickling down my cheek. 

“Let it go! Let it go!” 

The message was powerful: accept who you are, stop running, be brave. 

An hour later on the drive home, while listening to my real-life sister debate something (the content of what I don’t honestly remember), I blurted: “Let it go! Let it go!” on key. The car erupted in laughter.

Over the next thirty minutes, I set out on a personal mission to work the refrain in whenever possible. 

Family member: "So what should we have for dinner?"

Me: "Let it go! Let it go!"

No one was finding me funny or inspirational by the time we pulled into the driveway.

You know the saying, "Payback is a...?"

Well, later that week, I found myself reclined in the dental chair for an overdue cleaning, the kind where the dentist suggests a series of X-rays and pokes your gums for signs of receding. 

Mid-poke procedure, with time traveling at the speed of molasses in March, there Elsa was, belting her truth: “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see, be the good girl you always have to be...”

There’s something about being captive in a little room with stark fluorescent lighting and peach colored walls to render even the most compelling lyrics annoying. 

“Let it go, let it go! Can’t hold it back anymore!”

Without the visuals (not to mention the delicious popcorn that had no doubt reaped havoc on my aging gums), the song grated my tender nerves.

I started to laugh. The hygienist stopped. “Sorry,” I garbled. She continued.
The very next morning while waiting in a long line at my favorite coffee shop, I couldn’t believe my ears. The shop’s musical selections are usually acoustic or alternative, but not on this day.

“No right, no wrong, no rules for me. I’m free. Let it go, let it go!”

The song was following me. And apparently I wasn’t the only one. The twenty-something barista abruptly left his post and unceremoniously switched the Pandora station.

When I finally reached the counter, I leaned in, “Thank you, for changing that song.”

He smiled. “It’s everywhere.”

This morning, deeply transfixed by my in-need-of-a deep-clean kitchen floor, I was removing a blueberry stain that had led me to a coffee splotch that had pointed me toward an unidentifiable specimen, when my son yelled from the living room:

"Mom, know what this is?"

At first it was faint, barely recognizable.

“It’s funny how" (clunk, clunk)

But with each passing stanza, the melody was focusing into full view.
"Some distance makes everything seem (clunk, clunk) small...”

Will was teaching himself the song, at our piano.
“Let it (clunk) go. Let it go!” 

It was clearly a sign. What else was there to do? I left the ooey glop of who knows what on my floor and joined in:

"Let it go! Let it go!" 

Dirt never bothered me anyway...