To Luke, with all my love.  Happy Birthday, sweetheart. 

I am so glad my daughter, Clarabella,  will be growing up in this era.  I am aware that is not something you hear too often these days.  I know the world is a god-awful mess and that there are more than enough things that need fixing.  And I know the planet is literally on fire.  But despite all that, I am so hopeful for her future.

There are a number of reasons for this, but today’s reason is “Frozen 2.” Specifically, Kristoff. I saw this movie weeks ago, and while I loved the songs, what has stayed with me is a single short line by Kristoff. He swoops in to help Anna when she is in trouble, but rather than focusing on rescuing her, all he says is “I’m here. What do you need?”

Can you imagine anything more right or perfect?  “I’m here, what do you need?”  I think my jaw dropped at that line and I haven’t managed to pick it up since.  Additionally, Kristoff’s entire role in the film is centered on his love for Anna, which he talks (and sings) about openly and honestly.  What an incredible example for kids to see today.  I’m so grateful to Disney for that.

The fact that this example exists in a film that my daughter will watch (probably so much that I will get sick of it) makes me so happy.  There are glimpses of this sort of moment in other films, like “Wonder Woman” and…ok I can’t think of any other popular films at the moment that have this kind of supportive male role.  So thank God for Kristoff.  And for my husband Luke, Clarabella’s dad.

If Kristoff is a good example in a film, Luke is an example she will get to see every day.  Luke, to me, exemplifies what it is possible for a man to be.  He is unfailingly supportive, joyful, and unabashedly loving.  He is also deeply kind.  The traditional wisdom is that men are supposed to be strong and unemotional, but I can’t think of anything that portrays strength better than supporting another person.  Patience and kindness are an enduring kind of strength.  Frozen 2 gets this right too.  At the end of the film, Kristoff reminds Anna that his “love isn’t fragile.”  Love isn’t fragile. It is a strong and powerful force that can be relied on.  The love of another person should be something to lean on.  Luke’s love is like that.  I have been blessed by it time and again over the last decade, and it has been a constant in Clarabella’s life since the day she was born.

Growing up, I was very interested in love and boys and relationships.  It was pretty much my favorite topic.  I loved the idea of being in love, of falling in love.  I wish I could go back and explain to my younger self was real love looks like, or that I could ensure that Clarabella will know as she grows up.  But I know that my teenage self wouldn’t get it.  My parents set a wonderful example of a loving relationship and partnership, but only so much will get through a 14 year old’s hazy ideas of romance.  What it has taken me a decade of marriage to learn and what I hope Clarabella will understand is that “falling in love” misses the mark.  Love is something to lean on, to be buoyed by, not something to fall into.  Love is not fragile. And a true partner will express the strength that comes from love. 

I am glad examples of this are beginning to exist in films.  I am even more grateful, though, for the daily example of partnership and love that is set by my husband.  Clarabella, I hope that you find someone as kind and loving as your dad.  Even more, I hope you grow up to be just like him.  I hope you are that partner to another someday.  I am truly hopeful.