Tiny Love Stories: ‘Never Good Enough, Never Skinny Enough’

My husband wears an expensive anti-snoring device. “Guh-nigh,” he says, mumbling through the mouthpiece — and discomfort — as we settle into bed. His bone-rattling inhalations used to set my teeth on edge. Now, only occasional “breakthrough snores” reach me. When I catch glimpses of the monstrosity in his mouth, I remember what he endures for my rest. In turn, I practice responding more gently when he irks me in daylight hours (“Always walking ahead of me on hikes? That’s all right!”). The contraption is meant to improve our sleep, but the real change is our newfound grace when awake. — Melissa Grego

For most of my life, I feared that I was never doing enough, never good enough, never skinny enough. This surprises people who know me as a strong, positive woman, a generous teacher and mother of two sons. Alas, it took a diagnosis of Stage 4 pancreatic cancer — the incurable, terminal kind — for me to love myself, cancer-ravaged body and all. I am enough, and I see now that I always have been. I plan to love my imperfect-perfect self for as long as I live. — Sarah Werkman

“Your child doesn’t have to bring valentines, but if they do, they’ll need one for each student,” the fourth-grade teacher emailed. “Do you really need to waste class time on this?” a parent replied all, beginning a long, email-chain argument among the adults. No interest in engaging, I conserved my energy for work and my three children. Yet for two weeks, my daughter Shiloh spent her evenings handwriting messages to her classmates: Words of encouragement, appreciation and friendship — language that the parents forgot to use. I imagine replying all, “Time is well spent when sharing words of kindness.” — Jessica Keith

We milled in winter sunshine, an unusual 67 degrees in February that made our shoes sink in spongy grass. “He brought this weather,” I thought. I spotted Annie, who produced my father’s commercials. Behind her was Susan, his copywriter, and other advertising friends. Of four children, I am the only one who shared my father’s profession. I stood with my family and fellow creative types, grinning at our reunion, and thought, “I can’t wait to call Dad and tell him who I saw.” Then, the breath-stealing, gut-punch recollection of why we had gathered. Later, I threw my muddy shoes away. — Abby Alten Schwartz