The Other Side

Dear Sweetboy,

It’s hard to be a teenager. We get it. We used to be adolescents too. Shocking! We know.

Having a younger sibling can make navigating this teenage journey particularly challenging. Especially when they do annoying things that cause you to seek refuge in your room for some much needed alone time. And, it gets you nowhere when your sibling is literally holding up her iPod and blasting Adele’s “Hello”, from the other side of your door.

And singing along with All The Feeling.

And every decibel available to her voice box.

Here’s the thing – you’re good at turning her annoyance into a game. We see you making her laugh so she no longer wants to pester you. You don’t realize it, but we notice you beginning to take challenging situations and turn them positive. (See? Singing “You Gotta Think Positive” worked!) You will need this skill every single day, the older you get.

You’re already making choices as a teen that give us reason to believe you will be one amazing adult. And that makes dad and I hopeful for your future.

We know the world is telling you that you need to charge down the hill now that you’re on the other side of childhood.

But, hey… don’t do that.

Give yourself time to grow up. Slow your roll every chance you get. One thing leads to another more often than you can even imagine. We don’t want you to get going so fast that it takes a crash to slow you down.

Rolling along will expose you to Evil. So, when you bump into Evil, because you will, remember to cling fiercely to any joy you can. That’s the antidote to Evil.

Fight for your joy, Sweetboy.

And be cautiously optimistic.

We desperately want to keep you from becoming jaded about the joy to be found in life because there is so much joy to be found, son. Despite everything going on in the world that we could stay angry and disheartened about, and despite the bad things that happen to us and around us, joy is still out there waiting to be found.

If.

If you’ll just do you and be kind.

Stay in your own lane, but be willing to reach across the lines and help anyone who has fallen down in the lane next to you. Do this as often as possible. It helps build bridges.

And relationships.

And joy.

Be kind even when it doesn’t make sense to the watching world. Eventually, this too will build bridges and relationships. And joy.

And when life seems out of control, or people seem out of their minds, or both? Shout out to God.  He is always there, ready to help. His ultimate goal for you, son, is to make you more like Him and help you find and spread joy while you are here on this earth.

Find the joy and chase it, Sweetboy.

It’s there.

On the other side of childhood.

Yes indeedy.

Love,

Mom & Dad

 

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What Mama Did

You might be wondering, “Um, Missy, is this still Five Minute Friday?”.  I know, I know.  I like to shake things up once in a while.  This actually still is a Five Minute Friday post.  It’s Lisa-Jo that’s shaking things up a bit this week. And I like it!  She has been highlighting four very different writer-friends’ posts on the theme of “What Mama Did” each day, this week.  Each writer has shared a Mama Memory and how their lives were touched because of it.  You really, really should go check them out! Each one is so very good and unique. Click here to walk down Memory Lane with them. And click the button below to read some other memories.  I’ll just bet you connect with one or nine of them by reading’s end! (And I can’t help but wonder how many tender phone calls will go on today, or soon, between mother and daughter or son. I’d love to be a fly on the phone lines to hear. Oh, I would.)

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Here is my own contribution:

WHAT MAMA DID

Go…

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I think my facial expression captures “Teen Angst” perfectly, no?

Journals and diaries never held all that much appeal to me when I was a preteen. Does that shock you?  I knew they were a great place to store all of your angst and sorrow and bubbling expectation.  I did.  But I never seemed to be able to write in them with any consistency.  And I liked consistency. I craved it.

When we are young, we don’t understand why our mothers might foist their own desires for success or perfection or popularity upon us.  When we, too, become mothers, understanding dawns brightly.  And sometimes, too brightly.

The Nana might not be aware of it, but I was watching her, like a hawk, as I grew up into the woman that I am today.  I have many things to thank her for; but the one that might surprise her most, is my love for writing. And for one particularly heart-wrenching experience that I had with a writing of her own.

As a teen, our relationship was especially tumultuous. Especially.  Her desires for me to live out my days in a manner that would allow her to feel a sense of accomplishment burdened me. I struggled mightily to make sense of my own existence, let alone that of my mother.

This particular day that I am remembering, my passionate mother and my equally passionate father engaged in one horrific verbal battle that seemed, to my 15 years, epic and final.  The whole house was fraught with tension.  She left.  It felt like days.  Rehashing this particular episode with her, as an adult, she claims she was only gone for hours.  It felt like days.

I was going through the hope chest in the guest bedroom. This wasn’t just any old hope chest.  This wooden chest was deep and long and could fit a man’s body inside of it. Easily.  I sometimes, as a young child, would walk by it very quickly, just sure that a person would jump up out of it and snatch me away.

But this chest held things far more precious than a body.  The Nana’s wedding dress.  Baby dresses that I did not know she felt sentimental enough to keep. Snips of first haircuts.  Teeth, that I had mistakenly believed the Tooth Fairy possessed. Scraps of quilts that had promise but were never realized.

And a journal.

Buried deep, underneath the piles of fabric and clothes and baby casts and shoes, was a journal.  My mother’s.

I’d never dared to look at it before.  I’d never dared see what her heart was crying out about.  I suppose, I didn’t really want to know.

I did this day.

As I searched through the chest, I became frantic with the need to know what she had written that made her tuck it, furtively, into the chest and then storm out of the house.

What I read in that journal, while she was gone, brought confusion and pain into an already confused and pained teenage existence.

And in that moment, I realized the power of the written word.

From that very day onward, I knew that a word written with every ounce of the emotion with which it is felt, is powerful.

And I began my own journaling, in earnest, right then and there.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must go call my mother.  And thank her.