Writing Your Family’s Story
When I was fourteen, I ran away. I wasn’t planning to—my mom made me.
I simply walked outside after we had a fight, and she followed. I walked faster and so did she. I ran. She ran. The faster she came after me, the harder and faster I ran away. My mom is actually one of the fastest runners I know, so it didn’t take me long to figure out I was going to have to do some ducking and weaving. I finally eluded her by hiding behind a sign. I still remember looking out from behind that sign, watching my mom search for me. I didn’t know where to go. I hadn’t planned on leaving, but really, what choice did I have? She made me run.
This past January I grieved alongside my sister the loss of my niece, our deeply loved little girl who was put into a body not meant for this world. Losing a child isn’t something that we talk about often because, really, what is there to say?
When you lose a baby before they ever really come into your home, you don’t have a memory to go back to. You can’t talk about their life well lived. You can’t share stories about who they were.
I recently stumbled across Jason Good’s 46 Reasons My Three-Year-Old Might Be Freaking Out.The first thing I thought when I read the list was how much I wanted to share it with anyone I know who has a preschooler. Because let’s be honest, this is exactly what it’s like to live with a three-year-old.
The next thing I thought was (and I’m not sure why), “I wonder what this list sounds like for the parent of a middle schooler?” Since three-year-olds and eleven-year-olds have a few similarities, I texted a few of my friends who spend a lot of time around middle schoolers, and we pulled together this follow-up list.
Every year I’m still washing Thanksgiving dishes when the first one arrives in my mailbox, which means I have friends who start planning their holiday cards in August. When I get a card before December 1st with a family smiling at me in red holiday sweaters, I assume you’re probably sweating under those sweaters. But that’s only because I wish I were on top of my holiday game like you.
Yesterday was a strange day. This is the fifth election in which I was old enough to vote, and I cannot remember one with this level of intensity. Maybe I’ve forgotten. There were definitely intense feelings surrounding W. Bush and Obama, but nothing that felt like it carried the same level of emotion.
I like teenagers. I’ve spent over fifteen years choosing to spend time with them. I’ve slept on basement floors, ridden on charter busses, and eaten my fair share of camp food just so I can hang out with them. Honestly, given the choice, I would rather hang out with a group of teenagers than a group of adults—most days. They are fun. They are uninhibited. They are creative. And they are liars. All of them.
I was cutting out paper hearts with my four-year-old at the kitchen counter when it happened.
You can imagine: craft paper spread out around us, Elmer’s glue, the class roster, all the essentials for making valentines to give to each friend in her preschool class. Hensley, unlike some girls her age, has never shown any particular interest in boys. She reads, imagines, draws, dresses up, and plays with boys and girls alike. I guess secretly I liked that she seemed silent on the idea of romance. She is four, let’s not rush it.