hiddenblessing

Finding one small blessing each day.

My glass is never too full March 23, 2014

Filed under: Inspiration,Kindness,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 12:52 pm
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I had an inspiration the other day.  I want to love everyone.  I don’t know a better way to say that sentence.  Those words aren’t quite right to sum up what my soul is trying to say. 

What I really mean is… for example, I have one sister.  THANK YOU GOD for her.  I cannot imagine travelling this journey without her.  There is no more honest sentence than that.  I was blessed.  No font can contain the gratitude in that one word.  But my Darling Nikki, she didn’t get to be born with a sister.  She wasn’t born with another soul to grow up with – to fight with, and laugh with and to crawl into bed with when she had bad dreams.  I had someone who knew me when I peed my pants playing “cow” in the back yard at age six, who knew me when I had buck teeth and skinned knees, who held my hair when I had the flu and held my hand when I put on my ivory dress to walk down the aisle.  And my Darling Nikki – her parents may have decided they only wanted one child, but I still was lucky enough to get her, too.  I wasn’t born to her – but I am connected to her and responsible for her and she for me. My life is so intimately entwined with hers that even though she grew up with no siblings, she now has one.  And I have her. I love her children and am their aunt.  My son thinks they ARE his cousins.  When her parents get sick, I share that with her.  She’s not an only child anymore; she has a sister to help.  And likewise, I was gifted with HER.  It’s a win-win.  You can’t have too many loves in life.  Really.  Like who ever says “I have too many friends.  I love too many people.”?  No one.  So I want to love everyone I can.  Because in turn, they only make my life more beautiful, more full and truly – at the very, very end of it all – it’s me who was blessed by getting to love all of these wonderful people who crossed my path.

Starting now, starting today, it’s my goal to try to love everyone just a little bit more.  To be kinder than necessary.  To go out of my way at least once every day for one person.  I’ve been given so many blessings and gifts in life; it’s the best way I know how to give it back. 

Love to you today, my friend.

 

Silent night December 19, 2012

Filed under: Inspiration,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 11:13 am
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Silent night…

                Peace.  Love.  Gentleness.

This is all I know how to do, to try to offset the horror that befell our nation a few short days ago.  Speak softly.  Kiss my children’s sweet sleeping faces at night before I tiptoe out of their rooms.  Gaze out into the backyard and look up at the starry sky.  Remember that there have been other tragedies, too.  Breathe deeply.  Trust.  Close my eyes and ears to the constant media coverage.  Reading it again and again only intensifies the sorrow; more details don’t make the tragedy any greater or any less.   Unplug from society’s chatter.  Really look at my beautiful children, and tell them I love them.  Spend time talking to them, enjoying them, soaking them in.  Put down my fears.  Rest.

 

Holy night…

                I went to church on Sunday.  It has been a long time since I’ve been there.  But I went because I needed to feel comfort.  I needed to remember I am a child of God, and be surrounded by others who share my beliefs.  Together we are stronger than alone.  I needed to put some perspective on this season, to remember the reason that we are celebrating Christmas in the first place.  To remember that Christ was born to save us.  There is no evil in the world, not even a psychotic school shooter, who can conquer God.   We will be ok.  Our hearts are broken and grieving with the families in Connecticut; we are now fearful to send our children to their schools where we thought they were safe, but in the end, God is still with us. 

At night, when I lay in bed, I hold a space for God.  I ask him to come into this space, where I will be quiet, I will just listen.  My soul hears what my ears and mind cannot. 

 

All is calm…

                This is a month of many fears, many tragedies.  Is there something in the air that is causing so much chaos and fear?  Something that’s not tangible, something we can’t see, but we are feeling in our hearts?  I wrote some time ago about letting go and giving it to God.  Having faith.  Trusting in God.  This is the most important thing, I think.  My beliefs have changed and evolved many times over the years, but right now, I’m circling back to my earliest Christian beliefs.  I was taught at a very young age that Satan wants to steal us away from God, to cause us to turn our faces from him.  He wants to tempt us into serving Ego, Selfishness, Greed and Fear. 

                I also learned that when the end of the world was near, Jesus would come from Heaven and save all of those who believed in Him.  What if… the horrors we are experiencing, the fears that are continuously being introduced to us, the warnings and the alarms and the dangers… are truly a test of our faith and trust in Him?  A temptation of Satan, to cause us to lose our faith, our trust… our joy?

                Psalm 56:4 

                In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.  What can mortal man do to me?

 

All is bright…

                I look around at all the beautiful lights of the season.  The twinkling of lights on the tree in my home, the soft glow of the tiny white candle I lit in remembrance, the homes on the streets that sparkle in all their holiday beauty. 

                I will be a light in the darkness.  

This darkness that has put a cloud over the world may be large, but it’s not large enough to extinguish the light of the good in the world.   There are too many blessings, too much laughter, and too much belief in the power of Love for darkness to ever conquer.   Believe in this.  Have faith in this.   Look deep into your heart and listen to what your soul knows to be true.  Trust. 

We are loved.  We are safe.   The essence of what is really truly us cannot be harmed by anything, anything¸ on earth.  We existed before we were born.  We will exist when we no longer walk this earth.  There is no weapon, no chemical, no illness, no person who can ever change that.  And the same is true for our love.  This time spent on earth is just one rest stop on much bigger travels.

 

                1 Corinthians 13:6-7

                Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

 

 

                Always.

Merry Christmas to you my friends.  I wish you love, and comfort and peace… true, soul-soothing peace.. this Christmas.  Shalom.

 

More than enough November 8, 2012

Filed under: Family,Inspiration,Kindness — hiddenblessing @ 4:59 pm
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At work lately I’ve been noticing all of these posters up for “angels” and giving trees.  I tried to be an “angel” one year for them, but my employer apparently only gives out whole lists for children as opposed to letting you buy a portion of the list.  So if a child wants pj’s, socks, cd’s, video games and tennis shoes, you either have to provide ALL or let someone else be their “angel”.  I think that’s rather silly, myself… wouldn’t some of their list be better than none?… but it’s what they’ve decided.  So I’m finding a different way to be helpful this year.

 

One of my favorite blogs, Momastery, has something they do every year called Holiday Hands.  This year, they have this down to a mad science!  They have a board, per se, of readers who are in need.  I read the initial requests on there this morning.  It was things like… a coat for my two year old.  A bed for my child.  Help with dental work.  Help paying off a funeral expense.  Gift cards for groceries.  And then, other readers sign up to provide these things.  It is BEAUTIFUL!  And amazing.  And what a wonderful, perfect way to help.  You can look through the requests, find one that touches your heart, and help.  Or maybe you are the one who needs some help.  You can put it out there.  It’s kind of like a Craigslist for kindness. 

 

Then later today, Glennon, the blog writer, posted a comment on Facebook about one woman who requested on the Helping Hands board that she needed clothes for a girl, size 2T.  And within MINUTES, something like twelve women responded that they had clothes and were going to send them.  The mom was crying – at the outpouring of love she was getting within MINUTES.  She actually turned AWAY people offering because there was more than enough.  This led to a bunch  of other moms posting in the comments that they had boy clothes size 4T if anyone wanted them, and someone saying they needed any boy clothes for ANY size under 3… and on and on and on.

 

It was like a giant list of friends, helping friends.  Because that’s really what life should be, isn’t it?  My Little One has gotten bigger and as he has, I’ve returned most of the items that were lovingly given to ME, and bagged up all the rest and sent them on to a younger, brand-new mom who’s just starting out.  Because I love her and she’s my friend.  And that’s what we do.  Sure, I could sell them at a second hand children’s store or a garage sale.  I could list them on Ebay and see what I get.  But really – I was a young, new mom once, who had a friend who packed up HER baby’s clothes and gave them to me… it’s all about sharing the love. 

 

There is more than enough to go around.  More than enough.

 

Love and blessings and peace to you today, my friends.

 

Our version of the Yaya Sisterhood September 23, 2012

Filed under: Family — hiddenblessing @ 8:25 am
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Fairies“>

Fairies by Flo’s shots 4 me (http://www.flickr.com/photos/florencia123/)

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I am a Yaya.  A princess Yaya, that is.  And oh, how I love this little tiny bit of (pretend, but very real in my heart) royalty.

Did you ever see that movie Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood?  Here is a very brief summary:  there is a group of girls growing up in the 50’s who are best friends.  They have a secret club, as most little girls do at some point, and they name themselves the Ya-Ya Sisterhood. They sneak out late at night in their jammies, have a little bonfire, wear silly crowns and swear their loyalty to each other forever and ever.  Their friendship lasts into adulthood, and when of the Ya-Ya’s has relationship difficulties with her daughter, the remaining friends kidnap the adult daughter.  They sneak her away to the family cabin to try to get her to come to reason with her mom’s history and why she is the way she is.

That’s a terrible rendition, but it’s the core of the movie.  But here’s where it turns really fun… during the summer of 2002 after the movie came out, on some random weekend my extended family and I all sat on my grandmother’s patio talking.  Somehow the movie came up and someone decided it would be really fun if we had a Yaya weekend.  Somewhere where all the girls could get away – no husbands, no kids, and just be us for a weekend.  We would make fun drinks, get pedicures, swim, and basically just have a fun weekend together celebrating us. 

And so it was born.  On the weekend after Labor Day 2002, my aunt, mother, sister, grandmother and I gathered at my grandmother’s house.  We giggled and laughed and did no cooking.  We drank copious amounts of alcohol, swam at my great uncle’s home (he wasn’t allowed to join us except for one cocktail since we were, after all, using his pool), and waited for Saturday night.  And when Saturday night arrived, my grandmother pulled out beautiful crowns she had made for each of us.  We pulled chairs into a circle under the crabapple tree in the backyard, and we lit a bonfire.  And that’s where the real magic of Yaya began.

We had no idea, that first year, what a precious thing we were creating.  We had no idea how seriously we all would take Yaya, and how much it would grow and morph over the years.  But I will tell you this… there is nothing quite like the honesty and love and support you get from a group of women who love you.   Who have known you since you had buck teeth and skinned knees, and watched you dress up for prom.  Who kissed your newborn baby and comforted you when your marriage was falling apart.  There is very little in the world that is more beautiful than the night when one of the Yayas was seriously ill, and the other princesses drove over state lines, donned the crowns and snuck into the ICU late at night, to giggle and hug and love the sick princess.  Or the coronation of a baby Yaya, who was born much, much too early and had to become a Yaya right away. That baby Yaya is now a healthy, happy 9-year-old, and while I’m sure it very much has to do with the powers of modern medicine, there may be a little bit of Yaya magic sprinkled in there, too. 

In two weekends, the princesses and I will be coming together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of Yaya.  Ten years.  It is staggering to me what has changed over those ten years.  I can’t begin to express the enormity of our losses, and the significance of our gains, in what life has dealt each of the princesses in the past ten years.

But one thing remains… we are still together.  We are still gathering to light that midnight bonfire.  To celebrate love and family and all the things that matter to each of us.

I am so honored, and blessed, to be a Yaya princess.

 

My top five September 11, 2012

Filed under: Family,Kindness,Parenting,Teenager,Uncategorized — hiddenblessing @ 10:32 pm
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I came across an article today that was titled Ten Things I Hate About Being A Dad. Ouch. I’m not sure I would ever want my children to have a list in hand of all the things I supposedly “hated” about being a parent. Talk about a guilt trip.

Now obviously, being a parent is not easy, by any means. It’s not even fun all the time. That includes me… there are nights, tonight happening to be one of them, that I am tired and grumpy and less than the mama I’d like to imagine myself. At one point, B and I were arguing like mad and at another, a saleslady in a store we were at was trying to bribe my children with candy because quite frankly, it was total mayhem and the line was ridiculous. But even so, I still love it. Even when it’s ugly and hard and infuriating and I’d really just like to hide away with a glass of wine and earplugs.

Now that my kids are in bed and my blood pressure has returned to a relatively normal level, I want to add my two cents about that Top Ten. Here are the top five things that I LOVE MOST about being a mom.

1. Walking through grocery stores with Baby L. I’m not talking about Walmart, mind you. We already know how that goes. But I’m talking the better moments… the ones where he insists on wearing his cowboy boots and Superman cape. The ones where he says “hi” to every man and woman over the age of sixty, and he wants to talk to every “friend” who is under three feet tall. Where the grandmas smile at me, and him, and I pray that I remember these moments and are not TOO jealous when I don’t have a small, fuzzy-headed baby whose legs pull up and his bottom sticks out when I pick him up. He doesn’t actually do that anymore, and I already miss it a little bit. Thank God he’s still tiny enough to let me kiss his squishy cheeks whenever I want to. But that pride I feel, that love that swallows me up, when I am out and about with a happy baby.

2. Holidays. There is so much magic in celebrating holidays with children. Now make no mistake, grown-up holidays are fun, too. I absolutely love long, leisurely dinners filled with wine and celebration with friends and family. But I love the magic that reflects in my children’s eyes even more. I love everything about it… the dyeing of Easter eggs, the messy carving of pumpkins. Mailing off lists to Santa and grinning at the explosion of wrapping paper that has engulfed my living room after presents have been opened. Making cookies that I know will be eaten almost as quickly as I can get them out of the oven. The shock and awe at the possible sighting of the sleigh in the sky and the way they squish their eyes closed to wish for sleep to come THAT VERY SECOND BECAUSE WHAT IF SANTA IS REALLY, REALLY CLOSE??? Reading “The Night Before Christmas.” I love the holidays.

3. Getting woken up in the night. Now bear with me here… I’m not saying that I love it for the sake of being woken up. But I love that my sleepy B still comes crawling into my bed and snuggles right up to me when he can’t sleep or has had a bad dream. I love the way his eyes are puffy and they roll back in happiness when I run my fingers through his hair. I love that he tells me more about his life in the middle of the night than any other time, and I love the way he yells random things in his sleep. I love that Baby L still sleeps with his butt in the air and cries out for me in the middle of the night because he wants his sippy cup refilled with water. I look at E and I already miss this. Every once in a great, great while he will watch a scary movie and come wake me up to talk to me about it. And I am absolutely ok with that…. it’s so rare now. I have to cherish the few times it does happen.

4. Activities. I think about all of the things that I can do without any concern for what anyone else thinks, purely because I have children with me. Disney movies? Absolutely. If I didn’t have the boys, I’m pretty sure I’d be a little self-conscious renting The Lorax. For that matter, I probably wouldn’t even know what The Lorax was. Think of all the movies I would have missed if I didn’t have them… Up. Shrek. Tangled. Rio. We go to the pool all the time, and even if I would rather NOT be wearing a swimsuit in public, when your boy begs you to go down the “toilet bowl” water slide with him… YOU DO IT. I can say with almost 100% certainty that wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t have kids. Going to carnivals. Pumpkin patches. Kite flying. Cheering like a crazy girl at the parade because it’s my children’s buddies out there marching and doing cartwheels in the street. Watching baseball and soccer games, sitting for hours at swim meets. Yes, we are busy. Too busy. But if I had a choice between being a mama and camping in 100 degree heat with a group of Boy Scouts, or being at home, alone, with an armful of books and a cup of tea, I would still choose to be a mama. I’ve got years to read and drink tea. I’ve got only a few to camp with Boy Scouts.

But number 5 has to take the cake. The number one thing I love most about being a mama is nearly impossible to put into words. It’s the way it makes me FEEL to know that these beautiful children are mine. That it is my responsibility, and duty, and the biggest blessing imaginable, to have been given these children to nurture. I love the sheer joy that caring for these sweet boys has brought me. I love the pride that fills up within me, and sometimes spills over and down my cheeks, and the gut-wrenching devotion they inspire in me. The raw, pure, fierce desire to protect and cherish and honor and love these human beings.

Goodnight, my friends. Sweet dreams.

 

This Way to ADHD August 30, 2012

Filed under: Parenting — hiddenblessing @ 12:47 pm
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Child Putting on Shoes“>

Photo credit to Poppy Thomas-Hill, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinkpoppyimages/

I was at a party the other night, with a roomful of people I didn’t know. I was listening to a woman talk about her new husband’s children and somehow the topic of ADHD came up.  She immediately began to very loudly express her views on ADHD, which were something like this:

“There is no such thing as ADHD or ADD. There’s not! It’s totally made up. It’s a concept made up by teachers who just don’t want to deal with kids. It’s just an easy way out for parents and teachers who just don’t want to deal! What they really need to do is just DO THEIR JOB and parent their kids and DEAL with these kids’ behaviors.”

I nearly choked on my drink as I turned to her, just waiting to hear what more insight this woman had to share.  My best friend and I made eye contact over the people in our small circle, and I just sadly shook my head.

One of my children has ADHD.  It is not, and I repeat this in the biggest possible letters ever, NOT from a lack of parenting, discipline or teaching.  My husband and I have “parented” him relentlessly.  My boy has been in time-out so many times in his short life that I’m surprised the carpet isn’t worn out on the stairs where we send him to sit.  We have tried charts and redirection and rewards and, yes, turning the other cheek.  We’ve counseled, talked, taken things away, grounded him… you name it, we’ve tried it.

ADHD is an ugly, snarling beast.  I wish it was something made up, because if it were, I promise you I would have found a way around it.  What nerve this woman had, to tell a roomful of people she didn’t know (or not very well, obviously) about how it was due to a lack of parenting.  She has no idea.

I promise you, she has never wiped tears away from her child’s face as he cries to her that he “just must be bad.”  She has never sat in a roomful of people  and watched as a teacher shook her child’s homework at her and spat his name out with frustration and intolerance.  She has never tried to explain to her child why it is that he has to take pills every morning, when no one else has to. She has never sat up late at night, worried about how to help her child be successful when he struggles to get through five minutes of homework, let alone eight hours at school.  Or interrupted a birthday party sleepover to bring meds, because she is afraid he will never get invited back again if he wakes up and doesn’t have his pills right away.

Or the worst – which is, totally lost her cool and yelled at her child for his inability to brush his teeth, put on his shoes and get his backpack on in the last fifteen minutes before they walk out the door for the day.  This is the one that happens the most frequently… and the one we struggle the very most with.

Just put your shoes on. Please!  No – don’t look at the TV.  Why is the TV even on?  I turned it off twice already!  I don’t care if the Annoying Orange is almost over.  It’s time to go.  Shoes. SHOES! … What are you doing NOW?  Put down the cat.  SHOES.  Just shoes!

This is the one that haunts me through my whole day.  Because he’s at school and I can’t pull him into my arms and apologize for yelling at him.  I can’t try to explain how mama just needs him to please remember to get his shoes on and his teeth brushed because it would make our mornings so much easier.  I can’t be sure that he’s not hurting and sad, because the last thing he remembers of his mom that morning was how angry she was. Again.

But here is what I know to be true. This beautiful child, this marvelous boy… this is my son.  He was given to ME for a reason.  There is a life lesson, something he and I are supposed to learn together, and this is why he is mine.  ADHD is a monster, for sure.  I hate the fears, tears and pain it has brought into my sweet child’s life.  But it’s a monster that for whatever reason, God chose to place in our path.  And slay it, we will.  One way or another.

For his sake, if I could choose to make it go away, I would.  Of course.  What mother wouldn’t?  I want what all mothers want for their children – for them to be happy, to love and be loved, to choose paths that honor the bright light that is them, and nothing else.  ADHD doesn’t change any of that, it just makes the road a bit more thorny than others.  There are a few more dips in the road.  But dips in the road only make your legs stronger, in the end.

But for me – for me alone, I wouldn’t choose any differently. I have learned so much on this journey.  For starters, it put me in my place.  It slapped me across the face and showed me that I’m not half the mom I thought I was.  And then it yanked me back onto my feet and told me to get working.  In the end, who knows?  Perhaps I will actually be a better mom for having trudged through this particular forest.  It taught me patience, and how to pick my battles.  It brought me friends – other moms who have the same fears and frustrations and breaking points.

It also is my real-life story of not judging until you’ve walked a mile in her shoes.  Miss Lady At The Party, I really do wish that what you said was true.  I wish it were true for every child who truly struggles with ADHD and other learning disabilities, because it would make it so much easier to fix.  And you know what?  I don’t know what your story is, and maybe you have a personal experience with a teacher that led you to form the belief you did.  But for me, and the other mamas out there who fight this with their sons and daughters, please don’t tell us it’s because of a lack of parenting or a lack of discipline.

My sweet child and I are walking through this snarly, bramble-filled path together.  And it is exactly because of parenting, that we will be just fine in the end.

 

A letter to my middle schooler August 21, 2012

Filed under: Parenting,Teenager — hiddenblessing @ 9:53 pm
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My sweet boy,

This letter has been keeping me up at night, begging me to write to you.  I wake up in the dark of the night, and all I can think about are all of the things I want to say to you as I watch you grow into the wonderful, strong young man that you are.  I am so proud of you.  I have always been insanely proud of you – you are so good inside.  You are filled with so many wonderful traits that sometimes all I can do is fall to my knees and thank God for giving me such an exquisite gift as he did, the day he gave me you.

Middle school is a weird time for kids.  You want so much to be cool and accepted, and fit in with the right kids.  To look right, act right, and not do anything embarrassing.  But inside, all of these things are coming up; exciting, nerve-wracking, drama-filled things.  Stressful things.  It’s exciting and fun and scary and depressing and quite honestly, a giant muddle of mixed-up craziness.  You are half child and half adult, and sometimes that makes you feel one way and sometimes it makes you feel another.  Sometimes, it’s both.  That’s ok.  Pick what feels right for that situation.  Soon enough, it will become easier and you will leave the little stuff behind.  But don’t let worrying about it weigh you down.  Sometimes you won’t know what to do.  Sometimes, you’ll just feel silly.  Other times, sad.  Sometimes you will feel giddy and emotional and sometimes, you will just feel stressed.

I want you to know, that 100%, forever and ever and ever, my darling boy, your stress is my stress.  I have your back.  Always.  I might freak out and lecture you (I’m working on getting better at this) but at the end of the day, no matter what, I am on your team.  The things that hurt you, hurt me.  The things that worry you, worry me.  You can come to me, day or night, and know that I am always willing to listen.  Tell me that it’s important, and I will put down the computer, or send home my friends, or cancel my date night with dad, or whatever I need to do  and we will sort through it.  Your problems are my problems, and together, sweetheart, we will work out anything.

As a little boy, my darling, you were always the sweetest child.  I have never met a child who had so much compassion and understanding of other human beings as you did.  You were polite, you were kind, you were loving, you were gentle, and you always, always, put other people ahead of yourself.

That is a beautiful trait.  One you should be proud of.  But don’t let it allow people to walk all over you either.  Save the people that you choose to give that kindness to, to be ones who are worth it.  You are going to meet a lot of people on your journeys to manhood.  A lot of them will not be worth your energy.  So if someone hurts you or belittles you, or doesn’t want to hang out with you, that’s ok.  They aren’t for you. You will find friends and people that are worth your love and your energy.  Go ahead and enjoy those that are fun to be around, when you are around them, and let them go when they go.

There is a poem out there about friends being there for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  I don’t think there is necessarily a way to know exactly which way they are there for you, except to say that when you look back, it will be obvious.  I’ve had four friends, so far, that are there for a lifetime: your dad, Aunt W, Super Nikki, and my friend, L, who you haven’t met.  I have had a lot that were there for a season… I had a best friend in grades 4 and 5, another for grades 6-10 and one in between, in grades 7 and 8.  Those short friendships were my “seasons”.  My “lifetimes” are easy: L was there my whole life, Aunt W from senior year on, and Darling Nikki since we moved here.  I am blessed, sweet boy.  But think of the hundreds of people I have known, who have come and gone, in all of those years.  I’ve had a LOT of friends who just happened to be exactly what I needed at that time in my life, but when that situation was done, we all moved on.  These are the “reasons” friendships. You are going to find this to be true as well.  So if you find someone that you feel deep inside is worthy of your friendship, offer it to them wholeheartedly.  But if, for whatever reason, they don’t return that friendship in kind, don’t worry… just move on.  Remember, a reason, a season, or a lifetime.

Girls.  Oh, how I love and hate this topic.  As your mama, here’s what I want for you.  I want you to find a girl that thinks you are the handsomest, funniest, strongest, best guy that there ever was.  You will find her, someday.  But not in middle school.  And likely, not in high school.  Your dad and I were an extreme exception to the rule, believe me.  But until that day comes along, you are going to meet a ton of girls that you will fall for, and no matter how sweet, beautiful, kind, funny or loyal they are, will someday break your heart.  I am dreading that day, but it will happen.  You will break a few hearts, too.  You will leave some poor, sweet girl sobbing because she felt that she loved you, and knowing you like I do, sweetheart, this will be very hard on you.  But it’s just part of growing up.

Know this; these relationships are real.  That pounding in your heart, those sweaty hands and nervousness when you talk to her, that is all real.  And that crushing, blinding, heartbreak you will feel when those relationships end is real.  But as painful as it is, it will be over just as quickly and you will meet someone new.  You won’t believe me when you’re going through it, but it is true.  That will be true for the girls whose hearts you break too.  And even more importantly, all of those feelings you had for that girl who broke your heart will be nothing compared to when you grow up and find the one you are really meant to be with.  But… that is a topic for another letter when you are older.

My last topic that I really want to talk with you about… you are going to find yourself in situations where there are drugs and beer.  I am not even going to try to pretend that this isn’t true.  Please, please, please believe me when I say that you should not ever use drugs.  I can’t tell you how many people I have known – wonderful, kind, handsome, funny people who came from good families – who used drugs and completely destroyed their lives.  Drugs mess people up.  What starts as a fun party thing quickly turns into something that is out of their hands… the risks are just enormous, baby doll.  Young bodies, for starters, are not equipped to handle the poison that is going into their bodies.  I knew a kid who was huffing paint fumes, and died.  He was a nice kid.  His name was Adam.  I’ve known kids who smoked pot and drove, and killed a friend.  I’ve known countless kids who wound up in hospitals and I’ve known kids who’ve killed themselves because they got so depressed following drug use.  But mostly what I’ve seen, is people who just plain ruined their lives.  They never ended up going to college, they didn’t get good jobs, they had babies way too young that they couldn’t parent or afford, their skin and their teeth are ruined, and they feel hopeless… because they can’t get away from the drugs.  Think really, really hard about the choice you make if someone ever offers you drugs.  Even the “light” ones.  At the end of the day, you know what’s right and what’s wrong.

Alcohol… I know that there will be parties.  They had better be a damn long time from now!  But let’s get this out in the open now.  If you ever have a situation where you or a friend needs a ride because someone did have a beer, please call me.  We will come up with some sort of agreement, you and I, where if you trust me enough to call me and let me pick you guys up, you won’t be in trouble.  I would so much rather have you safe and have had a beer and me be a little disappointed in your choice to drink, than have you hurt or dead because you didn’t trust me.  But that’s all it would be – a little disappointed, because I was a teenager once, too, sweetheart.    

And here’s the biggest thing, my sweet baby boy, I trust you.  I trust that you have a good head on your shoulders, and at the end of the day that you will make the right decisions.  And if you don’t, if you mess up, that’s ok, too.  That’s how you learn.  And it’s my job to help you pick up those pieces that are the fallout of the wrong choice and maybe turn them another way to help you see how to fix it.  Mistakes are a part of life.  I still make mistakes, and I’m still trying to learn how to do it all right, the first time.

These years are going to be so much fun for you.  Live and love every single second of them.  Laugh when you want to, cry when things hurt but above all, enjoy RIGHT NOW.  Don’t worry about next year, or five years from now, or when you are an adult.  (Well, except for good grades.  Do that.  Swim hard.  Get a scholarship. 🙂 ) You will be grown up before you know it.  Before I know it!  And I want you to remember every single second of these years.  They are so much fun.

I love you, my boy.  There is nothing that you could ever, ever, ever do that would ever change that.  My love for you isn’t something that you will ever have to work for, earn, or deserve.   It just is.  Always has been.  And always, always will be.