Aug 142013
 

**Sister here.  Glennon — who is three weeks into her 40-day Internet fast — asked me to post her thoughts to you on this momentous day.  And also to tell you that she loves you and misses you and all things such as this.** 

You guys.

I just dropped off all three of my children for their first day of school.

The littlest one started kindergarten today, which means that for the first time in eleven years, they will all spend five full days at school. Without me. My house is empty.

The dogs are running from room to room, looking for their best friends. My bedroom is so quiet that as I type right now, I can actually hear the dishwasher running in the kitchen. I’m looking down the barrel of an eight hour day with no more babies to juggle, no nap times or play dates to schedule, no snuggling dirty little necks after lunch. No pb and js to make. No band aids or popsicles to pass out.

I don’t consider myself a particularly nostalgic mama, and so I was surprised at the rush of emotions I experienced upon leaving the school this morning. It was a little embarrassing, to tell you the truth. Because though I tried to be stoic, I just couldn’t keep it in. Before I could make it to the van, ten years of built up mama emotion spilled out onto that school sidewalk.

BA- BAM!

HELLS TO THE YEAH!!!!!

DON’T CRY FOR ME, ARGENTINA!!!!!!

I’ve always loved the “It Gets Better” campaign that some wise, gentle souls created to encourage gay youth. I think we should steal it to encourage parents of babies and toddlers.

LOOK AT ME, MAMAS OF TODDLERS. IT GETS BETTER!!!!!

I GOTTA GO! I’m off to stand in my living room NOT WAITING FOR ANYONE TO ASK ME FOR SNACKS!!!!!!

But before I go stand and not wait –  might I suggest that you read the letter below to your kids before they start back to school? I read it to mine on First Day of School Eve every year. Let’s make this the school year that kindness and courage become our top parenting priorities. Because EVERY KID in OUR kid’s class is also OUR KID. Let’s remind our children that We Belong To Each Other. And yes, feel free to  change the names and pretend you wrote the letter. That’s what all my friends do.

So much love and peace and quiet and JOY TO THE WORLD. 

************************************************

 Dear Chase,

Hey, baby.

Tomorrow is a big day. Third grade – wow.

Chase – When I was in third grade, there was a little boy in my class named Adam.

Adam looked a little different and he wore funny clothes and sometimes he even smelled a little bit. Adam didn’t smile. He hung his head low and he never looked at anyone at all. Adam never did his homework. I don’t think his parents reminded him like yours do. The other kids teased Adam a lot. Whenever they did, his head hung lower and lower and lower. I never teased him, but I never told the other kids to stop, either.

And I never talked to Adam, not once. I never invited him to sit next to me at lunch, or to play with me at recess. Instead, he sat and played by himself. He must have been very lonely.

I still think about Adam every day. I wonder if Adam remembers me? Probably not. I bet if I’d asked him to play, just once, he’d still remember me.

I think that God puts people in our lives as gifts to us. The children in your class this year, they are some of God’s gifts to you.

So please treat each one like a gift from God. Every single one.

Baby, if you see a child being left out, or hurt, or teased, a part of your heart will hurt a little. Your daddy and I want you to trust that heart- ache. Your whole life, we want you to notice and trust your heart-ache. That heart ache is called compassion, and it is God’s signal to you to do something. It is God saying, Chase! Wake up! One of my babies is hurting! Do something to help! Whenever you feel compassion – be thrilled! It means God is speaking to you, and that is magic. It means He trusts you and needs you.

Sometimes the magic of compassion will make you step into the middle of a bad situation right away.

Compassion might lead you to tell a teaser to stop it and then ask the teased kid to play. You might invite a left-out kid to sit next to you at lunch. You might choose a kid for your team first who usually gets chosen last. These things will be hard to do, but you can do hard things.

Sometimes you will feel compassion but you won’t step in right away. That’s okay, too. You might choose instead to tell your teacher and then tell us. We are on your team – we are on your whole class’s team. Asking for help for someone who is hurting is not tattling, it is doing the right thing. If someone in your class needs help, please tell me, baby. We will make a plan to help together.

When God speaks to you by making your heart hurt for another, by giving you compassion, just do something. Please do not ignore God whispering to you. I so wish I had not ignored God when He spoke to me about Adam. I remember Him trying, I remember feeling compassion, but I chose fear over compassion. I wish I hadn’t. Adam could have used a friend and I could have, too.

Chase – We do not care if you are the smartest or fastest or coolest or funniest. There will be lots of contests at school, and we don’t care if you win a single one of them. We don’t care if you get straight As. We don’t care if the girls think you’re cute or whether you’re picked first or last for kickball at recess. We don’t care if you are your teacher’s favorite or not. We don’t care if you have the best clothes or most Pokemon cards or coolest gadgets. We just don’t care.

We don’t send you to school to become the best at anything at all. We already love you as much as we possibly could. You do not have to earn our love or pride and you can’t lose it. That’s done.

We send you to school to practice being brave and kind.

Kind people are brave people. Brave is not a feeling that you should wait for. It is a decision. It is a decision that compassion is more important than fear, than fitting in, than following the crowd.

Trust me, baby, it is. It is more important.

Don’t try to be the best this year, honey.

Just be grateful and kind and brave. That’s all you ever need to be.

Take care of those classmates of yours, and your teacher, too. You Belong to Each Other. You are one lucky boy . . . with all of these new gifts to unwrap this year.

I love you so much that my heart might explode.

Enjoy and cherish your gifts.

And thank you for being my favorite gift of all time.

Love,
Mama

Aug 292013
 

Family Picture

What’s a better sound than coffee brewing mixed with silence? That’s what I’ve got going on here this morning. It’s six am and it’s just me and you Monkees in a dark, quiet house and nothing has happened yet, so it still feels like anything is possible.

I’m amazing right now. Truly. You might be jealous if you knew what a patient, loving mother I am before my small people stumble out of their bedrooms and immediately start falling down and demanding band aids and then saying “mom.mom.Mom.MOm.MOM.MOM. MOM. MOM. MOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMM!” and then when I finally look in their general direction staring back at me blankly as if I have really put them on the spot and then when I say “PLEASE – FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY – FOCUS!” saying “maybe I wouldn’t forget what I was going to say if you would answer me the first time, MOM” and then scowling at each other and wishing each other dead for no apparent reason and then staring into the pantry for one half of one hour while complaining that there’s nothing good for breakfast (they say this with an appalled, surprised tone –as if there has ever- for one day in their lives – been “anything good for breakfast” in this house) and then “looking for their shoes” which actually means aimlessly wandering the house howling “Ican’tfindmyshoesIcan’tfindmyshoesIcan’tfindmyshoooooooooooooooes OH, look-  A BALL! A BALL that has been sitting in this corner of the family room for four years and I’ve never glanced at twice – but now. NOW. NOW that we have four more minutes till it’s time to get in the van – I must play with! I LOVE THIS BALL! while I repeat to them that “I can’t FIND MY SHOES” is something very different than “MY SHOES ARE NOT IN THE PLACE WHERE MY EYES ARE POINTED RIGHT NOW AT THIS VERY MOMENT AND I REFUSE TO BEND OVER OR EVEN SHIFT MY EYES IN ANY OTHER DIRECTION AT ALL AND THAT IS REALLY MY PROBLEM HERE – NOT THAT SOMETHING IS LOST BUT THAT MY EYE BALLS HAVE LIMITED DISCIPLINE  AND/OR SHIFTING CAPACITY AND THAT ALSO I AM LIKE A KITTEN WHO IS DISTRACTED BY COLORFUL THINGS.”

I swear-  at 6:59 it’s like one of those lovely early morning coffee commercials in my home, and then at 7:00 am (time to get up for school, angels!)-  it’s Armageddon. Actually, let us change that to Ammagedon. And so throughout this routine- all morning- I repeat to myself my favorite line from We Bought A Zoo – “Glennon, all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. And I promise you- something great will come of it. Their teachers will take them away.”

Something like that.

I’ve missed you – in the very real and true way you miss a good friend. I missed you in a “how did I do this life thing before I had them?” way. About the fast- I’ll tell it to you straight- I secretly hoped that this fast would be the time that I Finally Figured Out Myself and Discovered The Secret of Life. Like, by retreating – I’d learn why I’m such a spaz, and I’d find a way to cut it out. I’d train myself to just stop crashing through life and coast a bit. And then I’d come back here and tell you what I learned and we’d all be so happy that we figured out what makes life so hard and messy and exhausting. And we could fix it. We could all change our We Can Do Hard Things signs to We Can Fix Hard Things And So Now We’re Done With All That Crap And We’re Relaxing Out Back signs. So, during my fast I did things that some of my wisest friends do, hoping I’d learn whatever it is that they know that I don’t seem to know. I did yoga four times a week. I meditated. I spent quality time with people I like. I went to church. I continued marriage therapy and started individual therapy (poor, poor therapist lady). I ate healthy and slept well and worked hard and read a million good books and showed up for scary things and thought good thoughts and on and on.

Okay, you guys. Instead of figuring out All of the Things, I figured out None of the Things. After 40 days- I am still the same. Life is still the same. I don’t get it. I don’t know why it didn’t work. In my most honest moments – I wonder if the problem might be that I cheated every once in a while. But if I didn’t learn All The Things because of a little harmless fast-cheating, I find that annoying. I mean, God knows me and so certainly God knew when we were planning this fast thing together that I’d cheat- because that’s just the kind of person I am. Everybody who knows me knew I’d cheat. I’M A MONKEE, NOT A MONK. Big difference. And so, in my humble opinion, God should have worked AROUND my less-than-fully-developed-sense-of-integrity. God should have found a way to teach me All The Things in spite of me. With all due respect, God, if you can’t do that- I’m not sure I can help you.  I can’t pull ALL the weight around here, God. Work with a sister. Help ME, Help YOU.

Monkees – DID YOU MISS ALL OF OUR CAPS AND GROSSLY OVERUSED AND ABUSED ITALICS AND BOLDNESS?????

As always, I still have hope. In general- I believe that I know NOTHING. But then I sit down and write and some things come out and I’m like – HUH. From where did THAT little wisdom nugget come? It’s like I have no idea what I know until I start writing. Who was it that said “I write to know what I think?” I like that. It’s better than my “I write because I have nothing else to do since I accidently locked myself out of Facebook again and I’m too embarrassed to ask Sister to text me my password for the third time this week.”

So maybe that’s what’s going on here. Maybe I learned some things but I just don’t know it yet. Maybe if I just show up- if I just sit down each morning again and start typing  – we will all find out that I did learn some things from the fast after all and then we can all apologize to God for being so overly critical and accusatory and rude. Seriously, you guys, try to show some respect. God is very busy. Also, I am told that God works in mysterious ways which I would say is just a really, seriously, humungous and egregious understatement and also just a little too general to really help me understand anything at all. It’s not an explanation – it’s a nonplanation. It’s like- instead of going through all the trouble to say that thing- people should really just shrug their shoulders. Same/Same.

OKAY. Tomorrow I shall begin telling you everything I was thinking about during the fast. For now- how are you? Tell me. Not how you Fake are but how you Really are.

Love and yay and we’re back and let’s do this year together.

G

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