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



Carry On, Warrior
Author of the New York Times Bestselling Memoir CARRY ON, WARRIOR
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  184 Responses to “It Gets Better”

  1. […] It Gets Better by Glennon Doyle Melton at Momastery […]

  2. Hi Glennon,
    Just wanted to thank you for this beautiful letter- I adapted it and read it to my daughter (age 4) this week. She attends a Co-op preschool, and I was a parent helper in her class on the first day of school. I saw her sitting by herself at the art table during class and went over to see what she was up to… she had collected all the leftover hearts from the teacher’s project and was very meticulously coloring each one. She then told me that she was going to give one to each of her classmates “in case anyone was mean or teased them- so they would know they had a friend.” And she did just that. Without a word, she went around the room handing out tiny, hand colored hearts to each student. I just about cried it was so beautiful to watch. I wanted you to know what a difference your letter is making in the world… one tiny person at a time. I wish I could attach the photos I took, but I don’t think I can here. Anyway, thank you so much. I am so grateful for the beauty in your heart and your willingness to share it with all of us.
    Blessings, Megan

  3. I’m really new to your blog, Glennon, but what a joy. I wanted to share that I read your letter to my oldest last night as he started Kindergarten. About halfway through the letter he started to say he didn’t want to hear the rest, but I pressed on and we both ended up crying. We had a great talk about being kind and he even brought it up again this morning. Thank you for such a wonderful vehicle to teach kindness.

  4. […] post, I wasn’t sure whether to camp out in nostalgic-how-did-my-babies-get-so-big, or to join Glennon in the ranks of “hallelujah! Free at last!” I offer my story, which is a combination of […]

  5. […] and I read a great piece by my fellow Sigma Kappa sister, Glennon Doyle Melton of Momastery, about the first day of school. […]

  6. […] Sunday night, First Day of School Eve, I made homemade lasagna for dinner because it’s always a crowd pleaser.  My family sat down to the table, prayed about school the next day and started chowing down.  We chatted about our kids’ hopes for the school year, if they were scared about anything, etc.  Then I had decided that I was going to do my own version of Glennon Melton’s letter to her son. […]

  7. Thanks for the post – glad to know G is having fun and making the most of her ‘time off.’ I love the shirt she’s wearing in those pix – where can I get one??? Thanks again for sharing your life with us!

  8. come back glennon! I miss your posts;) and these pix are so funny. i’m dying. yes, thank god, it gets better. I like this quote, “life doesn’t get easier, you just get better”

  9. I have a question for SISTER. Since she is around while Glennon is gone.
    My sister is an alcoholic. Watching her self-destruct is really painful, and frankly, very scary. I do not at all have confidence that she will survive any number of life-threatening things before hopefully finding sobriety. She has shared with me that she has been raped multiple times during blackouts.
    So, SISTER, what does a sister do? I know I can’t control her drinking.
    But what about making it through my own pain and grief of watching a loved one go through so much. How did you do it?
    Any advice is welcome.
    I just did this with my husband, who is so far 10 months sober after struggling to gain sobriety for 3 years. It was a long journey, but fundamentally different because it was not a familial relationship, it was one I could choose to walk away from, we are peers (my sister is 10 years younger) and I had a tight, day-to-day relationship with him.
    Anyway, you’d think I would have learned a lot, but somehow with my baby sister it all seems really different and I’m lost.
    Thanks for listening.

    • Lori, I happened to be reading the letter above and then your post. I work in the addictions field and have great compassion for your worry, pain, struggle with the addiction your family members are struggling with. You may already know of this resource for families, but Alanon meetings in your community could be a place for you to find support and certainly others who have struggled with many of the same worries and emotions you are feeling. I suspect there are also therapists in your community who specialize in addiction who may be great support as you struggle with your sister’s process. Take good care of yourself,

      Laura

  10. I MISS YOU!!! And, I can TOTALLY relate! After 16 years of having a kid, or two, or three at home I AM FREE for SIX whole hours five days a week!!! Is that bad? Nope. It’s a long, hard, road, but it does get better! I see mommas with young children in Target and I just grin and sigh. I’m alone in TARGET! And, I can be alone in Target for SIX whole hours if I want to!!!

  11. Just HAD to share! I read the Adam story to my kids one morning before school last week just to remind them to not sit by and watch bullying. My 63 pound tiny 11 yr old stood up to one of the “popular” girls in class when she called a new boy ” chubba flub” behind his back. The little girl realized her hurtful words, which led the girls to now name a drawing of a fat puppy ” chubba flub” instead of the new boy. Well, everyone in class wanted a pic of Chubba Flub the pup, which led to making a Chubba Flub club …and the rule that anyone can join. I am always preaching compassion to my kids and just about cried when my daughter shared this story.

  12. LOVE this post. Shared it with my husband who also cracked up. I know you’re likely to be inundated with comments when your sabbatical is over, but I had to share this anyway, in case of the small possibility that you’ll read it when you return. It reminds me of something I’d find here on Momastery:

    Listen to the MUSTN’TS, child
    Listen to the DONT’S
    Listen to the SHOULDN’TS
    The IMPOSSIBLES, the WON’TS
    Listen to the NEVER HAVES
    Then listen close to me–
    Anything can happen, child
    ANYTHING can be.

    -Shel Silverstein

    • Awesome! Love it! Definitely sharing this with my kids. My daughter is especially fond of Shel Silverstein. They share the same birthday. :)

  13. Just stopping by to say hi. Miss you G.

  14. I just miss you.

  15. Your photos are priceless! I too was at thst point this year when my baby started kindergarten, and then we decided to homeschool. :/
    Your letter is beautiful. What a gift to give your son!

  16. What a beautiful letter. So good to know your heart is in the right place.

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