When you were born everyone said how much of HIM you were. You were daddy through-and-through. You gravitated to him too. There’s some magnetic, cosmic pull between you and your father. He is all love and goodness and peace. This is a good thing.
But on the few nights you were sick and I was holding you, cradling you while the world was hours into being settled, I’d hold you and stare. I'd always marvel at those six sweet dots that were nesting between your high cheekbones and your nose, just under your green eyes.
Those six freckles were me. You did indeed get something from me. I felt proud! Something innocent and sweet, something you will try to cover up with all the foundation in the world for years, until one sunny day you realize – you just don’t care anymore. That being uniquely you is the most beautiful thing to "show off".
You will let those six sweet freckles glow and you will jump in.
You’re crying again and you don’t know why. Yesterday it happened before school, today you had to leave class and go to the nurse’s office. You had her call me.
“You okay baby? Did you get in a fight with someone?” I asked you, almost at a whisper.
“No.” you said, offering nothing more.
I asked and asked and all you could say was that "you didn’t know why" you were crying, you just were and you didn’t know what to do.
“My God,” I thought. She did get more than those six freckles from me. For the first time, you were all mine.
Some of this is me. You came from my womb, and some is just part of be a woman and ALIVE. You will be a feeler, no matter how tough you try to act in your teens and you will be a lover, no matter how many times love spits at you. You will be visual and creative. Gentle. You will be able to feel emotions from every single person in a room until you feel like you are drowning in something that isn’t yours. That’s not fair!? No, perhaps it isn’t. Life is not fair. No one said we were entitled to a fair trial down here. Regardless, I do believe there's a reason. You must feel.
I gave you some tips and you went back to class. Only twenty minutes before the school called me again. You wanted to come home. My first thought was a four letter word. It starts with an eff. I didn’t know what to do. This is the first in the realm of parenting the heavy stuff. What do I do?
But my gut took over and I told the nurse to tell you to rely on the tips I gave you on the phone and to go back to class and I’d see you over the hill in a few hours. Just a few hours. That’s all you must do.
And then I prayed for you, over and over until my heart was black and blue.
I didn’t come to get you because I knew that coming to get you would teach you nothing. You know I am here for you. It wouldn’t teach you that you have a safe place and that you can tell me anything. You know this already.
But it would lend you an escape from the inexplicable things, emotions, tears, joy that we must push through in order to discover who we are as women. This is part of the conversation we have with the universe. I can’t stop that.
Who we are in this world is directly related to what was thrown at us, how we felt it and how we reacted. I can give you tips, but I can't do the rest for you mama bear.
What were you meant to do? Why did God put you here? These questions will haunt you as long as you live and you must show up and take part in the conversation. The conversation is that feeling in your gut that you can’t quite “get” right now. It’s big! So big and overwhelming and then when you begin to understand, you learn how brilliant it is, and how important you are...beautiful! Who am I to stop that?
I do know that God put me here to nurture you through that, no matter how hard it is to NOT run and scoop you up to the safety of our little home.
If I have learned anything from my adversities, from these feelings, it’s that running from them doesn’t work and that they are there for very good reason. This is happening so that you know which way to go in the future, what to do, what God wants of you. Let it lead you, gently.
You can’t see it now but this is direction and divine.
I couldn’t come to get you because it wouldn’t be saving you. I’d be cheating you out of your journey.
Zoe, you have to learn to cry. You have to listen to sad songs. You have to endure raging hormones, turning tides, and mean people. You have to learn how to push through despite the emotion. You have to let your emotions, in a controlled, non-barbaric way, speak to you.
How will you use them? Will you let this feeling in the pit of your stomach teach you, connect you to humanity? My God I pray you do.
In order to be a healthy, whole woman, you must. It’s not a ride your mother can take for you. But when in doubt, remember what I did when I felt. I cried. I wrote. I volunteered to help others, I used that sad part to connect with others, I used the happy parts too. I always got back up, even when I needed help standing. You. You were the reason I kept getting up. You taught me to stand. How awful would I be if I took this time, this turn, from you?
It's time for to stand sweetheart. Stand up. Stand for something meaningful. Show up even when it hrts because it's the right thing to do. Stand up for those who can't. And come back, regardless.
Maybe you will read this when I’m gone. Maybe you will still be pissed about "that" day, years ago, when I said you had to stick it our for three more hours, and maybe you will bump into this and will understand in a way you couldn’t when you were on the verge of becoming a teen – so I’m saying it now because I love you. I don’t care if you are 11 or 63, I want you to know that I made you stick it out for great reason, and because I loved you, and I dare not cheat you out of all you are worth.
The hardest thing we will ever face in this world is what we ought to be. My entire life I didn’t know why I was here or whether I was important. I wanted to be important to someone. I wanted to love and be loved. And I FELT. I can’t tell you how many journals I have had since the third grade. I was always feeling.
I didn’t have parents who would bail me out at school, but I had parents who I could talk to when I got home. They’d give me every ounce of encouragement to go back the next day and be as strong as I could be – in whatever form that took. They taught me to show up. I’d get knocked down, and I’d show up the next day. Repeat.
The shape I took was kindness. I tried as hard as I could to help others when I couldn't get over that heavy feeling deep inside. I'd simply help someone else in any way I could. That was just in me. I am grateful.
That was my life, this series of events and feelings and reactions. That is what wrote my story and made me a writer. That is what scarred me and made me impenetrable. That's what made me your mother and daddy my husband. It's what made our life together! No one can take my joy like they could when I was ten. That is all because I faced my feelings, I faced the world, and I tried. I used them later to propel me toward my calling.
Use this, learn, become.
Today, I needed you to try because otherwise every time you FEEL, you’d be a runner. I don’t want you to be a runner mama bear. Life is going to knock you down, and I pray you keep getting up and that you keep showing up, regardless of how hard you were hit and how heavy the betrayal of the person who threw that punch. Figuratively of course.
You are a peaceful warrior. You are here for great purpose. Sometimes finding our purpose takes the greatest the courage we could ever imagine. You have to be brave. You have to not give a fudge. You have to STAY. You have to truly KNOW that God put you here for great purpose and be determined to find that purpose. All those times you felt and showed up will be money in the bank, or fuel in the tank, a GPS of sorts.
Feeling, facing feelings, will give you the direction and the workout you need to get to that place that is left to be unearthed. What kind of mother would I be if I took that from you?
Life goes up and down, like the tides. We’re all these tiny roller coasters and we have to know when we are at our highest – throw your arms up in the air – and when the low is coming – hold on for dear life. Pray.
How we react to those ups and downs, how we react while FEELING determines who we will be. You will be and do great things if you pay attention to the feeling and know what to do with it. You will be empathetic and know what it’s like to be whole. Life is not authentic if you only know the laughter; the authentic self acknowledges the good and the bad.
I wanted you to begin your journey to being your authentic self. You are visual and kind. You create. You are funny as heck. You are beautiful. You include everyone. You are considerate and can feel when others hurt. You pray with me for people you have never met and you take it seriously. You rap like a genius. You’re LOUD. And sometimes, you cry and you don’t know why.
You have to take a seat and show up to figure the WHY part out. Refusing to pick you up was encouraging you to take a seat, and try to face those feelings. I was trying to show you that you are meant to stay, to listen, and to return. I was praying this would be the beginning of answering that “why you are here” part of life. The unfolding of what the universe has in store. I know your tears. I know you are ME now. And I know you can do this if you show up and pay attention. The universe is talking to you. For some reason, I knew if I picked you up, I’d be interrupting the beginning of the most meaningful conversation you will ever have.
Sweet, sweet girl. The world needs you to show up, even when it’s hurting.