Friday, August 30, 2013

Dear children, be total rebels!

Dear Child of Mine,

I am writing this letter to encourage you to be an all-out, no-holds-barred rebel.
A person who doesn't give a second thought about someone else's judgement.
A person who defies the entire world and walks their own way.
A person who is startling brave about being different in every way.
I want you, my child, the work of my life, to be the best rebel that you can be.

I want you to be the ultimate outsider. 
A leader who needs no followers.
A person that doesn't just march to a different beat, but to an entirely different drum.

I look back on my childhood and everything I did to try to be a rebel and then I take a moment to snore at myself. 
I wasn't rebelling. I was picking up the playbook and following it word by predictable word.
I was doing everything possible to be exactly like every idiotic person around me.
I was not a rebel. I was a lemming.

But you- I want more for you. No running over a cliff into the cold, raging ocean for my child.
You are in every way too awesome for that.

Pierce everything?
Curse like a sailor?
Parade yourself as sex object?
Spend eight hours on youtube laughing at morons?
Get drunk with your friends?
Shoplift something you didn't even want from Walmart?

Snooze fest.
Cookie cutter of every 
wannabe who tried to be a rebel.
If you did everything on that list
 it would make you like millions of other kids.
You are describing a coward. 
Someone so scared to be different
 they go straight to the middle of the pack
 where they get trampled.

You don't fit that box.

A rebel shocks people.
A rebel is something they are not expecting.
Something they can't stomach or accept.

I look at the people around me and I see the rebels. I notice them.
They stand up in a crowd, never knowing if anyone else will stand with them, and say what they believe.
They don't laugh and nod at a story that makes them uncomfortable. They express an opinion.
You know, an opinion is one of those things that brave people, and only brave people have, even when it is monumentally inconvenient.
They don't spare themselves ridicule or take the easy way.
A rebel believes in something.
A rebel stands out from the world.

Today a rebel is a young man or woman who puts down his/her phone and talks to someone who looks lonely.
A rebel is a student in a class who asks a questions when they don't understand because they want to be smart.
Or who answers a question when the protocol is to look bored and make the teacher feel stupid.
You want to see a rebel? Find me a young person who respects his parents. Find me one who helps at home. Who protects his siblings. Who serves his community.
Find me a kid who isn't in bed holding his phone, but kneeling beside his bed saying a prayer.
Can you imagine the stares? If people knew?!
Can you imagine the faces of teenagers if one of their friends said, "I love my family. My parents are great."

A rebel today is a clear face, intelligent eyes, and hands busy with meaningful work.
A rebel is someone who questions their motives, examines their heart, and tries to do what is good, even when it feels very bad.
A rebel believes that they have control over their life.
A rebel owns their choices.
A rebel doesn't care what they are handed- only what they make out of it.
A rebel won't be a victim.

Dear Child of Mine,
I've trained you to be one thing. From the time you were little and I wouldn't let you watch the Disney channel because I didn't want you to learn to sassy and sarcastic.
Since the moment I told you that I knew everyone else was going to the skating party but we were still going to church.
Or that you couldn't wear a short skirt even if every other girl had one.
I was giving you the tools to be a rebel.
Not a shallow, stupid, rebel wannabe.
A real one.
A strong one.
A life-changing one.

And then in kindergarten, when you left the pack of cheerleaders to walk with the girl who had Spina Bifida because you didn't want her to walk alone, and it took so long to get around the block that all the popsicles were gone by the time we got back to the school parking lot, I knew what I had on my hands.

A rebel.
You go, Child of Mine. You show 'em. 
They will laugh at you, exclude you, pick you apart, and in the end-
wish they were you.
My rebel.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Motherhood needs no subsidy

I'm driving down the road of my life, pretty certain of the route and destination until a roadblock, a street not on the map, a detour.
For the past year I thought that I was helping to inspire moms by showing them that I could love my job as a mother and chase big, creative dreams at the same time.
I thought that my book popping up on bookshelves would make mothers feel bigger or more possible.

I think I got it wrong. Maybe just by a little, but by enough.
Motherhood doesn't need a subsidy of "other" accomplishments.
I don't need to say I am a homemaker and an author.
You don't need to say I am a mother and a caterer.
Or I am a mother and I volunteer at the hospital.
You are a mother.
I am a mother.
And the world had never, ever needed us like it needs us now.
It has never needed us to stand more proud of our roles as mothers.

So many mothers conquer so many mountains. So many fight the battles alone.
Find me a stronger person than a mother who weeps in loneliness at night and wakes her children with a smile in the morning. I defy you to discover the equal of her courage.

While some people gather medals for their victories in careers and accomplishments, a mother never leaves the trenches.
She doesn't have time to tack a badge to her uniform because she is working.
I don't have time to write out a fancy resume of everything I can do and everything I am worth because I am busy holding up the entire world.
The entire world.
The weight of disappointment, discovery, knowledge, rejection, self-worth, self-doubt, faith and skepticism is crashing down on my children every day.
Every day they see the news and need to understand why the people are crying, why the children are hungry, why their friends got mad, why their homework is hard, why they can't have the lead in the play, why we all believe different things, why someone is poor, why someone is famous, why the bad people seem happy, or the good people don't get the help they need.
Huge, crippling, exciting questions. Crashing. Crashing down on their tender, innocent heads.
And I am their mother.
And it is not just the tough things. They need me as desperately for the wonderful things. They would fight their way through jungles and soldiers to show me what they painted. They yell for me to come look whenever something is cute or funny or beautiful. They need my smile, my nod, my comment, my approval. Not want it. Need it to understand what is great about life.
I am their tour guide through this madness.

I must teach them to fight for  joy because it is a struggle.
I must be an example of courage when I am scared.
I must stay calm when they need stitches and stay in control when the toilet overfloweth.
In every situation, at every movie, every conversation, every interaction, their little faces turn to me and watch for cues. Is this good? Is this bad? How does Mom feel about it?
And I must pick up this entire world that I don't understand and I must keep it from crushing them. I must hand it to them answer by answer, moment by moment until they are strong enough to carry it themselves.
When the confusion and exhaustion overwhelm me I cannot quit, retire, go on vacation or take time off.
I am a mother.
We are mothers.
I am not a writer who followed her dream and caught it when I published a book. I am a mother who followed her dream and caught it when I first held my children.
I am a mother who wrote her daughters a story.
I am a mother who will keep writing her daughters stories.
How wonderful for me that a few people have joined our storytime and let me read to them, as well.
And when they drift away and lose interest, that is all right because I have two little girls and I am their coach and we have a lot to get done. Every day is non-stop, intense training as they learn how to lift up the entire world.
They will need it someday soon when they are mothers.
I am not an author raising two children.
I am a mother telling stories.
I am a mother.
Destination reached.