Signs of Life Days Four and Five

One of the first things I did after setting up my dorm room in the fall of 1996 is go to the student newspaper office and inquire about becoming a staff writer. I was a journalism student and it was time to start collecting bylines.

A handful of very good things happened on account of my student newspaper experience. I learned how to write a solid lede, how to fill unsold ad space with PSAs, and that writing a feature story was more enjoyable than writing a news story.

I also met two ladies who would bolster my life for many years to come. These names and faces are not foreign to you if you know me in real life or have read this blog for any period of time. Susan and Lesli have been permanent fixtures in my life since our friendship solidified on a 1998 trip to New York City for a journalism conference.

Together we have been through every up and down, every twist and turn that can happen in a 20-year span, and since we haven’t lived in the same city since our college days, we’ve relied on letter writing and phone calls (that turned into emailing and text messages) to arrange the thrice-annual Girls Weekend.

We’ve had dozens of them:

Girls Weekend protocol is simple: Get to the location, decide on food, and catch up on all the things we don’t send in emails and texts. This translates to hours of conversation, very late nights, and many cups of coffee.

This weekend we met at Susan’s house and it was as predictable as ever, which is exactly what we hope for. Lesli and I arrived at her house by dinner time on Friday and we were home in time for the Super Bowl on Sunday. All the stuff in between was goodness.

What’s important for you to know here is that the three of us are not clones of one another. We do not hold all the same beliefs and ideas, and the decisions I make may not be the decisions Susan or Lesli would make, and vice versa. Yet, in this trio, we say things we don’t say elsewhere and we support one another no matter what.

This election season has proven to be a divisive one for many people, and it’s the reason I started the Signs of Life blog series. And while there is diverse political thought among the three of us, we agree on one important thing: Life is too short and too unpredictable to go through it without one another. 

This Girls Weekend reminded me that I have a cheering section, a support group, and a fan club. It reminded me that I am a cheerleader, a supporter, and a great big fan of two fabulous women. This morning I sit in a place of deep gratitude that we have one another.

Signs of Life is a blog series I’m writing for February 2017. It was born out of desire to replace the negativity and despair that’s been bogging down our friendships, families, and communities after a tumultuous election season. This series won’t solve the world’s problems, but I hope it will create a speck of light and positivity when and where it is needed. 

Wherein I prepare my heart for the next phase

I have never been the mother who says things like, “Time slow down!” or “My babies are growing up too fast!” Not once have I felt like time was spinning at an unnatural pace. Part of that has to do with my personality, but I also recognize that our life is set up in a way that allows me oodles of time with my kids. We are together every day, all day. I’m not missing anything.

And yet, Jeremy turns 13 years old next week. As in, there will be a teenager living in this house next week. As in, I’m going to be the mom of a teenager NEXT WEEK.

Excuse me, what? 

I’m still not saying “Time slow down!” or “My babies are growing up too fast!” but instead I’m saying, “How in the world did this happen?”

Jeremy has been reminding us of his impending age for months with comments like, “In three years I’ll be driving,” and “In five years I’ll be graduating from high school,” and “Come on, can’t I stay up later? I’m practically a teenager.”

Can I start school early

Bit by bit, we’ve been letting out the reins. In fact, Chuck had been wanting to re-watch Stranger Things, and knowing that some of Jeremy’s peers watched it, I suggested, “Hey, why not watch it with Jeremy?” Yes, there’s language, yes, it’s startling, but… baby steps.

Furthermore, since he’s about to have the word “teen” in his age, he’s eligible to attend dances and social events hosted by our homeschool co-op. It’s something we’ve already talked about – how to ask a girl to a dance, whether or not to even ask a girl but instead go with friends, how girls are just as nervous about being asked as boys are nervous about doing the asking. These are conversations I knew were coming, but still.

Today we were at the orthodontist, and while we sat in the waiting room a light flickered directly above us. It jolted us from our book reading so I teased, “Maybe that’s Will in the Upside Down?” a reference to Stranger Things. Jeremy looked at me wide-eyed, then laughed, shaking his head, “Don’t joke about that!” I like that we had this between us, a banter that was above Jackson’s understanding. In that moment I liked that I had an older child to joke about something PG-13.

It’s all gonna be fine. I’m probably going to cry a little on September 8th, but it will be fine.

But man. This face…

Jeremy April 2008