Are you Mom to a teenage daughter?
Are you looking for connection, encouragement, and tips on how to navigate these crazy teen girl years?
Then grab your camera and your coffee, and join us!
Ever have a moment where everything around you just seems to freeze, and you hear the voice of your heart speaking as clear as day to you? I had that moment early last month, and it’s the reason why I’m back here blogging.
Let me back up a bit. To the week when everything came to a head. The week when my 12 year old daughter shared with me some of the struggles she’s been having at school. (isn’t middle school just the best???) The same week my teaching contract came up for next year, and the question of whether to continue in the classroom or return to my passion resurfaced. The week when all three of my worlds collided, and then settled into a peaceful clarity.
I’m sure many of you can relate to the truth that being a mom is insanely hard! From the moment our kids arrive, we are a basket of emotions, in love with them in a way we’ve never known, exhausted to a degree we’ve never experienced, worried like we never knew we could worry. But this. This tween and teenage phase, particularly with a daughter. Well, this is a whole different kind of beast!
My mother warned me about this (a story for another post), but I really had no idea. Raising a young lady is hard! One minute my heart is aching over whether she is happy or lonely or afraid, and the next minute I’m doing everything in my power not to lose it on her as she sasses me for absolutely no reason! Who is this girl? Where did my sweet baby go? Why does she hate me? Oh, wait, now she loves me? Why does she think she’s ugly? Who told her that? Why doesn’t she see what I see?
The questions, the uncertainties, they are endless.
I know you know what I’m talking about.
So during that week, when the perfect storm of parenting, passion, and profession erupted, I was able to see it for the gift that it was. Earlier in the week, when my mind swirled around the question of whether to continue teaching or not, I had jotted these thoughts onto a Post It note: “Had no plans to teach. What’s changed? Is this an opportunity? Am I afraid of business or of trying?”
Not one day later, my daughter stood crying in my arms sharing her experience of loneliness at school. I stood in our kitchen, holding her, and crying with her, and I felt so thankful that I could at least just be there in that moment. Then I remembered that I was free from teaching the next day, and suggested I take her out for lunch. The relief on her face, and relaxing of her body in my arms was instant. I was able to rescue her, even just for a moment, and we were both grateful.
It was just a brief rescue, but it was precious. We grabbed a quick lunch the next day, smiled and laughed a lot, and I was able to bring her back to school fill with love, and the assurance that I’d be waiting for her after school. We hugged and she hurried off, knowing this would not be an everyday thing, but that it was in perfect timing. It reminded me of how much my kids still need me, and how much I want to be there for them.
While organizing past business files, I came across some brainstorming I had done less than one year ago, titled “Fifty Questions to Find My Passion”. About halfway through the list, I found it. The answer to a question about what I dislike doing. It said, “I don’t like staying up late for dorm duty, although I like the girls. I hate teaching English, never want to do it again.”
Woah. When did I forget this?
In that moment, it all sort of fell together, my passions, my purposes, my plans. Somehow I had found myself doing something I never intended to do again. I knew why I had accepted the job, agreed to help out my community when they needed help. But why was I going to pursue it further? I don’t care for the subject I teach. No, what draws me to teaching is always the students. I don’t love teaching English. But I do love teaching.
This revelation, coming on the heels of time spent with my daughter, following the hesitation over walking away from my business, was peaceful yet powerful. I knew I was ready to try again.
Which brings me here with you, today. Thomas Edison once said, “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to just try one more time.” That’s what I’m doing, with my business, with my parenting, with my life. I’m just trying again.
My passions in life are simple. I love my family, and my sweet sassy daughter. I love taking pictures of people. And I love teaching. I do. I don’t love teaching English, but I love teaching. I love sharing what I know, what I don’t know, what I’m learning myself. So here I am, doing all three.
Trying each day to be a mom, a photographer, a teacher, a woman, a friend.
If that resonates with any part of who you are, then come take this walk with me. Let’s learn about parenting our daughters. Let me teach you how to use photography to empower your daughter (and yourself!). Be encouraged to try along with me.
Let’s never be afraid to fail. Let’s just be afraid to not try.
Looking forward to our journey together.
"Brady, do you know who I am?"
My sweet little girl looked at me and scrunched up her forehead, rubbing it hard with the palm of her hand. She looked frustrated and confused, and very scared. She could not answer me. She could not speak to me. I could tell that she knew me, but she could not say it. Mom.
That moment was the beginning of five of the longest hours of my life, when my sweet little girl had a partial seizure, stripping her of her speech and her motor skills. That moment was just this past weekend, a long weekend watching my daughter lose a part of herself, then slowly come back to us day by day. She and I spent three long days in the hospital, while doctors and nurses poked and prodded her, running tests to rule out everything from meningitis to stroke. We cried together, snuggled a lot, and eventually got back to laughing and talking together, while our boys came to visit and took care of things at home.
And after what felt like an eternity, my little girl and I left that hospital and went home, back to the love of our family and friends, and two brothers who were thrilled to have their sister back.
I can say with certainty that I will never ever forget this past weekend. But not just because it aged Scott and me at least 10 years each. I know that I will look back at this weekend having learned some major lessons. Lessons that really sink in when they're coming from your eleven year old daughter.
The last few months have been a bit overwhelming for us. I won't get into specifics here, but the state of our country has been the topic of conversation on many mornings, and many nights in our house. I'm sure many of you can say that as well, no matter what side of the issues you find yourself on. And it's been easy to let the struggles around us infiltrate the emotions within us. It's hard to get through a day without wondering what's happening to our country, or worrying about the future of our children.
But oh how quickly that perspective changes when you're staring into the eyes of your frightened little girl as she struggles to form words. Everything outside that room vanished, and my whole world was right there in her scared blue eyes. I held her face in my hands and told her over and over not to worry, that it would all come back to her, that she would come back. And she did. At around 10pm that night, she looked up at me and mumbled, "I love you, Mommy". And everything was absolutely perfect.
I know that the world will never be the perfect place for my children. It will never be safe enough or good enough for them. But as long as they are with me, they are our world, and they make my world good enough.
This weekend was certainly a lesson in remembering the precious gifts that are right inside my home. But I believe this weekend also taught me the importance of balance. As I spent every waking moment (and most of those moments I should have been sleeping!) by Brady's side, holding her hand as she cried, praying for her as they stuck her with needles, holding her close, I lost touch with the outside world. All those conversations about the state of the country and the world just went away. I had no idea what was going on outside our little hospital room, and outside our family.
This felt good. For a while. And I felt tempted to stay in our little bubble. After all, everyone was ok, my daughter needed only to be held by me, and our boys came day after day to make her laugh, to hold her hand, and to give me love and support. Our seizure scare turned into a family love fest, and it was tempting to let the weight of the outside world fall away.
But that's my privilege talking. I happen to live in a way that allows me the temptation to turn my back on the outside world and dive head first into my little bubble. I wear the "right" color skin, love the "right" gender, and worship the "right" God. I am seeped in privilege. And so while this weekend was really scary, it was also a reminder that I can't run away to my bubble. I can certainly escape the reality of today in order to hold my children close and protect them as best I can. But if I really want to do my best for my children, I have to teach them about life outside the bubble. Choosing to live comfortably and safely inside our loving little bubble might make things easier for us, but choosing to step outside that bubble might help make things better for others.
Finding the balance is important.
This weekend was so not fun. But still, whenever friends ask how I am doing, my answer is that I am doing GREAT! Because Brady is doing great. Because it could have been worse. So much worse. Because we got such great care. Because we were surrounded by the most amazing friends, who scooped up our boys, and took care of everything. Because Brady did the right thing at school when she felt her arm go tingly. Because she was smart enough to get help. Because her teachers and school nurses did everything right. Because we happened to get the most amazing neurologist to take care of her. Because the nurses were so friendly and fun, and one was even this wicked awesome Patriots fan! Because my Brady girl came back to me. Just like I knew she would.
Yes, I am exhausted. Yes, I lost it a few times over the course of the weekend. Sure, I never ever ever want to go through that again. But I can't help but be thankful for how it all turned out. I know I'm one of the lucky ones. I know that every minute of every day, I have a LOT to thank God for.
And so I'm chalking this weekend up to one I will definitely never forget.
Whether or not that's for good or for bad, I'm thinking that's a matter of perspective, but right now, I'm leaning toward the good.