Music is a powerful thing.
Think about it. The right song can evoke a beautiful, euphoric memory. It can assuage despair and provide hope and inspiration. It can even turn a morning carpool struggle into a blissful commute full of car-dancing and lip-syncing—simply by transporting you back to a happier place in time.
Earlier this month, my 13-year-old son was diagnosed with the flu for the second time this flu season. Yes, a second time. Same illness, different strain. Sigh..
So I decided to ask my fifteen-year-old daughter to make dinner.
We’ve all faced something hard in life. Death. Divorce. Depression. Alcohol and drug addiction. Aging. Illness. Financial woe. Devastating loss. The list is long. And when adversity strikes, we often hear the same words over and over again: Be strong. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. You’ve got this. You’re the strongest person I know, you’ll make it through.
But what happens when strength is not enough?
I’m currently reading a fascinating book called Soul Friends by Stephen Cope. It’s about the power of human friendships and connection. In the beginning of the book, Cope suggests making a list of people you consider to be “soul friends” (i.e., friends who have significantly impacted your life) and taking special time to reflect on how they have transformed you.
A very interesting concept, indeed.
Oh, those New Year's resolutions.
Lose the weight. Ditch the carbs. Hit the gym.
These are all great, but there’s something else that you need to start prioritizing. Something just as important as those reps you’re sweating through as your trainer screams ”five more, you can do it!” Something that might be even more valuable than consuming those heart-healthy omega 3s and leafy greens.
We talk to our teens about a lot of things. Curfews. Grades. Screen time. Saying no to drugs and alcohol. Social media. College applications. Practice schedules. The list goes on and on. Unfortunately, there is one subject that often seems to be missing.
It’s one that might surprise you. One that we, as parents, might be afraid to discuss, because it just seems so… uncomfortable. And no, it’s not sex.
I once heard someone say that a woman’s greatest fear is to become invisible, and a man’s greatest fear is to become insignificant.
As applied to marriage, this makes sense, because if my husband were to list out the things he needed (and expected) from me, I believe that the need to feel appreciated would be right at the very top.
That’s a vague—yet extremely critical—concept. Hold that thought for a moment.
I just can’t bear to read it. Another heart-breaking story that didn’t have to happen— a beautiful Texas teenager fatally shoots herself, in front of her own family, after a long-term battle with cyberbullies. Though I can’t possibly understand this tragedy, I want her parents—and others who have lost children to the tyranny of social media—to know that I truly care. And I want to do something to help. So in memory of these precious lives . . .
In this season of school application deadlines, I am frequently reminded of our society’s bittersweet love affair with achievement. It pushes us forward, drives us to set goals and meet them, and keeps us going. Achievement is attractive, and it feels good.
When my daughter was 6 years old, my mother offered to buy her a horse.
“Absolutely not.” I said.
“But she loves horses,” my mom insisted. “They’re her passion.”
“Forget it.” I huffed. And sadly, I did everything in my power to discourage my daughter from even thinking about life as an equestrian. I was scared of horses, and I didn’t like riding them. They weren’t my cup of tea.
Four years ago, I became the person that no one wants to be. I was the “divorced” friend—the humiliated, suddenly-single mother of three confused children, ages 10 and under.
I’ll spare you the gut-wrenching details of my time in this emotional blender, because what you really need to know are ways that you can help someone in a similar situation—and ways to avoid causing even more pain.
What we need now in the world of parenting is more than love. We need encouragement. Something to keep us going every day in the midst of all the pain and suffering and challenges that living with our children in today’s society can bring.
A few months ago, on a mundane weekday morning in my 40s, my husband sent me a text.
“What’s on your agenda today?” he asked.
I stared at my phone and mustered the energy to type a response.
“Laundry,” I said.
It happens every January. The hype of the holiday season has come and gone, and we’re left feeling isolated in un-decorated houses, regretting those indulgent choices that somehow led to thicker bellies, trying to muster the energy to exercise and tackle a brand new year. It’s enough to make you want to hide away and eat another entire loaf of that delicious pumpkin bread.