Past and Future

This post is in response to Writing 101, Day 7: Start with a quote.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”     –Dr. Seuss

Right now in my house, we are navigating senior year of high school. The first senior year. The oldest child. As we move through the daily life of classes and activities, we are also evaluating colleges, considering futures, contemplating resumes and jobs. We are looking outward and forward, to what lies ahead.

Each morning, my son walks out of the house, gets into the car, and drives off to school. As he walks away from me, I can clearly see his two year old self walking down the hall, his toddler feet struggling to hold onto my adult running shoes. The memory of the clop-clop of the shoes hitting the floor and his exaggerated walk as he tries not to trip on the massive shoes makes me chuckle.

I look out the window and see his face through the car windshield as he settles into the driver seat, puts the car in reverse, turns and backs out of the parking space. It is the same face I watched in my rear-view mirror on the boy strapped into the car seat, the five-point harness securely holding him just above the shoulders. Because he is the oldest, at this tender age, he still had the monopoly on my attention. In the mirror, I could see his curiosity and wonder; he would ask a million questions; and he expressed concern that the cars coming toward us might be just a bit too close for his comfort.

I stand and watch as he drives away, and I am thinking about all of the times that he left me behind. When I took him to preschool for the very first time, I stayed with him until he was ready, his warm hand in mine for reassurance. And he finally let go and joined new friends in their play. At four, he rode in a red plastic wagon around the halls of the outpatient surgery center at the hospital before his tonsilectomy. But when they pulled him through the double doors, and I could not accompany him, his face reflected a fear and anxiety that reflected my own and planted a tight knot in my gut.

To him, his daily life is the same as all the other years. Nothing is unusual or different; this year in high school is simply his last year. His reminiscences are not as deep and far-reaching as mine. He is focused on the future. He is thinking about where he will go, what he will become, and when he will see the friends he leaves behind. I am thinking about the future and the man he is becoming, but I am also thinking about this boy as my baby, my toddler, the little boy who was constantly collecting “treasures” that I would have to empty out of his pockets before doing the laundry.

As his childhood transitions to young adulthood, I look back on the many years I have spent raising him—and all of my children. I know that I am blessed to have had this time, and the memories make me smile.


Life Lessons List

This post is in response to the Writing 101, Day 2 prompt to write a list. I currently have three teenagers, but I have spent my entire adult life working with teenagers. Hence, my list:

Things I’ve learned from teenagers…

  1. Don’t get bogged down in the present. Just keep pushing on.
  2. Have fun. Laughter and fun are important to fostering a healthy outlook.
  3. It’s okay to be silly sometimes.
  4. It’s okay to be sad sometimes.
  5. Always have food on hand. Good food will bring friends. And you never know when you might be hungry.
  6. Other people will have their opinions. You don’t have to agree with them.
  7. When your “friends” don’t treat you right, move on. It’s better to have a handful of good friends than a crowd of superficial ones.
  8. Being nice is an important skill in getting through life. You may want to say something mean, but sometimes it’s best not to.
  9. Look forward to the future. It is full of promise
  10. Young people have good ideas. Sometimes, they have great ideas. Listen to them. They are the future.

   10½. Did I mention food? It’s always about the food.


This post was written in response to the Writing 101, Day 1 prompt: I write because….

I write because I grew up in a small town where fitting in was not my forte. I was artistic and academic, borderline hyperactive (before that was a diagnosis) and just about the opposite of athletic. I created “treasures” from items that were tossed aside, and I was overflowing with sass. The combination was one that didn’t work well for a kid navigating the waters of small town school life. At first, the fact that I didn’t fit in mattered to me. But after a while—and too many reminders that my sharp edges and rounded corners didn’t match everyone else’s—I accepted my lot in life.

I write because in kindergarten, a light went on when I learned to squeeze meaning from the squiggly lines that formed words on a page. A door was opened to new adventures and new worlds where I could easily lose myself. The public library and local bookstore became my refuge, and I hid behind the mask of a voracious reader.

I write because sometimes, when I felt lost and alone, reading was not enough. I would take out a notebook, usually in the late hours of the day when dusk turned to darkness. At first, I wrote fiction and poetry, depending on my mood. I would craft stories, churning out page after page, simply to see how much I could write and to watch the page curl under the weight of my words.

I write because as I ventured from adolescence into adulthood, my ideas and my identity were fluid and changing. I wrote my feelings and my dreams into stories as I worked to make sense of the world and my place within it. I wrote stories of realistic fiction with characters who might have been my friends.

I write because when I divorced, I needed a way to pull myself out of the all-consuming black hole that is emotional abuse. Suddenly, I was the character, and the world was my own. There were many soul-searching journal entries. Many nights of listening to the rain outside my window while my thoughts and my words spilled onto the page.

I write because once I freed myself from the abuse and regained my confidence, not writing was no longer an option. Through my journey, I had evolved into a writer. I had discovered a home in creative non-fiction. I discovered that writing my story helps me to live a better life.

I write because I never did find the place where I fit in. But fitting in is over-rated. Writing is a journey that fits perfectly with who I am.