Happy 14th birthday, my beautiful girl! I know this birthday isn’t exactly what you were hoping when you thought about turning 14. I mean, for one, I’m sure you didn’t imagine you’d be a few months deep into a quarantine due to a global pandemic? But here we are.
It’s hard for me to even look back on your 14th year on this planet without getting stuck in the pandemic section…we have remarked that February feels like a hundred years ago. But there was a whole 10 months of your year before coronavirus stopped the world, and they were a good 10 months. You really grew into yourself at school and with your friends, and I have loved being able to watch from the sidelines. Because that’s what it’s like being a parent to a middle schooler…a lot of watching from the sidelines, while telling yourself to sit down and stop cheering so loudly because you are so embarrassing OMG.
You learned to snowboard, got your braces off, dyed your hair red, went to two sleep-away camps, and generally became a young adult before our eyes. It is extremely weird to go back through photos from last summer and see how much you have changed. I thought the big, dramatic, yearly growth stopped after kids turned 4 or 5, but the amount you have grown (physically, emotionally, mentally) in the past year is just completely bonkers. That’s not to say we haven’t had challenges, because we definitely have, but the good times far outweigh the more difficult times. And every hard time has been worth the lessons learned, even when it didn’t feel like it in the moment.
Then the pandemic hit. And my girl, I have never been so proud of you. In the span of a few weeks, your entire life changed. You lost every sense of normalcy, your schedule, your friends and your school. You went from a busy teenager with daily play rehearsals, homework, skating lessons, and lots of time with your peers, to being sequestered in our house with your parents and little brother. You were right on the cusp of independence, getting dropped off for activities, staying out later, meeting up with buddies on your own with no parents involved…and then it all ended. School? Cancelled. The school play? Cancelled. Skating? Cancelled.
I am so proud of how you have handled this season of disappointment. The silver lining of this dumb pandemic has been watching you get back to some of the basics of childhood that were squarely in the rearview mirror prior to the quarantine. You head to the park and the creek with your brother, you play board games with us, you hang out for movie night. You ride scooters down the street as fast as you can. You put together an entire Hogwarts Lego set.
Unfortunately, I feel like this season of our life is going to be weird for a while (if only people would just wear their damn masks!), but I know that you will handle it with grace, laughter and joy. Of course, there will continue to be hard moments. There will be times that you can’t stand to look at us anymore, and you yell that you need privacy. There will be times that you put in your headphones and refuse to talk to us at all. There will be days where you slam the door on your little brother and scream at him to leave you alone. I get it. But I also know you. And if there is anything that is constant, it’s that you, my Lulu Light, will always find something to smile about.
If I’m going to be stuck in quarantine for a while longer, I sure am glad it’s with you.
*pretends my kids have been actually completing their distance learning assignments when really they’ve been sleeping until noon and playing with foster puppies WHATEVER I’M DOING MY BEST! ? Here’s to all the quarantine parents trying to make this thing work, without totally ruining our kids for life. Just keep going. We can do this.
One of the things Tate and I have been doing since we’ve all been home during quarantine is running together. This kid needs a lot of structure to stay active, and when a friend mentioned the Couch to 5K app, I figured we would give it a shot.
This run was the same as many of them, but different, because we talked about Ahmaud Arbery. I consider talking to our white sons about the reality of racism and bigotry to be one of the most important jobs of motherhood. Not just Martin Luther King, Jr., but Malcom X, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Sandra Bland, Tamir Rice, and Trayvon Martin too. And so many more.
It’s hard to resist whitewashing racism for him, to make it easier on myself. But that’s why these kinds of horrors keep happening. So I told him the truth. And I told him that as a white boy who will become a white man, it’s part of his duty to speak up. It’s also part of his duty to hand the microphone over to those who don’t often get the chance to speak.
We talked about how his grandpa was on the first integrated high school basketball team in St. Louis, and when they’d travel, his black teammates weren’t allowed to eat in the restaurants they’d stop at on the road. So he, alone, would go inside, get them food, and eat on the bus with them.
Tate comes from a long line of resisters and I pray every day that he uses his white, male privilege to do good in the world. But he won’t be able to do that if we don’t tell him the truth about how the world really is. #irunwithmaud