The Thing About Silence

I always loved walking my kids home from school. Now that they are older and independent, I miss those sweet ten minutes of undivided attention where we would talk about their day as we walked the 3-1/2 blocks home. One day, we were walking behind another group of kids, and I couldn’t help but overhear one kid bullying another. Though this happened years ago, I remember their faces as if it were yesterday. His sweet round pudgy face, ringed with dark curls, eyes down on the road, while a younger boy with large brown eyes and similar dark curls was laughing loudly and calling him gay.

As we turned to walk down our alley, my inner conflict was roaring so loudly, I’m surprised my kids didn’t hear it. I’m a quiet person and don’t like to put myself into other people’s business. I most certainly do not like to tell someone that they are wrong.

BUT his eyes and his sweet little face!

AND my kids were watching and how did I want them to treat people?

AND I was convinced that God had created each person and loved them so deeply and that was all that mattered today.

So I turned around and marched up to the little taunter and we had a conversation loud enough for everyone around us to hear. I gently but firmly told him this was not okay. That God had made and loved each person so deeply that it doesn’t matter if this boy was gay or not. No one deserves to be treated this way.

There is a lot of hatred, bullying and racism being spoken loudly and publicly these days. Listen up big people, little people are listening more than you realize. What you say is important but don’t forget that your silence speaks volumes as well and right now, it shouts a message to those around you. Choosing to be silent when witnessing racism and bullying has the same effect as being overtly racist or a bully yourself. You communicate to your people, including your children, that your race is superior and that bullying others is okay. Silence makes you an ally of one side or the other. There is no happy medium with silence.

We choose life by choosing words that give dignity. We bring healing to a broken world when we choose words that give hope. Choose words, instead of silence, because our little ones are listening.

Photo courtesy of Adrienne Gerber Photography.

Just Breathe

The sweet wild ride of summer is slowing down, grass crunching beneath my feet as I  stoop to pick the daily offerings from my tomato plants. The black-eyed susans have all but given up and it looks like the ground hog ate the last of my rose buds. My firstborn moved out a couple weeks ago, which means my middle child has his own room for the first time in forever, and my baby started high school.

Endings are all around me.

But it is okay. You gotta walk through the endings before you can get to the sweetness of the next stage. Like packing up the childhood memories of my son before he walks back into my house as a grown man with not only a place of his own, but his own beautiful identity and calling. You can’t get to the grown-up conversations with your kids until you’ve said good-bye to their sweet baby cheeks and crazy toddler antics and the wild emotions of the tween years.

One of my boys had an anxiety attack recently, surrounded by his new clothes and shoes for school. Suddenly all the unknowns were too much to bear.  I helped him breath through it, and tried to talk him through the fear that wrapped itself around his stomach (quite literally) for the rest of the evening. It was kind of an epiphany for me. Sometimes you just have to breath through all of it, be honest with yourself, take it in and let it go. The good, the bad, the beautiful, the ugly. The exhaustion, the endless need, the nonstop questioning, the belly laughter, those moments when they think you are the best mom ever and the moments they seem to hate you.

Breathe in. Hold it for a moment. Let it out. You are going to be okay.

Soccer Mom Thoughts

He rushes out the door for a week at college film camp and suddenly I feel as if the whistle has blown and the final quarter of the game has begun. I stretch my hands towards the invisible clock, trying in vain to slow it down. A lump rises in my throat and tears haze my vision as I wash the day’s dishes that only serve to remind me of the memories we made today. I’ve had nearly 18 years of crazy moments with this man child of mine, and yet I find myself wishing for more.

This child, born in Bangladesh, who was once the lone white face in a sea of Bangladeshis, is still comfortable, actually thrives in diverse environments.

This child who threw his toys out of our apartment window now throws himself into seeking justice for the oppressed.

At one time, more comfortable in a rickshaw than a minivan, he now bikes to work on hot summer days, saving money for a good video camera some day.

This child who pushed every boundary until I was exhausted and in tears has just been honored for the 5th year in a row for being the Most Outstanding Male in his class.

When did he change from being more than I could handle to more than I could have dreamt? It’s just a week at film camp, but my heart knows it’s the beginning of the end.

He’s grown his wings. They are strong and his heart is brave and kind. He will be more okay without me than I will be without him…and that’s okay. It makes me feel like I’ve done my job. I’ll always be cheering on the sidelines with food and water and a heart that never stops loving and believing.

I’ll always be his soccer mom, screaming as he nears the goal and steps into who he was made to be.