Do you remember the other morning on the way to school when you cracked my heart into a few more pieces? You were so quiet most of the drive and then out of nowhere you told me you felt like you didn’t have much time at home. I mentioned that soccer season was over now and also how you take off to the river after school until time for dinner and that the days do feel like a blur at times.
‘No,’ you said, ‘I mean…I only have five more years at home.’
We rode for a moment in the silence with that jagged, dumb fact sitting between the two of us while I failed at willing my eyes to drink the tears back in and I could speak over the thunderclap from my heart.
‘Five years. That’s not a long time.’
A little bit further down the road when I asked if you if we had taught you anything at all, you tossed me a wink and said, ‘To brush my teeth?’
And I was pleased to see we had at least poured a strong foundation for your humor.
I know we’ve grown a pretty solid skeleton with things like clean up after yourself, tell the truth, and love all the people.
You still have some time to work on your laundry, um, skills.
But you had me thinking all day, ‘What do you need to know when you leave home?’
There’s so much, and we will get there as we are gifted time…but at the end of a long day and as is the case in life most often:
I think it might be simple.
So I wrote you this letter and also left you a list of chores on the kitchen bar to do before bed since you’re still sleeping in my house.
Some of these are repeats you’ve heard and that means they are worth more than teeth brushing.
This little list is certainly not exhaustive…but I think even sticking to this basic one will leave you with a beautiful life at the end of your days.
Take time. You have to be forceful with it or it will get away from you. Lay hold of things like books and rest and listening….snatch walks and seize sunsets and grab moments with people you love.
Manners are important. They’re good for you learning how to control your own self but mostly it’s a way to show your care and respect for others (and also no one wants to see chewed chicken while you’re talking) so keep opening the door for others, get those elbows off the table and say yes ma’am even when you’re not in the south.
Wear compassion closer than your own skin. Compassion is not exactly slipping someone else’s shoes on for just a minute to see how they may feel and then taking them off again. Many people got better words’n me and here is a fine example:
‘Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between two equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared community.’ ~Pema Chodron
So…yeah. Compassion is huge.~Melissa Blair
Live most of your life offline. Please post pictures of my grand babies often. Instagram a pic of you and your spouse kayaking the river. Social media is great for encouraging and laughing and those Dos XX memes. But just remember? There are millions more precious moments that are just not for sale. Hold these close and protect them, step out from behind the camera and just be present. And at the end of the day, a good measure of offline-ness is if you’ve had more face time with your people than you have with your phone. (I’m sorry for all the times I got it wrong…I’m still growing up, too, you know).
Be silly. Sing spontaneously, dance often, and belly-laugh daily. I don’t know why really. Just do this: it makes life fun.
Learn how to wait. Wait with your body, your mind and your soul. It’s a sign of maturity, it’s good for your character and it’s essential to life. And I’ll tell you now: you will have to learn this and it always never involves a phone in your hand. Get your mind still and your heart will follow. Don’t always default to cheap substitutes for your own thoughts. Waiting well will improve the end 100% of the time.
Always be brave. Feel big feelings, start new things, keep going. Doing things that make your tummy a little sick is the only way to build real life.
Be a simple kind of person. Look people in the eye when you’re talking to them, tell the truth, and just be you. Any other way is exhausting.
Fail a lot. This means you’re trying and that’s really brave.
Cultivate joy. Sometimes life or people can be joy suckers. It’s one nature of the business. Devote yourself to this practice. It’s just one way to get a taste of heaven on earth: Joy is the serious business of heaven. ~C.S. Lewis
Live a grateful life. If you can learn how to say thank you every moment? This is true worship for the One who made you.
Always take up for the little guy. If you see someone getting bullied or mistreated, get right up in the middle of it. In the hallways of school, parking lots, or courthouses, from unborn babies, sisters, or orphans: get. up. in. it. That anger you feel when we talk about these things is your heart’s cry for the call of justice. Always, always answer it. But be wise and loving about it, okay? (unless they hit you first and then you can finish it).
Chase God all the days of your life. Search for Him early in the morning and inside the folds of a leaf or in your babies’ eyes. He is always found for the looking. The fun thing about chasing God? It’s really just Him running after you and He’s always closer than your own skin. Plus He always leads the best adventures.
It is life’s finest pleasure I know to be your mama.
I love you.
PS It’s supposed to be hard to leave home because we have loved so much. And that’s a really beautiful thing.
PPS Brush your teeth.