Tuesday, July 8, 2014

On the inside

I know I can't be the only adult who feels like an impostor. I mean, how old do you really feel like you are? On the inside? 16? 18? 21? Maybe you are lightyears more mature than I am and you feel like you are even pushing 25?

Or, perhaps you are 25 in which case I'm not sure how old you feel...10?

I have no problem saying I am 44. Heck, I'm proud of that number because it means that somehow I have managed to go to college, go to graduate school, become employed, get married, and raise three kids all while camouflaging my actual existence as a barely 20-something. It means that somehow I have been fooling everyone for over 20 years into believing I am an actual adult.

Shhh...don't tell anyone.

But lately I have been having a hard time even feeling comfortable as my inner 20 year old because I keep seeing all of these 18...19...20...year old girls who look so freakin' effortlessly pulled together and cool! What is up with that? On my best day I have never looked as put together as today's average 18 year old girl. I was a bonafide ragamuffin as a child and never really outgrew it (you'll remember my issues with irregular showers and an inappropriate reliance on yoga pants).

The other day I ran into a 19 year old girl who went to grade school with my oldest son. I hadn't seen her in years but she remembered me and immediately gave me a hug and launched into the most poised, mature, friendly conversation I had had in days. As my head was spinning from the shock of that I noticed than in addition to her brilliant conversational skills (I had a hard time keeping up because I was so wowed by her girl-woman adorableness) she was also in just the cutest summer outfit and her hair was perfection and she managed to pull all of this off while making it look as though she had hardly given any of it a minute of thought.

Did I know anyone at 19 who was that together? Was I?

The short answer is, no. For sure I was not but maybe some of my friends were. Forgive me if any of my childhood friends are reading this thinking, 'Thanks a lot, Friend! I was totally all that and a bag of chips at 19!' but my memory fails me at times (which is how I know I really am 44).

Later though...after the wooziness passed and I texted my son to tell him he should really get in touch with this girl again because she is so stinkin' cute (he loved that)...my head cleared and I remembered that no one has it all together at 19. No one. Even the most adorable, smart, personable girl in the world. I'm sure on any given day, including that day, this darling girl battles hidden insecurities and hurts and wounds that can't be seen when you are only looking at hair, clothes and a smile. It made me want to go back and find her and give her another great big hug and tell you her, "YOU ARE SO AWESOME JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!!!" Which might have scared her a little so it's probably best that only happened in my head.

And then I look at my own little ragamuffin.

My daughter has inherited my less-than-put-together style. She is starting to care about her clothes but thankfully leans more toward athletic, modest styles then attempts to look "grown-up". She likes her hair long but would never brush it if I didn't tell her to. She prefers it down but mainly because she doesn't want it fussed with. In fact, 9 times out of 10, it's hanging in her face, something she scarcely seems to notice.

She never looks in a mirror.

She doesn't worry about getting her hair wet while swimming.

She doesn't mind getting dirty or sweaty.

She will sleep in the same clothes she wore that day and get up the next day and wear them again (until I tell her to change).

She is far more interested in figuring out what she wants to do each day and who she want to be then how she wants to look.

The other day I was grumbling about the chronic problem of her hair hanging in her face and she said to me quietly, "I don't think my hair should matter so much. You always tell me what matters is what is on the inside. My hair is on the outside." 

And in that moment I decided I was going to practice biting my tongue a lot more and fussing over hair a lot less.

How many more years do we have of her being so blissfully accepting of herself and utterly lacking in self-consciousness? How many more years will she spend all day playing in the lake without the slightest concern that her hair looks like a mound of seaweed on top of her head? How many more years do we have of her wanting the sporty swimsuit so she can play hard without a care in the world? (Hopefully forever).

Every mother and father hopes that somehow with conscientious parenting and unconditional love and positive affirmations our kids can escape the angst and insecurities of adolescence. But anyone who has any accurate recollection of those years at all knows the chances of that are one in a million. Because most of us realize that even though you hopefully leave a lot of that behind the older you get, that awkward teen lives on in all of us making herself known more often than we would like.

So, for now, I will try as much as I can to just let her be. Let her be messy. Let her hair fall in her face. Let her clothes be mismatched. Let her play hard and dream big.

I will let her be....Annie.

Our beautiful girl.








Thursday, June 19, 2014

Say nothing

Say what you need to say... ~ John Mayer

Say what you wanna say and let the words fall out... ~ Sara Bareilles

Say something... ~ A Great Big World

I'm going to offer a thought here and I want to acknowledge right up front that there is more than a little irony in blogging about this...but...I'm going to say it anyway.

I think we are losing the art of saying nothing. Being still. Listening without comment. Hearing perspectives that contradict our own and opting not to voice our dissent.

The number of ways in which we are able, in fact encouraged, to share our opinions these days is staggering. We can review products we have purchased. Restaurants at which we have dined. Hotels where we have rested our weary heads. Books we have read...the plumber who fixed our pipes...the carpet cleaner...our dog groomer... There is virtually no service, product or business which we cannot publicly shame or applaud should we so choose.

It's true...those reviews can be helpful when searching for the perfect landscape artist to clip, prune and shape your ordinary shrubbery into a menagerie of circus animals, but the commentary doesn't stop there.

We can comment on news events. Editorials. Articles. We can offer our opinion in response to someone else's Opinion Piece. And we can do all of this regardless of whether or not we actually have even a smidgen of expertise in the migration patterns of the monarch butterfly. 

A few days ago, I read about a local news event that was in my mind nothing short of inspiring and heartwarming. I clicked on the link because I wanted to read more about it but in doing so left my vulnerable eyes open to the string of comments next to the piece. I tried not to look, believe me. I made it my own personal policy a long time ago not to read the comments section for any news story or article once I discovered it was the fastest way to send yourself tumbling down the rabbit hole into Crazyland. But the way these comments were positioned next to the news story, it was unavoidable that a few caught my eye. And sure enough, there they were.... The Opinionators. The people who simply must express their contrary viewpoint no matter how ridiculous or how much in opposition to the majority viewpoint. 

I get it. I know there are those "trolls" who do this just for the fun of it. But the one that really grabbed me was the comment of a "girl" (I say "girl" because her name sounded like a girl and her profile pic looked like a young woman in her early 20's, but for all I know "she" could have been a 70 year old man from Iceland), who wrote, "I don't care. That's my opinion and I'm entitled to it."

Oh, sweet mother of pearl. 

Yes, Princess, you are. But I pray that someday you might learn there is a richness and a peace to be found in stepping back from your own perspective and deciding to hold it quietly. Perhaps even holding it loosely, staying open to the possibility that over time it might change. Life has a way of changing a lot of our "opinions" that we once thought unchangeable.

Recently, I had an opportunity to practice silence. I had every reason to want to have the last word. I felt I had been unjustly maligned and had been dragged into a messy situation against my will, and worst of all there were kids involved who should have never been put in that position. Many, many people would have thought me completely justified if I had taken to whatever megaphone was available to me to pronounce my innocence and trumpet the truth.

But when faced with the choice, everything in me told me to do and say nothing. I did not respond. I thanked the people who reached out to me and let them know that I appreciated their support but I said nothing more. And I felt complete peace about it.

It's the peace part that is shocking. I don't enjoy conflict so it isn't unusual for me to back away from it but generally I am left feeling unsettled and as though I should have been braver in standing up for myself. 

Not this time. 

This time the decision to let my silence be the last word felt like.... grace.

It was a way to let it end for myself and everyone else involved. 

I was choosing peace.

And it was a lesson to me that perhaps I need to start looking for other opportunities to be quiet. How many other times would I be better off to listen more and pontificate less? 

And then, just as I was pondering all of this, I read something that literally leaped off the page and grabbed me by the ears (okay, not literally....that would be super weird...but it was still so jaw droppingly awesome).

Being right is actually a very hard burden to be able to carry gracefully and humbly. That's why nobody likes to sit next to the kid in class who's right all the time. One of the hardest things in the world is to be right and not hurt other people with it. 
~ Dallas Willard 
Wow.

Amen.

I do not deny for a minute that there are principles and people worth defending boldly and loudly. There is a time to SPEAK!

But let's give silence it's due.

And if I have my way, that silence will spread to every comment section on every news source on the Internet.

That would be so awesome.

(Cue LEGO movie 'Everything is Awesome' music).

Monday, April 21, 2014

Stating the obvious


Look at Jack's poor, sad little Easter basket still sitting untouched and unappreciated. It's actually sad on two counts. Sad, that no one has dug into its contents and declared them wonderful. But perhaps even more sad is that out of all the Easter baskets my kids have had over the years, these tacky little nylon ones that I bought one year at a drugstore in Maui are the ones that have stuck. They are Annie's favorites and WOE to the Easter bunny that tries to put out the beautiful Longaberger basket my sister gave her when she was a baby. Nope, these bug-eyed, oddly sports-themed, why-didn't-they-fall-apart-years-ago little treasures are the ones that get pulled out every year. Their only saving grace is that they do, in fact, squash down flat which is certainly handy for storage purposes. And given that I refuse to employ more than one storage box for Easter decorations, that is actually a pretty big plus.

But back to Jack's sad little bunny....and his notable absence on Easter Sunday.

I knew he had to work in the afternoon and that he had worked late the night before Easter so that made the likelihood of seeing him sometime Easter morning, or at church, pretty slim. But, I didn't want him to think he'd been forgotten so when we hadn't seen him by 2pm I sent him a friendly text saying: THE EASTER BUNNY PUT A 48 HOUR HOLD ON YOUR BASKET BUT AFTER THAT ALL CONTENTS ARE UP FOR GRABS!

Wasn't that sweet?

This is the second year in a row that Jack has not been home on Easter. Last year, he was in Jamaica on a mission trip and this year he was....well, living like a college student. Turns out, when your child moves away from home, even just to live on campus, even a campus a mere five minutes from the threshold of his childhood home, he just isn't around as much. Huh. Who knew?

The truth is that we have been spoiled. Our firstborn chose to go to school close to home and we have gotten to see him a lot over his first year in college. But I've noticed that as the year has gone on we have seen him less and less. And this decrease in visits and laundry runs interestingly enough directly corresponds with his growing happiness and comfort level with his new home away from home. We see him less because he is happy. And as Mary Poppins would say, "That's as it should be." (which isn't particularly profound but when you hear it in that perfect Julie Andrews accent, it sounds really wise with just a touch of melancholy).

Although, in spite of his thriving independence, I'd be willing to bet that he will turn up at some point today to claim his goods. He has no idea what is in that bug-eyed-baseball-bunny basket but he for darn sure doesn't want to see it go to his brother.

I'm kind of thinking that maybe I will throw in few quick supplements to his basket. Not that the Easter bunny didn't do well, but clearly we aren't doing enough to entice this kid home on Easter morning. Maybe if he gets a plastic egg with a tempting wad of cash in it he will think twice about sleeping in and skipping the festivities next year. I mean, nothing says Easter like bribery and emotional manipulation, right?

Alright...maybe not.

Maybe I'll just let him go ahead and grow up. A little bit.

And I'll start strategizing with the Easter bunny for next year....

Easter Past...and before the ugly baskets
The key to his heart it seems...
Weep, weep...sob, sob....

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

We also call him Coach

I have yet to find the man, however exalted his station,
who did not do better work and put forth greater effort
under a spirit of approval than under a spirit of criticism.
~Charles Schwab

We call him Superdad because he's, well, pretty super. He's a super hard worker, he's super patient, he's super positive, and he can make a super duper grilled cheese sandwich. But what you might not know is that among all of those other super qualities, he is also a super coach.

I don't think I always knew to appreciate the fact that my kids grew up having their dad coach the majority of their sports teams. Ben has coached 14 years of soccer (some of those were spent coaching two teams at the same time) and somewhere around 12 years of baseball. He has coached little kids and big kids, boys and girls, winning teams and not-so-winning teams. But there are still players to this day who, when bumping into him at the grocery store, or down at our neighborhood village, will see him and call out, "Hey, Coach!" 


You don't know to be grateful for all of the great coaches out there until you encounter the not-so-great coaches. Sometimes it would be the coach of our opposing team who would leave me wishing I could gather up all those other little players and bring them onto our side. Coaches who scream, who belittle, who yell profanities and encourage their players not just to play hard, but to play with the intention to harm. And then there are the coaches whose offenses are more subtle. They are disinterested and unengaged. They don't really know the sport and they don't care to learn. They are the coaches who don't really care if the kids grow as players or as people. 

Sadly, these coaches exist. Thankfully, they are in the minority.

Soccer is really Superdad's sport, but he learned to be a good baseball coach, too. He learned by watching other good coaches and offering to be their assistant when our kids were young. He never minded being the co-pilot and enjoyed the camaraderie coaching with other like-minded men whose goal was as much to model good character as it was to build a winning team.



Superdad has won some championships in his time as Coach, but more importantly he has helped to raise champions. He never allowed foul language or poor sportsmanship on his teams. He made sure all his players played and felt valued. And he modeled an appropriate competitive spirit by ending every game with a smile, pats on the back and encouraging words regardless of the outcome.

The other day we heard about a coach who, while viewing the film of the previous game, called out a single player as being solely responsible for the goal that lost the game. Not only is it rare in soccer that one player can truly be identified as the lone weak link in the string of events that lead to a goal, but my mother's heart couldn't help but lurch in response to such an overt act of humiliation by a coach. But I'll admit that in my head I thought to myself, "I don't know...it's really competitive at this level now. Maybe that's what coaches do." It wasn't what I would do but, heck, I'm not a coach.

But my heart's response was vindicated when I saw Superdad shake his head and then heard him mutter,

You praise publicly, you correct privately.

And I was reminded yet again why parents loved having their kids on his team. Because he knows what it means to be a coach. He knows how you talk to kids. He knows what motivates a kid and what just tears him down. He knows that being a coach is really about being a leader and the basic principles of good leadership apply whether you are running a business or trying to get 8 year olds to kick a ball down a field. You communicate, you affirm, you inspire, you teach, and every once in awhile you get a rousing game of Sharks and Minnows going- because you gotta have some fun.


Superdad's coaching days may be winding down. He got to coach Tim longer than we anticipated when he was asked to assist on his club team last year, but this year Tim will be moving on to a higher level and we will turn him over to a new club, a new team, and a new coach. We feel good about what we have seen from this new coach, but it still feels like an act of faith. Because like teachers, pastors, music instructors, and so many other adult mentors we bring into our kid's lives, coaches can have a dramatic impact for better or worse on the development of these young minds and spirits.



Synonyms for coach: guide, counsel, lead, mentor, shepherd, show, instruct

The best coaches are those who truly understand the power they wield and they do so consciously and carefully. Sports will not always feel fair but it should never feel unjust. Players may not always get what they want but they should always be treated with respect. And my personal belief is that when you are coaching kids below the college level, the development of the person should be as much of a priority as the development of the player. Actually, I believe that should be true at any level of sports, but that's just me.

So, this is my little tribute to our Coach. A thank you for the countless hours he has given not only to our own kids, but to the dozens and dozens and dozens of other kids he has tried to encourage and motivate along the way. I know it hasn't always been easy. I know there have been kids and parents who pushed you to the limits of your patience. I know you reach the end of every season exhausted and spent but also sad to see it end. I see how much you give and it is so very appreciated.

We call him Coach, because that's what he is. Always.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Strong enough to bend

I've been reflecting a lot on where we were a year ago. The biggest thing I remember from a year ago is the complete uncertainty about where we would be now- a year later. Decisions were still being made, discussions were being attempted and thwarted by a teenage boy who needed to go through his own internal process, and the planner in me was staring at her calendar wishing desperately I could start filling it in but having to wait because well....decisions were still being made.

It. Was. Agonizing.

But like so many things (in fact, almost everything) this too did pass and now here we are...one quarter away from Jack having completed his first year in college. Successfully completed, I might add. It's mind boggling.

As we watched our first-born navigate his way through so many choices and options over the past year, we were doing some navigating of our own. I don't know about everyone else doing this parenting gig, but sometimes for Superdad and I the whole thing looks an awful lot like a big game of darts. We keep flinging out ideas and plans and rules and intentions and hope that every once in awhile one of them hits the bullseye.

In case you are wondering, they do not all hit the bullseye. I don't even want to know our ratio and I'm glad no one is keeping track.

One of the things we felt very sure about in our grand plan for launching our first child out of the nest was that he should not go to college with a car his first year. Our reasons were very sound and filled with an abundance of parental wisdom. Every time the topic would come up we would toss out our razor sharp explanations with fine-tuned accuracy.

You need to earn that privilege.

We want you to get involved on campus.


It will be a distraction.

Walking is good for you and will prevent you from gaining the Freshman 15. (We didn't actually use that one, but it's good, huh?)

You need to settle into college life first and then we will consider letting you have a car at school.

And to his credit, he never really argued any of these points. Instead, he just came home a lot that first quarter. To visit his car.

And we watched...and observed....and discussed...and slowly we noticed that all of our arrow-straight rationales seemed to be landing somewhere on the outside edges of the Parenting Dart Board. They weren't hitting the mark.

Over Christmas we had more discussions and in the meantime Jack got a job downtown that meant traveling to and from school late at night. Concessions started to be made. You can take the car on the days that you work....you can have the car for the whole weekend since you work both nights...okay, you work Monday and Wednesday so just take the car and bring it back on Thursday and then you can have it again on Friday....oh whatever, just take the car!!!

Now he has a car at school full time. And guess what? The world didn't come to an end. He is actually happier, more involved at school and spends more time on campus now that he has access to his own transportation. It helps that he has to pay for his own gas so he has gotten surprisingly thrifty about unnecessary driving, but he never complains.

Superdad and I just look at each other, shrug, and happily say, we were wrong.

We had the best intentions but in this instance, with this kid, in this moment in time, we were off the mark. We had to re-calibrate, take a deep breath and try again. Let's try something different. Show us how this could work. We are open to a new plan. We could be wrong.

Bullseye.

And it got me thinking....do you know how many things could be solved, how much pain could be avoided, how much less conflict there would be...if we would all entertain the possibility that we could be wrong?

I like to believe I am a pretty forgiving person and one of the reasons I try to be that way is because I am well aware that people need to be forgiving of me from time to time. I am not perfect. I do not always have the right answer. I do not always say the right thing. I have bad days and good days. I try to use that awareness when I encounter someone behaving in a way that I find difficult to understand. I try to extend a little grace and hope that someone else will do the same for me when I find myself adrift and not operating from my best self.

Even our most deeply held convictions do not have to be used as a bludgeon against those who disagree. Is it possible that this person has a history you don't understand and that history has shaped his or her beliefs? Is it possible that you both actually do want to arrive at the same place you just have different ideas as to how to get there? Is it possible that if you really understood the fullness of this person's life experience and could truly get inside his head you just might find some common ground?

Is it possible that you could be wrong??

I don't pretend to know much about what will come after this life. I am a person of faith who believes in a loving God so I do believe there is more....but I don't imagine for a minute that my simple mind can conceive of what that might be. But one thing I am sure of is that I will discover there were a whole lot of things I was wrong about in this life.

And knowing that makes it a heck of a lot easier for me to concede now and then, while I am still living this life, that I could be wrong.

I don't know...maybe that makes me spineless, or weak, or wishy-washy? Maybe it would be better if I put more things in the "non-negotiable" compartment of my mind and heart? Maybe my peacemaking tendencies are really just a cover-up for a fear of conflict? Maybe you really can tell everything you need to know about a person based on a label, a single moment or a point of view?

Maybe....

But I could be wrong.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Small packages

Annie had her birthday party last night which consisted of eight giggly, bouncy girls coming over and eating pizza, doing crafts, making sundaes, watching movies and then...going to sleep. In theory.

Yes, it was a sleepover. Believe me, I did everything I could to talk her out of it.

Nevertheless, they did indeed all finally fall asleep (mainly because once I called "lights out" I sat downstairs in the dark and read a book on my Kindle so they would have to be quiet and sleep- it worked).

Because the party was on a Saturday night, that meant I still had to get up the next day and be ready to head to church right about the time all of the girls were going to be picked up. I told Annie in advance that she didn't need to go to church and could just stay and hang out at home since I assumed she would be tired after her big celebration. Superdad had to head out of town, so we enlisted big brother Jack to come home and stay with Annie until I could get back (another advantage of having your child choose a college five minutes from home).

All was going as planned and I was at church practicing with the choir when I saw Jack and Annie enter the front doors of the church. I wasn't sure if there had been a misunderstanding or what was going on? I caught Jack's eye and he pointed at Annie and shrugged. It was obvious she had insisted on being brought to church. So, there she was.

Later, when I asked her why she didn't just stay home, her answer was simple.

Because I wanted to go to church.

If you are not a church-going sort of family, that might not mean much to you. But for those of you who are, you know that is music to your ears.

I was raised in a small church and attended a small church in college, so any sort of mega-church was never going to be where I settled down as an adult. Small churches can have their limitations and challenges but I would maintain so do large ones. What we can do well in a small church are sometimes the things a large church struggles to do. In my view, one of our greatest strengths as a small church is our ability to forge connections.

On any given Sunday, one of our Kindergarten-age church members seeks out one of our oldest church members. They adore one another. Little C will spot her elder friend and immediately whisper to her mother and point, asking permission to leave their pew and go join Miss Kay. Permission is granted and she dashes over to Miss Kay's pew where she is welcomed with a hug.

Not long ago Annie was going on and on to my cousin about a friend of hers at church. She was telling my cousin that she dances for him and he loves it. My cousin raised her eyebrows at me. I laughed and informed her, "This little church friend of hers is 8 months old." She cracked up.

But it's true. Some of Annie's best friends at church are a chubby baby, a 5th grade girl, and a 29 year old woman who Annie tells me is "like an aunt" to her. Where else does that happen?

In our church children are routinely included in all aspects of the life of the church by adults of all ages. It is not uncommon for a group of children to spontaneously begin helping whomever is setting up for coffee hour before the worship service. They entertain babies in the narthex. They help pass the Offering. They read the liturgy. They participate in Communion.

As the Children's Ministry Director I sometimes feel torn in my mission and goals. Of course I love to see new children enter our doors and they are always welcomed with open arms. I pray daily that any searching family might find their way to our little church on the hill and feel at home here. But I will also admit there is a part of me that doesn't relish the idea of our numbers growing too large. I love the fact that I know every child in our church not only by name, but what school they go to, what activities they love, their favorite sport, and what makes them laugh.

Each Sunday, as children begin to arrive prior to the worship service, I am often still bustling around getting things ready, making copies, and mentally rehearsing my Children's Message. But there is scarcely a week that goes by that some child does not spot me, run toward me and say excitedly, "Miss Lori! Guess what?!?"

And I can't wait to hear, "what".

Blessings to all on this cold, rainy Sunday.

"You know....my whole life I have been complaining that my work was constantly interrupted, until I discovered that my interruptions were my work."
~Henri Nouwen

Monday, February 17, 2014

Conceding defeat

Today we all enjoyed the extra day tacked onto our weekend. While some schools are celebrating the beginning of a week-long winter break, all of our kiddos will be returning to class tomorrow. So today was a welcome respite knowing tomorrow it will be back to business.

Just before lunchtime, Tim headed off with a friend to roam around downtown. As I began to wonder how the rest of us might spend the middle part of our day off, I heard a key turn in the front door and in walked that increasingly occasional visitor known as our eldest child.

Hey! What are you doing here?

He strolled in, iced Starbucks drink in hand, and proceeded to chatter on about how work was that weekend, how empty the dorm is on this long weekend, the highlights of a business school mixer he recently attended, the upcoming meeting about studying abroad that he's going to attend, the reason he needed to grab his shorts for some dorm floor competition, the great car he got to drive at work, how bad the food is this weekend because they know everyone is gone....and on and on and on...

And Annie and I both just stood there hanging on his every word.

Annie kept sidling up to him, wrapping her arms around his waist and squeezing him. Normally Jack has a pretty rock solid personal space bubble but he was being tolerant of her irrepressible affection. At one point I caught his eye and mouthed to him, "She misses you." At that he smiled amiably and magnanimously offered her a few friendly pats on the back and a small squeeze of her shoulders. She beamed.

After a bit he sat down at the computer so he could give us a visual of the best cars he had recently gotten to drive at work (he's a valet). Annie stood at his elbow and was either truly fascinated by all of his car talk or she was doing a darn good job acting like she was, because she didn't budge as he detailed all of the technical aspects of each car and had her listen to the sound of the different exhausts. I mean, really? But she didn't move a muscle and Jack just kept engaging her.

Jack: Annie, which one of these cars would you like to have someday?

Annie: (timidly) I think I like that one but I would want it to be blue.

Jack: Blue it is! Let's find you a blue one.

And she smiled with wonder as her big brother searched the Internet to find her the perfect car in the perfect shade of blue.

I was the one who thought maybe he should go farther away to school. I was the one who worried he wouldn't have a "college experience" if he didn't leave the city he grew up in. I was the one who thought there was something inherently problematic about being able to come home and do laundry and get a good meal every now and then.

I was wrong.

I was wrong on all counts. He is happy. He is having terrific experiences independent of us and home. It took some time but he has settled into his new life and is thriving. He made a good choice, a smart choice.

And today I realized something else. For the first time I really saw that by staying close to home, his much younger sister gets to continue to have her big brother as a physical presence in her life. That is no small blessing.

This is me, waving the white flag of surrender admitting now and for all time that I WAS WRONG. For Jack's sake, for Annie's, for his longterm career goals, for the sake of his beloved car that he would have had to leave behind...I will admit that Jack's intuition was right and mine was wrong.

And maybe, just maybe...I get something out of this, too.

Because I'll admit it, when he suddenly shows up at our front door with his bag of laundry and his colorful tales to tell, I always hope he might have at least two loads of washing and drying to do.... just so he will have to stay a little bit longer.