On Friday, I celebrated the seventh anniversary of my 30th year as my husband so elegantly put it on our way out to dinner that night. I love his sense of humor, y’all, but I have to say, I am not really concerned about inching closer to the Big 4-0. Sure, I wish there were fewer lines under my eyes, and I have been seeing grays ever since the twins were babies (I blame multiples), but I feel so profoundly fortunate for my life and for my health that I don’t dwell on the fact that the years are ticking by. I do, however, want to make the next year count. I want to be more present for my family, and I want to really listen to the hopes and dreams and fears of my children in order to know them better.
This weekend, we asked the twins if they were nervous about starting first grade, and my darling Harper said she was worried what others would think about her. “Mom, do you think they’ll like me?” she asked. The recovering approval addict in me wanted to go into overdrive and tell my sweet girl all the reasons her classmates would love her—seriously, the list was ready to go—but I decided to stay quiet and listen instead. And in so doing, I learned a little more about my daughter’s heart. The truth is, I can manage my children all day long, carting them back and forth to school and activities, carving out our time at home into bite-size pieces, but if I want to know them, really know them, I have to stop managing and start listening. Only then can I begin to understand the issues they face, and be able to really speak into their lives.
This year, I also want to talk to my kids about things that matter. The last few weeks in Charlottesville, I’ve realized that my children are able to comprehend much more than I can imagine. And so I’ve begun to talk to them about hate and justice and peace in ways they can understand, and I take their questions seriously. The time we have with our children is so incredibly short compared to their lifetimes without us, and I feel a burden to share more honestly and openly about my faith, my doubts, my biases, and my fears in hopes that they will share more with me, too. On my birthday, I faced a fear and took my children to lunch on Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, a place that experienced so much hate and violence recently. But what we found there was goodness and unity among businesses and locals and even the musicians who played together on the city streets. In particular, I loved seeing the tangible work of Letter Writing Day, a partnership between New City Arts and Journey Group, where citizens came together to write notes of encouragement for anyone to take.
So many businesses and non-profits in Charlottesville are giving back in meaningful ways. My family will be getting involved in the #dearyoungperson campaign by writing letters to those in Cville’s many youth organizations, letting them know they are strong, smart, and capable of changing the world. Letters can be sent to PO Box 814, Charlottesville, VA 22902.
On Friday night, Graham took me to my very favorite restaurant in Charlottesville, The Alley Light, a speakeasy that is tucked inside—you guessed it—an alleyway on the Downtown Mall. The chickpea puree with chorizo was the best part of the evening, other than our tiny table tucked right next to the window overlooking the street, and, of course, my date.
The rest of the weekend was dreamy, although I knew my birthday was over when I found myself cleaning three bathrooms on Saturday morning! We all got a little fed up with the heat on Sunday and decided to treat ourselves to a hike in the mountains. Temps were 20 degrees cooler in Shenandoah National Park’s Dark Hollow Falls, and the kids enjoyed making their way down to the waterfall.
Reality check #1: The hike back up was less than pleasant.
Reality Check #2: Children will only pose for a photo when bribed. There was no bribe today. (P.S. My C’ville shirt is from Rock, Paper, Scissors)
Hope you have a wonderful week, girlfriend. Make it count!