Something New

Something New

Something New; Life with Tweens

Tweens are unique creatures, no?

My husband argues that the age of ten does not qualify one as a tween. The attitudes and actions taking place in this house by one BigBrother would beg to differ. But he’s also a Big Kid in that he likes to play things Big Kids play.

It’s just a weird in between phase for them. Hence that whole “tween” name that didn’t exist back when we were pre-teens. Before, not between.

There’s a picture of me sitting on the floor in the playroom in my parent’s basement. Seated in front of the giant Barbie house my grandfather made for me, my long hair—permed and brushed—is a wild mess down my back. I’m wearing a pink shirt from some vacation, a sunset splattered across it in the puffy style of 90s vacation shirts. And I’m playing with my Barbies.

When my mother developed those photos, I asked her not to show anyone. In fact, I confiscated it from my parents’ possession. I didn’t want any of my cool friends to know I still liked to escape to a world in which the brunette Barbie became queen of her own domain. She was a business woman. Our lone Ken doll and an errant Aladdin made dinner, cleaned the bathrooms, and took care of everything at home. Babies? My Barbies didn’t have babies. No time.


I don’t know where that photo lives now. I fear I might have thrown it out in a fit of tween self-hate rage. I searched through many pictures looking for it recently, coming across all kinds of tween angst and bad clothing choices. But one thing was evident in every single bad hair, grimacing, giant glasses, be-braced non-smile photo of me from the ages of 10-12.

I was me.

I didn’t know what to do with my new longer legs (which are still not very long). I didn’t like the fact that I was the first of my peers to start my period, and there’s even one picture of me on a friend’s porch in which I can physically remember how bad those first cramps were—and remained for decades. I didn’t know how to do hair or makeup or dress myself. But in those candid photos, the ones in which a friend took the camera instead of a parent, there’s a glint in my eye. There’s joy underneath the confusion of hormones and becoming something new inside the same being.

There’s Jenna, underneath it all.

I need to remind myself of this very fact as we continue our way through the tween phase with not one but two boys. They’re there. I see it in the way they rush up to me when I show up to at camp after spending a day back home. I hear it in their “I love yous.” I feel it in their hugs, given in front of their friends—still and in spite.

They’re there. One is just going through the process of becoming something new inside the same being. It’s important for me to remember that as a mom right now. And for the next one, too.

We’re all going to make it.


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I wrote the other day.

Pen to paper, scritch-scratch across the page. I started out slow, my brain waves bumping into thoughts bumping into fears bumping into logic bumping into maybes. And then the pen started to fly, soar across the blank sky of the page.

It’s been awhile. Here. There. Anywhere, really. Life seems to have filled up in all kinds of ways.

The boys seems to have their own social schedules; they’re world travelers this summer. In their time away, I’ve worked and worked and worked at my day job and my afternoon/evening job. My husband and I have managed to go swimming, geocache, shop, lounge around and drink whiskey, grill yummy foods, sleep in, stay up late, binge watch Weeds, walk the dog, look at the moon through the telescope, solve the world’s problems, and even socialize with other couples.

I don’t really know why I haven’t found time or energy to write. I know that in order to write more we’re just supposed to write more, not talk or read about writing more. But I’ve felt empty.


In a good way. Not in that soul-sucking, I can’t manage to live anymore kind of empty.

Is there a form of empty-full? Or full-empty? Or like, I don’t know. Content?

But what’s funny is this: What seeped out of my pen sounded a little like anger. My therapist would find it very interesting. I’m not comfortable with expressing anger. If I’m angry, I often cry—which only makes me angrier. My therapist found it hilarious that I express anger best in the car. Road rage for the win. Otherwise, anger feels unsafe, something I can’t trust to feel or face.

Anger seems to swirl all about lately. The political sphere is nothing but a giant, fear-mongering angry villain—as if they combined all of the Disney, Dreamworks, and Stephen King bad guys into two political parties, but also removed all semblance of intelligent thought. And yes, I see hate and stupidity on both sides, with parties and supporters alike. I see seething anger on both sides. There’s passion and working in passionate ways to get your person elected and then there’s just a mess of anger and hate and fear and nothing this country currently needs.

This country does not currently need more anger, more hate, more fear. They all beget each other and we end up with too many dead in our streets. Too many meaning any more than none.

But maybe all this anger swirling around in our world, seeping out through the tip of my pen, is somehow teaching me to acknowledge the feeling and let it pass. Anger doesn’t need to consume, to weigh me down, a cement block tied to my tiny foot. Anger can move me forward, inspire me to lift the pen, lift my voice, do things I didn’t think possible. Maybe it’s finally okay for me to feel things that aren’t 100% comfortable; maybe I’m safe enough to go there now.

Maybe that whole content feeling paved a safer path for the rest of my feelings.