You’re 12

You’re 12

Dear BB,

You’re 12.

You’re 12

I’ve spent 12 years mothering you. I know when you’re happy, and when you’re faking a smile. I know when you’re sad, and when you’re trying to get us to feel sorry for you. Even though you have a wide array of facial expressions, I know what they all mean.

I’ve watched you excel. I’ve helped you when you struggled. I taught you things, like how to swim and ride a bike.

I have read you so many, many books. I have also written so many, many words about you.

You have taught me how to laugh at silly videos, life, and myself. You showed me parts of myself I didn’t know I didn’t know. You loved me even when I didn’t feel like the mom I wanted to be; you loved me all the times.

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You went to your first school dance tonight, on your birthday. You had fun. I love watching you experience the little things of life. I’m also not sorry we “embarrassed” you by listening to our “embarrassing” music as we pulled up to the school. I wish the same moments for you as a parent, should you choose to be one, as you roll up to the school with your newly minted 12-year-old. It actually makes your tween years make sense.

You’ll understand us someday.

For now, know this: You are loved. You are loved even when you don’t like us. Even when we’re “embarrassing.” Even when you feel sad. Or angry. Or lonely. Even when you’d rather be with anyone but us but we’re forcing you to be with us because family matters. So very much. You are loved when you get straight A’s and you are loved when you can’t figure out the answers.

Most importantly, you are loved when you don’t feel like you’re loved because you’re always, always, always loved.

Happy Birthday: You’re 12

Thank you for being you. Here’s to another year!

Love,
Mom

 

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You’re Not Broken

You’re Not Broken

I’ve been vocal about my Disney disdain for years.

Yeah, I like Toy Story (ahem, Pixar) and Tinkerbell (sasspot) and Elsa (she’s a freaking ice queen, hello). I balked when Disney bought the Star Wars franchise, and I maintain that was the right reaction, but I can’t turn my back on Star Wars.

But otherwise? Nope.

Then the freaking Disney Channel had to come out with the their first story of a tween coming out as gay. While the boys don’t watch Andi Mack currently, opting to annoy me with episodes of Jessie via On Demand, I feel like maybe we should give it a shot.

I’ve been trying to give the new season of Will & Grace a shot. I definitely wasn’t sold after the first episode. I texted my husband, working that night, “It feels like they’re trying too hard.” I missed the second episode when it aired and caught it via repeat while the boys were in the room. At almost 10 and 12, they’re still in bed by 9 on school nights as they catch the bus before seven o’clock in the morning. They laughed but mostly played their video games.

I didn’t think anything of it.

One Thursday, they got to stay up late as they didn’t have school on Friday. They “watched” the episode entitled “Grandpa Jack.” In this episode, Jack meets his estranged son’s son. The child in question is sent to a conversion camp to make him straight. It was full of “funny” moments, but also Really Big Moments. Like the one in which Jack says to his grandson, “This place can’t fix you, because you aren’t broken.”

Because you aren’t broken.

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Our children need to hear this message.

YOU’RE NOT BROKEN.

We need to tell them this over and over and over. They need to see it in television and movie characters. They need to read diverse books to discover all kinds of different ways in which they are absolutely not broken.

Our children need people in their lives who believe in them and love them, no matter what. On bad days. On good days. Ugly days. Fat days. Hurting days. Confused days. Questioning days. Realization days. All the days in between.

Of course, as tweens, they don’t necessarily believe their parents when we tell them it gets better, when we tell them they matter. That’s why representation of diversity, of differences, of struggle, of overcoming in their shows and books matters so much.

Gen X started the trend when Rickie got thrown out of his home on Christmas Eve in 1994 in My So-Called Life. It would be another three years before Ellen got her kiss on prime time television, not cable. Will & Grace premiered in 1998. We were all older than our tweens now when we saw representation hit the airwaves, though I don’t remember reading a book in the 90s with a gay character—or hell, many characters of color. We’re still working on it, but we have hope for our children.

Our tweens are witnessing something good. They’re being taught an important lesson that many of my generational counterparts are still struggling to believe.

You’re. Not. Broken.

You’re Not Broken