Letters written from a momma to her two teenage daughters.
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Dear Lauren and Lydia,
Today I sat at the far back table in the corner at Bread Co. I just wanted a little quiet time to myself to think, type, drink my chai tea latte in peace. I don’t have that kind of time often so I wanted to cherish an hour of peace. Ironically enough…a dozen high school girls came in and put tables together and plopped down right in my little cozy back room area.
Get a dozen high school girls together and you can imagine…the quiet was gone. So hey…if you can’t have quiet, why not eavesdrop, so eavesdrop I did.
They were talking about Prom. It’s the season. Time to find the right dress and figure out the right hair style and get nails done and make up and figure out where to eat and where to take pictures and order flowers and pay for the dance and get a limo (which by the way I now know is $100 an hour and has a 4 hour minimum limit!!!!). They were excited and animated and they were scheduling their group of friends and their activities down to the minute so that they could all be together. It was like a business meeting…just with a lot more excitement and loudness.
I left after awhile. The girls had started leaving one at a time so the excitement was dying down. I left wondering about the whole thing.
I didn’t go to prom when I was in high school so maybe the whole thing is just lost on me. Kind of like alcohol, cigarettes and drugs. If you’ve never had ‘em you really don’t miss ‘em because they have no meaning to you, no context.
What I know about prom is that everybody gets way dressed up. Lots of pictures are taken. You need a guy to go with you, or possibly a group of girls. You go to a fancy restaurant before the dance and eat…although the way these girls talked they were eating before hand, maybe they wouldn’t want to mess up their dress or something…or look like they ate too much, who knows. You go to a dance and it has some type of theme. You take more pictures and I’m assuming people actually dance and then what…? I’m sure lots of people change back into their real clothes and go hang out or do other some other type of activities (keeping it G rated here:). I know some schools and parents even plan activities all night after the dance to deliberately keep kids busy with good options. And then wala it’s done.
Why do people feel the need for prom?
How has it gotten to be such a huge deal? Seriously…today I sat there and added up the expenses and I figure that most parents are shelling out over $500 by the time it’s all said and done for this event.
I assume they do it because it’s a milestone, a night to remember, a night when your daughter will hopefully feel beautiful.
Stop the tapes…
I got out to my car and couldn’t help but think…aren’t there better ways to help you girls feel beautiful? Aren’t there better uses of money? Is prom really a milestone that is important or have we Americans just done our normal wacky thing where we make small stuff seem huge.
Does this kind of thing happen in any other country? I wonder.
It’s not even just a one time deal. You can go your junior and senior year. So for you guys that would mean probably around $2000 by the time it was all said and done. Maybe I’m old. (Don’t answer that:) But wow…I could take you somewhere amazing for a few days for that amount of money. Heck that’s at least two round trips tickets to Europe!
You girls are homeschooling so I guess I took special notice today because I know this is a milestone you won’t have. Unless we do some kind of in home prom thing or something:).Wouldn’t that be fun (I can hear your groans:).
I didn’t go to prom because dancing was against our religion at the time. Plain out ridiculous. That’s not why I would have you not go. But honestly…I think there are better ways to make you feel beautiful and surely better ways to give you a great memory. Ways that would actually last, or be meaningful.
Sorry girls…I feel the same way about weddings. I just think it’s ridiculous to spend the kind of money people spend on weddings for a couple hours of time. I want to do right by you two and I will. But I will not go wacko. How about a nice honeymoon or even help with a downpayment on a house…now that’s something I can go for.
I know it doesn’t sound glamourous when I talk this way and maybe you won’t agree. I know people, reasonable parents spend that kind of money on their kids all the time to go to Prom and must think nothing of it…but today I just realized…I can’t buy into it. Not because of religion…just because of common sense.
I want you to feel beautiful. I want you to have romance and good memories in your life. But I don’t think prom is the answer or the best use of funds.
I want us to be far more creative. I want to start thinking about some milestones that would really be good, lasting, meaningful, actually have the desired effect.
Can you imagine how many girls go to prom and then don’t get along with their boyfriend or have girl drama going on the whole night?!?
Girls…I’d like to do something different for you. I want to be generous…I just want to give you good gifts. And I have to say…I think this prom thing is not a good gift. I think it’s just a tradition we’re stuck with here in America for no real good reason.
I realize in saying this I won’t be winning friends or scoring points with other parents. I don’t care if they send their child to prom every year…feel free. If it does something for you and your child. But if not…why not do something different, think out of the box, find other ways to feel beautiful and special and to make a great memory.
Everything is permissible but not everything is beneficial…that pretty much sums up how I feel about prom.
Love your momma who at the risk of screwing up your teenage years is having you forego Prom…now a trip to Europe…that I’m open to
Dear Lauren and Lydia,
Today we’re celebrating our Christmas together. It’s not Christmas day. Not even Christmas Eve. And this is pretty much our tradition. We are one of those families that never really is able to celebrate at home on the actual days. That’s what happens when you live out of state.
I’ve tried a whole bunch of different approaches over the years. I’ve carted “our” gifts to Michigan so that you could actually open them on the right day. We’ve opened gifts early like we are today. We’ve opened a gift a day over a time period to stretch the experience out. Etc.
I grew up opening Christmas gifts at home on Christmas Eve and then going to Grandparents houses on Christmas Day.
Sometimes it seems like the holiday gatherings get a bit complicated.
This is true for most people really. Large families trying to coordinate. Families where there are multiple families to consider because of a variety of reasons… It’s just reality.
I like tradition. And yet the reality is no matter what day we choose to open our gifts it’s ok. There is nothing really all that magical about Christmas Day vs. today.
I wonder how it will be for you guys someday. Someday you’ll most likely have other families to consider and then throw in the whole Michigan factor and all of the family there and it could very well get quite complicated.
I just want you to know in advance. Whatever works for you and your families is fine by me. I’ve spent a long time now without the traditional days and times with you two and we’ve always made it work.
The holidays can become a thing of stress where people have expectations and where certain traditions must be fulfilled or it’s upsetting. I’m just going to let that go even before we cross that bridge.
I will always enjoy a good visit with you and your family on any day of the week. I will enjoy giving you and your family good gifts all year long. You and your husband will need to sort through what works best for you and your kiddos someday. Whatever you decide…it’s ok.
Love your momma who is looking forward to our Christmas today on the 22nd:).
Dear Lauren and Lydia,
Last night we went out to eat at Princavalli’s. It’s a local pizza place that we tend to migrate to on Friday nights. We were sat down at a high table up on our swivel seats and proceeded to order the same thing we order every time. It’s routine:). But the conversation was different.
Yesterday I wrote a letter about my restless nature. About God’s plan for our life, etc. You both read it, pondered it and opened the conversation up with some tough questions. Be still my beating heart:). Where some people would be threatened by their teenager asking questions about free will vs. God’s sovereignty and do we really have free will anyway and does God already know who will be saved etc. I welcome those kind of questions.
First…it tells me your thinking, you’re working out your own faith, you’re seeking and when we seek God we find Him. True story.
Second…it tells me that we have a safe enough relationship that it’s ok to question…you don’t have to just repeat back to me what the sunday school answers are or what you think you’re mom might say or believe. You’re allowed to have free thought for yourself.
When I was a kid…this didn’t happen for most people until they went away to college. Kids would go to college and all of a sudden start asking tough questions, questions that were initiated by professors and it was sink or swim time. A lot of kids threw out the baby with the bath water when it came to their faith all because the rote answers they had learned their whole life weren’t enough.
I’m not into rote answers. I could write down more trite sayings of the faith than you can imagine and I have to tell you…if I have a pet peeve, those trite sayings rank pretty high on the list.
Think for yourself. Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. Ask tough questions.
God is big enough to handle you.
God is not for one moment threatened or angered by our doubts, our questions, our not understanding anymore than a parent of a two year old gets angry about the questions a two year old asks. In fact…I kind of think God gets a twinkle in His eye when we come to Him and ask and are curious and seek to understand. We have eternity to get to know God…it will take that long.
So…while everyone else sat around their tables talking about the weather and weekend plans…we talked about freewill and God and cancer and other hard subjects.
I could tell the question from you Lauren was more than just from reading my letter. You started to talk about a sunday school class you were in, in middle school and how this question came up…are we just puppets that God pulls the string on or do we have free will? To my delight…and pride in you…you didn’t bite and say the easy answer…of course the answer that was being looked for was …”Oh no…we have free will.” But instead you said…”I think it’s a bit of both.” A plus…my girlee.
The sentence that threw you off in my letter yesterday was the one about God having our book all written out. We also talked about Psalm 139. We read it every week lately. The Psalm says that our days are ordered, every breath, word, thought known before it is spoken. If we look at this from one direction…our direction, it can feel that…wow maybe I don’t really have any freewill. I mean it’s already all written down before my first day began. But…if we look at it from God’s perspective…a timeless perspective where there is no beginning, middle and end but the whole spectrum can be seen in one full swoop…it’s not about being a puppet. It’s just about how all knowing our God is.
I tried to explain it this way. When you were young I could easily order for you at a restaurant. In fact I could probably easily order even today for you…not because you have to eat those things…but because I know you and I know what you will choose. How much more is it with God…who created us, who knit us together. You are not a robot…you are just known. Being known by God in that way should I hope let you know how much you are loved. Why would God choose to know the numbers of hairs on your head…it’s crazy…I mean what purpose could it serve…none, except simply to let you know that He knows you deeply, deeper than anybody else ever will, deeper than you will even know yourself.
So yes…Lauren today He knows how this day will be spent, what we will talk about, where we will go, what thoughts you will have that you give no voice too…but it’s not because He’s controlling you…it’s because He knows you. That kind of knowing just blows my mind!
Girls…we must be ok with living in the mystery of God. We must be ok with unanswered questions and things we don’t understand. We want God to be that amazing. We want Him to be that out of this world. I’m thankful for the moments when I do get a sense of who He is…but there are many, many areas that are a complete puzzle to me. This is ok. Live in the mystery. Ask tough questions. Wonder. Doubt. Think through stuff for yourself. Don’t recite trite answers. They’re worthless. Seek God. He will always be found.
Last night again, I sat with you in the car Lauren while Lydia was at a movie with friends and was amazed at how different I am as a mom compared to my mom. How different the time period is, the culture of today vs. when I was a kid. Yes you are not as “innocent” as I was. But…much has been gained. I would’ve never had these conversations with my mom. It would’ve never occurred to me to ask tough questions and to talk so incredibly heart to heart and my mom is wonderful. It just wasn’t done back then. When I was your age i was a fountain of answers…answers that were taught to me. I could tell you the right answer every time…but I hadn’t worked it into the fiber of my being. I hadn’t asked tough questions and thrown out some of those answers. Probably didn’t til college.
Last night we had that conversation Lauren and then went to Barnes and Noble and then road the river road together mapping out our bike ride for today, how many miles we wanted to bike. On the river road you chose the music for the car and we cranked it loud and acted silly…I never would’ve listened to much of anything but the local Christian radio station with my mom. Last night we listened to everything from adele, to “Moves like Mick Jagger” to worship music, etc. I couldn’t help but think in my mind and compare and realize how different I am as a mom to you. The music was loud, we were dancing in our seats…I would’ve never done that with my mom. It was a different time. Lauren…and Lydia when I spend time with you in this way, I am incredibly grateful that our life together is so incredibly open and real and wide and safe.
Please keep asking hard questions. Question what I say. I don’t have a handle on all of Truth. I only know what I believe and have come to trust. I hope my life is an example for you, one you would want to follow…but I also want you to think for yourself and to know that God can handle that.
If you were going to put a bunch of people in a room and have half the room all recite the same answers to every problem we face and the other half of the room ask questions and wonder and cry and get angry now and then but come to peace and believe…which side do you think God would be more a part of? If we’re not careful we can take religion and make it robotic. We can get uncomfortable with the amazing freewill we have, the amazing freedom God gives and set up our own boundaries. But that’s not who God is. God trusts you and wants relationship with you and will lead you and direct you, but never force the issue. You have freewill…choose well and trust that when you don’t God will redeem.
Love your momma who loves the way you think:). Your momma who loves singing and dancing with you to all of your favorite tunes.