I will never forget being fourteen. It was the first time I fell madly, truly, deeply in la,la,love, the first time I traveled away without my parents, the first time I allowed my tender heart to break, and the first time anyone has ever held a ruler to my hair. Say what? Yes, it is true. In the days of big hair and even bigger shoulder pads, my sweet "just have a little steak" mother set a very firm rule with her second, look-like-an-eighteen-year-old daughter. The law laid was very understandable and quite necessary. My hair was only allowed to be a wee three inches high. My mother's dainty little hands literally took a sewing ruler, whose movable red arrow was permanently set at three inches and carefully measured my blonde, Aqua Net bangs-to-heaven hair every morning. OH! And how could I forget about rule #2? No more than two shades of eyeshadow could be worn at any one given time. Shoot! Because I preferred three. Blue, green, and of course pink, spread across my baby-skinned eyelids, from lash line to brow in solid, horizontal blocks. Yes baby, it was hot.
My silly little mind has been thinking about those tender teenage years quite a bit lately. A picture that my daughter posted on facebook of her beautiful and amazing self with her kind and sensitive beau reminded me just how innocent those years really were. When I saw it, I had one of those "in reverse" moments and so I penned her a quick message and hoped some of the wisdom that her mother gained from her youth would somehow touch and resonate with her.
There were many times during those years that I felt the strains of restriction. I grew up in a home with very loving parents and the best three brothers and four sisters that in total made us a commodity to most. My father was the hero and my mother was a saint. They did their very best to raise us with love and taught us every good and worthy thing that a saint and a hero could expose without being transfigured within the blink of an eye. But because I was a teenage girl, I often felt the same growing pains that every young lass will naturally feel. I believe it was at four plus ten that I wholeheartedly began a journey of self discovery that will continue until the day I die. There are times when I get caught in reverse, stand still a bit too long on a single red brick along the rose-lined path, run ahead a little too fast too soon, or even stumble and fall because I tend to get distracted and forget to watch my step. We are all on our very own personal path to progression but the secret, my friends, is not that we continue to move forward, though that is the goal. No, no. The real secret is understanding that we all move at our own pace. Let us forgive each other when we don't quite make it to the next pit stop in time and cheer each other on no matter how far back in the distance they may appear to be from us. Besides, they are most likely closer than our beautiful and twinkly eyes can judge. Often times we think we are looking back at someone when, in fact, we have become so turned around ourselves that what seems to be behind us is actually right in front of those bright and sparkly eyes!! How much faster can we travel when we are not heavily burdened with a million and two eyes watching and whispering about our every move? And how much lighter will we feel when someone graciously forgives our silly mistakes because they realize how many sillier mistakes they have made themselves. Yes. Understanding and forgiveness is the secret. Hmmm...I think I have just created world peace. Where is my tiara? Pretty please make it out of flowers, not gold.
Looking back I am so thankful for the experiences in my life that have lead me to this place in time. A mother of two brilliant, wonderful and amazing teenagers and a ten year old who listens with bright eyes and a smirky grin as we discuss the wins and woes of these tender teenage moments in time. As I share a few of my own, may your memories be sparked with your own experiences. Allow them to be what they are and find the silver lining lesson because each and every one has that hidden message that was meant just for you.
I'll begin a bit before ten plus four...
Not being able to go out to play in the rain may have threatened to teach me to contain the need to entertain but instead I learned how to daydream. The intoxicating sound of the pitter patter on the window taught me to romanticize life to the most enchanting rhythm. But how much more enchanting a childhood is when one is allowed to play in the puddles? If I have to push them in myself, my children will play in puddles. The rain is at the tippy top of my favorites list and the days that the desert is blessed with moisture are the days when my favorite day dreamy moments come back to mind and I melt in to my own puddle. Ahhh...and play there for a while.
Having silly (and not in a good way) women judge me according to my appearance and actions may have brought tears to my blues, but it ever so gracefully taught me exactly how to love a teenager unconditionally. PS- Misjudge my someones? Go on. I dare you. But do remember from a previous post that I know Tae Bo and I have a short list of people you can dial that will verify and testify to you that my uppercuts and back kicks hit wicked hard...
#1. Billy Blanks
#2. Johnny Mayer PS- I love-hate you.
#3. You know who you are
My saintly mother had the best intentions when raising her own five Bennett daughters. Like one of my favorite, most spirited Jane Austen characters, Mrs. Bennett wanted so badly to marry her daughters off and my mother had the same domestic desire for us. Getting an education was not a priority taught in our home because motherhood was much more important. Oh how I agree that motherhood is the highest calling and one that should be valued more than any other. But an educated mother can be such blessing in her home and a fabulous asset to her children and husband. Not having the opportunity to experience college life in my youth is not something I regret. On the contrary! While it would have been so much easier to have accomplished that very worthy goal before I began having my blonde haired, blue eyed babies, I have gained one of the most beautiful realizations about myself. I can do very hard things. Taking five classes while running a household is not a piece of vegan carrot cake but guess what? I can do it! I may have to sacrifice my goal of being valedictorian so I can still get at least a silver star (okay, so on most days it is the bronze) on my mommy chart at the end of each day but I can do it. Most importantly I can teach my children that THEY can do hard things and that the ones they fear the most are those they should always attempt. Even if they fail at the first try, there is always tomorrow to start over again. Nothing is ever as hard or as scary as we make it appear.
Loving someone so much but feeling like it all went to waste taught me that my heart is really my own. I can share it with you if I choose, but you never get to have it. Not even a little piece. No...not even a little sliver. One's heart is much too valuable to simply give away. Sharing it is the most sacred gift you can give to someone else but reserving all rights to it is the most precious gift you can give yourself. Your heart is what keeps you in existence. It belongs to you and your Maker alone. You can not give it away or you would cease to survive, therefore you can only share it with those who you choose. Love is what you create it to be, but remember it is you that has created it and therefore you can make it be whatever you wish it to be. So you see, as a fourteen year old girl, I thought my heart had been broken. At sixteen I thought it had been shattered. At eighteen I thought it was dying a thousand deaths. But it really hadn't. It is still there and I am still alive. I can move on and recreate love as I wish. I can live with no bitterness towards those who didn't want to share it and play nicely anymore. We all have our bad days and a little space and time has the potential to heal every deep cut wound. So if they are ever ready to play nicely again, I can smile, wink, throw my arms around them and come out to play again! Childlike forgiveness and love is my favorite thing to witness. The silver lining? Need I say more? Because I can almost ALWAYS say more so I will because it is my blog and I can write to my heart's content! The additional silver lining is that as a thirty something mother, I can hold my sixteen year old daughter in my arms as she sobs the first (and second and third and fourth) time that she feels that her heart has been broken or even worse, feels the pain and remorse that comes from breaking someone else's heart. Again, I know and I understand. Cry, my dear...just cry. I will explain this all to you later. And remind me to introduce you to water-proof mascara.
I have many more but I think I have shared enough for one day. Like I said I could go on and on and on but I wish to leave you with this one last final lesson learned:
My mother measuring my hair every morning was a silly story but it also taught me something very valuable as I raise my very own angel faces. If we don't allow our children a little permission to be them, they will one day rebel, as I have. Yesterday was my quarterly cut and color day. The inches that I lost off the bottom I rebelliously added as volume to the top. I am a thirty something woman and I can wear my hair as high as I want now. OH! And I can paint on three shades of eyeshadow any day of the week! The only difference is that I have a classier palette and I know how to blend them beautifully together to look like a Savannah sunset! From lash to brow!!
Now go and find all of your own little big hair lessons to share instead of making them bitter tragedies with no repair. xoxoxo
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