Things That Don't Get Enough Attention

Recently, through the grapevine, I heard the jealous murmur of a child who was bemoaning the lack of mention in her mother's blog. While I am sure that Natalee was elated to have her anger issues showcased on a public forum, and Aspen never gets tired of having her cuteness promoted, and Halle is just weird enough to be mentioned at least monthly, poor MacKenzie, the upper middle child, is all but lost and forgotten. So Kizzie, this is for you:

Dear MacKenzie:

I was 15 once. When I was 15, I was aware of two things: boys, and how painfully unfashionable I was. At 15, I began an evolution of personality. Before I discovered the important things in life like The Avett Brothers and Frye Boots, I decided that I liked daisies and sunflowers and hippies that didn't smoke pot (because I didn't really know what pot was then). I liked poems, Shakespeare, beautiful language. I loved the stage, mostly because for a few brief minutes, the whole world was looking at me (including boys), and I was beautiful (or at least OK). I liked iced mochas with lots of whipped cream and rope licorice. I liked shopping at Goodwill for brand names I gleaned from my stylish cousin (BTW, Katey - I don't think The Limited was ever cool for 15 year olds). I liked my one brand new pair of Gap Jeans that Grandma Schiffman bought me for my birthday. I liked my big dog Frankie who looked like a black and tan Truck and was my best friend. I liked Jessa and Aimee and Muriel and Andy and Misti and Melissa, and pretty much every boy I knew. When I was 15, I thought I was fat. What I would give to be that fat now. When I was 15, my parents didn't understand the first thing about being 15, being in love, or being cool. How can a sophisticated 15 year old ever listen to parents who clearly had no clue, and no interest in getting a clue. At 15, I was grounded pretty much every other week. I was grounded for bad attitudes, for being unkind (hateful, mom always said) to my sister. I was grounded for writing notes to boys, for wearing clothes that were outside of the rules my parents had set (and for the record, their rules were IMMEASURABLY more strict that mine are for you, ask them). I was grounded for not taking care of my chores at home (which again, where IMMEASURABLY more than yours, but don't ask my parents about that one.), and for mouthing off, sort of like a certain 15 year old I know now does to her parents. When I was 15, I was in love with at least 4 different boys. There was Jake, there was Peter, there was Jim Miller, and oh my gosh - Forrest Greenough. All of these passionate love affairs occurred after I had experienced the wisening of love gone wrong with Jason Dotson, and Nate, and probably a few others that I can't remember now. None of these passionate love affairs included kissing. My first kiss was a few days after I turned 17. Lack of opportunity? I guess so. I guess I didn't have the opportunistic setting of an unsupervised school hallway, and truthfully, I am very thankful for that. I wish I could tell you that if I had the same opportunities that you have, I would have made only the best and wisest choices, but to be perfectly honest, I am not sure what I would have done in some of those settings. 

I know what I wanted. I remember fantasies of being swept off my feet and having my heart stolen by a dark haired class clown... I wanted to be the girl that every boy wanted but only one boy had. In many ways, I still do. Doesn't every girl want to be wanted like that? I guess what I am trying to tell you is that I understand. I  know you think I don't, that I am just a frumpy mom who doesn't Even Know How It Feels, but I do. I remember wishing with EVERY OUNCE OF WISH in me that a certain boy would happen to be downtown when I rode my bike there. We didn't have cell phones and Facebook then; just wishful telepathy and parents who liked to hang out at Goodwill. I know it feels hard to deal with sisters and parents and all of the pressures at school - I can only imagine the school part, except that I remember how it feels to be so very different and wish desperately to be The Same. Now I value being different. Being different is the only thing that makes me the girl that every boy wants (they totally do) but only Josh has. Being different is what makes it possible for me to say I have never been fired from a job and every boss I have had would still love to take me back. Being different means that I can CHOOSE what I do with my life, whom I share it with, and how I want it to look. Being different means that I can listen to The Avett Brothers and Eminem and Frank Sinatra all on the same playlist and Halle's friends think I am cool (ok, that's a little risky). I know right now the most important thing for you seems to be survival, but what survival means to you now will be vastly different from survival when you are 22, or 32, and beyond that, I can only imagine (since I am not that old yet). It wasn't until after Natalee was born that I truly gained an appreciation for my parents, and the fact that they did their absolute best to raise me the right way. There are no perfect parents, but I will give mine an A for effort, even if I choose to do some things differently. I trust, and hope, and pray that someday you will look at me with the same eyes. If you feel about me someday the way that I feel about my mom and dad, then I will feel like I did ok. I don't expect you to like me now. I don't expect to be your buddy, even when you steal my clothes and make me cookies. I expect to be your mom, imperfectly, and often very badly. I am an awkward mom. I don't hug well. If you need a hug, you might have to steal it from me. If you need a pat on the back, you might have to remind me. But if you need a kick in the butt bottom, I will probably remind you. It's ok if you hate me now. It's ok if you keep throwing fits for a few more years, or decades. I have faith that you will be just fine. You are beautiful, and talented and intelligent. You are different, and it will serve you well. I hope you will learn to place a high value on your heart and your love, because there are many unworthy people out there, and Josh and I can't stand to see you wasted, so you can plan on a fight until YOU see your worth. I remember 15, Kizzie. Like it was yesterday. I remember the clothes and the smells, the music and the hair and the boys. I remember looking for my space, my self, my soul. I remember how strong the feelings are, how intense the problems seem, and how alone you can feel. But there is another side to 15, and I know that you will arrive there beautiful and ready for 16. Because you are my girl. 

I love you.



  1. Oh my gosh, Liv, I came across my picture just last month from when we were paiges back in the day for Rep. Steve Fuhrman. How funny to see you post your pic! Wow- seems like a lifetime ago...


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