Sunday, October 27, 2013

A letter to my 15-year old self
*This is a repeat of a blog I originally posted in March, 2013. Melissa is now 16, but the words still ring true!

During a recent trip to the book store, I found myself flipping through the pages of a hard cover  collection of letters by celebrities to their 15-year old selves.  Since then, I have often wondered what I would tell my 15-year old self.

I look at my daughter Melissa, well into her 15th year, and I see a young lady full of life and spirit.  Most evenings, when home work is complete, she'll sit on the couch and pick up her guitar and start strumming away, sometimes adding her sweet vocals to the mix.

My 15-year old self longed to be so much like the 15-year old young lady I marvel at now.  I longed to step into the spotlight and mesmerize audiences with my amazing talent.....but alas, my lack of said talent, along with an inability to sing on key, kept that dream at bay.  Instead, God blessed my beautiful girl with that ability.  Perhaps he just wanted to save it for the next generation, or perhaps the blessing is that I can now revel in my daughter's gifts from the perspective of a mother, and know that those gifts are also my own.

So as I watch my daughter evolve into such a remarkable young woman, I try to remember how I perceived the world when I turned 15.  Shy, insecure, with a stream of never-ending crushes on boys whose names I no longer remember.  So full of wonder for my future.  Would I ever feel pretty, thin, or at least comfortable in my own body?  Would I ever find someone who would love me?  Would I ever experience the joy of becoming a mother?  Would I use my love of writing in a way where I actually might make money?   Would I go to college?  Make new friends?  Travel?

Of course, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding YES.  However, I would not reveal that to my 15-year old self, for I wouldn't want to spoil the surprise, or run the risk that my words of comfort could cause actions that would change my future and the place of contentment and happiness that defines my world now.

So, to my 15-year old self, I write the following words.

Dear 15-year old Lisa,

You will experience joy and endless laughter.  You will find friendships so strong their bonds are unbreakable.  You will discover the love of a man only found in fairy tales.  You will also learn that, at times, life may throw challenges at you.  Tears and heartache will fill your heart...but it will pass, and you'll be better and stronger for it.  

Quite simply, please Lisa, just follow your heart and I promise, everything will be ok.

With love,
Your 47-year old self

And to my own daughter, who, despite her active life full of music, friends, laughter, and love, still asks herself some of the same questions that once plagued her mother, I write the following words.

Dear Melissa, 

I lack the ability to gaze into a crystal ball and reveal what awaits you in the years to come.  But I can say with near certainty, my words of wisdom to my 15-year old self are the same words I will share with you.  

Quite simply, my dear sweet girl, just follow your heart and I promise, everything will be ok.

With love, 
Your mommy

Mother and daughter bonding during a recent trip to Disney!

I love getting feedback!  If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Teaching Melissa to Drive

"Mom, will you help me study for my driver's ed test?" pleaded my 16-year old daughter Melissa.

I admit, I tried to pretend I didn't hear her request.

Why, you ask?

Shouldn't I be a dutiful mother and help my child study?


I had just plopped my weary bones onto the couch in the family room where my husband Bob had been enjoying his mandatory "Sunday Evening Sports TV Viewing".

Switch to hockey.
Switch back to football.
And so on.....

I had recently returned from food shopping, put away the groceries, poured myself a diet coke, and filled a bowl with pretzels.  Yes! The woman who never sits still might actually (it's so hard to even say the word) RELAX!

Alas, t'was not meant to be.  My baby needed me. Football and hockey and yes, even Bob, would have to wait.

We settled in at the kitchen table where Melissa handed me a sheet of paper with answers to common sense driving questions scribbled across the page.

Q. What does the fuel gauge measure?
A. Duh.

Q. What does the steering wheel do?
A. Duh.

Q. What does the flux capaciter do?
A. Send Michael J. Fox back to 1956 (Just kidding, that question really wasn't on her test)

After 30 minutes of mindless back and forth, it suddenly occurred to me that a real life scenario would do a much better job of reinforcing the rules of the road.

So, for the first time in my life, I let my daughter, my sweet little girl, my baby.....GET BEHIND THE WHEEL OF A CAR!!!

Before the local law enforcement officers arrest me for allowing a cherub to drive a car without a permit, rest assured that we did nothing more than sit in the driveway with the motor running.

Yes, that's right. I actually had Melissa put the key in the ignition. And, as the engine roared to life, she shuddered with equal parts anticipation and equal parts terror!

After she marveled at the ability to adjust the seat and steering wheel to her liking, I pointed out the mundane aspects of our automobile.

Speedometer - check

Odometer - check

Fuel gauge - check

Rear view mirror - check

Brake - check


She stepped on the accelerator so hard, had the car not been in "Park", it would have crashed through the garage, the living room, the family room, the bathroom, the kitchen, our neighbor's house...etc.

Unable to hide her surprise, Melissa turned to me and gasped, "I DIDN'T EXPECT IT TO DO THAT!  (followed by a few choice expletives)

My response?

I simply threw my head back and laughed and laughed and laughed.

As we walked back into the house she mumbled in fear about never, ever getting behind the wheel again, a sentiment that's just fine with me, because 16 is simply way too young to operate such a complex piece of machinery.

My, how I have changed.

For years I counted down the days until the calendar turned to April 22, 1981.  For on that day, I would turn 16.  Then I could finally experience the thrill of getting into the driver's seat, turning the key in the ignition, and taking off to anywhere I wanted to go!  No more walking or riding a bike for me....I'd be a legal, licensed driver!!

Until I reached that fateful birthday, "pretend" driving would have to suffice.  As a young school girl, my friends and I would climb behind the wheel of my mother's "no longer functioning" 1969 Rambler. I am sure, at some point in time, my mother actually drove the Rambler. However, for as long as I can remember, the car sat idle, defunct, parked outside of our house, a perfect vehicle to propel young imaginations to a future where, as licensed drivers, we could travel to the supermarket, the bank, the drug store and all sorts of "exotic" locations frequented by our hum drum parents.

The 1969 Rambler

Finally, the day came for me to take my driver's test, and I am embarrassed to say........I failed.  To this day, I blame my ineptitude on my mother, who had the nerve to start an argument with me on the way to the Department of Motor Vehicles. (Now that I am the mother of a 16-year old, I can say with much certainty that the fight was most likely started by my 16-year old self, not my mom.)

A few weeks later, I tried again, with dad as my escort to the Department of Motor Vehicles.  This time, I am happy to say.......I PASSED!  I could now, finally fulfill my life-long ambition to drive a car!

The envy of all of my "not yet 16" friends, I couldn't wait to hit the road.  My parents purchased a huge, ugly, brown, boat-sized vehicle that I happily navigated throughout the streets of my neighborhood. The front seat, wide enough for a basketball player to sleep comfortably, stretched straight across, without any pesky gear shifts or cup holders separating the driver's side from the passenger's.  Every weekend I trekked the short distance to my "not yet 16" friend Wendy's house. She'd hop into the car I had affectionately named "Betsy Boat" and slid all the way over until she was practically sitting on top of me. Then I let her take the wheel of the car, while I controlled the brake and accelerator, and around the town we drove!

How we were never arrested, I'll never know.

Wendy and me

Today, Wendy and I are both moms to 16-year olds. Will our kids try the same type of "illegal" shenanigans with their friends?  We'll probably never know.

What's more, as moms we now have to worry about technology that didn't exist during the dinosaur era when we learned to operate a vehicle.

Will our kids reach for their phone while cruising down the highway?

Will our kids have the patience to wait to respond to the familiar ding of an incoming text until they are safely out of the car?


I could forbid Melissa to drive until she's 30, but I know that her urge to get behind the wheel will continue to grow stronger until I'll be forced to relent.

I'm sure, in a few months or so, after I finally get used to the idea that I gave birth to a child who can drive, I'll appreciate her willingness to run out for a gallon of milk.  But for now, I am, quite simply, just not ready to let her become a licensed driver.....because that also means I'll have to try to let her go.

And I can't.

Oh well, maybe she'll fail driver's ed.  One can only hope!

I love getting feedback. If you like my stories, please tell me in the comments section below!