Yesterday I picked up my oldest from the airport. She graduated from college last May, and then spent the summer as a counselor at an idyllic camp in the Adirondacks. Now she is figuring out the “what comes next” part of her life.
What follows is a letter I wrote, but never shared with her. I hesitated sharing it on the blog. But what the heck. I’m just going to throw it out there. After all, my goal of blogging is to give hope. Maybe this letter will accomplish that.
And then I’m pulling the whole post together with a recipe for the ice cream I made on her first night back home. Because what goes better with tears than ice cream? Am I right?
Here it goes.
I am sitting in the writing class I am taking part in (and loving), thinking of you. Each day begins with a writing prompt, and time to write.
For today’s prompt, we viewed a music video. The song was familiar to me, as years ago it got some playtime on the radio. It’s called “Everybody’s Free (to wear sunscreen)” by Baz Luhrman. After watching, a member of our leadership team, a high school English teacher, shared a letter she had written to the students in her AP Lit class. Her letter was so incredibly powerful. I was fighting back tears, and had a hard time swallowing due to the big lump that had formed in my throat. In the letter, she summed up the message(s) of each of the books her students had studied over the course of the year.
This one in particular made me think of you. The summary is hers.
The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
We all carry burdens, which are integral aspects of our journeys. Your burdens will vary in weight and intensity at different times in your life. The key to peace is finding healthy ways to release or at least diminish the weight. One of the most challenging life lessons is to know how and when to lay your burden down and to know you don’t have to carry unnecessary weight that you or others may put upon you. Stay true to your story, and if you want to keep someone or some experience with you, share the stories again and again.
I’m not sure how you feel about getting advice, and I know you’re not a fan of inspirational sayings, but I do know that you have a love and appreciation for books with meaningful messages. And I know that you think deeply. Too deeply at times.
I’ve been thinking about you a lot, hoping and praying that your experiences this summer will open your eyes to a different kind of life…a kinder, simpler, more honest type of life. I cannot completely understand all that you have gone through these past few years, BUT, I am hopeful that you will begin to see life through a different lens. One that allows you to focus on who you are, and what you want. One that silences the voices telling you that you need to be perfect. One that allows you to “just be”, and not worry about what comes next.
I often say you take after your dad. And you do. In many ways. But truthfully, there’s a lot of me in you. My heart aches when you are in pain. I want so much to help you, but yet I realize that it’s not me that can help you. It needs to be you that helps you.
But I also want you to know that you will never be alone. I will always be there by your side. Ready to listen, to talk, to hold you close. Even though our journeys have been different, and our issues have manifested in different ways, we share so much.
There is nothing I want more for you than for you to be happy. Yet as I write those words, I know it’s not realistic. Life is not always sunshine and roses. Nor should it be. It’s impossible to appreciate the highs when there are no lows. The lows mold us into the person we are to become by providing opportunities for reflection and growth. Understanding that life is a series of ebbs and flows helps us get through the tough times.
So maybe what I really want for you is to feel confident, and to experience life without feeling a need to be perfect. I want you to go out and live your dreams. I want you to know that life is made up of good times and not so good times, and no matter how dark the sky, the sun eventually shines. I want you to worry less, and enjoy life more.
Most importantly, I want you to know that no matter what you are going through, I will always be there for you.
I am so incredibly proud of you. I am proud of you for the courage and strength you have shown…for digging your way out of a dark, scary place…for taking an honest look at yourself and changing what wasn’t working…for sharing your experience and starting conversations that need to be had.
I am proud to be your mom.
I will always love you. With all my heart.
Okay. Ready for the worst transition ever?
Let’s talk ice cream. Let’s talk 4 ingredient ice cream!
Kristin’s dessert of choice has always been ice cream! When I asked her what kind she would like, I already knew the answer. And I already had a recipe in mind…only 4 ingredients! If you don’t have an ice cream maker, invest in one. They are very reasonably priced, and you just can’t beat the taste and texture of homemade ice cream!
Chocolate Ice Cream
(recipe by Katie Higgins of Chocolate Covered Katie, modified slightly)
1 can full fat coconut milk
1/3 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. cacao powder
1/8 t. salt
Stir ins as desired. I threw in some Enjoy Life chocolate chips. Because you can never get too much chocolate.
Whisk all ingredients together. Refrigerate overnight. Place in ice cream maker, making sure you read manufactures instructions beforehand. (Unlike yours truly who didn’t, and then needed her husband to come rescue her.) Obviously, (that one’s for you KEH) the ice cream maker should be turned on BEFORE pouring in the batter. Stir in your “extras” if desired. I put the ice cream in the freezer to get a bit more solid, but you certainly could skip that step!
Now go out and buy an ice cream maker before summer ends!