Tonight, I had the opportunity to drop off my teenage daughter and some of her girlfriends at a local mall. Before getting in the car my daughter, in typical teenage fashion, gave me the rundown and my rules: I was not to ask any embarrassing questions. I was not to say anything embarrassing. I was not to be embarrassing. To look embarrassing.
Simply a teenage trap. Because, let’s face it everything that parents do is pretty much mortifying to teens. I remember this all too well. My mom had a knack for mastering this art. And not caring. She knew what was up.
Driving towards the mall with a carful of teenage giggles, I thought I had “not embarrassing” covered. But then, LIPPS INC Funkytown came on the radio. The air violin was in the cup holder waiting to be grabbed. It was within reach. BUT, this probably could be filed in the embarrassing category. Wait, I’m pretty sure this always would be filed in the embarrassing category.
My daughter would declare with a look or horror, “Mom, stop! Please. Stop! That song is from the 90’s!”
She calls all old(ish) songs from the 90’s. All of them. We listened to Don McLean’s American Pie the other night, which bonus! she knows, but as the song continued into minute 5,000 she said, “That’s a great 90’s song, mom. But, it’s really, really long. Like, why is it still on? Can we change this now?”
But I digress…
As we drove to the mall, three teenagers and a mom who feels like her teenage years were not so long ago (no comment), we found a topic that was agreeable and not embarrassing: our collective love for Forever 21. Everyone in the car agreed that this was their favorite store in the new Town Center. I also gave a shout out to Ann Taylor Loft, but they were less than interested. Embarrassing!
Teens and young adults love Forever 21 because it’s fun. And cheap. And cheap. And fun. I tend to love Forever 21 because I am all of 60 and one-quarter inches tall. This is the perfect place to find random pieces of clothing that stop where they should. Namely, at my knees or feet. If you are a normal sized person, you have no idea what I am talking about. Your clothing probably always stops where it should. Lucky you. 🙂 You would also probably not understand why shorties absolutely have to have a certain height of shoe so that your clothing would simply fit.
Digressing. Again. Sorry…
Because none of this matters. What mattered was simply that we were able to connect over something as simple as a fun store. A ridiculous song on the radio. The shared time and space of a drive from one side of our town to the other. What mattered was that I was driving my newly confident teenage daughter to the mall with her friends. A daughter who has only called me mom for 2 3/4 years. A daughter who crossed her arms, looked the other way and refused to smile at me or anyone for quite some time. A daughter who experienced the unthinkable. Who didn’t have words to describe her past until fairly recently. Who, throughout it all, kept hope alive that she could feel better one day. Be better one day.
One day is arriving.
When I dropped them off at the entrance door and shouted out the window that I’d be back at such and such time, my daughter looked over her shoulder, smiled and countered with a time 10 minutes later. That’s how it goes, I thought. The simple, normal, mundane parent-child interactions that many possibly take for granted. I may have taken it for granted too, if God hadn’t taken us off the beaten path and onto uncharted territory. Unexplored roads, mountain tops and valleys. Lots of thorns, but quite a few roses too. I may have never understood the complexity of not forming a bond from birth, that links parent and child through all experiences that lead to adolescence. I may never have understood what gift this truly all is.
It is all a gift. Family is a gift. Relationships a gift. Time is a gift. Challenges are a gift. The journey is a gift. Our job is to find the beauty in the mess and chaos. The simplest of experiences often bring the most joy. Yet, we are often too busy or distracted to fully embrace them. Please God, help us, teach us, to make space to capture more of the simple!
The simple is where we find abundance. Of course, it’s a paradox. It always it.
As I drove home, with the afternoon sun warming my skin and an embarrassing song on the radio, I smiled and caught myself saying aloud, “It’s all worth it!” It’s really all worth it. The craziness of this journey that would have even the most level-headed, calm and collected person questioning their sanity, is really, truly all worth it.
To look over your shoulder and see even a tiny glimpse of the fruit of your faith, sweat and labor is an amazing gift. It doesn’t mean that tomorrow will be without challenges, but it does mean we have jumped some hurdles and are clearly, without a doubt, unmistakably no longer the scared, unsure and green family who began this journey together just a blink of an eye ago.
God makes all things new.