In 2011, in the midst of great heartache and sleepless nights, I published what is still, to this day, my most widely read blog post ever, An Open Letter to my Daughter’s Bullies, Including But Not Limited to The Mean Girls. It was a tough time in our lives. My daughter Casey was 14. And 14 was not a good year. In fact, 13 had not been a good year. 15 wasn’t great either. Middle school was not kind to her. And despite our best efforts as parents, things were not getting better. The bullying at school had reached an all-time high, and Casey’s self-esteem and head space about life in general had reached an all- time low.
There are far too many details to include in this post that would betray way too much of our family’s privacy– of Casey’s– but suffice it to say, from the time she was a baby, this sweet baby girl was different. Special. Intuitive. Kind. Tender. Brilliant. Sad. And the world is not kind to people who are different. And shame on us. Shame on us for thinking that everyone needs to look and act and think exactly like we do. What a gray and lifeless place this world would be. Most of the beauty and brilliance in this world comes from people who are different. Thank God. Thank God they are different. They have gifts the rest of us don’t have and most of us are far too blind and narrow-minded to see it. Myself included.
Casey is a gifted writer. And today, her very first article has been published in the Buffalo News. The road here– to this smiling, successful, confident young woman, has been paved with blood, sweat and tears. Ten million appointments, CSE Meetings (Parents who know what that means…you get it…) true grit, heartache, and struggle. But it’s also been marked by love. By great bravery. By persistence. By mini triumphs along the way that felt like gigantic victories. And the point of this whole thing is not to laud Casey, per se. And it’s not to tell her bullies and haters to SUCK ON THIS. (Although maybe just a tiny bit)
It’s really this: To tell other strugglers out there in the trenches– parents and kids alike: Keep going. Don’t quit. Don’t stop. Don’t give up or give in. Take whatever spark you see and fix your eyes on it. Get down on your hands and knees and blow on it. Fan the tiniest flame, no matter how dim. Because if you will. If you will keep adding tinder and kindling and sticks and branches and logs…one day it will catch. And you’ll have the most spectacular bonfire your eyes have ever seen.
Casey girl, you’re on fire, my love. Don’t stop now.
Today was supposed to be my first installment of It’s Thursday. And This is What I’m Reading. However, I have happily been upstaged by my daughter HAVING AN ARTICLE PUBLISHED IN THE NEWSPAPER. Mama can wait ’til next week.