7 Ways You and Your Teen Can Fight Off Winter Sadness

Hey Julie,

I'm worried about my 15 year-old. Since mid-November, she has been down and just not her usual happy-go-lucky self. She usually loves hanging out with friends, going for walks and, well, doing stuff. Now I often find her wrapped in a blanket, reading a book or watching TV. I'm worried she is depressed but she says she isn't. She said she just feels like "hibernating". What can I do to help her?

Traci, mom of 2

 

Dear T,

Thanks for your question. Let’s face it, if your teen’s mood seems to match the weather outside, a bit cold and dark, she is not alone.

When the days get shorter and colder, many people - including teens - struggle with sadness and seasonal depression  For some it’s a sense of melancholy; for others, it’s a bit more like the winter blues; and, for at least six percent of the US population, it is Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Seasonal Affective Disorder, also known as SAD - yes, the acronym is actually SAD - is a type of depression that is related to the amount of sunlight a person receives. It generally kicks in as the hours of daylight get shorter and can last till early spring. (4-6% of the US population - including me - gets summer-onet SAD.) SAD impacts millions of people each year. Children and adolescents can also be affected by SAD, and, while the presenting symptoms can be different, dealing with SAD is no less difficult for children.

Girls are more likely than boys to have SAD (although boys can get SAD too.) The risk of SAD is higher for teens who have a close relative with depression or other mood disorders. If these risk factors affect your teen, please raise your awareness to any changes in mood and behavior in the late fall and winter season.

Here’s the tricky part - signs of SAD can be challenging to spot in teens because they are often misdiagnosed and, to be frank, teens are often moody Keep an eye out for significant changes in mood and behavior including: lack of motivation, increased irritability or aggressiveness, marked change with performance at school or with sports, decreased focus or concentration, indecisiveness, lack of engaging with friends, and changed eating habits. Teens with SAD may have trouble getting to sleep at night.

 

7 ways you and your teen can fight off winter weather blues:

  1. Get your teen involved. This is first and foremost. If you’re concerned about your teen’s moods or behavior, let her know. Make sure she knows that there’s nothing wrong with her and that she’s not in trouble. Offer real ways for her to get involved with managing her winter blues or SAD including letting her choose exercises to try or letting her decide ways to spend more time outside.
  2. Use light therapy, aka happy lights. Light therapy has been shown to be quite effective for helping with winter blues and SAD.  With light therapy, you spend 15 minutes to 2 hours in front of a special light box that emits full-spectrum light similar in composition to sunlight. (I keep mine by my computer and use every morning.) You also may want to consider a dawn simulator alarm clock for your teen to help naturally wake to simulated light rather than with the blare of a beep when it’s still cold and dark out.
  3. Go outside. Exposure to outdoor light is still important so try to get your teen outside daily for at least 10 minutes. Yes, it’s cloudy and cold. However, light still peeks through clouds and gives your brain a much needed boost to serotonin and dopamine levels, aka the happy hormones.
  4. Provide healthy foods + supplements. Improve your diet, improve your mood, right?  Ok, so this isn’t breaking news, but the reality is that crappy food leaves us with crappy thoughts, sleep and health. Offering alternatives to carb-laden snacks and meals - such as fresh fruit, veg and whole foods - can help boost both metabolism and mood.  Additionally, a teen with SAD might consider taking supplements like Vitamin D and omega-3s  in order to help change his or her mood. Unfortunately, I cannot vouch for the effectiveness of supplements so you’ll need to make your own choice.
  5. Get some exercise. Physical activity has proven itself time and again to not only relieve both depressive and anxious symptoms but to prevent depression.  If your teen is showing signs of sadness and low mood, encourage him or her to exercise. Suggest a yoga class with her friends, do an online workout together or have a dance party in your family room. Aim for 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week. You and your teen will feel so much better if you move consistently.
  6. Sleep. Sleep may seem natural when it comes to your teen. However, many teens are either under or over sleeping. Help your teen learn to gauge their circadian rhythms by sticking to an 8 hour sleep schedule. Encourage her to have a consistent bedtime routine that includes no caffeine or screens after 9pm.
  7. Seek the support of a mental health provider. Just like any psychological illness getting the right treatment is essential. Therefore, it’s important to get assessed with a mental health professional Typical treatments for seasonal affective disorder include cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and, if needed, medication such as an SSRI.

So, what can you do? A lot!

Now, I want to turn to you … how do you feel in the winter? Do you struggle with winter blues or seasonal affective disorder?  If so, please share in the comments below, especially if you have any tips for lifting your mood. And, lastly,  if you know someone who might benefit from this information, I’d be incredibly grateful if you’d pass it on.

With love, peace and happiness,

 

 

PS: If you’re looking for more ways to improve your relationship with your teen, you may want to consider our upcoming What to Do When coaching groups where we cover A-Z in having the relationship you want with your teen and the relationship your teen needs with you. Get all the deets here!

Three questions that can improve the relationship with your teen

Dear Julie

I know that teens who feel closer to their parents are more likely to come to them for advice when faced with tough decisions, and have better self-esteem, stand up to bullies, peer pressure, ALL THE GOOD THINGS! Besides showing that I love them, what can I do to make sure I’m making it easy for them to be close to me?

Thanks,
B, mom of 2

 

Dear B

Congratulations!  You’ve already figured out something incredibly important: relationships aren’t one-sided!  It’s not just about what your teen does; your behavior and attitude plays an important role, too

No matter how close your relationship, there will always be little things -- clothes on the floor, undone homework, dishes on the counter, a snarky comment here and there  -- that may cause you to feel resentful toward your tween or teen. Those little irritations can deteriorate the relationship.

Recently, I read about Naikan (pronounced N Y E -kon), a practice of self-reflection rooted in Zen Buddhism developed in Japan in the 1940s. It’s an easy way to take responsibility for our role in relationships.

The power lies in the details - the good, the bad, and the ugly details - that make up the mosaic of any relationship. Your focus in Naikan is on the role YOU play, your actions, your choices - even what you feel you have received from the other person. The discovery from this practice can be pretty darn surprising - often having you see what you may have denied, minimized or how you may, ahem, be irritating others including your teen.

Give this practice a week or so, and see what you discover.

Here’s what you can do:  Set aside a few quiet moments at the end of each day and focus on your relationship with each of your children. Ask yourself three questions:

  1. What have I received from my child?
  2. What have I given to my child?
  3. What troubles and difficulties have I caused my child?

Make your answers specific. “He put away the dishes without being asked” is specific, “He did chores,” is not. “I was on my phone when she was asking for homework help,” is specific. “I need to be in the moment with her,” is not.

As you begin to look at your child and yourself through a different lens, you will start to see positive results. Yes, you’re still going to get a little bothered about the dishes on the counter, but reflecting on these questions will give you more perspective. These three little questions can be an incredibly powerful, easily accessible tool to help you build a much stronger relationship with your teen.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this practice … or even your new year goals! Please share them in the comments below. And, if you know someone who wants to improve the relationship with the teen in their life, I’d be grateful if you passed this along.

Love,

 

PS.PS. If you’re looking for more ways to improve your relationship - especially the levels of communication - with your teen, you may want to consider our parent guide, What to Do When your Teen Won't Talk with You. Get all the deets here!

How to Make Your Life with Teens
Less Busy and More Fun

Dear Julie

I’m drowning in to-do lists. I’ve tried everything from bullet journaling to online calendars and I still can’t figure out how to keep track of / keep up with all my work and volunteer responsibilities, my kids’ activities and still have time for my family. Is there any way a working mom of two teens can get it all done?

Signed
Busy Bee

Dear Busy Bee,

I know how you feel. The other day, I was racing to get my kids out the door for school, find matching shoes for, proof an article, clean up after the cat, check the calendar to make sure I could make it to all 5,000 events we had committed to when I stopped and said. “Holy moly (ok, I actually used a different word, but let’s just pretend I said holy moly) “We are really frickin’ (same with this word) busy this week!” My son replied, “Um, Mom, duh. When are we not busy? It’s the story of our life.”

He was right. Busy has become the story of our life, and I foresee it having more of a burnout ending than a happy one. I can’t remember when we weren’t either doing something or thinking about doing something. Busy has become our new norm. As our school-work-travel-friend-getting-older-whatever-life load has grown, our family time has gotten smaller. It feels like quality time together has fallen off our bulging to-do list.

So, I hear you. This is par for the course for most of us with tweens and teens. Here’s what I have come up with to take a wee bit o’ the busyness out of our days:

1. Define what matters most. What are the 4-5 things in your life that you love to do? For me, it’s spending time with my loved ones, writing, reading, hiking and teaching. That’s it; those are my top five.  However, those things have not been anywhere near the top lately. I’ve been scheduling my time around what I believe others expect of me. If we don’t start creating a life that reflects the things we see as a priority, we will live a life of regrets. Be responsible to the activities that fuel you rather than just steal time away from what matters most.

2. Schedule time for you and your family first. This builds on the first point. After you have defined what is important, schedule it. Create blocks of time for yourself and your family. Make sure these are work/errand-free times. These are the moments to laugh, talk, cry … these are the moments to be un-busy and just be.

3. Do Less. The best laid plans start with doing what matters most to you, right? But, what happens if something pressing comes up and you say yes? All those well-intentioned plans go right down the loo. One of my mentors told me long ago, “Julie, if it isn’t a hell yes then it’s a no.” Begin to set boundaries to let go of living a maybe, meh or half-cocked life. Set boundaries that say “Hell Yes” to you and your family.

4. Buy Less. A year ago, I decided to stop buying as much and something really fantastic happened. I had more time. The fewer clothes, fewer tchotchkes, fewer whatever you have, the less time you are committed to washing, dusting, maintaining it. Buying “stuff” is time consuming, as is maintaining, repairing, replacing and return the stuff. If you can reduce it, you will gain so much more.

5. Stop “shoulding” on yourself. I once had a very frustrated mom come into my practice with a very similar question to yours. “But I should be able to get it all done. How do I do it?” I replied, “You can’t! None of us can ‘get it all done.’ And, the more you think you ‘should,’ the more you will beat yourself up.” The lesson here is to stop shoulding on yourself and start making choices that make you feel better.

Busyness  is a sneaky destroyer of happiness. We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast and then announce, “Ack, I’ve got more to do!” All this busyness splinters our families and our lives while sending the message to your teens that they, too, need to operate at the breakneck speed of busy. When our schedules become overloaded, we start skimming from those we love.

So, the takeaway here for me and for you. It’s our life; let’s choose how we really want to spend our time. If we don’t make choices, someone else will make them for us … and chances are high we won’t be too happy about it.

Love,
Julie

P.S. With all that extra time, you may want to start having some quality conversations with your kiddos. However, there are times when kids just don’t want to talk. Find out What to Do When your Teen is Talking to You here.

Dear Julie,
What do I do when my home, my family, my life, my business is flipped completely upside down?

Signed, Julie

Yes, that’s right, my life is a mess right now. Floods, illness, famine … ok maybe not the last one, but still, lately there are days where I feel like I’m starring in my own version of The Ten Plagues.

Resilience is the ability to bounce back from defeat or hardship and it is one of the key traits teens need to develop in order to not get overcome by the world. But how do we as adults learn resilience? How do we learn to move past the hardships and curveballs that life throws at us? How do we get past the hard times while keeping ourselves and our kids together?

In this week’s video, I talk a little about what’s been going on in my life, and how I’m learning to cope with it. I hope sharing my struggle is helpful to you. Share your struggles and thoughts in the comments below.

xo ~ Julie

P.S. Communication flipping upside down with your teen? Be sure you to know What to Do When your Teen Won't Talk to You

With Intention

Today, I did something that I hadn’t done in quite a long time.

I moved. With intention.

I sat. With intention.

I ate. With intention.

I watched. With intention

I wrote. With intention.

I listened. With intention.

I parented. With intention.

Today, I was me. With intention.

Lately, I have felt like I have been spending much more time doing and less being. Don’t get me wrong, I like doing stuff. Doing feels like that is where the action is. I also like being. That seems to be where the magic is.  Something seems to be missing, though. There needs to be a universal connector between my doing and my being. And, that connector is intention.

So, what is intention anyway?  Often, it feels like it is just an overused buzzword to sound more spiritual or relevant. It’s more to me, though. Intention is breathing. It is inhaling and exhaling. It is being present in each moment.

So, whether I am building a sand castle with my kids or building my empire with my business, I will continue to do so with intention.

5 Ways for Parents to Stop Suffering from "I'm Too Busy!"

toobusyThe other day, I was racing to get my kids to school on time and proclaimed, “Geez, we are so busy this week!” My son replied, “Um, Mom, when are we not busy? It’s the story of our life.”

Yikes. He was right. Busy had become the story of our life, and I didn’t foresee it having a happy ending. I couldn’t remember when we weren’t either doing something or thinking about doing something. Busy had become our new norm. As our school-work-life load grew, our family time shrank. It felt like quality time together had fallen off our bulging to-do list.

This is no way to live. Something has to change. Here are five ideas to take the busyness out of our days:

Define what matters most. What are the 4-5 things in your life that you love to do? For me, it’s spending time with family, writing, reading, hiking and teaching. That’s it; those are my top five.  However, those things have not been anywhere near the top lately. I’ve been scheduling my time around what I believe others expect of me. If we don’t start creating a life that reflects the things we see as priorities, we will live a life of regrets. Be responsible to the activities that fuel you rather than just steal time away from what matters most.   

Schedule time for you and your family first. This builds on the first point. After you have defined what is important, schedule it. Create blocks of time for yourself and your family. Make sure these are work/errand-free times. These are the moments to laugh, talk, cry … these are the moments to be un-busy.

Do Less. The best laid plans start with doing what matters most to you, right? But, what happens if something pressing comes up and you say yes? All those well-intentioned plans go right down the toilet. One of my mentors told me long ago, “Julie, if it isn’t a hell yes then it’s a no.” Begin to set boundaries to let go of living a maybe, meh or half-cocked life. Set boundaries that say “hell yes” to you and your family.

Buy Less. A year ago, I decided to stop buying as much and something really fantastic happened. I had more time. The fewer clothes, fewer tchotchkes, fewer whatever you have, the less time you are committed to washing, dusting, maintaining it.  Buying “stuff” is time consuming, as is maintaining, repairing, replacing and returning the stuff. If you can reduce it, you will gain so much more.

Stop “shoulding” on yourself. I once had a very frustrated mom come into my practice exclaiming, “But I should be able to get it all done. How do I do it?” I replied, “You can’t! None of us can ‘get it all done.’ And, the more you think you ‘should,’ the more you will beat yourself up.” The lesson here is to stop shoulding on yourself and start making choices that make you feel better.

Busyness really can be a sneaky destroyer of happiness. We walk fast, talk fast, eat fast and then announce, “Ack, I’ve got more to do!”  All this busyness splinters our families and our lives.  When our schedules become overloaded, we start skimming from those we love.

So, the takeaway here for me and for you: It’s our life; let’s choose how we really want to spend our time. If we don't, someone else will … and chances are high we won’t be too happy about it.

When I was 15, my mom took me to see a counselor. She thought that I needed someone to talk with since I had been, let’s call it acting out, after she and my dad divorced. She chose a therapist who was also a teacher at my high school  I was reluctant, but I knew enough about her to feel that she didn’t see me as a pain-in-the-butt teen.

Despite my initial reluctance, I liked her. It seemed like we were a good fit – even though the selection process seemed to be based on complete convenience since she was right next to the school. (My mom says it was that she just “felt right.”)


Since that time, I have worked with many counselors – either doing my own work (yes, counselors need to do their work) or professionally. Over the years, I have learned two critical when it comes to choosing a therapist: choose good over convenient and always trust your gut.

Good and convenient do not often go hand in hand. You want a therapist who is good, not one who is just around the block. The bonus is that extra time it take you travel to them can provide you the transition time needed before and after session.

Second, pay attention to what your gut is telling you. Does the therapist just “feel right” or does he make you feel uncomfortable? Do you feel at home or are there warning signs? Your intuition will often give you signs of what will work for you.

Before you get to those two points, though…

How do you search for a therapist?

  1. Ask for referrals and recommendations.  Often people tell me that they heard about me through their friends or a parent on their child’s sport team or through a school counselor. Recommendations are helpful because your friend or family member can give you insight on the therapist that you may not get looking through a directory.   Also, don’t hesitate to ask your doctor, dentist, school counselors. These professionals know you and your child and may be able to refer you to someone who is a good fit.
  2. Search online. Everything is online, and a few online directories to look are on Psychology Today and Therapist Finder.  Look for therapists who are open about their philosophy and work style. Other things to consider when scoping out therapists online  include: professional looking photo, gender, specialization and training.
  3. Consider theoretical orientation. It’s like veritable alphabet soup when it comes to the letters behind a therapists name. There are PhDs, PsyDs MDs, LMFTs, LPCs, LCSWs and more.  Then you’ve got the titles of psychiatrists, psychologists, marriage and family therapist, professional counselors, addictions counselors…you get the picture.  It confusing, right? Instead, consider looking at theoretical orientations. Is your therapist a solutions focused or family-systems oriented? Are they a cognitive behaviorist? If you aren’t certain what orientation you may want, just ask the therapist to explain his or her orientation and see if what he or she says resonates with you.
  4. Look for a specialist. A therapist who specializes is likely to have additional training on specific interests and issues pertaining to a particular demographic. If you need a therapist for your teen, look for someone who specializes in adolescents. And, a side note, if someone says they specialize in everything, they are not a specialist. They are a generalist.
  5. Call them. Whoa. In the ages of texting and messaging, did I just suggest making an actual phone call? Yes, I did. When you find a therapist that you want to call, actually call. And, be sure to make that call sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more you will push this task aside. A few questions you may want to ask include:

– What is their training?

– What is their speciality?

– Have you working with someone who (insert your presenting problem here)?

– Are they licensed?

– What is the session rate?

– Do they accept insurance?

The therapeutic relationship can be life-changing. If you don’t feel the connection with a therapist, keep looking. The right fit is out there. 

When I was growing up, one of my favorite things to do was to play Mad Libs. If you aren’t familiar, Mad Libs is a word template game that prompts you to substitute words in the story resulting a humorous and very silly tale, like this:

“One day, a __________ went to ________ and __________ a ______.”

       name of animal             place           past-tense verb    noun

Mad Libs has certainly stood the test of time as it is just as popular today as it was in 1977. However, Mad Libs can lose their appeal as sometimes those stories are neither humorous or silly. Our lives can be a little like that – especially when we are in the midst of parenting tweens-to-teens.

Remember-to-be-happyOften when I speak with parents, the topic of following our own dreams and finding our happy comes up. Everyone gets really excited about starting a business, skydiving, traveling to India and then it stops. The next responses sound a lot like this:  “This sounds absolutely amazing to me, BUT….” That big but is typically followed with a “I have to do/be/see/work, so I can pay mortgage/care for my family/take a trip/be successful…” It’s like excuse-themed Mad Libs. All you have to do is insert your excuse, justification and lack of momentum and responsibility to fill in the blanks.

It’s enough to drive a person, well, mad. However, these people are on the right track regarding one thing. There is a blank they have to fill in, and the caption for that blank reads “your happiness.” It can be absolutely anything you want. (Cool note >> If for any reason what you have inserted into the blank doesn’t make your happy,  change it.)

For example, for many years I worked at a job where I was miserable. I would dread waking up each morning. Often, I would wish for a cold or a flu bug so I could stay home. It was a horrible feeling. However, I felt I didn’t have a choice.  I was young and “needed” the job to pay my monthly rent. Many  years later, the same thing happened in my marriage. I felt I didn’t have a choice in our happiness, my happiness.

In both cases, most people said, “well, just stick it out a little longer. Things could be worse. Work at the job until something better comes along. Stay even if you are unhappy. You have to do it for the kids.” So, you know what I did? I stayed…for awhile. And, then I didn’t.

There is no situation that absolutely requires you to stay in it – society, religion, certain beliefs may tell you there is, but really there isn’t. If you really want to change, you can do it at any time, because at you are responsible for your own happiness. If there is something in your life causing you pain, only you can fix it. If you don’t like the person you are now, then you are responsible for changing. If when you envision your ideal self and then say “but I can’t,” you are willingly making yourself a victim. If you really want something, there are no true barriers. Hardships, yes, but you can endure temporary hardships a lot easier than a life of unfulfilled dreams.

So, why am I telling you all this? Because your children deserve a happy you…YOU deserve a happy you. A happy you creates the space and the mold for a happy them.

 

How would you fill in these blank for finding your happy? Is it a project, a trip, a business … something more? How would it affect you to find and follow your happy? How would it affect your children?     

julie

 

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I was cleaning out my files the other day and came across the poem that I read often when I worked with the elderly. I’ve held onto it as a reminder that I am never alone. And, neither are you. I look forward to building stronger communities  so no child, no parent, no anybody feels alone.

 

 

Hand in Hand

I see you standing there,
All alone in life.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

I see you living life,
without a purpose.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

I see you there
Without a friend.
Come and we will walk,
Hand in hand.

I see you there with
No one to care for.
Come and we will walk
Hand in hand.

You have lost someone
Very close to your heart.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

You act like
You are defeated.
Come and we will walk,
Hand in hand

I see you with
No one to love.
Come walk with me,
Hand in hand.

I can’t give you all of these things.
I can only help you find them.

I can give you
Someone to love.
Come and we shall walk,
Hand in hand.

~Anonymous

I wrote this piece when my youngest was six months old. Today, she is 11.

* * *

2012_08_16_21_16_16.pdf067“Suicide bomber kills 11.” “Terrorists planning political attack.” “Security tightened at White House.” “Iraqi Cat Reunited With G.I. War Buddies.” The 5:00PM newscaster drones on and on, and while the story about the Iraqi cat piques my interest; I just can’t listen any longer. Unfortunately, I can’t find that blasted remote (NOTE TO SELF: Must invent a remote with a Lojack) and am far too tired (translation: lazy) to get up and turn off the television, so I focus my attention to my infant daughter. Looking at her innocent face, streaked with dried peas and carrots, I realize that she knows nothing of hatred, war and deception. She only knows warmth, comfort and love. As I continue to gaze into her brilliant, blue eyes, I catch a glimpse of the future.

I see her arms outstretched teetering on her wobbly, chubby legs. Her look of determination to complete this goal of walking from her daddy to me is the only thought in her mind. That same determination is what I see when she throws a frenzied fit in the grocery store, because I won’t buy the cookies, candy, gum or other sweet delight.

I see her pulling on her pants, her shirt and shoes insisting that she can do it, but she can’t. After several more attempts, she still insists “I do it, Mommy.” And she can.

I see her entering the doors of preschool with her hand-me-down Blues Clues backpack, looking back at me tentatively as I hold back the tears. My baby is growing up. What happened to those first three years? I see my face pressed against the classroom window, which is already laden with other mommy-forehead prints, just to catch one more peek of my baby before I release her to the world.

I see her making a new friend – her first without any influence from her family. She is now learning that there is more in the world than just her brother, sister, father and me.

I see her crying, because she accidentally broke her brother’s Lego tower. Soon, I see her laughing because she intentionally broke his Lego tower.  I see her borrowing and ruining her sister’s sweater. I see her sister reading her journal. I see three siblings fighting uncontrollably. I also see three siblings with undying love for each other.

I see her eyes have lost some of the brightness, the innocence, that comes from experiencing too much too fast.  I see her heart break, because her first love started holding hands with the red-haired girl down the street. I see her learn the damage of gossip and the promise of forgiveness.

I see her fighting with her father, not because she is angry, but because she is just like him. I see her fighting with me, again, not because she is angry, but because she is, also, just like me. I see her learning that she has the ability to argue. She has a voice – a loud one – that can make a difference.

I see her struggle, because she has been faced with loss – the loss of a blankie, a friend, a pet, a grandparent…the loss of her childhood.

I see her graduate from high school and enter college with fresh enthusiasm for more knowledge. I also see her excitement to be away from her dad and me. Over time, I see her graduate from college with the zeal that can only be achieved by spending four years thinking her dues have been paid. I see her dad and me exchanging knowing glances that she hasn’t quite “paid the piper” yet.

I see her climb and slip on rung after rung in her career. I see her hit the proverbial glass ceiling – and break right through it.

I see her question what is important to her. What is life about? What is her purpose? I see her question the world. Why is there so much anger in it? Why is there war, threats, hatred?  I see her try to make a difference. And, I see her succeeding.

I see her meeting the love of her life when she least expects it. He sweeps her off her feet, and she brings him to his knees. Soon, I see her walking down the aisle arm and arm with her daddy; his grip so tight and his face so pale as he guides her to partner. I see myself wiping away tears of sorrow and joy – sorrow because time goes by too quick; joy because I can see the unconditional love she and her husband-to-be share.

I see her look at her husband to be the way I  look at her daddy. I see her argue over domesticity and household harmony. I see them laugh over a washing machine of pink clothes, because she didn’t see that red sock that was tossed in with the whites. I see her burning the meat loaf, and him choking it down saying “This is the best meal I’ve ever had.” I see them love each other more over the day’s trials and triumphs.

I see her expression of shock, elation, fear and unfathomable joy when she finds out she is expecting her first child. I see our family anxiously pace and wait with bated breath in the hospital maternity wing. Will it be a boy or girl?

I see her feeding her baby with the droning newscaster in the background recounting the latest destruction of our world. I see her tune out the television and focus her attention to her baby. With tears brimming in her bright blue eyes, she sees the future in her child’s eyes. She sees what I now see in her eyes. And we see hope.

julie