Here’s to the Late Bloomers…


It’s high school graduation season!  This time of year always brings back memories of my own high school graduation 32 years ago. Remember all those cords, sashes, and honors paraphernalia that you wore over your graduation gown? Yeah…me neither.


I didn’t graduate with honors. I wasn’t in Beta Club or any other “smart kid” club. Lots of my friends proudly wore the cords and sashes which, of course, made me look even worse in the graduation pictures. I’m sure they look at the pictures now and say, “Wait a second. Who’s that big blonde girl and why would we let that non-sash-wearing underachiever in our graduation picture?” I was fun, people. I was fun. Remember?


I didn’t get athletic scholarships either. I was 6 ft. tall with no hand/eye coordination. I know. It’s a bummer. My basketball coach thought so too. So much height. So little talent.


Music scholarship? Not quite. I played piano for two years though I think the word “played” might be a little generous. I did put my fingers on the keys but sadly, music was not the final result. Don’t even bring up the year I played the violin. The screeching sound scared the neighborhood children and killed the rose bush outside my bedroom window.


Of course, there was the French Club. But I didn’t speak French so that was out. The Spanish Club always served food at their meetings. But an intense desire to eat tortilla chips and salsa didn’t seem like a noble reason to join a club.


I was never voted “Most Likely to Succeed” or even “Class Clown.” If I had been assigned a designation in high school, it would have been “Most likely to hang out with the band kids even though she can’t play an instrument.” Most of my 500 classmates probably don’t even remember my name.


Guess what? It doesn’t matter. At all. Thankfully, my destiny in adulthood wasn’t carved out by an insecure teenage girl 32 years ago. High school didn’t define me. And if you’re a teenager, good or bad, it doesn’t define you either.


Even if you’re the president of every club, the best athlete, the Valedictorian, you’re still a teenager. You have a long way to go, friend.  You have a lot to learn. Listen to adults. Pay attention to people who get up early every morning and go to work day after day year after year. They have more wisdom than you can possibly imagine.


Become a student of kindness. Obtain social skills by asking questions and listening carefully when others talk.  Learn what it means to keep working even when you’re tired. Show respect for people who are often treated disrespectfully.  Be nice to waitresses and check-out clerks. Oh, and stop whining.  Seriously.  Whiners don’t prosper…personally or professionally.


If you’re a teenager who hasn’t been much of a “stand out” yet, worry not. Real life is just beginning. There’s plenty of time to discover your passions and abilities. And if you happen to be a funny, awkward, underachieving teenage girl with no hand/eye coordination, be not discouraged.  Learn to love others.  Start writing and speaking.  The world is waiting.

When Mother’s Day Brings Pain



You’ve seen the commercial. A beautiful model opens her Mother’s Day gifts while surrounded by her three cherub children and her adoring and sensitive husband who looks like he walked off the cover of GQ magazine. Happy Mother’s Day, America. For some people, this may be Sunday’s scenario. For a lot of you, it won’t even come close.

Some of you are hurting. Mother’s Day brings with it a special sadness for a large segment of the population. The world promises it’s a day of celebration. For a lot of you, it will be a day of mourning. It’s time we acknowledge that pain.

I think of my friend in Texas who hates shopping for Mother’s Day cards. She said, “All the cards say things like, ‘You were always there for me, Mom. You were my inspiration.’ My mom wasn’t there for me. She never inspired me. She treated me poorly. Eventually she walked out on me.   Where is the card that says, ‘I wish things had been different’? I guess they don’t make that card. I always just buy a card that says, ‘I love you, Mom.’ And I cry when I mail it.” Her words still pierce my heart.

I think of the moms who’ve lost children. My sweet neighbor lost her son this year. A dear friend in Texas experienced the tragic death of her six-year-old a few years ago. Many of you have walked this path of pain. Mother’s Day becomes an annual reminder of the child you would so love to hug…just one more time. When standing with my friend at her little girl’s casket, she tearfully said, “Look, Lisa, there’s still some finger paint under her fingernails. We painted together on Saturday. I would give anything to finger paint with her…just one more time.” There are no words to share with those of you who have walked this path. To you I offer a prayer for God’s comfort and a terribly inadequate, “I’m sorry.”

I think of the birthmoms in the world who have placed babies for adoption. These are the courageous women who experienced the pain of personal loss believing it would be gain for others. I especially think of the two precious and wonderful birthmoms who gave birth to our boys. I think about what one of these women said years ago, “When I remember him, sometimes I get sad. Then I look at his picture and the life that he has and I say, “God is good.” To all birthmoms out there, I’m sending you a hug on behalf of every couple like us who are miraculously celebrating Mother’s Day this year. The words “thank you” are painfully inadequate.

Some of you have experienced the death of your mother. Perhaps your mom was the one person who understood you and your dreams.   When life was hard, she was the one who always whispered in your ear, “You can do it. Hang in there.” On Mother’s Day, you remember what it’s like to live without the one person who knew what you were thinking. Even surrounded by friends and family, there is a special loneliness. She left a void that you know will never be filled by another. So you relish in her influence and you smile at the fond memories. But you wish you could sit on the front porch with her…just one more time.

Some of you feel the crushing blow of regret this Mother’s Day. Your kids are grown but there’ll be no special honors on Sunday. No cards. No phone calls. No words of praise. You wonder if you failed as a mom. Maybe you were selfish, or chemically dependent, or mentally unstable when your children were little. And now you sometimes daydream that you can go back and start all over again. You wake up and realize it cannot happen. Life is as it is. Rather than going back, you’re left with asking adult children for forgiveness. You’re not sure how to do it. For you, I pray for courage. There is hope.

Some of you were great moms who did everything you could to love and cherish the sweet little ones God gave you…but those little ones grew up and rebelled. You had big dreams for your children. They settled for far less. And the world doesn’t seem to know your pain…or your shame. You wonder if anyone understands.

Many women across the world will be shedding the tears I shed for seven Mother’s Days in a row, until that wonderful year I finally became a mom. These are the tears of unplanned childlessness. Many of you have dreamed of being a mom since your childhood days of playing with dolls. Having babies seemed so easy for the vast majority of people. You had no idea it could be so complicated. You dream of swing sets and messy baby food and funny Christmas pictures. But when you wake up, you feel the pain of reality. No one calls you “Mommy.” I know. I remember.

Corsages will soon emerge and special dinners will be prepared. But many of you will take a few moments to find a box of tissue and a quiet place. You’ll shed tears of sorrow at what is or was or could have been. Happy Mother’s Day. You are not alone.