Hannah turned 13 this weekend. Sometimes I think that certain birthdays are over-emphasized and a big deal is made out of nothing. Not so with 13. At least not for me.
13 is the gateway into this incredible chapter of life that is so vivid and rich and full.
I can remember 13 like it was yesterday. Maybe that's what fills me with a little bit of trepidation (and a whole lot of expectation) for Hannah. Like most of my life, 13 was full of the highest highs and the lowest lows. I know that's coming for Hannah. All the best stories are full of them. And even though it's hard and often painful, I want her life to be a great story. So bring on the living, I say, and let the adventure come.
Hannah is ready to tell a great story. Her mind is inquisitive and curious. She wants to be found where there is life springing up, and the best part is, I see the new growth shooting up from just where she's standing.
She sucks up books and knowledge and narrative as though her life depends on it. She always has. I used to pray and hope that her hunger for reading wasn't just a passing phase. I wondered if she'd set that aside as she got older to move on to something else. But she hasn't. She continues to devour books as though she has a hunger that cannot be satisfied. I am so grateful. Those words she's read haven't remained on the pages. They have written themselves onto the skin she lives in and the way she sees the world. Those words have added layer upon layer of compassion and empathy and a world view that few her age have. She is full and rich and informed and challenged and perceptive and appreciative of beauty mostly because of the hours she has spent seeing the world through someone else's eyes and through their pens. I like what I see written on her skin and her mind and her dreams. Those words are full of promise.
You can often tell what a person is like by the people they surround themselves with. It's like a bit of a reflection of who they are. When Hannah was in the middle of school in Vancouver, and was experiencing a crisis of identity and friendship I said, surround yourself with people you want to be like. You will begin to be like the people you surround yourself with. Choose wisely. She did. She still does. This is not to say that she only has room for a certain kind of person in her life. She has lots of room, but she has built herself a little cocoon of people who breed goodness and positive ways of living life. Her friends make me proud to be her mom. I see her reflected in them. I am so grateful.
Lest you believe that we are all prancing around in peace and tranquility in teenage land over here, let me be the first to tell you that we live in a space filled with outbursts, volatility, and emotionally charged ups and downs. There can be angst and confusion, anger and frustration. And that's all before we even get dressed some mornings. This may sound strange, but I'm OK with that. It means that there is an edginess and reality to Hannah's life that she is not afraid to expose. It can be barbed and loud and painful. But it's real. And real is all I really want for her - the freedom and willingness to live authentically and expose the ragged parts of herself that exist under the neat package. They are there, and they are a part of her. I'm not afraid of them because I know they're only dangerous if they stay concealed.
And so, for Hannah, on this, the beginning of her foray into the world of being a teenager, I mostly hope that she lives. Really lives. Doesn't remain behind or underneath because she is afraid to try.Is willing to get dirty and broken and bent just for the chance to say she took a chance. Perfect isn't what I'm looking for. Clean and neat and shiny isn't what I'm after either. It's in the broken places and the parts where the dirt's been rubbed off where the stories reside and the living has happened. I hope some of her own words get written next to the stories that she's read and become etched onto who she is becoming.
I'm looking forward to a great story.
It's one I can't wait to read.