Next…

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December 5, 2016
My Lovely is right there at 12 and quarter. Close to teen. She was the preemie and wore the preemie outfits, but she has been taller than most of her classmates, and a couple teachers, since kindergarten. Middlest. Stuck in between the Biggest and the Littlest. Closer in age to 8 year old Emily but she just grew taller than 18 year old Grace, and almost taller than me. Grace has the distinction of being all the firsts and Emily will be all the lasts. So where does this middle girl fit into the story and how does she get to be next?
It can’t be about following in Grace’s footsteps. And it needs to be more than blazing a trail for Emily. Lauren is her own heavily layered dramatis personae. Stress on the Drama. DRAMA! She wanted to take Visual Arts in middle school just like her big sister, but she accidentally chose Theater Arts instead. You cannot imagine the drama when she got her school schedule in the mail. Days of crying and moaning about the injustice of life. And Paul and I tried to convince her that maybe, just maybe, Theater Arts and DRAMA might be a happy accident. But no, of course Lauren’s parents couldn’t be right. Then she found out Sara and some other friends would be in her class, and the pendulum swung to the other side. All is well. She doesn’t want to be an actress, but she is learning that what comes next for her doesn’t have to be what Grace has already done.
I’d like to call her whimsical, but that’s too quirky. She’s mercurial in her moods, and she can go from cold to hot and back to cold before you can even shake the thermometer down. She can be rushed and annoyed upstairs getting dressed, then jovial as she dances in the kitchen packing her book bag, then quiet and sulking driving to pick up her friends for school. I drive Lauren, Sara, and Zoey to school each morning. Sometimes if all 3 are moody at the same time, Heaven help me, the quiet is louder than their off-key singing. Their silliness and their silence comes at me in stereo from the front seat and the back. And I know that these friends are the ones who will walk with Lauren into whatever is next.
She couldn’t be more different than Emily if she tried. Their personalities can be summed up in one story about bike riding. Lauren has always lived fearing new things. Riding a bike, doing the monkey bars, skating, swinging a softball bat, and Theater Arts, have all terrified her into paralysis until the moment she decides to conquer her fear. She had a very serious bike accident when she was 3 and was in the hospital for a week and had surgery on her skull. Being afraid of bike riding is understandable. But by age 8, she still wasn’t able to ride her bike, and we spent summer after summer out in the cul-de-sac trying. One day, like all the other days, she was crying on her bike. It had training wheels on, I was holding the front and the back, Lauren had both feet flat on the ground, and the bike wasn’t moving. We had been in the same spot for 10 minutes, and 4 summers. There was no way she could fall over. But she was screaming for me to hold tight and she was scared to death to put even one foot on one pedal. Meanwhile, 4 year old Oh Emily had backed her trike up the hill of the neighbor’s driveway so she could pick up some speed, and she zoomed down the hill right past me and frozen Lauren, no hands on the handlebars and no feet on the pedals, and she didn’t stop for 150 yards. And that’s why I can confidently say that Lauren will not be blazing trails for Emily. But then one glorious day, Lauren picked up her feet and told me to let go, and those 10 frozen minutes turned into hours and hours and summers and summers of bike riding. I have no doubt that even though Emily seems to whiz past Lauren in some ways, Emily has learned a thing or two by watching Lauren conquer her next big fear.
But today…Lauren is upstairs in bed. She didn’t sleep much last night. She spent the whole weekend not feeling well physically, and she has been sad for days. Melancholy has just fallen heavy on her. It’s hormone stuff, and she just doesn’t know how to handle it. This morning before school, that bitch Anxiety snuck in through the window Lauren’s sadness and exhaustion left cracked. Hyperventilating and crying and rocking back and forth and mumbling nonsense. So I took Sara and Zoey and now I’m typing while she is napping. She’s been doing so much better with her anxiety lately but she will struggle with it forever, I’m sure. But the sadness worries me. Hormone related or not, I’m not willing to watch another daughter struggle with depression. Depression almost killed Grace this summer, literally. THAT IS NOT NEXT FOR LAUREN! The worst anxiety I’ve ever seen with Lauren was the first night Grace was in the hospital. I was home with Lauren and Emily and Paul was still at the hospital getting Grace checked into the psych ward. Never seen anything like it and hope I never do again. Of course, we were all under extreme stress and I’m not surprised Lauren responded that way.
In general, she is handling anxiety better, and she has seen someone about it in the past, and she can see someone again if we need to do that. She was always that nervous, timid child, but that’s not her now. She is vibrant and obnoxious and loud and changing and helpful and growing. And she is one third of the best of her dad and me. And she is the very necessary Middlest of the Biggest and the Littlest. And I can’t say it often enough that she is God’s WOW, and His Glory, and His Eve and His Mary, and He loves her enough to crush the head of Anxiety with His heel, and when He looks at her, he says “it is very good!” And he doesn’t want her to be afraid of what is next, because He prepared her next and He is waiting there for her.
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus,” Philippians 4:4-7
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