Love

“Do you know how much I love you?” She pleaded every night before bed.

What was I supposed to say?

No?

No, love doesn’t feel like the look on the teacher’s faces when they tell me to go inside since I’m the last one waiting to be picked up, every week?

No, love doesn’t feel like babysitters during business trips.

No, love doesn’t feel like the bottom of a beer can. 

So, I said yes.  

Yes, love feels like when you rock me to sleep on the edge of my bed. 

Yes, love feels like you carrying me up to bed when I know I’m already too heavy.

Yes, love feels like I know you are doing the best you can in. spite. of. 

Yes, mom, I know you love me.  

Because now that I am a mom, I know how much it took for you to single-parent me and my sister.

Now that I am a mom, I know just how deep that love runs.

And now that I am a mom, I know how important it is for you to know that I know you’ve always loved me.

Happiness

I bought this for myself a few years ago, when I was particularly down in the dumps about circumstances that were entirely out of my control.

Upon discovering it, I realized that no matter what what was going on, happiness was a choice. 

Sure I could take time to lament and mourn my very real losses; but even those that were suffering and gone before me would never have wanted me to continue living in that state of loss. 

It was my job to live the life they could not.  

I realized that it was my job to CHOOSE happiness.  

In the face of adversity, to overcome and make the best of what may be.

In the prospect of opportunity, to claim. 

To own this life they could not.  

It is ours to behold. 

If only we could just be happy today.  

Here We Go

She said, “I don’t want to grow up!”

And for the first time, she really meant it. 

Feeling the weight of the added responsibilities of being nine, she has decided that this whole aging thing: it’s not for her.  

I can’t say I blame her.  

I paused to behold her face; to mourn the loss of her rapidly-ending childhood innocence; simultaneously wondering just who this grown girl is going to become. 

“No one understands what it’s like to be me!” she lamented.  

Girlfriend, join the club.  

Welcome to the real world. 

It’s not for the faint of heart. 

And as much as I want to protect and shield her from it, I’m honored that I have the privilege to walk beside her as she learns to grapple with the truth of it all. 

Hold my hand, here we go!

Camille Vaughan Photography

Snail Mail

In the age of virtual learning and online shopping it seems, already, so archaic.  

Is that what also makes it so special?

Or is it just me?

The Written Word. 

The feel of paper. 

The emotion in handwriting. 

I received a letter today, just for letter’s sake. 

No holiday or event to celebrate. 

Just a letter for letter’s sake.  

And upon reading it, I felt like I had taken the freshest breath of air in a long time.

Normalcy.

Writing, just to write!

Touching base, just to check in. 

We’re busy people and letters are effort. 

But boy are they appreciated for that very reason. 

Snail Mail. 

Gone, but not forgotten. 

Momma

She said, 

“Lauren, you have to protect yourself from you.”

And Lawd, I didn’t want to know what she meant, but of course I knew. 

She’s my mother, after all. 

Why is she almost, always right?

But she was and she is.

I just didn’t want to know it. 

But now I do. 

What powerful words. 

“Protect yourself from you.”

Amen Momma. 

Verite Sans Peur

I entered an all-girls’ boarding school my sophomore year of high school. 

My initial requirements to agree to attend were that it be co-ed without uniforms and yet I fell in love at-first-sight with an all-girls boarding school that required uniforms. 

It changed my life. 

Aside from my second grade year, I had attended private school throughout elementary and middle-school.  

And then I entered my freshman year in public school.  

Easy to predict, girl from small school gets swallowed by the wrong crowd- my grades, self-worth and confidence bottomed out.  I went from an honors student to failing ninth grade English- the subject that would later become my college major and career. 

I followed the popular crowd and resorted to stealing as a method of proving my bravery, a habit that eventually caught up with me at a local 7-11 convenience store. I used my privilege to avoid harsh punishments until I found haven at St. Timothy’s School. 

The first day, I entered the “school store”, where you purchased your school supplies on the honor system- simply writing in a notebook on the cashier’s counter what you had taken.  

As a thief, the system was abhorrent to me- how could they be so naive?  But as I observed all that I could take without payment, I also envisioned a life I could lead with honesty.  

I walked out of the store and started up the stairs, accidentally holding the pen I had used to write down my supplies.  I stopped and wondered:  it was an innocent enough mistake.  Anyone could take a pen by accident.  But then I realized why I was truly there- to change my life.  

So I turned around and handed the pen to the “store lady” named “Dee” who looked me directly in the eyes and responded without hesitation, as if it had always been intended to be said to me, “Thank you, that is so honest of you.” 

I was never the same. 

That compliment of honorability would become the path I chose from thereon.  

Verite Sans Peur. 

Our school’s motto.  

Truth Without Fear. 

A motto I continue to live by in all aspects of my life, even when it is inconvenient.  

So simple, and yet, so powerful.  

If only we could all live our truths without fear. 

Verite Sans Peur. 

Presidential

Perhaps it is because I’m older. 

Perhaps it is because I have four daughters. 

Perhaps it is because we’ve been living through a pandemic. 

Perhaps it is because I’ve been homeschooling this year. 

But today, I felt like I took my first breath in a long time.  

I’ve rewatched Amanda Gorman’s poem more times than I can count, nearly memorizing every verse. 

And each time I am refilled with a sense of hope I hadn’t even realized I’d lost until it was refilled. 

The term “Presidential” regained the meaning I’d always acquainted it with: goodness, leadership, honorability.  

A new era for my daughters that I can be proud to raise them within.  

Yes, it feels good to breathe again. 

Camille Vaughan