I love Downton Abbey. I adore it.
The stories, the scenes, the wardrobes, the setting, the characters....oh, I ache at the loveliness of it all. And I was so FREAKING FURIOUS that Matthew Crawley had to die in the last episode of Season 3! I, along with the rest of the world, felt betrayed by the writers (and the actor, who shall go unnamed) who would lead us to believe that happiness would finally be possible for Mary and Matthew....and then cruelly snatch it from us in a sadistic twist.
I disavowed my affection for Downton.
The end of Season 3 was not the final episode.
I was grateful for the time in between seasons to heal a little. And friends on the other side of the pond, whose Season 4 aired before ours, hinted that there was hope for Mary's happiness afterall. I decided to give Downton another chance, even though I had sworn in my wrath that I would never, nay EVER, forgive them.
Four episodes in, I forgot all about Matthew. Matthew, who? I never really liked him much anyway. He seemed weak. He had some flaws. He wasn't that good for Mary, come to think of it. And now, there are new suitors and new adventures that keep me glued to my couch, cheering the characters on and hoping, believing, that true love will win the day.
It's what keeps us going through life. What makes us get up in the morning and slug out another day.
It's what makes a man and a woman get married, despite the odds against them. It's what makes us have babies and create families, even though we ourselves may have had dysfunctional childhoods. We do it anyway.
Because we believe.
We believe that love, lasting love, is possible. We WANT to believe it, and so we look for couples who have been married for 50 years and we say, "See, it still happens!"
We look for families that are thriving and we say, "It is possible."
There is something in us that looks for hope, for proof of faith, even when things are bleakest.
Maybe that's why I've been so suddenly passionate about moms who are transitioning as their kids have grown. You are struggling, just as I have, to deal with the loneliness and pain, the questions and the fear.
I have been stunned, simply stunned, by the response to my post, "Dear Lonely Mom of Older Kids" last Wednesday. I sat down and wrote my heart out, and sent it blindly into the blogosphere...and somehow it struck a chord with tens of thousands of you, who are sharing it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and via email with your friends.
I've read each comment and email, and seen each and every name that has signed up for my newsletter...and I've cried a few tears.
Some of you are going through some really tough times right now. You teen is sullen, indifferent, and rebellious. You fear for his choices, and feel so alone in your stuggles. It seems hopeless.
But I tell you: Cling to hope.
Cling to faith.
Yes, there are very real dangers out there. And some very sad, heartbreaking stories. Many of you shared your stories with me, and my heart absolutely broke for you. How I wish I could reach through the screen and hold your hand. I never want to be a Pollyanna about the realities families face.
But whatever you are going through, please remember that the end of a season is not the final episode.
The credits aren't rolling, the theme song is not playing. The curtain isn't falling. There is more - so much more - to your story. Whether your child is 13, 20, 35, or 50....you must believe that your relationship is not beyond repair. That there is hope to be found. That your adolescent will stop being an complete idiot. That your daughter will realize Justin Bieber isn't worth her time. That leggings will go out of style. Dear God, please.
You must believe that hope will win in the end.
Time does not permit me to add all the asterisks and disclaimers. I know, and you know, they are there. There are no guarantees. There are no fool-proof, step-by-step instructions that promise a perfect child. Heck, many of us would settle for a mediocre one right now. Anything but the kid who is draped over the couch like a soggy afghan, too lethargic to bring his plate to the sink. Why, if I had a dollar for every time....oh wait.
My point is this. You've got to just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Day in, day out...keep loving, finding common ground, picking your battles and clinging to hope. Look for the young adults who have made it through high school and tell yourself, "It is possible." Find families who are a step ahead of you in the journey and remind yourself that "It can happen."
Don't let the parenting asterisks and disclaimers keep you from believing that your story is still being written. You may yet have some tricky waters to navigate, some twists in your journey, and most definitely some drama, but one of these days you will reach the shore.
You will fall in love all over again with that child who broke your heart with his indifference and callousness. You'll remember that your little princess is still a princess, even with a tattoo. You'll see how your kid's ability to wrangle his way out of trouble will make him an excellent lawyer. You'll find all those things you thought you had lost along the way. You'll remember why you started a family in the first place.
Because of love. And hope and faith.
Oh dear. I've gone long today. I promise that my posts are usually much shorter and succinct. But I needed to follow up Wednesday's post with this simple message:
The Lord is with you. He is for you. He loves you, and you are not alone. This parenting gig is tough...but it will not conquer you. Something beautiful can, and will, still happen.
The last chapter is yet to be written.
With love, Rachel Anne
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