Eleven.

Dear BigBrother,

You’re eleven.

Eleven

Eleven.

Okay. Just had to say that first.

You’ve been most awesome this year, I must let you know. I watched you come into your own on the baseball field. You learned how to keep going when you made a mistake, both on the field and off. That’s one thing I really like about you: You just. keep. going. I hope that stays with you throughout your life. It’s a good trait to have on your side.

You’ve become quite the conversationalist this year. You regularly stop in my office or bedroom and ask me questions or share opinions or pick my mind on how to deal with a situation or understand something about life. It’s felt really great to get to know you in new ways, to see what makes you passionate. I do know that injustice makes you angry. You want everyone to have the same shot at life that you have, to feel the same love you feel. We talk about so many new things now. I like that you feel you can discuss everything from politics to Pokemon. I’m always here to talk with you.

One thing I’ve noticed about you over the past year is your fierce loyalty. I absolutely love that about you. It comes to you naturally from both of your parents. I love watching you get riled up when you feel like someone has wronged your brother or a friend. Just be careful with it. Not everyone is worth trusting. Trust me on this one. (See what I did there.)

I love how hard you try in school. I REALLY love how hard you’ve tried to stay organized this year. I know that’s a struggle for you in various ways. Me too. Sorry? I think it’s really cool how you manage to just be *you* at school. And home. And everywhere. You’re pretty cool. Keep being you.

Some big changes await this coming year. We’ve got it. We really do. Your dad and I will be here through it all to help you navigate the changes and to love you no matter what. No matter what.

Keep your chin up. You’re a good kid and I’m so proud to be your mama.

Eleven

Love, Mom

Do Hard Things.

We all have some hard days ahead. For various reasons. But nothing is certain except change, and sometimes change is hard. So. Hard days ahead.

Here’s a tip though: We can do hard things.

More importantly, we all bring different gifts and strengths to the arena. Some of us can use our physical voices. Some of us can create physical spaces. Some of us can challenge authority. Some of us can become authorities. Some of us will write. Some of us will volunteer. Some of us will use our financial resources to donate to causes we find in line with our moral compass. Some of us will teach others.

But we can do hard things.

I’ve done a lot of hard things lately.

Like writing about mental health. And traveling for 15 hours just to get across the country. And telling a room full of people about our adoption story. And telling more people about it all night.

You guys, being vulnerable is really, really hard some times.

But I do it. Because human connection means the world to me. That’s what keeps me going, even on the days I want to give up, want to throw my hands in the air and declare defeat. Even on days with hard anniversaries or really bad news or a to-do list that never ends. I long for that moment when I’m sharing my truth and someone says, “Me too.” It not only makes me feel less alone but lets me know that person feels less alone, too.

I’m learning a lot about myself lately: my gifts, my strengths, my struggles, my weaknesses, my joys, my needs. I’m learning how to be the best version of myself. I’m learning what matters most to me. I’m learning how to say no and when to say yes.

I’m learning that yes, hard things happen, and I can do them. We can all do them, especially if we work together.