Today on NPR, I caught an interview with Julie Lythcott-Haims. I never encountered her before--but I have heard of one of her books, How to Raise an Adult. She is very much anti-helicopter and well, I am, too. She just published a new book called Your Turn: How to Be an Adult. (Which this adult needs to read for
herself her children.)
I had this idea that I would write to Julie tonight, but then I also realized that I had to write here as part of my daily writing goal. Plus, I have not fully stalked my new favorite writer, so I don't have her email address, just her Instagram (which I am following! So, hi Julie! I am @Trish_Adkins on IG). I am not sure the word limit on DMs on Instagram; but I do know there is no word limit here! Plus, I think all of you should know about Julie.
When I listened to her interview, there were so many things that connected with me directly. On the surface, I don't think there is any reason to think that I would identify with Julie so deeply. But, her interview--which I only caught snippets of because two of my children were fighting and one was screaming out the window about how they wanted to run away--spoke to me in so many ways.
(So apologies if I get any of these stories wrong. The fighting was like super intense and maybe Julie could write a book called "JUST BE QUIET: How to Stop Fighting with Your Siblings" )
Julie shared her experience with the Gifted and Talented program in 5th grade--initially, purposely overlooked because she was black--and then tested and placed after her parents made a call to the Principal. However, later, a teacher made a very pointed remark about her to her class. It reminded me of three things: my own experience with race has been so much as an observer and it has been a long time since I asked my childhood friends about how it was for them growing up in white, racist Central Bucks in the 1980s and 90s. And secondly, that I was initially overlooked for the gifted and talented program in 5th grade--I was a student who has two speeds: quiet or argumentative. My dad had to make a call for me, too, but I was a white girl--there was no pointed remarks (that I heard). And third: how I had a moment when I realized that not all adults where respectful or kind when I teacher told me my first personal narrative was a lie. It wasn't. And sometimes I still hear her voice in my head when I share my truth.
She spoke about finding your purpose--on your own. And I thought of my Lily--who is 15 years old--and how I need to get out of the way and let her find her own way (maybe, I mean definitely, but you know, it will be hard for me!). I loved what she said about teaching your children to talk to strangers--it made me feel like a rockstar, since my children speak to everyone about everything. I don't think they've ever met a stranger.
Julie spoke about the importance of recognizing and calling attention to marginalized populations--especially when she shared some of her insights on "How to Be an Adult." I think this piece spoke to me the most--I am the sister of a man who was marginalized for his disability. I am the mother of a daughter who is marginalized because of her cancer battle. I am the mother of another daughter and a son, who are the siblings of a girl who is marginalized.
It's hard sometimes to feel seen.
And that is why Julie's interview spoke so much to me. I saw bits of myself. I never would have thought that--but there was so much that she shared that felt like home--pieces of me in her experiences.
None of us will ever see all our bits in another person--we cannot--but there is a certain magic when we see some of ourselves in another.
I feel such gratitude for writers like Julie who share their stories and life experiences so openly. It is such a gift to us all to be able to make connections like this. It gave me the push I needed to keep sharing my stories--and to keep listening to others. Whether it is a blog or a book or an interview or a chat at a birthday party or on the sidelines of a lacrosse game, your stories matter to me. I am made up of so many pieces--pieces I sometimes don't even know exist--and when I hear your pieces, I find more of myself. These connections matter--they are very thing that changes us from marginalized to seen; from forgotten to remembered; from alone to together.
So, thank you Julie (or Ms. Lythcott-Haims, I feel like you are totally a Ms. but I have no idea!) for writing your stories. I think it is brave and marvelous and healing. I cannot wait to read your books.
And thank you, friends, for reading this blog and sharing your stories with me. I think it is brave and marvelous and healing, too. I cannot wait to hear more of your stories, too.