Tag Archive | Judy Blume

30 Day Writing Challenge-First Kiss and First Love

Even though it’s only day three of the challenge, this day had me a little miffed on how I would write about it.

Writing about my  first kiss, is easy. I was thirteen, he had blonde hair and blue eyes, and it was unremarkable, unemotional, and nothing special. I only remembered it because it was the first one of my young life.

Writing about my first love is more complicated, but nobody said this writing challenge would be easy. I mentioned in my post yesterday about my first memory and how my journey began alone and unknown. In hindsight, it seems that those early beginnings galvanized me and while I fell into infatuation in my younger years, romantic love didn’t come easily or openly to me.

But this is about first loves and I’ve had many.

I can remember falling in love with books at a young age. I remember reading the simple ones, then moving on to comic books and then the more difficult reads as I grew older. I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, Nancy Drew, and VC Andrews book that I could get my hands on. I read anything and everything that captured my young heart and mind. Reading was bliss and nothing in the world made me happier than a good book. My mom used to say that the house could fall down around me while I was reading, and that I would never know. She wasn’t wrong. I read in the car, on vacation, on the bus, and in bed when I was supposed to be asleep. I had a book in my hand everywhere I went and the library was my refuge. 

God was also one of my first loves, teaching me selflessness and dedication. For many years in my early life, I clung to my spirituality, committed to it like one is to committed to their first romantic relationship. I was so in love that I even went to a Christian College, and contemplated a life of service, but certain events in my life steered  me in a completely different direction. 

Only as an adult did I discover my first opportunity for romantic love. But as it happens in life,  I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  By the time I did, too much had shifted and settled, and I realized that  it came down to most things in life; timing. Our timing was always off so we were left with only memories.

Years later, I met my husband, my first great love. Through hell and back, ups and downs, I’ve learned what it means to love, honor, and cherish, until death do us part. The vows weren’t “only when it’s perfect,” and while there have been plenty of opportunities for both of us to give it all up, in spite of it all we love each other. We love and fiercely protect the family we’ve made and the bonds we’ve created, for ourselves and our children. We’ve laughed and cried, walked away from and ran toward one another. But so far, we haven’t given up, on ourselves or on each other, which is what we promised in the beginning.

Lastly, my boys have been the first people I’ve loved in this life, without condition. They’ve taught me what it’s like to love from a perfect heart and I’ve become a better, stronger, and kinder person because of their love. I see myself through their eyes, even when it’s not good, and I know now what true love is. It’s accepting every apology, righting every wrong, and loving someone until you feel that your heart will explode out of your chest. It’s doing what you don’t want to because you know it’s the right thing to do, for them. It’s doing everything in your power to protect their hearts and preserve their minds from anger, hatred, and imperfection so that they can stay little boys for just a little while longer.

Loving my children had been a willing exercise in humility and sacrifice, that makes me want to do my best every day.

As I thought about this post, I knew that I would need to be thoughtful about it because love of any kind is personal and emotional. I’m fortunate that I’ve loved a great deal and had so much love in my life. I wouldn’t trade any of it for the world. 

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The Beauty of the Young Reader

There is something very special about children who read. 

Both of my boys are very good readers… now. But it didn’t come naturally which surprised me  because as a child I was inexplicably drawn to books. I devoured  so many that I can’t even come close to remembering them all. Some of my fondest memories are of walking to the local library and taking out as many books as they would let me. I remember going through the aisles for what seemed like minutes when it was probably more like hours, trying to figure out which book I would read next. 

I would pull my favorites off of the shelves: Are you there God? It’s Me, Margaret, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, the Sweet Valley High Series, Nancy Drew, VC Andrews, Mythology, Anne Rice… re-reading the books I’d already read, the ones I really loved. I spent hours and hours reading, imagining and becoming  the characters, all the while living and breathing with them. Reading was a way of life. I loved books so much that my punishment was that my parents would send me outside and ban me from books for the afternoon!

I hate to admit there came a decade in my life when I forgot my love for reading. I read but not with the passion and voraciousness of my early years. I was working… a lot… romancing, socializing, building a career, and having babies. But then my husband got me a Kindle for my birthday and I read three books in one week.  It felt as though I had found a long lost friend, my love for reading remembered and reignited.

When my children were given reading assignments and I had to practically hog-tie them down just to read a paragraph, I was surprised. I think I expected them to fall instantly in love with words, like I did. But getting them to read a page was torture and I felt like an utter failure. Even though I read to them when they were little, they fought reading tooth and nail. 

But little by little, word by word, it happened. 

We took turns reading to one another, we read every night before bed, we talked about the books they were reading in school, we talked about where they were with their reading levels, and we recognized when they hit their reading goals. Their teachers gave then goals and then rewarded them when they made their goals and I realized that my boys were finally readers! 

They learned to love reading and we were able to cultivate it with time and consistency. My youngest was the student who read the second highest amount of words this past year and my oldest made 200% of his reading goal. I’m so proud of them, but I know that this love has  to continue to be reinforced and fed. I’m planning trips to the library and trying to figure out how to continue to make reading fun.

Through my writing I’ve met some other young readers who share my passion for books and for reading. I love how it bonds us, making us instant friends because we share such a strong love. I love how it opens so many doors and makes me a part of such a strong community. It’s as though we have an unspoken understanding that reading opens our minds to a world where everything is infinitely possible. 

Children who read,  become adults who understand that the world is large and endless, beyond anything we can imagine. I love that children can imagine that. They are our future writers, inventors, teachers, scientists, doctors, and entrepreneurs. Children who read understand that the world is limitless and so are they and I can’t wait until the moment that my children truly understand this. 

I’m incredibly thankful that they are well on their way.