Once upon a time, there was this girl. And she married this boy. And things were good. It didn’t hurt that he had killer biceps, ofcourse. And although they faced trials and challenges, just like anybody, they basically, after awhile, found themselves in a great place. They had three beautiful kids, a wonderful military career for him, the blessing of a stay-at-home life for her, and overall, nothing to complain about.
Life was fun.
Then the boy with the killer biceps got cancer. Six months later, their beautiful, funny, blonde-haired four-year-old daughter got cancer, and for a while things were hard. And scary. And stressful.
To cope, the mom started journaling. Only she did it publically, online, in this new-fangled thing called a “blog”. Where
people, friends, even total strangers, could follow along, and make comments and give opinions and advice and
encouragement. And it was extremely cathartic for her. This mom blogged her way through both cancer treatments, and
through the numerous cancer recurrences that the boy with the killer biceps kept having. And I don’t know that
anyone will ever truly know how much it helped that girl get through that scary time. How much she cherishes the
friends that came of it. And how much she still, even now, eight years later, appreciates the support they received
because of that blog. And as the cancers, which basically spear-headed the blog’s beginning, became less and less of an everyday presence in their lives, the girl realized that she really liked blogging. Still. There were so many positives to come out of it. So maybe even if she didn’t have the “C” word to blog about on a daily basis, she could blog about other things.
So she did.
And it was fun.
And the kids grew, and she blogged about it. They faced all kinds of adventures, and she blogged about it. Funny, strange, every day, unusual, interesting, sad, exciting, mundane, hysterical things happened, and she blogged about them all. Life brought changes, and she blogged about it some more.
And it was fun.
But see, here’s the deal.
At some point, the kids grow to an age where their trials and challenges are no longer funny, or light-hearted, or something to talk about (or brag about, or complain about) in public. Not because they are terrible, shameful, life-altering challenges, no, of course not. But because they are challenges, albeit NORMAL challenges, but challenges, still the same, being faced by
teenagers. Teenagers who feel embarrassed and mortified by their parents on a daily basis no matter what, just by their mere presence, their mere existence, let alone by a parent who BLOGS about them and their life. Especially a child, who, let’s face it, is no longer a child, who in fact started high school this year. And this child-who-is-no-longer-a-child is taking a computer class, and whose classmates took turns googling one another at the beginning of the year and who FOUND THE
MOTHERS BLOG ONLINE OH MY GAWSH THE HUMILIATION.
I get it. I would most likely have been embarrassed by that too, at that age. And I wouldn’t want to live my life with that
fear hanging over my head, that my mother, my clueless mother, might post some story, or anecdote, or worse, a PHOTO of me as a naked baby, that I didn’t want shared in public. It’s bad enough she has to endure my presence on Facebook, and know that I follow her on Twitter, but to worry about a platform as open as a BLOG?!?!?!
(You *do* know that I’m talking about my own family, right????)
And it’s not just Brayden and her increased need for respect and privacy …. its other things, as well, as all three of the kids get older. Kellen and Kendrie are both in middle school this year. No doubt there is a blogging gold mine there, with stories I could tell about some of the other kids, some of the adults, some of their social adventures, and the volunteering I’ve done. But at what cost? I live in a very small town, and although I’m no Erma Bombeck, with millions of readers, and don’t pretend to be, I do know that enough people “in real life” read my blog that there is no way I could blog stories anonymously. And
since I would never tell stories online that I wouldn’t be willing to tell in real life, to say to someone’s face (yeah, learned that lesson the hard way one time …..) then suddenly, my blogging well begins to run very, very dry.
My kids are teenagers, with all of the attitude and hormones that go with it. We have days where I see them maturing and growing into young adults and I’m so proud of them I could burst. We also have days where if they make it to 18 without me selling them to the circus it will be a damn miracle. And I can’t blog about that, because at this stage in the game, it would be disrespectful to them.
Blaine’s cancer is back. We are hopeful, but are often discouraged, as well. And I can’t blog about that, because at this stage in the game, it would be disrespectful to him, and to our children, for me to discuss publically things that are private.
I have “quit” this blog …. um …. three times that I can think of. All three times I thought I was ready to be done, to move on to other things, and that the blog was no longer helpful to me. And all three times I was wrong, and came back and began blogging again. But this time, it’s different. I know the blog is ending not because I feel “done”, or because I think my time is spent better elsewhere, but because common courtesy to my family dictates that this stage of our life is not one to be shared out loud with others.
So, I will leave you with this final blog entry, our 2011 Christmas Letter. The blog will stay up for a while, as I navigate the waters of blog printing and figure out a way to keep this entire journal as a memento for our family and the adventures we’ve had. I’m hopeful there are still lots of adventures ahead, and I’ll most likely continue writing about them. But not out loud. Not in public.
Thanks for understanding. And thanks for the last eight years.
It was fun.
Merry Christmas from the Escoe Family–2011
You know, I’ve got to be honest, I really debated about continuing the Christmas Letter Tradition this year. Being a parent to two teenagers and one almost-teenager, there are most many some days I’m just not sure I have an entire letter’s worth of funny, witty, entertaining stories to tell about our family. Don’t get me wrong, there are days …. occasionally …. sometimes … when the planets and stars align and the angels shine down from above and all three kids are in happy, cheerful
moods; they cooperate and get along fabulously, they are kind to one another, they do what is asked without complaint, and I could write a novel (or two!) about their sweet personalities, funny attitudes, gentle souls, good hearts, and how
proud Blaine and I are to be their parents.
The *other* 364 days of the year, well, they are teens. Planted firmly at the intersection of Hormone Parkway and Attitude Avenue, jumping into their Mood-Swing-mobiles, leaving common sense and rational behind, to speed off down Mom and Dad Don’t Know Anything Boulevard. If you are the parent of a teen, you most likely understand exactly what I mean. If you are
the parent of a teen and you don’t know what I mean, then good for you. And please don’t talk to me anymore.
Brayden is 14 years old and started high school this year …. low on the totem pole as a freshman, granted, but it seems she has settled in nicely at school and is fortunate to have met more upperclassmen who are kind, than who are anything else. She still
sings in choir, she was elected to Student Council this year, and tried her hand at kayak this fall. We’re looking forward to spring when she sticks another toe back into athletic waters and joins the high school girls’ soccer team. She and I are planning a trip to NYC during Spring Break with some of her choir members and looking forward to that, as well. I was a little shell-shocked when school began and I realized I could count the number of years before she is an “adult” with one hand. Her “future”
is still a ways off, but I must confess I’m feeling a certain amount of pressure to do everything with her, and teach her everything we want her to know, in the amount of time we have left.
Kellen is top dog in the middle school this year …. 13 years old and 8th grade. He ran track last spring for school, played rec league soccer in the fall, ran cross country, and is playing basketball now, both school basketball and rec league. The boy does love his sports, although still isn’t an uber-competitive type of player, and is just as happy playing “Sharks and Minnows” at recess. In fact, he might like that better since there is less pressure. His favorite “unscheduled” activity is still practicing to be a ninja, but he’s also gotten very into archery this year and practices all the time on targets he and his father have set up outside….. he’s actually quite good. I vacillate between thinking it is a cool hobby, and worrying he’s going to put someone’s eye out. He is in his third year of playing saxophone in the band, although he has hinted that he might like to try choir (Show
Choir, no less!) in high school instead. Mainly, he seems to be enjoying his last year of middle school with a great group of friends, and that makes us happiest of all.
Kendrie moved up the ranks this year from elementary to middle …. 12 years old and sixth grade. She seems to be enjoying middle school just fine, and like her brother, has a sweet group of kids to call friends, which is a blessing. She tried
volleyball for the first time last spring, but went back to her sport of choice, soccer, in the fall. Sadly, we don’t have soccer at our middle school so she’s already counting down the days until high school, when she can play as a freshman, like Brayden will be doing. (I think it would be great fun if they both stick with it and get to play together in a few years!) Kendrie is playing her first season of indoor soccer right now and having fun with it. She still takes piano, and quit orchestra to try her hand at beginner’s band at school. She will be switching from clarinet to saxophone at second semester and is excited about that. So far, her transition to middle school has been a smooth one, and Blaine and I are grateful for that.
As a family we certainly have been lucky to do some neat things this year. The highlight for us was a Caribbean Cruise during Spring Break with our friends the Ledfords and the Longs. As always, a vacation with friends, and especially friends whose kids are friends, too, is a treat. Grandma Betty went with us, and not only DIDN’T break anything this time around, but zip-lined through the Roatan mountains, in the rain, with the rest of us, a memory I will cherish forever. Great vacation.
In June, I took the kids on a vacation with some of my scrapbooking moms and their kids …. we spent several days visiting our
friends the Warcholiks in Virginia, then drove to Virginia Beach for a week at the ocean. Six moms and 17 kids in one house for a week …. it was a total blast, and Kellen had so much fun he even briefly considered trading his life-long ninja dream to be a professional body-surfer … if such a thing even exists. We have high hopes for a repeat adventure this coming summer as well, mountains instead of beach, but every bit as much fun.
A week of church camp and a week of basketball camp, and before you know it, summer was almost over and the mad rush back to school had begun. Through all that I continued to work part time at the doctor’s office, a job I enjoyed very much. But, right before school started, we made the decision as a family that my time, honestly, is better served by staying home, so I quit. That gave me more time and freedom to pursue my photography hobby, chase after the kids, and serve as chauffeur-social-coordinator, but shockingly, NOT as much free time to keep the house spotlessly clean, like I had promised Blaine it would.
Speaking of Blaine, he is still loving his job at Tinker, and is certainly blessed to have bosses and co-workers he enjoys as well. He bought a telescope this past year and has enjoyed delving into the world of astronomy …. a nice alternative since his
hunting and fishing passions have been so curtailed. Again, his cancer is back, and again, we covet your prayers. He
remains one of the most faith-filled men I have ever seen and we are certainly prayerful for his recovery.
We decided to end the year with a mini-getaway and rented a cabin with the kids at Lake Elmer Thomas (near the Wichita Mountains) for Thanksgiving weekend. It was just the break we needed as a family and allowed us to rest and relax before gearing up for our holiday season, which, like yours I am certain, is busy with concerts and parties and shopping and decorating and baking (oh, wait, that’s not me) and most of all, reflecting on the birth of Jesus Christ and giving thanks for all that entails.
Many blessings to you and yours this holiday season, and the upcoming 2012 year.
Blaine Kristie Brayden Kellen Kendrie Barley Brew Blackie