I have two daughters.
A mere 22 months (and only an inch or so in height) apart, they are often mistaken as twins. And though in many ways, they are exact opposites, we often find that we raise them like twins. They get the same allowance, have the same bed time, do the same number of chores. When my oldest daughter, Caitlyn, is old enough to get her driver’s license, it will no doubt feel like a personal affront that Charlotte has to wait another 22 months to get hers.
This closeness has its benefits, but also its challenges. My girls choose to sleep in the same bed most nights. They have a built-in playmate when school friends aren’t available. But they can be competitive, comparing their successes to each other’s.
This has become particularly significant over the last couple of days, as Caitlyn was recently invited to audition for her dance studio’s competitive dance team.
She’s worked hard (dancing four nights a week), and she’s very proud that she’s being given this opportunity. But as she tells people about it, I’ve noticed that Charlotte has started to shrink a little. Last night, as Caitlyn excitedly told her grandparents what the opportunity to audition means, Charlotte looked at me and asked, “What good news do I have, Mom?”
I was caught off guard but the lump that instantly rose in my throat. You see, Charlotte has ADHD and Sensory Processing Disorder. She is brilliant—in many ways, gifted—and yet the social and interpersonal dynamics of school have consistently been a struggle for her. Until this year.
I don’t know if it’s her teacher, or her maturity level, or the years of behavioral therapy, but this year, we are noticing a tremendous change in Charlotte. At the beginning of this school year, a homework assignment that felt too challenging would leave her in full tantrum mode. In contrast, last week when she came home with an earned homework pass, she found herself struggling with what to use it on because “all of these things are just so easy for me.”
This is a huge accomplishment, one that brings me to my knees in gratitude most days. And yet it’s not the kind of thing you share with your grandparents over grilled chicken on a Sunday night. It’s a quieter accomplishment, invisible to many. And yet in terms of things that matter, REALLY matter, it’s everything.
This morning, I’m reflecting on this in terms of my book, which launches in a little over a month. As I watch my 2018 debut “siblings” hit the shelves in Barnes and Noble and top the NYT Bestsellers List, it’s hard not to think of my book as little or even insignificant.
And then I remember the wise words of a dear friend: “You’ll know your path when nobody else has walked it.” And I think about the people my little book has already impacted—the friend of my parents, a survivor of family addiction and the head of a regional opioid awareness task force, who, after reading an ARC, tearfully shared with my parents the impact he feels the book will have on so many struggling teens. Or the text from my brother, which is far too personal to share here, but, I’m convinced, is the only review that matters.
My book’s sales numbers likely won’t rival that of its siblings. Maybe it’s successes will feel like insignificant whispers in the Twittersphere. And maybe none of that really matters anyway. Maybe my book’s path is less about numbers and more about hearts and souls.
Because after all—isn't that why I wrote it?