Kristin Tennant is sharp, generous, and brave. She is one of those rare blogging friends I’ve gotten to know in real life. A little further down the mothering road than I am, her wisdom and honesty about raising teenage girls is a gift to me. I hope after you read this post, you’ll stop by her blog, Halfway to Normal, and stick around there for a while.
Today has been one of those days. It seems like at every turn I’m letting someone down, digging myself deeper into holes, feeling more helpless, and subsequently fighting off tears.
I push through, doing what I can to set things right. I send emails and have conversations. I create a prioritized to-do list and try to make my deadlines (and when I don’t, I ask forgiveness). But all the busy actions I can manage in a day don’t begin to carry the power that this simple truth does: Tomorrow is a new day.
As a parent of three now-teenaged daughters, I’ve discovered that same phrase is one of the most powerful of all the parental phrases I turn to when I’m at a loss. Because, of course, I try using all the parental fixing powers I have at my disposal before turning to the truths that are there all along, quietly waiting when there’s no more “fixing” to be done.
I remember a time when I was better at fixing things. Maybe it’s just that when your kids are little, most of their problems are more fixable. A Band-Aid and a kiss fix a scrape. A nap fixes a bad mood. A well-timed distraction—maybe ice cream or an episode of a favorite show—can diffuse the disappointment of a canceled play date.
But bigger kids have bigger problems. And its not just the size of their problems that stumps me, but the complexity. There are no easy fixes for the daughter who been snared by the tangled mess of an unfair world, or the many permutations of jealousy, or the shock of a betrayed trust.
Aside from the ways the world knocks us down, there are also no easy fixes for many of the mistakes we make, and ways we hurt others. My kids are at that age when the most important lessons for them to learn are usually difficult, painful ones. You didn’t work hard enough in that class, so now you aren’t happy with your grade. You didn’t invest in that friendship, so now it’s not there for you. If I could turn back time for my daughters, I so often would. I would give them a do-over—a chance not just to learn, but to erase the pain in the process.
But the phrase that comforts me isn’t the fantastical, “There’s always a chance for a do-over.” It’s this: “Tomorrow is a new day.” And it’s true, both in what it says about the reality we’re in and what it says about the reality that lies before us.
When I remind my daughters (and myself), “Tomorrow is a new day,” I am not beating around the bush about where we are. The phrase does not belittle the hurt we’re feeling or the hurt we’ve caused. It does not pretend that life is fair, or that we will not screw up or get hurt by others. It quietly acknowledges where we are—in a dark, painful, stuck place—before gently directing our attention to a new place: tomorrow.
And what it says about tomorrow is that over and over again, God gives us the gift of a new beginning. It says God is a God of redemption, of sunrises, of new creations, and of the manna we need for each day.
Each new day is a gift of grace and hope that’s so much more powerful than even the best-intentioned fixing a mother can manage. Yes, I still hug and kiss my world-weary daughters (7th grade is hard, y’all). I still pull out Band-Aids and even ice cream to help take some of the sting out of the pain. I listen and try to help them find perspective, sharing what I’ve learned from my own hard experiences. But at the end of the day, the best gift I can give is a reminder of the gift God gives us: a new day.
Kristin Tennant has been a freelance writer for more than ten years. In 2007 she began blogging about family, faith, struggle and redemption at Halfway to Normal, and she now also blogs for RELEVANT and The Huffington Post. Her essays have been included in two anthologies: Not Alone: Stories of Living With Depression, and Ask Me About My Divorce: Women Open Up About Moving On. Kristin, her husband Jason, and their three daughters live in Urbana, Illinois, where they love cooking and sharing meals and conversation with friends.