Seen and known

Feb 21

Seen and known

Greta is going through a maturity spurt these days. She is having lots of thoughts and feelings and she is generally quick to share them even if she doesn’t have the right right words. Yesterday afternoon I got very woozy right when she came in off the bus, so I had to take a nap. (A disappointing moment for both of us.) I set her up with an art project, a show, and she made herself a fruit salad snack. (Cutting up a variety of fruits and making a messy, sticky fruit salad is one of her favorite things to do these days. She’s so creative.) Before I went upstairs she asked if she could have some special outside-the-house Mommy time, and I said, “Absolutely. Let’s talk about that when I come back and we will make plan.”

When I came back downstairs we had a narrow window before needing to leave to pick Maren up, and she asked if we could go pottery painting together. I told her I love the idea, and it’s something that we have done before, but pottery painting in the late evening of a school night is not our normal jam.

We talked during the whole drive to the volleyball gym to get Maren, and Greta was having lots of emotional feelings that she wasn’t able to articulate. It was not escalating to a fit or a tantrum the way that it would when she was younger yet there was something percolating under the surface that didn’t make sense to me and that she couldn’t explain. I could see the emotion and wanted to know more.

Finally, once Maren was in the car, I pulled to a quiet spot in the parking lot, turned around and looked at her troubled face and teary eyes and said, “Greta, I love you. I can tell that you are having some big feelings that are important to you, and they are important to me too even though I don’t understand them.”

She nodded her little tear streaked face and her lip trembled.

I said, “I want to make sure you know how much I care about your feelings and your emotions and that you are so very important. You matter, I love you, and you have good ideas.” I continued, “So tonight, we’re going to do the Greta Plan: we’re going to go paint pottery on a random Wednesday night. We need dinner though and there is a restaurant right next to the pottery place, so can we do that first?”

She nods, and then in a worried voice says, “I don’t want to do it if no one else wants to do it. I don’t want everyone to go along with my plan just because.”

“Oh G,” I exclaimed. “That’s something you never have to worry about in our family. We never so something out of spite or indifference. Maren and I are both excited to join with you in the Greta Plan and it is going to be a great night. We will be entirely present with you tonight.”

Sure enough, it was a great night. It was kids-make-your-own-pizza night at the restaurant, so Chef Greta got to cook her own dinner — something she loves doing. There was a balloon animal guy, and she got a giraffe balloon (she first asked for a baby kangaroo — a joey, and he couldn’t make kangaroos). The three of us laughed as I told her about how many popped balloon animals she had meltdowns over during her toddlerhood — to the point that by the time she hit preschool, I would turn and run from the balloon guys! She is so big now she can handle balloon animals.

It’s also noteworthy that Maren is too old to order off the kid menu. She also said a very polite and grown up, “No thank you,” to the balloon guy when he asked her if she wanted one. She is so tender to all — especially to Greta and it was sweet to watch Maren have her own role in empowering her sister.

We went to the pottery place and it was empty except for two people: my good friend and her daughter, Greta’s good friend. A completely random coincidence — this is not common for either of us! We got to connect with our friends — a win since we hadn’t seen them in a while, and both girls painted and we shared memories of past projects and adventures.

There was no remarkable takeaway from last night, no aha moment, no wow factor. It was a significant departure from our normal Wednesday night, and it was wonderful. Greta has deep intuition: she reads emotions extremely well and often demonstrates exceptionally mature responses. Sh wears a hat like me almost every day — even to school (isn’t her school great for permitting it?) — as a tangible connection point of relatability. Greta makes good decisions.

In years gone by we will talk about the night that Greta desperately wanted to spend some quality pottery time with her mama and her sister, and we did it, just for her. It was of course, a treasure for all of us — a gift that Greta gave to us.

The win, the wow, the aha is that Greta felt heard, valued, treasured, special, important, seen and known. She has such creativity and imagination. She makes elaborate Lego villages and individualized homes for imaginary people. She sits in her chair and plays in her room with her audiobooks playing for hours — she is a big auditory learner/listener/processor. Greta does everything at top speed or full stop; there is no in-between. Quality time is Greta’s love language, and she already fights for it. She knows herself and advocates for herself like no 7-year-old I have ever met. As ever my dear, my prayer for you is that you will use your great Greta power for good.

And isn’t this what we all want at the end of the day? To be seen and known by the ones we love. And to see and know in return.


  1. Stacy Vanstone /

    Wow! That’s all. Just WOW! One amazing mom!

  2. Kim Rourke /

    “To be seen and known by the ones we love…”. No truer words!

  3. What a blessing to have a mom who really “gets” you, Greta!
    Cancer isn’t a good thing. Still… it has come with a knowledge that time is not a given and therefore time is precious. You truly are living your motto, Jen, and the lessons here shine through into our hearts.

  4. Yay for you , Jen. Awesome job. Here’s to Remembering God sees and loves your family!

  5. Nancy McCarthy /


  6. Lindsay /

    In love with your response to her…❤️❤️❤️

  7. Newbie friend /

    Love that you listen so well!

  8. Kathi Roth /

    Amen. Yes we do. Great job mom for listening❤️

  9. I just love this. You are raising some incredible girls. They take after their mama. <3

  10. Leah Chapman /

    I love this….and Greta looks SO old…oh my. You are a good example to the rest of us who have trouble slowing down❤

  11. Beautiful. Such wisdom here, thank you for sharing.

  12. Christin /

    So much goodness. Greta’s goodness for reaching out and asking for what was important to her. Your goodness for stopping what you were doing to listen. Maren’s goodness for jumping into the flow. I love and respect it all!

  13. I love how our daughters love us

  14. Michelle /


  15. 50

  16. The matching hats… they reflect the interwoven hearts. Praising God that He gives you the words and wisdom to love so well in the midst of your own battles. Thank you for sharing!

  17. Rita O'Brien /

    I can’t love this story enough. Thanks for sharing it.

  18. I teared up at her hats and her wonderful school. Well done everyone.

  19. Just beautiful!! Thank you for sharing.

  20. Bonnie B Jackson /

    Love love this priceless photo of you and G…. Love your sensitivity to the Lord in hearing Greta’s heart cry!! Remind me so if how the Lord Hears our heart’s cry!!!!

  21. Cindy Mitchell /

    Our babies grow up fast and starts voicing a little more.. Good Luck Mamma.. Great fun for ya.. Prayers continued.