by Elise Seyfried
But then you’ve always been one.
A flood of memories of small “Mo” (Maureen Rose Seyfried), who is now 24 years old. You wanted to grow up to be “a clown, a farmer or a recess aide.” Your reaction to being sent to your room: “I’ll go but only if you’ll let me SLAM MY DOOR.” Your ability, even at age six, to shock: “Mom, you know what I think is a great idea? Teenager pregnancy!” You went to what you called “reform school” (actually Reformed Church Nursery School. That one raised a few eyebrows).
You were your parents’ boon companion, even when you weren’t quite sure what was going on: “Daddy and I are watching the golf on TV. Somebody just got putts. But I didn’t see them. Actually, I don’t know exactly what putts is.” You had times of high and low self-esteem: “I’m confident because I’m competent.” “I ‘bust’ myself first so no one else gets a chance to.”
You were a tiny spitfire with eyeglasses and bangs. As my third child but first girl, you had many of the traits of a firstborn: bossy, opinionated, critical, perfectionist. I can say that because I’m a firstborn too. Your relationships with your older sibs were sometimes fraught with conflict. You and Evan, in particular, interacted like an incredibly dysfunctional married couple; he would tease, you would fly off the handle; you would pout, he would tease, and round the mulberry bush we went. While you were basically patient and loving with little PJ and Julie, you had no real interest in playing baby games.
Even though I wanted to throttle you at times, there was no denying your off-the-charts cuteness factor. I don’t know if it was the specs (you needed them from age 2 after eye-muscle surgery) or your low, throaty voice, so jarring coming from such a little peanut…whatever it was, you won my heart, big-time, and nothing ever changed that.
Fast-forward through middle school. (Wish that had been an option!) You decided that you were a) a traveler and b) a businesswoman. You opened Bon Mo Desserts and sold really delicious homemade cookies, cakes and pies to our hungry neighbors. These goodies funded trips to the UK and Jamaica (what 11-year-old takes her mother on vacation to Jamaica? Mine.) and whetted your appetite for more far-flung adventures.
At a very tender age, you began singing. In church you were part of a small group of vocalists called Stepping Stones; in school you sang in chorus and, over the years, scored many solos. One summer you went to Westminster Choir College camp. Then you joined the Temple University Children’s Choir and adored the freedom of riding the train by yourself into center city for weekly rehearsals. With each new experience, your voice strengthened and grew more beautiful.
High school brought your year in Thailand (and your name change to Rose); college brought an internship in London and time in Italy. During that period you worked as a Starbucks barista in the international admissions office at Berklee (Music School) and served as a Big Sister in Boston. We never lost touch, but it was clear you had to ration your precious and rare free time. As a mom, I understood. As your #1 fan, I wanted more.
And now I have it — in a way. Thanks to the magic of soundcloud and Youtube, I can see/hear you often, performing original songs. Facebook keeps us in contact too, as I hear about your insane current number of jobs in NYC: audio engineer, Foley artist, composer, editor, singer and the list goes on. I just wish I could see you more often. Sometimes Brooklyn feels as far away as Seattle. But I know you are happily busy building a career and a life. When you were a child, it often seemed like you were racing through your youth to become the adult you were born wanting to be. I’m so glad you’ve made it.
Through it all, you remain true to yourself. You are a strong, compassionate, capable young woman (and yes, still a little opinionated and bossy). Inside exciting New York Rose, there still dwells precocious Mo — the girl I fell in love with the day she was born.
I’m so proud of you, my mouth is dropping closed.
Elise Seyfried is Director of Spiritual Formation at Christ’s Lutheran Church in Oreland. She is also an actress, wife, mother of five and co-author (with husband, Steve) of 15 plays for children. She is the author of a recently self-published book, “Unhaling: On God, Grace and a Perfectly Imperfect Life,” a collection of essays, humorous but with a spiritual focus. The book can be purchased for $15 plus shipping through eliseseyfried.com. (Also from Amazon.com and BarnesandNoble.com, although they add an extra charge.)