Monday, April 22, 2013

Letter to my Teenagers

You know how a song from your past can take you back to a moment in time, reminding you of joys and pains long forgotten? Or maybe it's just me? Last weekend, I found a CD I had made for my little sister for a high school graduation present. It was meant to be our soundtrack. It turned into two CDs by the time I put together all of the meaningful songs of our childhood, from the lullabys our dad used to sing to us to the awful rap music we used to drive around listening to out of our parents' earshot. It was the Peeper and Ernie Soundtrack, inspired by our childhood nicknames.

I was joyriding along in my new-to-me mini van (any ride when you can listen to your own music is a joyride) bumping down Main Street in Buffalo when Jay-Z's Can I Get a... came on next. And the most ridiculous thing happened to me. I began giggling and crying all at the same time. Jay-Z...Can I Get a... It is not a song I advise listening to, nor is it, by any means sentimental, or heartwarming. But there I was, thumping down Main Street in my mini van, with three (empty, mind you) car seats in the back, giggling uncontrollably with tears streaming down my face.

Music can do that to you. Heart breaks long ago healed, bitterness and anger forgotten, and distant joy hidden in your memory can be stirred up instantly with just a few notes. There are songs to this day that I can't stand because they remind me of past relationships, past hurts and betrayals, and broken hearts. I have long since moved on, but those pains were at one time very real, and it is no fun remembering feeling that way. On the other hand there are songs which can stir up happy and joyful memories I had somehow forgotten. Yet even the joyful memories can bring a tear to your eye just in knowing those days are long gone and realizing how quickly time passes.

In listening to this soundtrack of my sister's and my childhood, I experienced a flood of emotions. And remembering, for mere minutes, what it was like to be a teenager, what it was like to feel every emotion with the strength of the world's most powerful magnifying glass, taught me something.

It is so easy for adults to forget what it was like. It's so easy for adults to cast teenagers aside as immature, irrational, or emotional, because it is so easy for us to forget what that was once like; to have all of the emotions and passions of an adult with little knowledge, patience, or discipline in how to handle them.

I do not have teenagers yet, but I know that as quickly as I went from teenager to mother of three, I will, so I want this written down while it's most fresh in my brain.

Dear teenagers of mine,

I will always tell you I love you, no matter how annoying you may find it. Trust me, one day, you will hold your own child, and understand that.

I will never have a favorite child. That may be hard to understand if you're feeling a little left out from time to time, but it's true. You are each a product of your dad and his family, and me and mine, and so naturally I may have more in common with one of you, or I may even understand one of you better because your characteristics and demeanor most resemble mine, but commonality does not equal love. My love for each of you is constant. It may manifest differently in trying to connect with you, but it is unconditional and ever lasting.

I will always show you trust and respect, as long as you show me the same. You will have the appropriate amount of privacy, but understand, at your age, it is much less than you would like. It is not because I don't trust you. But allow me to help protect you from your own emotions. It is hard to feel all that you feel, and it is hard to know what to do under emotional circumstances. While I will have to let you make many of your own decisions as you get older, use me to help you navigate. I have been there, and I can help you avoid making some of the same mistakes I made, if you will be honest with me. When in doubt, always pray. If it is something you don't think you can even talk to me or your dad about, God is there, and He knows it anyway. Speak with Him.     

I will never discredit your feelings, and if you feel that I am, let's talk about it. You are dealing with a lot of emotions, and you can talk to me about anything. You think I won't understand, and maybe I will struggle with that some, but I promise to always try. I promise, that every so often when I'm having difficulty understanding everything you're going through, I will refer back to the music of my teenage years and let Jay-Z, N'SYNC, and Mariah Carey (to name a few) remind me (stop laughing at how old I am or I'll make you listen to them too). ((Ok, maaaaaaaaybe not Jay-Z. In fact, don't ever listen to Jay-Z))

I will always encourage time together as a family. You may not always remember why, but we all love each other and God put us together for a reason. Elijah and Chastity, just remember, you are not far removed from when you once pooped in the bathroom together and checked each other's booties for traces of poop after wiping. You can't fake that kind of closeness, so embrace it. Families who poop together, stay together. You had each other's backs then. Let's keep it that way.

I vow to try not to make fun of your music, if you will try not to make fun of mine. I remember well what it was like to have my own tunes I wanted to listen to. I experimented with music as a kid too. All I ask is that you remain constant in the Lord first and foremost, and if the worst you do is occasionally listen to some rap crap along the way, I will do my best not to give you a hard time about it, and trust and that you won't allow those songs to influence your decisions.

I promise not to write any more embarrassing things about you in this letter. I can make no such promises for the future. It is those embarrassing quirks which make us the family we are, and I wouldn't have it any other way. 

Your super cool, mini van driving, crocheting, cake baking, wacky dancing, blog writing, mommy (always mommy)


No comments:

Post a Comment