Speak your wisdom here,
in the mirror; she’s wearing
Well, it has happened. My oldest, a girl, has turned 13. She is a teenager, and I guess that means I am now the parent of a teenager. I have been reading beautiful “letters to my daughter” writings, full of motherly wisdom. They all provide guidance to help their offspring navigate the rocky life ahead. I thought about writing something similar to my girl, but it felt fake. Instead, I’m drawn to write a letter to myself… here goes.
Hi. So I know you heard the news. Your baby girl is growing up. Yes, she became taller than you several months ago (not a difficult feat, mind you, but a humbling/proud moment nonetheless). And her feet are longer than yours (again, nothing to brag about since your feet stop growing at 32 months). But now another milestone has been crossed… and with each of those, a little part of you falls away. As someone said to you — or did you make it up yourself — being a parent is ‘one long letting go’, and several feet of holding on just ran between your slack hands.
You have 3 years until she is driving. Not even 6 years to college. And your boy is only 4 years behind her. You have got to get your shit together, and fast. Here’s my advice to you.
That voice in your head is routing itself to your mouth way too often. It is bad enough that it tortures you with stories of ‘not enough’ and inadequacies. But it used to be further away, separate from you. Now it seems to have sidled up to you, almost like a lover, pressing closely against you — so close its voice is becoming your voice. And as you allow it external voice, you lose your best self. But here’s the deal: your best self – even your mediocre, haven’t-showered-in-days PMS-y self — is so much better than that shitbag voice in your head. Quit letting it speak for you and fast. In 10 years (who am I kidding, in 10 minutes) you are going to hear that voice come out of your 13 year old and your heart will break. Make a change.
Your life is so much better than you allow. You’ve dressed up longing and are pretending it is a vision board. Stop. Stop longing for a life where you aren’t tired. Stop longing for a job that fulfills you 100% all the time. Stop longing for that ‘thing’ (artwork, clothing, knowledge, vacation, sheets) and quit deluding yourself that it will cure something, fill in something, create something different in your life. It won’t. And you know why? Because if/then statements are bullshit. If I (lose weight, make more money, buy a vacation home, cut my hair) … then I will be (content, pretty, zen like, able to…). Blah de blah blah. You know what isn’t bullshit? The life you have right now. This is way more than gratitude. This about being present in your life and recognizing how amazing you have it. You want your teenager to appreciate what you provide? Then you better appreciate what you have, right now, with no if/then, no more accumulation, no numbing out.
Be more mindful of where you are choosing to spend your time. Take stock every few days… if you’ve read more words on Facebook than your family has shared together… well, perhaps that isn’t your highest choice. I know you tell yourself that you are relaxing when you surf online, but you and I know that’s crap. And spending 30 minutes more at work isn’t making you more successful. Of course you need to do that sometimes, but you allow it to matter when really it doesn’t. Start paying attention and see whether your choices take you toward the life you want; chances are you’ll easily make another choice.
Midlife has brought you a strong desire to find significance in your life, but all the stuff mentioned above has blinded you to how the everyday moments are chock full of what you seek. Our lives are 99% daily living, 1% extra-special moments. If you think that significance is only in the 1% you are doomed. There is significance all around you. Every day. Please start looking for it. Because frankly, in just a few minutes from now, a few more years will have passed. Trust me on that one.