Sometimes I get overwhelmed with everything I want to teach my kids. I think about the fact that I will never get to everything. What will I forget? Am I teaching them enough? I have the rest of my life to teach them and be there for them, but I essentially have three more solid years with my son. I’m not convinced that he will go away to school. I want him to do whatever works best for him. Just in case he does go away to college, I have a lot to jam into the next three years. I find I am much more protective of my girls. Now I understand my parents. They were and are more protective of me than they are with my brother, and I totally and completely understand now that I am a mother.
My Dearest Children,
First and foremost, I want you to know that I am always here for you. This includes when you screw up. If you are drunk at a party, call me. I will get in my car and come get you. It doesn’t matter what time of night or day that you need me. I will always do my best to be there. If I can’t come, I will send your dad or your grandparents who are also always there for you. Don’t ever drink and drive. There are other mistakes you can make this is just the first thing that came to my mind as an example.
It doesn’t matter what the screw up is. You will make mistakes. Your parents do not expect you to be perfect. What we expect and want is for you to come to us when you need us. No matter what it is, I promise that you can turn to me. I have made many mistakes too. I could tell you some stories to make you feel better. Your mother isn’t perfect. I screwed up at 16 and I screw up at 46 years old too. Human beings will never live perfectly. It doesn’t exist.
I want to talk to you about relationships. It is very rare that you will meet your spouse in middle school or high school. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. I just want you to figure out what you want in a relationship. You probably are too young to even think about this. The most important thing is that you are treated well. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you don’t deserve that. Even though you will want to spend all your time with your boyfriend or girlfriend, don’t forget about your friends and your family. Don’t forget about the things that really matter in your life like your grades and your activities. Relationships come and go. I promise the world won’t end when your relationship ends, and I promise that there are a lot of fish in the sea. I also promise that I will be there to dry your tears after each relationship. Your heart will be broken. You will break some hearts. You will hopefully find the person for you one day. I wish for all my kids to have someone special to live their lives with.
I’m not quite sure what I want to say about sex. I would tell you not to have sex until you are married but I don’t know how realistic that is. I want to tell you that you need to be mature enough. You need to be careful. You can’t rely on the other person for birth control. You want to be careful of both sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. I would prefer that you get married and then have babies, but I will be there for you however your life plays out. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage. I am still traditional but also flexible. I will always support you.
I want you to know that I love you regardless of all your achievements and successes. No matter what your grades are. No matter what career you choose. I love you because you are my child. Max asked me if I would be proud of him if he didn’t get a good grade. The answer is a big, “Yes!” I am most proud of my children because of who you are on the inside.
Ultimately, I want you to be happy. I want you to be happy with what makes you happy and that’s for you to figure out. I found your father who I wanted to marry and spend my life with. I had the three of you because I really wanted to be a mom. I picked social work for my career. I wanted to help people and I loved seeing how social workers and therapists helped my parents through the years. I saw my parents get through bumps and I wanted to help other families and couples get over bumps and grow stronger. Find your passions and what makes you tick and use that to create a career for yourself. Do something that makes you happy to go do every day. Have a job! Even if you decide to be a stay-at-home parent you need to have a career that you can do if needed or wanted.
Two of the most important decisions that you make in your life are who you marry and what career you choose. You need to make the decisions but don’t take them lightly. I knew with my whole being that I wanted to marry your dad and I hope you feel the same way when the right person comes along. I also didn’t doubt that I wanted to be a therapist. When I was engaged before your dad, I had huge doubts. That was a red flag. I also didn’t have support from my family or my friends. When no one supports your decision take a good hard look. Your family and friends should support your choices. Their support is a good indication that you are heading in the right direction.
I also want you to know that you have the right to change your mind. When I went to graduate school for social work there were plenty of students in their 40’s and 50’s who were going for their second career choice. My brother went to the University at Buffalo and didn’t like it and transferred to Hamilton. We are allowed to change our minds.
I don’t want you to let anything stop you. Don’t let fear, anxiety, depression, sadness, nerves, anger, or anything else stop you. Feel the fear and then go do it anyway. You have the determination and brain power to do anything you set your mind on. Get yourself out of bed every day ready to tackle the day. You need to have down time and relaxation time but be motivated every day to go out and make a difference. I felt like I was making a difference every day even when I was home raising you all day as babies.
Every single emotion you have is a normal human emotion. Let yourself feel your feelings. I want you to feel it. Don’t run or try to numb your feelings. I want you to feel without judgement. Feel all your feelings and learn how to have healthy coping skills. I like to write, read, walk or talk to someone about my feelings. Find what works for you. You need to feel, and you need to have good coping skills.
Just like romantic relationships, friends will come and go too. They say friends are for a reason, a season or a lifetime and this is so very true. You may have some friends forever. Most of your friends will be for a reason or a season in your life. I am a firm believer in keeping the old friends and always being open to making new friends. Be a good friend and make sure that your friends are good to you. Every time my mom said that someone wasn’t a good friend, she was right.
I know that you probably think I’m overprotective. It is most important to me that you are safe. Be aware of your surroundings. Take self defense classes. Lock your doors. Have an escort to your car in the dark. If you aren’t trained in a gun, then don’t even touch it. You never know if a gun at your friend’s house is real or fake. Resist anyone you don’t want to go with. Kick, bite, scratch, scream and make a scene. Watch your drink! Don’t leave a drink unmonitored. Anyone can slip something into your drink. Your safety is serious business.
Take charge of your brain and write your story every single day. My aunt told me that we are in charge of writing our story and I never forgot that. I wrote my story as a love story. Every day I spend a lot of time thinking about how grateful I am. Grab a hold of your brain and teach it how to think in a way that makes your days bright. Everything in life takes practice so keep practicing. Whether it is brain power or muscle power you will need to do reps. Your thoughts and perspective will create the days that you have. Make them good days.
The only other thing as important as your safety is your health. Make sure to take care of your health. Get enough sleep every night. Drink enough water. Take your vitamins. Eat healthy food. Get your body moving. Take care of yourself.
As far as drugs go, I don’t want you to put any in your body unless it is prescribed by a doctor. The goal is to not need any drugs and to not do any illegal drugs. I want you to treat your body like a temple. It needs you to take care of it. You only get one body. You also don’t know what something is laced with and if it could kill you. Drugs are dangerous. They make me too nervous, so I stay far away from them. I am always here for you but please hear me and don’t do drugs.
I hope that you will be true to who you are and won’t be easily influenced by others. I hope that you will do in life what feels right for you and will follow your own path. If you want to play football, great. If you want to cheerlead, great. If you want to focus on acting, great! Whatever it is that you do, make sure that it feels right and is what you want. Have a mind of your own.
There will be many letters to my children. There are so many things that I want to tell them. I was shaking with excitement writing this because I had so much to get out! Feel free to go write your own letter to your children. Use my lessons if you would like to and go over them with your children or have them read this.
My friend told me her daughter watched my podcast on anxiety. It reminded me that kids are watching. It isn’t just the parents. I want to pay attention to writing and recording stuff for our children too and not just for parents and couples. I hope that you and your kids can enjoy this letter. I hope that my kids will read this and know that it comes from my heart as I work every day to be a wonderful mom for them. I am so very blessed to be their mom. I don’t think I will ever be able to tell my kids enough how much I love them. They are three parts of my heart walking around this world, and I wish them the best life they can possibly have. I hope that I can always be a big part of their life. I hope that I am equipping them with good life skills to lead an amazing life.
Last lesson – always remember your mom! I’m forever and always your number one fan. Ok, I’ll share number one with your wonderful father.
Laughing, Learning, Loving,
Rebecca Greene, LCSW-R
Mom to Max, Ella and Lillie xoxo
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