Missy at It's Almost Naptime suggested that we "older" moms write a letter back to ourselves in our twenties. Click over to her blog to find more letters. Mine follows:
Dear Twenty-Something Debbie,
RELAX! Your children will grow up to be wonderful adults that will not only be your children but also your friends. You can’t even imagine how proud you will be of them and what responsible, thoughtful, successful people they will become. They will even pick spouses that you truly love! Not to mention the grandbabies!
But be “the Mom” right now! They need that. As they reach the teen years they will have lots of friends but only one Mom! As tough as it seems sometimes, be “the Mom”. It is okay if they are mad at you sometimes. Keep talking to them and letting then make their own choices whenever that is possible and logical. Offer explanations for the rules and save statements like “because I said so” for when you’re completely exhausted or they are too young to grasp the situation.
Know their friends and meet their friends’ families. By getting to really know their friends you will discover that you really like teenagers. Make your home a place where there are clear and consistent rules for them and their friends but that is open and welcoming so they want to be there. It can be a little hectic and exhausting at times but if they’re at your house, you know where they are and what they’re doing. You’ll grow to love the chaos and will actually miss it one day.
Earn their respect, don’t demand it. Practice what you preach as much as you are able. It is okay to push them to do their best. It is not okay to have unrealistic expectations.
You will make mistakes along the way – some small ones, some big ones. Allow yourself not to be perfect and allow them to see that you are fallible. It will help them.
They will make mistakes along the way – some small ones, some big ones. Be there for them but let them suffer their own consequences. As hard as that is to do, it is how they learn. When they make good choices or have successes, rejoice with them.
Don’t ever forget that this time will pass much more quickly than you can imagine so enjoy as many moments as you can. Spend time with them. Keep reading to them and playing with them. Take them on vacations so they will learn there is more to the world than their little corner. Have traditions and make memories. They will cherish them later and so will you.
The time you are taking for yourself to go back to school is okay! They will learn more than you can imagine from it. They will also learn important lessons from the difficult times, like how to be frugal and to take care of their things, so it’s okay that you can’t provide some of the things they want or that their friends have. They are also learning a lot from having to earn things rather than just having them handed to them and you will have the joy of occasionally being able to spoil them with something extravagant and having them truly appreciate it.
Be kinder to their father. They are learning from you how a relationship should and should not work. Do a better job in a few years of not letting your anger and resentment show to them. However, don’t beat yourself up over the divorce. You did what you had to do and they’ll know that later on. And again, they will turn out just fine. I promise. You’ll be okay too. There will be some unexpected twists and turns but eventually you will end up just where you were meant to be – and you’ll never guess who’ll be there with you!
Encourage them to have their own opinions even if they aren’t the same as yours. Be less sarcastic. Make more time to pray for them and with them. Take more time to listen to them. Hug them often. Enjoy them. Mostly just love them – truly and honestly. That’s all they really need. If all this is too much to remember just remember these three things:
Pray for them.
Love, Forty-Something Debbie