I have waited 10 years to give you this letter. Your teen years were rough on both of us. I felt like I was in a tight spot sometimes because you were the first, so I had no experience and I did not have my Mom to talk to about what I was like at 15… 16… 17 and so on. I do remember my mother telling her friends that I was worst at 15 and I know by 23 we were the best of friends, so I have had hope for you and I.
I was so different then you as a teen. I was quiet and shy and did a lot of sulking and suffering in quiet desperation. You are so boisterous about every injustice and thing that you perceive as an unfair action. I think teen perception is definitely cloudy, it is like a superhero cape that makes a person feel invincible, super smart and all knowing, yet does not allow the feelings or needs of others to penetrate it.
Teens have it rough. Going from childhood to adulthood is not easy. As a parent, sometimes it is painful to just witness it. Just like all babies hurt when they are teething…. There just is not a way to get around it. Parents can just be there and watch it happen. It is a part of growing up.
In 2009, when you were 16, the economy was horrible. People all around us were losing their jobs and their livelihood. Foreclosures and bankruptcies were on the news daily. Pepper and I were pretty confident that we had enough seniority and jobs that were high enough in demand that we would not lose everything, but medical costs, groceries and gas prices made just day to day living challenging.
It was a never-ending fiscal battle with you in those days. First, everyone but you had a cell phone, then texting capabilities, then contacts, then a school jacket. There were also the yearbooks, school pictures, fund raisers, new shoes for gym and new swim suits to match your swim team. There was money for the movies, date nights and dances. There were gifts for friend’s birthdays and “Secret swimmer buddies”. There were school trips and instruments… then instrument reeds. There were summer overnight camps and a flight to California with your church youth group. There was two parts of driver’s ed…each with their own fee and going to the Secretary of State to get a license. Then there were all the times I would finally get to drive my car… only to find the gas tank drained. Then we bought a third car, and thought there would be peace.
You came home one day in early November telling us not to worry about the “F” you have in English and that asking you to empty the dishwasher was really more than we should ask. You mentioned you needed a laptop and a $500 Fastskin swim suit for your state swim meet. You also said we never compliment you or do anything for you. You said how no one understood how hard your life was… and that we did not care. You were angry that we paid for a housekeeper but refused to support your swimming by buying you the new suit. You stated loudly and repeatedly, “What do you want from me?! I am never good enough for you!!” You ran up to your room saying you hated your life and no one cared.
I am so glad those days are long past us, daughter. I am so glad that we meet once a month for lunch and talk on the phone every Saturday and you tell me all about your life and loves and the things that make you happy. I am so glad that it is so easy to be together and that everyone can tell how comfortable we are with each other and that I love you and you love me. Those teen years were so hard…. I am glad it is not 2009 anymore!
…. Of course, in 2009, your little brother Dill was 7. So he is 17 now. I am probably writing a letter to him “To my youngest son in the year 2029” ☺