10 years from now I will be the mother of a full-blown teenage girl. That’s a little terrifying. In preparation for that, I decided I should sit down and write a note to my future self. You see, 10 years ago I was still a teenager myself. As of tomorrow I can no longer say that. I figured I should get some of these thoughts down before I get older, more mature, and likely to future Lilly’s displeasure, more realistic.
I wanted to get these thoughts down before I forget what it was like to be a dramatic, dreaming, starry eyed teenage girl.
Dear Crystal of 39 years old,
Congratulations! You’re the proud owner of a teenage girl. If she survived this long, and you still have all your hair, then you’ve done something right.
Some of the things were about to go over have likely already started to occur, but as I well remember they only get worse.
Right now I can tell you that our daughter is just like us. Even at 3.5 years old, she acts just like us, talks just like us and argues just like us. We have a full-blown mini me with all of our personality and attitude. This means that you are likely in for a long next 6 or so years of your life, to be filled with tons of drama, tears, and God knows how many boyfriends.
Try to be as patient as you can. Try to be understanding. Try to ensure that Adam hasn’t changed his views on owning a long gun.
On the first kiss:
This happened for us at 12, so I might be a little late on this one, but I figured it still worth mentioning. Remember how that first kiss made us feel like we can do anything in life. Like it opened up some grand door into adulthood. Obviously it didn’t, but you couldn’t tell us that at the time. Remember how when we told mom about that kiss, she gushed along with us like a more mature version of one of our girlfriends. That was a great feeling. It left the door open to approach mom about any of that kind of stuff going forward. My goal for us to be just like that. When Lilly tells you about her first kiss, remain calm and remember that it’s just a kiss. But it could be much more to her in the emotional sense. Try not to dampen that in anyway.
On the first unattainable great love:
Remember what it felt like to be 100% batcrap crazy obsessed over some celebrity…or senior class president was 6 years older than us… How we were SURE you were going to meet him, marry him & live happily ever after. Remember that it hurt if adults made us feel silly for any of that. Sure, we realize it’s unrealistic and dramatic now, but we believed it with all our heart at 13 years old. In fact, if we’re being honest, we probably still feel that way about Leo Dicaprio now…
On the first attainable great love:
Ok, this one could suck the worst for many reasons. For starters, the first time she really, truly falls for someone may not be a mutual experience. Try to remember that at the time, it really feels like there was no worse thing in the world than wanting someone who doesn’t want you back. Now we are mothers and we understand there are FAR worse things in the world…like watching your daughter go through it. She may fall for someone and it is mutual. This can be even harder if/when it doesn’t work out. Which leads into the next point…
On her first real heartbreak:
For a teenage girl, the first real heartbreak is crippling. Honestly, heartbreak at any age can be devastating, but there is nothing quite like that first one. Try not to minimize it, but understand it the best you can. Keep in mind that some of the most irritating phrases we heard while going through our first break up were “you’re young, you’ll get over it” or “don’t worry they’ll be other fish in the sea”. While that might all be true, all it did was serve to make us feel silly. As if we didn’t really have a good solid reason for feeling heartbreak and pain. But we know we did and so does she.
On her hating us:
Lilly is a lot like us, just as we are a lot like mom. This can make for some incredibly intense wars that I’m sure have only become even more *fun* as she’s gotten older. At 3.5 years old, she has already told us that she’s “not my friend anymore” on multiple occasions. I can only imagine that we have likely heard that horrible H word by now. I’m not looking forward to that. Remember it doesn’t last. There were times we said it to mom and we know in our hearts we never, ever meant it.
On her choices for hair, clothing, etc:
We lucked out. We have a great mom who let us be as unique as we wanted to be, while still teaching us self respect and ensuring that we maintained self confidence. I truly hope that we can be the same kind of mom for Lilly. Clothes are just clothes and hair is just hair. Let her experiment with her personal style and be who she wants to be. Teach her that no one can ever make her feel insecure about herself.
On sharing our own experiences:
Let’s not be afraid to share our own experiences with Lilly. Including our mistakes. While I understand it can be nerve wracking to show her our lesser perfect side, be honest with her. She shouldn’t see us as perfect because we’re not. There are lessons that we have learned that she certainly benefit from. That being said, we should share our mistakes, while knowing that she will inevitably still make her own.
Always listen to her deeply. There are days she won’t want to talk to us at all, so don’t take it for granted.
Always ask her how her day was and absorb as much detail as she’ll give.
Always tell her she is beautiful, smart and kind. She will never hear those words enough.
There is so much more we could go over, but I think this gives you a good place to start. The bottom line is that you need to make sure that we have a good balance between teaching her reality, but giving her feelings and experiences the credibility and weight that they deserve. To us, some of the more dramatic moments might seem silly as hell, but to her they are very real. Our job is to help her navigate them and help her mature into the beautiful women that I already see in her at 3 years old.
Ideally speaking, we will be able to do this with minimal therapy costs for either of us