Dearest Teenage Son,
I love you more than anything.
I know that’s probably hard for you to believe sometimes. I know it probably doesn’t feel that way sometimes. Especially as you’ve gotten older.
And I’m sorry about that.
But let me be clear, being a tough love Momma, having high expectations, holding you responsible for your actions isn’t about not loving you. Just the opposite…it’s all about loving you.
Being a Mom was the dream job I finally landed on the day you were born. A job that came with little training and no standard operating procedures. So, I jumped in with both feet and have spent 17 years doing the best job I can.
Not only was there no manual and no training, no one really told me what the job would entail. Sure, some of it was obvious, the diapers, the homework, the sports, the cuts and bruises, the laughing and crying. But no one warned me that the depth of my love for my kids would be so deep, so deep that it would scare me at times.
And now that you are a teenager, with more freedom than ever, I have less control than ever before. And the consequences are much bigger…much, much bigger. And just the thought of something happening to you, makes me ill.
That, my dear child, is why I’m so insistent about knowing where you are, who you are with, what you are doing and when you’ll be home.
Contrary to what you believe, I’m not trying to stalk you. I’m not trying to control you. I’m sure it feels that way. But I’m your Mom, and it’s my job to turn you into a kind, caring, responsible, productive adult and being your Mom rather than your friend is part of that job.
And, as hard as it is to believe, I was once a teenager myself…granted, not a teenage boy, but a teenager. And I remember all of it.
Well, almost all of it.
I remember the joy of freedom. I remember the allure of the forbidden. I remember the thrill of fooling my parents.
And I remember the dumb things I did. I remember the lies I told. I remember the stupid chances I took. I remember the trouble I somehow avoided.
And it scares the shit out of me.
Don’t get me wrong. I was a GOOD kid. But I did some dumb stuff.
Which makes me harder on you…because I know I was lucky, lucky that nothing bad ever happened.
I know you think I don’t understand, but I do…too well, probably.
I remember getting my driver’s license and immediately filling the big brown family van with my friends. I remember turning up the radio and speeding down the road. I remember getting my first car and pushing it far beyond the speed limit, just to try it out, my first speeding ticket somehow avoided until my junior year of college.
I remember the taste of that first drink…I remember how much I liked the way it made me feel, a feeling I still like. I remember laughing and having a good time with my friends downing whatever the drink of the night was. I also remember going a bit overboard a few times, and way overboard a few others.
I remember the buzz of that illicit first toke. The huddling together in a circle, the ensuing giggling, the munchies and how much I liked it. But I also remember the pull, the curiosity and the temptation to try other, riskier drugs. But those days, heroin wasn’t really a thing…thankfully.
I remember the flutters of first love. I remember the nervousness of my first kiss. I remember sneaking into someone’s bedroom to mess around at parties. I remember how hard it was to stop, to say no and I remember a few times doing more than I would have liked because of that pressure and because of the drink.
I remember looking at my watch and realizing it was time to go and panicking because I wasn’t sure if my designated driver was actually sober and truthfully I probably wasn’t able to tell anyway. I remember the relief of sneaking into my bed, safe and sound until next time.
But I was lucky…
I tell you guys all the time that it only takes one bad decision…the one time you drive when you shouldn’t and you hit someone; the one time you try that new drug and overdose; the one time to push your girlfriend too far and she accuses you of rape; the one time you don’t wear a condom and you get a disease or get your girlfriend pregnant…
It truly only takes one bad decision to change your life in ways you can’t imagine.
I look back fondly on my teenage years, and say a few extra prayers for you my child. And I hope you are as lucky as I was.
But luck shouldn’t play into the equation, smarts should. So, dear #2, when you find yourself at that moment, that defining moment of decision making, when deciding between doing the right thing and facing the consequences, or doing the dumb thing in hopes of avoiding trouble, I hope that my voice prevails…even if you know you might get in trouble at home. Trust me, being in trouble at home is preferable to being in trouble with the law, or worse, dead.
So for now, it’s worth it to me to have a few contentious moments at home if you learn a life lesson or two. Because my dear son, I want nothing more than for you to grow up and one day have the chance to look back and realize how great your teenage years were.
And remember this one thing, your Momma, she really does love you, more than you will ever realize. Despite how it feels, she doesn’t enjoy any of this either, but it’s part of her job as your Mom.
And remember, there’s no manual , so she’s just doing the best she can to help you learn to navigate this big, bad world, because in just a short few months, you’ll be doing it all on your own. I can only hope that I’ve done enough to guide you down the right path.
Love you, love you, love you,