To My Laila on your 13th Birthday.
On the eve of your 13th Birthday I find myself (per usual) in a moment of nostalgia. I’m reflecting on your younger years and the enormous amounts of joy you have brought into our lives. I am also reflecting on my own teenage experiences and what that time was like for me. When our midwife told me that a baby girl was growing inside of me, I felt as much joy as any expectant mother but I also felt a wave of fear. (the real powerlessness kind) How was I going to raise a little girl through the teen years. (my heart raced) For me the teen years were so traitorous and heartbreaking. Don’t hear me wrong, it wasn’t all bad, there was a lot of good fun stuff too. But, I immediately recalled all of the angst I had caused my parents during those years. I was ahhhh, a little free-spirited and a little fearless and not afraid to think outside of the box. (Just. like. you.) I recall lots of …lets call them “opportunities to learn” during those teen years. So let me share some of those, that come to mind here. (jumps onto soapbox) Hang tight babe, this is going to be long… Here we go.
- Boys: Im putting this on the top of the list because, well, it’s likely on the top of yours. Befriend all of them. Aside from the ones who are just rotten and go out of their way to make your life miserable. (you know the type) And about that, it usually means they like you. If they are worth any of your time or attention, see to it that they treat you with kindness and respect. Have zero tolerance for someone who makes you feel less than, they don’t deserve you. Keep your eye out for the kind of guys who make you feel better about yourself, who help you to be a better person, who like your quirkiness, who can make you LAUGH. ( like the ones you share a locker with; for whatever reason those guys are keepers) Boys are special and they keep things rather simple and my God, if that isn’t refreshing? Date them, but be friends with them FIRST. Remember boys are primal so don’t overanalyze too much. (it is exhausting, even to me) When they voice what they want, they usually mean just that, and that alone. You are not entitled to give them what they want, don’t forget that. They are not complicated… the female gender makes things that way. (most often….I know you will call me out on “stereotyping” but I am speaking in general terms and with my own experiences.) If they are confusing you, it probably means they are confused themselves. Don’t push. There is nothing that is more annoying than a needy girl. Same goes with a needy guy. It is better to be wanted rather than needed, know the difference.
- Which brings me to advice: As I always tell you and your brother I just speak from my own experiences. I am no smarter at my age, than you are at 13. My advise to you is not to say, “you are stupid and you don’t know anything.” It is just a “heads up” to help you to “look at something a different way” sort of thing. (ya follow me?) I don’t know everything, I only have more time/experiences than you do. (i.e. I’m old(ish) I have made a lot of mistakes, you will too. Somehow making mistakes seems to be the popular way to learn. (isn’t that just a bummer) I respect that you will have your own experiences and they will vary from my own. But you’d better believe when myself or dad speak up on a subject we are sharing our knowledge of a ‘probable outcome’. We are merely attempting to steer you in a different direction. As if to say, “Bee Ba Bee Ba 911 911 alert!” You will make good choices and sometimes, you will not. My advice will not keep you from making the wrong choice. But listen when I tell you this… there will always be consequences. Those consequences will be yours too! (Yay) We are just here to help you up after those falls. Just like the first time on your bike with the training wheels off… we will run along side of you to help you if you lean too far in one direction but if you choose to go too fast or dive off the curb, your on your own sweetheart. We will help you up, hug and kiss your wounds. And then likely tell you to go ahead and get back on for another joy ride.
- Adults; No adult has it all figured out. If they try to make you believe otherwise, they are just lying to themselves. We are all just having this human experience and trying to find our way. Adults are guides, they have good information and experiences to share with you. Respect adults. All of them. Always give a good firm handshake and look them in the eye. Call them by their Sir name, unless they ask you to call them otherwise. ( it is also ok to ask them which they prefer) Say Thank you and mean it. This goes for teachers, police officers, business clerks, janitors, crossing guards, neighbors, friends parents, etc. Unless, they are asking you to do something that you know to be bad or wrong, in that case, kick them and run like bloody hell. Trust your gut. I trust you know this, this is old news. But I mean it about the Respect thing.
- Friends; I say it all the time… treat people how you would like to be treated. I can’t emphasize this enough. It is the Golden Rule in our home. How others treat you is a direct reflection about how they feel about themselves. So know this to be true for you too. If you are being nasty to another person, look inside yourself. Ask yourself “what is going on inside me?” It is only when your own cup is full that you have enough to share with others. People will disappoint you, it is human. You will disappoint yourself, also human. And guess what, you will disappoint others. ( I know, bummer) Forgive. Be humble enough that when you do recognize your mistake, take responsibility, apologize and move on. Don’t be hard on yourself, you are doing the best that you can, with the tools that you have. And when you know better, do better. Easy does it. Have no expectations, other than to be kind. If people are not kind and they don’t treat you well, they are not your friend. You are only as good as the company you keep. Always try and put yourself in others shoes, but you don’t have to walk in them. What I mean by that is; do your best to understand where they are coming from but you do not have to take on their stuff. Know what is yours and what is theirs. Stay on your side of the street. Keep your side clean. I’d say this is the most difficult to understand and grasp but there is no way to avoid it being that you are as extroverted as you have proven to be. Always do your part to lift someone up.(figuratively, not literally- that would just be weird) Let people walk away from you feeling better than they did when they came to you but don’t let them walk on you. I have found that when a friendship is effortless and easy, they are usually the lifer’s. ( the Tiff’s, the Steph’s , the Chris’s and the like) And then there will be those who come and go… let them. (insert a ‘Bah Felicia’ here) If you feel the need to force a friendship it is probably not one worth having. (same goes with relationships) Thank them and move on. Always just be yourself, you are absolutely wonderful and the lucky ones will find you and stick around.
- Find your Jayne. There will be many, many people who are in and out of your life who will influence you, teach you valuable lessons and leave a great impression on you. “When the student is ready to learn the teacher shows up.” As much as it pains me, it equally comforts me to know I will not be the only person who will be a your “teacher.” (And lets face it, I am your mother and you won’t want to listen to me anyway) But there will be people who come into your life and you will just know they are extraordinary. Be aware. Be open. Be humble. I don’t know when or who that will be. You will know to identify them by the feeling that ‘they got something that you want.’ And I am not talking about physical things. I am talking about a laugh, a glimmer in the eye, a happiness. A certain way about them. (I can’t explain it but you will know) Be open. Go, listen, learn and hold them so close to your heart. They will show up and let me tell you, they will be just as instrumental to your growth as your own self.
- True North: the great Unknown. Faith. Know that you are not alone on this journey, God will take you beyond any place you ever thought imaginable. And about that… you choose your own ‘Higher Power’. I choose to call mine God. Sometimes I call it the Force for Love and sometimes I just stumble to find the right words all together. You get to choose what works for you and what you believe in your own heart. You don’t have to understand it, just trust that it is. It took me a very long time (painful time) to understand that I was not running the show. I had to Let Go and see for myself. It was the best “let go” I had ever managed to pull off. I pray that you find your true North sooner rather later it will save you a lot of unnecessary anguish.
- Which brings me to Control. The only person you can change is you! You cannot control other people, places or things. You can only control your reactions to them. (And sometimes, not even that.) Be honest with yourself in all things. Acceptance, Acceptance, Acceptance. The sooner you learn to accept things for what they are the easier your life will be. Do I want everything to be easy for you? Certainly. But I accept that it is not always going to be that way. So I am here. And I will love you through all the ups and downs.
- Your body is your temple. Treat it as such. Keep it hydrated. Nourish it with healthy foods. Protect it with sunscreen. And for whatever reason… Apple Cider Vinegar seems to cure a lot of things, I don’t know why. Fresh pressed juice is not only great for your body but it is so good for your skin. So are probiotics, coconut and Fish Oil. 😉
- Social Media. Keep it tasteful. I am so proud that you are not a selfie fanatic. (Keep that up) And know that if you post something that is without class or good intention, you’d better hope that I don’t see it. (It won’t be pretty) I fully trust you in this, keep using good judgment. And just remember once it is out there there is no taking it back. You can do things in life and not post it for everyone to see. (imagine that) It’s a sea of information. Somethings are just better left for the imagination. (period)
- Now that this is gettin preachy and as you know I could go on forever I will close with this… Don’t ever ever forget to have SO much fun that when the day is done your heart say’s yes, to ALL of THAT! Laila Marie you are magnificant. You are one of my greatest gifts. My sunshine after the storm and the moon to my stars. You have already made us so proud. At 13, you’ve only just begun. You are as beautiful on the inside as you are on the outside. (And as you know the inside is far more valuable) You complete our quirky little family. Thank you for choosing me to be your momma…I am so so proud of you. Go out there and be the person you’d like to meet. ILY, Mom