Dear Mom and Dad,
I am in my forties now. Of course, I am only telling you this because it’s important to this note. You are both in your 60’s. And truly, we all know this moment will come when we’re (I’m) middle-aged, which is the penultimate phase of mediocrity? What? I’m middle-aged? Yep. Not young and vibrant. Not old and slowing down… But just over the damn crest of the hill. And things are beginning to creak, but only to the extent that I can still deny it some days… But enough that my denial moments say, “Yes, I felt a little stiff this morning, and no, I can’t read the small print.”
And my own kids are no longer little. They speak and poop in the toilet and have the ability to talk through issues instead of just yell. It’s exciting and terrifying. And I am so proud one minute and the next I feel ill-prepared to walk another moment in these shoes that read “parent” in already worn out ink.
I thought it might help to write you both a note. From middle-aged me, from the point of perspective of me as a child. What would I say to you? What might my parents say to me? What is important for me to be, to give, to let go of?
So here goes. From 8 and a half year old me, now, middle-aged, with the flawed memory of what that might look like or be…
Mom, I want you to be happy. I want to see you smile. I want you to laugh and play with me sometimes. I want to sit on your bed and tell you stories and see you smile at me because you like who I am. I want you to give me advice and tell me your own stories. Did you like a boy like I do? Did you ever tell a lie? Were you the best at something? The worst? Are you really ok? Inside? Do you like you? Do you really like me? I hope you get everything you need. And I know when you cry. It hurts. I don’t know what to do, but I want you to know I love you. And thank you for giving me hard work, confidence through your insecurity, and strength beyond measure.
Dad, I want to know everything about you. And I want to know why you’re where you are. Why do you have the job you have? Is it enough? Why do you like TV? Why do you love me so much? Am I really that great? Could I grow up to be a great woman, like the kind you think are amazing? I hope you stand up for yourself because I hate to see you hurt. And then I want to save you. But I am just a kid. I can’t. And thank you, for loving me. Thank you for standards and ridiculous measures that can’t be lived up to. Thank you for laughter and humor. Thank you for being there no matter what, always.
From 40 something year old me:
Dear Reader, what do you see?! What do you want to ask your parents for or thank them for as you now, because of what you lived long ago. What mattered most? What did you need?
And although you visit this place, your child is different. They won’t need the same things. But remember the vivid recall of what you needed, what you got and how you received the gifts you perceive.
It seems to me it’s all much simpler than we sometimes think. I always say that. 8 and a half year old me needed love, attention, validation and a shared experience or reality. I didn’t need perfection. I didn’t need them to be something they weren’t. Luckily, I would go on to live quite fully and meet all the people who gave me what they did. And I would end up here as me, as I am. And I like me. Right now I like me.
And I am going to give my kids my time, my truths, my passions, my love, my shared experience. I am going to give them me. I am going to show them happiness and sadness. I am going to show them by example and teach them when apparently my example blows. I am going to watch and smile at them when they glance at me. I am going to say less and make those words I say more meaningful. I am going to give and show them they must also receive.
And to my parents, I will give the love and accolades and forgiveness they deserve too.
To generations, to laughter, to love, to living today.
Purple Monkey Butts,