I have attempted to type this letter to my daughters on numerous occasions over the last few weeks and have given up. I think the cold, clinical effort of typing onto a screen was just too impersonal. It’s just so easy to hit delete and edit as you go along, taking with it the minute details that seem trivial, or too raw at the time, yet are equally important thoughts that simple disappear into oblivion. In the end I have written this first on paper, and while I type it up now all the scribbled out words, even whole paragraphs are still there, reminding me of the emotions I felt when I wrote them.
My darling girls,
This last year or so have been extremely difficult for me, for all of us. I seem to spend my entire time shouting, dishing out chores, punishing, removing privileges. The giggling, joking and deep conversations seem to be getting fewer and farther between. We have had some tough experiences that I wish we will never have to go through again, but you are teenage girls. With that status comes the inevitable boy troubles, the friendship disasters and school issues.
As much as I would like you all to be strong independent young ladies who laugh at the thought of being tied down by boyfriends until you’re at least, oh, thirty five? I think that might be a futile wish. Even if you won’t admit it to anyone at the time I know that there will be times that you will hurt, and it will feel like the worst hurt in the world and that you’ll never recover, but you will. You’ll dust yourself off, wipe away the tears and be all the stronger for it.
I know right know that it feels like your dad and I are on your backs about something or another, that we can barely hold a conversation without arguing, that it feels like we are having a go at you more than everyone else.
Sometimes I feel that way too.
Please remember that we are new at this teenage thing too. Yes we have been through it ourselves but not from this side and not in this day and age of instant communication and technology.
Please be patient as we learn how to parent these strong independent people we brought you up to be.It’s not easy when you are all so different from each other,you each require precise methods to get the best out of you, we are still struggling a bit with the fine tuning.
We know, no matter what happens now, that one day will be fine women, we brought you up after all, how could we fail? We raised you to speak your minds, value your own opinions, be a little sassy if the moment calls for it and to also be as sarcastic as they come. You have been surrounded by some of the smartest mouths in existence on both sides of the family so that last one was inevitable!
Maybe where we did you a disservice was to not teach you quite so well when to hold your tongue. That there’s a time and a place to be sassy and opinionated and a time to be more reserved and accommodating.
We know that the teenage brain isn’t wired to admit defeat, or submit to authority and that you are in a rush to grow up and spread your wings. But please slow down, for my sake. I can’t keep you my little girls forever so give me these last few years of your childhood before rushing into the next phase in life. Although you will always be my little girls, no matter how old you are.
This battle of the wills we have going on right now doesn’t need to have winners or losers at the end . The plan is that we all come out the other side of these teenage years as winning parties.
You, as the smart, kind, generous, talented, caring, yet still strong willed, independent, a little bit sassy and sarcastic (but knowing when to curb your tongue and say “of course, right away” when you need to).
Us, as the slightly greyer parents of three wonderful young ladies who will one day change the world with their strong opinions and enthusiasm.
But for now? Can we please try and at least get to 7.30am without an argument? No? Okay, I’ll see you on the other side.