By now I hope you’ve figured out these letters are only sort of for our teenage selves. They’re really for you. They’re really an effort to help you to know we’ve all had fears, insecurities and hurts we’ve sometimes taken a lifetime to shrug off.
We are where we are right now because of everything we’ve been through. Good. And Bad. Every experience has shaped us, helped us to grow and shown us what we are made of. This will be true for you too.
You are at a crossroad. Actually, scratch that. You’re at several crossroads. You’re in high school. You’re moving and living in a transitional situation. You’re dealing with saying those awful goodbyes to the friends you love so much. But what’s worse than saying ‘goodbye’? Goodbyes that last a really looooong time…like the ones you say every day as you wait for us to finally make the move closer to Dad’s office.
Mothers often wish we could instill in our children the wisdom of experience in order to help you avoid the hard parts of youth. I’ve never made that wish as fervently as I do now. Learn from this. Learn from the words of these incredible women in your life. They’re so good and love you so much too…
Please know, you are not alone. I’m here with you and I love you. For the final part of the this second leg of our three-legged stool, I share my letter. I don’t pretend this letter is to some innocent little version of myself from decades ago. It’s to you, hoping you will find some sort of comfort and strength in my words.
What was your biggest fear when you were fifteen? My biggest fear at 15 was that people wouldn’t like me. As ridiculous as it was, I was scared of being invisible and unloved.
What is your biggest fear now? Now, my biggest fear is losing any one of the seven people most important to me. Nothing in this life except for my love of God, means more to me. When you were born the superficial fears from that youth morphed into something more. Something real. Suddenly, worrying about what other people thought, whether accurate or not, didn’t seem to matter as much.
What did you love the most? Obviously, I really loved my family, my parents, my brothers and my dog Beethoven. I also loved the color pink, chocolate and my most prized possession was the bubblegum pink bedroom set my mother made for me at 14. We’d still be sleeping with that gloriously ruffled quilt had your Dad insisted upon upgrading our bedroom decor. I guess there is something emasculating about frilly roll and heart shaped pillows?
What do you love the most now? Funny how it hasn’t changed all that much. I still love my parents, my brothers (though they’ve become some of my best friends now) but even more than them, even more than that funny little dog with the really short legs, the answer is YOU and your sisters, your brothers and most of all, your dad.
I also still love chocolate and pink, glitter and sequins. It’s kinda my thing. But you already know that.
What was your biggest hurt you were most afraid people would find out? This one is tough. When I was much younger, a ‘friend’ who happened to be a boy told me I wasn’t all that attractive and that my only real assets were my enormous breasts. Shortly thereafter, another guy explained to me there were two kinds of girls: ‘Pretty Girls’ and ‘Baby Makers’. He informed me I was a Baby Maker. At the time, I didn’t question either of them. They were my ‘friends’. Why would they lie?
Looking back, I really should have kneed them in the produce section. Instead, I believed them for a long time. I allowed this to cause very destructive patterns in my life that compromised my health and well being. I would do just about anything to keep you from going down that path. I never, ever want you to hurt like that.
How did you overcome that hurt? It took a lot of years…a lot of missteps and a lot of potentially dangerous situations looking for acceptance in the wrong places. (When I sometimes tell you it’s amazing I’m not buried behind a wall somewhere, there is a reason…and those stories are for when you’re a little bit older).
I had to come to the realization that I don’t need to have the acceptance of everyone around me…ESPECIALLY angry people who just want others to hurt and hate themselves. I have power unique to me. The sooner I discovered it, the sooner I could share it with others.
What is your current superpower? My superpower has to have something to do with building six new, 100% original people and keeping them alive. My track record with potted plants and even other people’s pets could have been a warning but gratefully, I’ve managed pretty well. And we have fun. Lots of fun. Like, with pudding and Connect Four Tournaments and really loud music in the kitchen during dinner.
The ironic thing is, I guess I am a ‘Baby Maker’ after all and I kind of love it. So that lanky, clueless guy at Weber State was right about that but I manage to feel pretty too.
What is your current superpower according to a loved one? This is He-Man (aka: Dad) ‘Your storytelling creates imagination supernovas in the eyes of children and adults alike.”
Okay. Me again. I’m kinda swooning right now.
At fifteen, what part of you, physical or otherwise, were you insecure about but have now come to appreciate and wish you would have celebrated? There were a lot of things. My curly hair, the prominent nose I got from my Portuguese ancestors. I hated that I was a ‘base’ on my cheerleading squad. That basically meant I was too heavy to be a ‘flyer’.
Now, my insane curly hair is one of my favorite things about myself. I didn’t realize how cute my nose was until I saw it on several of my children and well, I’m really grateful for a strong body that has put up with everything I’ve put it through.
What is the one thing you would tell your fifteen-year old self right now, after experiencing what you’ve experienced as an adult? Now this one is really for you, Sunshine. Please, please don’t take yourself too seriously. There are so many things that should be reverenced, things that make this life sacred. I’m not talking about those. I’m talking about the crazy stuff life throws at us. Like swimsuits that accidentally get ripped off at pool parties, cats you accidentally neuter and cremated grandmas kept in boxes by the dinner table. Those things are funny. Please don’t forget to laugh at them. It will make life so much easier.
What is a misconception people have of you? Kindness is weakness. It’s not. Just because you choose to be kind, it doesn’t mean you’re a pushover. In fact, sometimes it’s a strength in disguise. So don’t let that fool you. Because there will still be times you really want to drop-kick someone into next Tuesday.
PS…Stay tuned for the third leg of our three-legged stool. It’s a good one…