A letter to mothers of small people - soon they will be teenagers

Lisa Lehmann

Posted on March 28 2013

* update 2021 - everything i wrote below was said with the best of intentions. Everything. But guess what? I screwed up. A lot. I still do. I was trying my best. Living in a box I tried desperately to fit in. I followed all the rules to the best of my ability.
But guess what? It didn't work. I was too over protective. Too demanding. Too restrictive. I didn't let them discover and choose for themselves. Yes. Many of these "tips" hold true. You don't want to throw them into the wild. And. You don't want to be a hypocrit. Now these teenagers are adults. Gulp. And I adore them. I am actually obsessed with how amazing they are.
Now. They teach me. They also point out all the mistakes I made. I also realize they still do not have children of their own. And that will change EVERYTHING. So read below with a grain of salt. Realizing I have lived and I have learned. And damn. I really did try my very best.
Thank you kids for continuing to love your faulty mom. Please always rememeber all those choices I made were based on wanting to do the very best for each of you. I'm sorry for my failures. I am not sorry for loving you hard. xoxox, mom
How many times have you heard it?
"They grow up so fast."
"Treasure this time, it will be over before you know it."
These things are true.
But I'm not here to tell you that. For one, because someone has already said it to you. And for two, because it drove me crazy. It still does!
What I do want to say to you is this.
They are watching.
They are listening.
They are paying attention.
Again, I know you know this. But what does that really mean?
It means you need to be diligent.
If you watch movies you wouldn't let them see. Stop.
If words come out of your mouth you wouldn't want them to say. Stop.
If you are rude to those serving you in restaurants, or the grocery store, or the bank because you are having a bad day....I get it. They don't.
If you choose to not put your cart away, because your hands are too full, or your baby is crying...it seems optional.
If you text your husband while driving, because he HAS to go do something right now for you. I know the urgency. They just know you are breaking the law.
If you can hardly stop laughing at the twitter translators out there...think. Would you want your 5 year old to read it out loud to you?
If you criticize your body...they will criticize theirs. If you criticize another persons body...so will they.
If you listen to music you wouldn't want THEM to listen to. Stop. At what point do you think you will "switch gears" and no longer have it loaded on your iPod? Too late. They heard it.
Do you really want that sweet 8 year old belting out:
"Let's go all the way tonight - No regrets, just love."
or
"Nah, Walk up to the club like, "What up, I got a big c***!"
I'm so pumped about some s*** from the thrift shop
Ice on the fringe, it's so d*** frosty
That people like, "D***! That's a cold a** honkey."
Kids don't have discernment yet. They look to you as their guide posts.
I know you are an adult. I know that with adulthood comes the freedom to choose.
But sometimes we need to use that power, that freedom, to NOT choose.
This is not an "I'm so awesome here is how I raise my children" letter. This comes from my own hard learned mistakes. And what I would do if I had it all to do over again. Our youngest is almost 11, our oldest 17...but we still have some time. And we will make every sacrifice we have to.
Guaranteed we will mess up.
Guaranteed so will they.
In that season of life where I was incredibly depressed....manically so...I made choices I am not proud of. I see some of the ramifications from that now. Some.
Almost every weakness that we see in our kids can be traced back to something that we have done - or DO, or said, or allowed. Our freedom. Our choices.
People may say I am a cool mom. I am definitely not.
I have told them before I love them fiercely, but I am their mother I am not their friend.
Not yet. Our job is to protect them, to care for them, to raise them in order that eventually they will make responsible decisions on their own. Right now I am watching some of that beginning to unfold in front of my eyes. Teenagers!
For now. They are watching you. Closely. So I am begging you to use your freedom to make good choices. Not because you have to, but because you want to....for them. I know this letter to you will not make me popular. In fact I expect the rolling of the eyes and the criticism. But if I had a younger sister, this is what I would tell her. Reality? I know she probably wouldn't listen. How do I know this? Because I AM that younger sister.
Anyway, this was on my heart. It was in my head. Now it's in print.
Take it for what you will.
Write it off if you want.
Think I'm an idiot.
But, I shared because I had to. And because I care.
Love you,
lisa

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