Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

March 24, 1994

Dear Me,

Hold on. Funny way to start a letter, I know. In this case it has a number of meanings. Hold on, because in less than three hours your life is about to change forever. Hold on, because in less than three hours you are going to meet one of the most important people in your life. Hold on because in less than three hours you are going to be a mother, a parent, a woman? Hold on, because soon, really soon, he'll be here.

At first you are going to be very surprised when they say "It's a Boy!" You, at 16, want a girl. You, at 16, in all reality wanted someone to dress up. You, at 16, think this is going to be nothing. You, at 16, don't know that the minute you look at him, it never mattered what you "wanted" because you just fell in love for the first time. You have babysat hundreds of times. Babysat your brothers countless hours, babysat other people's children, you, therefore know it all.

No, you don't.

What you haven't done is babysat someone you love more than yourself. Not to say you don't, and still do, love your brothers. But this person, this little boy, is so much more than you even know. To this day, 15 years and 364 days later, you are still wondering at what and who he is.

The other day, Justine, the girl you will give birth to at 19, told you (at 32) that you can be proud and "talk about it out loud". At first, you didn't know what she meant. Then she said in health she learned that something like 90% of all teenaged mothers drop out of school. She learned that a majority of the children of teenaged mothers struggle at school, academically and socially. You however, will not quit school. No way, there is too much to prove, for one, and no way are you going to let that little boy down....

So when he's two weeks old, you are going to pack him and yourself up and drop him off at daycare and go to school. Two morning classes. Then you'll take the bus back downtown and pick him up and then catch another bus and go home. You'll do your homework. You'll parent. You'll overfeed the poor little guy until he spews. You, at 16, will assume crying must mean hungry. But he'll be okay and so will you.

He'll be more than okay! He will delight you day after day, make you laugh uncontrollably until you cry; make you cry out of sheer pride, make you weep out of fear of having disappointed him...

When he's two he will delight in nothing more than dancing, with his back facing you and his Nana, wiggling his butt in perfect rhythym to whatever music is playing. At two, he will decide, around the time his sister his born that his shirt, any shirt, "is too busy" and that's why he won't wear it. At six, you'll break his heart when you tell him you and his dad aren't going to be married anymore. At ten, he'll amaze you with the ease in which he picks up a guitar and plays it, seemingly effortlessly. At 15 you'll burst with pride watching him play football.

At every age, he'll make you laugh. He's funny. He's musical. He's smart.

So hold on. Hold on when, sometime during the day of March 25, 1994, you and he will be alone in the hospital room and you'll have a moment of sheer terror. You'll wonder what the hell you're doing and how you're going to do it. It's not going to be perfect. It's going to be better than perfect because you're going to grow together. When he's 15 he's going to hug you and still want to talk to you and make you laugh when you don't think you can.

So to you and to the little boy, set to come along at 1:02 a.m. March 25, 1994, hold on, you're going to make it.

1 comment:

  1. Oh, this is just beautiful.

    Yes . . . "Talk about it out loud."

    Because this is the best kind of story.

    A love story. A success story. A story of triumph and happiness and family.

    16 year old you?

    She was pretty awesome.

    Your 16 year old son?

    He sounds pretty awesome as well.

    As does your daughter.

    Geez, could you have done it any more RIGHT?

    Well done, you.

    Seriously well done.

    Talk about it out loud . . .

    I love that!