Dear me at 13:
Your parents are human beings.
There. I said it.
I know. It’s kind of like when you found out that there was no Santa Claus, Easter Bunny or Tooth Fairy. But all at the same time.
Your parents are not the Super Human, infallible protectors that you grew up thinking they were. They make mistakes. They get frustrated. They feel disappointment, insecurity, jealousy and anger. They had lives before you. They have their own issues. They are just regular people, muddling through, doing the best they can to raise you right.
They did a very good job of pretending that they were in control of your Universe. They kissed your boo boos and scared away closet monsters. They made you feel safe and secure in every inch of your little child life. That security allowed you to focus on having fun. On being a kid. It was a truly wonderful time.
But now, the time has come for you to know the world as it really is. Granted, it can be a scary place. It’s a place with lots of decisions to be made. Decisions that only you can make; decisions that exercise your free will and ability to dictate your own future. Learning that you are actually in control of your own life is a freeing and exciting thing. It’s also frightening and daunting and can make you want to return to your childhood and pull your head under the covers.
You will learn in time that your parents do indeed argue. They have hidden this from you in the past, but it does happen. They have a relationship, you know. Relationships go through highs and lows. Theirs is no different from any you will experience later in life.
You will learn that your parents get scared. They get scared about money. They get scared about your future. They get scared about their own internal demons.
You will learn that there are things your parents wish they could change about their pasts, and you will learn the extent to which this yearning dictates their interaction with you.
Your parents can only do their own personal best- even though their best may not be as good as you wish it were sometimes. And that’s okay, to wish they were better. You will get to a point in your life where you will begin to look at them objectively- as people, and not just as your parents. This is tough- and you will struggle with accepting the reality of their shortcomings. But please know that being realistic is not a betrayal. It’s one of the biggest parts of growing up.
All this new information may make you feel alone; like there isn’t anyone looking out for you after all. This isn’t true- your parents will always look out for you. But you’re going to have to accept that they can only do this to the best of their abilities.
This lesson will become clear to you after the birth of your first child. Throughout your pregnancy, you will feel confident in your ability to parent. You will feel nothing but excitement at the opportunity to guide a little one through the world. Then, you will actually meet your little one for the first time. You will hold her sweet little body in your arms, and understand that she is an entire person, an entire soul, an entire life, completely separate from you. You will stare deep into her eyes and realize the gravity of your task. And you will be more scared than you’ve ever been. You will understand your parents’ struggle for the first time, to guide you and love you unconditionally, in spite of themselves. And you will pray that you will be able to do as good a job as they did. This is when you will finally know the depth of love your parents have always felt for you.
And that’s the thing: Through all the mistakes your parents will make in the next seven years, just remember that their love for you is their driving force. They may be frightened. They may be angry. They may be jealous, anxious, insecure or just plain tired. But through it all, they just want the best for you. And all they can do is try their best to get you there.
So try not to give them an extra hard time. Give them pats on the back often- they need it. Try to understand their struggles and empathize with them every now and then. And when you think of it, say a little prayer that your own daughter will eventually do the same.