A letter to my son on his 19th birthday

Dear son,

Today is the day you turn 19 years old. I was only a few months older than you when my meandHmom passed away. Unfortunately, you never got to meet her. Sometimes, I don’t think I really did either.

I know this seems like a heavy subject to bring up on a day meant for celebrating, but this is a letter I have spent most of my adult life wishing I had received. When I lost my mom, for a long time I felt lost. You never realize how much you need your mom until you don’t have her anymore. Kind of like losing a limb. I may have been too old for her to kiss my life booboos and make them better, but it sure would have been nice to have her just to talk to; to impart her mommy knowledge on me.

As I am writing this, you are about to turn 7 years old and think I’m pretty awesome. When you read this, you will probably be thinking “Ugh. Mom. You’re so weird”- and you’re probably right. I hope that as you read these words, I am still around annoying the hell out of you, but if the worst happens and you lose me like I lost my mom, I want to answer the questions you will have but may never get the chance to ask. You might not even think right now that these are things you will ever want or need to know, but you will. Remember, I’m mom- and I know everything.

You are incredibly smart and talented, and you are WAY too hard on yourself. I’m not sure I ever have or ever will meet someone as creative and expressive as you. This might pull you into dark times, like it did me while I played music, and even during my career as a writer, but you are strong enough to pull yourself out, and wise enough to know that things will always get brighter. They WILL get brighter.

Don’t always follow your heart. Your heart can be a total idiot. You’re 19, not 30, don’t be in such a rush to do every adult thing you can. Being an adult sucks.

Now that I have dispensed some cheesy life advice, there are some things I want you to know about me, about you, about our family. Things that I constantly wonder, but only my mom could tell me, only she couldn’t- because I waited too long to ask.

I wasn’t always “Mommy”- I am human. I was young and stupid and irrational and dramatic. I thought I was going to be a rockstar and win Grammy awards and marry a Hanson brother. I dated a BUNCH of complete idiots. I made poor decisions, bad judgmental calls, and ruined relationships. I bullied and was bullied. I made SO many mistakes, I can’t even count them- but those don’t make up the people that we are. It is how we come back from those mistakes that really counts. How we learn from them, what we take away from the bad moments. You’re going to make a LOT of mistakes in your lifetime and that’s okay.
When I realized, after years of hard work, that the music thing probably wasn’t going to work out, I didn’t give up, but I went to one of those dark places I mentioned above. Somehow, while digging around the bottom, there was a light- and I made a few really GOOD decisions for once (like convincing your father we were meant to be. It took quite a bit of convincing for both of us), and then there was you. The light. My light. You saved me. I’m not giving the credit to your father because he’ll try to rub it in my face, and as a woman, I cannot let him win. Get used to that.

Our family is in fact bat shit crazy; all of them. My side and your Dad’s side. Most of the time, they are much better in small doses- but if you need them, they will be there for you. Family is supposed to make you want to scream; they’re put on this earth to build your tolerance for all the assholes you’ll encounter in your life. You don’t always have to like them, and they don’t always have to like you. Hell, a lot of them don’t even like ME.

Once you have kids of your own, if you ever decide to torture yourself like that, you really WILL understand what I mean when I say “you’ll understand when you have kids of your own”– we parents aren’t out to destroy you, embarrass you, or trample your fun. We’re trying to keep you from breaking a bone, cracking your head open, getting arrested, contracting herpes, or knocking someone up.
Speaking of which- if/when you do impregnate a female and pop out a crotchfruit of your own, that’s not colic. It’s called reflux, and you can blame your father for that.

I truly hope that you have a wonderful and fulfilling life, being with the people that you care about, and doing something you are passionate about. You have so much to offer the world, and I don’t want you to ever let anything hold you back, even losing me- which I’ve got fingers crossed won’t happen; I want to be around torturing and nagging you to be your best for years to come.

And remember, above all else, no matter what happens; no matter what is said or done- I love you. That has never changed or faltered, and never will, regardless of whether I am still here or not.

I want to end this letter with my mom’s favorite quote; one I have carried with me and it has always put things into perspective:
“Life’s a journey, not a destination”
– you can thank Steven Tyler for that. He’s from Aerosmith. REAL music! Don’t let anyone tell you that junk on the radio these days is real music!


Posted on August 6, 2014 by Holdin' Holden 6 Comments
Holdin' Holden

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  • Such beautiful writing Jenny. I had to wipe away my tears and read it twice. Thank you for your inspiration. You have an incredible gift in your sons as you are their blessing in life.

  • That was the BEST blog so far! I never knew how skewed my view of the world was until I had my son 3 years ago. Suddenly everything righted itself and all made sense. Thank you for sharing that quote – I plan on using it often. 🙂

  • Speechless….you made tears appear! (That does not happen often)

  • That’s a bunch if honest feelings straight out of a mama’s heart! As parents, we don’t always have to portray ourselves as perfect to our kids. It takes guts to admit one’s mistakes in front of ur kids. I loved the way u gave ur son a slice of lessons from your own life! Hugs from a mom to another mom!

  • Amazing stuff and an eye opener for me as a mum, this is really good.