An Honest Conversation: A Letter To My Adult Son

My Dearest Love, we have come to the point where we must say goodbye. Not to our relationship but to the closing of a chapter as you transition from childhood to adulthood moving out from your parents and on to the next chapter of your life. As you have grown, our relationship too must evolve. So I was hoping to have an honest conversation with you.

Making the choice to go out on your own and craft the story of what’s to come in your life was no easy feat. For either of us. I’m sure you would have stayed longer if I had made things less complicated for you. But I did not want that. And trust me Son, you wouldn’t have wanted that either. 

Although we are past the rough patches and things between you and me seem fine on the surface, I can’t help but think some things were left unsaid. Or at least left misunderstood.

I strongly believe that communication is the key factor behind strong parent-child relationships. When parents and children are not communicating, it can lead to serious emotional hurt and weakened bonds between them and I don’t want that for you and me.

As you know my father died when I was 12. Out of all the things he might have told me throughout our short time together this is the 1 thing I remember him saying:

“La La, I have things to talk to you about when you are a grown woman. Things that you cannot understand right now even if you tried. But it will be a conversation between us about things I need you to understand about me.”

“LaLa, I have some things to talk to you about when you are a grown woman.”

We never made it to that talk.

After he died, I spent years in agony, so upset with him. For the things that he did. The way he parented me (or the lack of), and for leaving me with so many unanswered questions.

It wasn’t until I was 33, that my mother gave me a whole bunch of his paperwork and asked me to go through it all to see if I wanted anything or to throw it away. In the piles, I found his journaling. Notebooks and pages on his accounts of his addiction, his depression, and how he viewed his life.

Do you know what was most bizarre about it all? At the time he wrote all of that –he was the exact same age as me.

I finally heard him. I saw him for who he was. A broken man who so desperately wished he wasn’t. Almost instantly all that pain melted away. We finally had our conversation that day.

My goal in writing this letter to you is for us to have a conversation. An honest conversation.

I want the opportunity to tell you why I can never be the mother you want me to be. But instead, how I vow to be the mother you deserve.

Let’s have a conversation.

This Mother was made for you!

You may not remember this or perhaps you don’t even know this at all – but we made a deal before we both took our places on this earth. We have a contract.

In it, it says that I am here to help you to seek knowledge and truth. To differentiate good from evil, and right from wrong. To teach you how to make decisions and problem solve.

NOT TO DO IT FOR YOU.

To teach you wisdom, temperance, justice, and fortitude. The very morals that I literally have tattooed on my spine to which are my foundation. They are to be passed on to you from 0 to 18 and after that, I must gracefully stand back and let you go.

Our contract contained an agreement between us too. Not only would you learn lessons from me but you would also teach me so many things too.  

I promised to love you hard and so I parented you tough. But I didn’t just up and decide that I would purposely make your life difficult. A lot of the choices and decisions in raising you came from experiences that shaped me.

I know where you came from, But you don’t know where I came from.

You see Son, just because having a baby instantly gave me a new name tag with Mother written on it, that did not mean that I knew HOW to be a mom. Or what that even meant yet.

The day they let me take you home I remember I wanted to cry. I never really held a baby before you. They put you in my arms and gave me instructions for you (about your umbilical cord and your feeding) along with a little card that was to be filled out with all your vaccinations. And then they said BYYYYYIEEEEEE!

 I didn’t manage my own medical files yet. They were all still at home with my mom. There I was. Scared as hell. A baby with a baby.

A lot of how I learned to be a mother, was by jumping into the nitty gritty with you.

And trust me, Kid, I just heard myself say that out loud and it sounds crazy.

That’d be like you jumping on a motorcycle and hitting the roads in Pinellas county without having any mastery over it or even guidance; all you have is trial and error.

Well, that’s pretty much parenting if you think about it.

But to be fair….my shaping wasn’t solely from you. I did draw from my own mother. Naturally, that is where our parenting skills start from, modeling what we see growing up. And you know what – I was better off just doing the trial-by-error thing with you. Promise. My mother and I were NEVER on the same page regarding how I was supposed to take care of you.

It is life’s experiences that shaped me.

I may not have gotten my maternal instinct wings the minute you popped out like other women, but the one thing I knew for sure was you were not going to grow up the same way as me. You were not going to feel, see, or hear any of the things I did.

Did your father and I make mistakes? Yup.

Did you see and hear some shit? Yup.

But I promise you, none of that came close to anything like my childhood.

For a very long time, I did not know what healthy relationships looked like. And as an adult, you can even see the disharmonious dynamics between my siblings and me.  

The way I chose to design my parenting style and relationship with you stemmed from taking all the flaws from what I perceived to be a broken system. I especially wanted to foster a healthier atmosphere within the container that you and Cade share as brothers.

And ill be quite honest with you, I still am not sure what that looks like exactly,  but what I am damn sure of is I am steering you both in the right direction.

The cold hard truth Son?

No parents are perfect or without flaws. They can’t get it right all the time especially if they are making something out of nothing. A lot of us are wounded children trying to reparent ourselves at the same time we are trying to parent our kids.

We make rules as we go because some of us are creating something out of nothing

As I hit a new age, and maturity level (ha!) I have worked through shame from the poor choices that I know I made for you in the past. And I am constantly course-correcting as I walk with you toward your future. And as you remind me of certain mistakes I made last year and the year before that I am going to honestly tell you that my parenting style will always be ever-changing, Son. I am not afraid to admit that I am still learning.

About the world.

About myself.

Trying to work out my own issues from my own parents.  

The reality is it can take a lifetime for someone to truly understand themselves and they may not even get to that point until they are close to death.

I know that you don’t always agree or understand my choices (shit, there are other parents who have actually verbalized they are on your side at times) but I assure you, my Son, I have meditated on them hard.

They have been methodically thought out and designed to work for you. Not against you. And if you take anything from this letter I hope it’s that.

Giving you tough love these last few years has been the hardest part of parenting you. And yes, I have struggled with some of the options that I have presented to you. I know there have been times when you have felt that my decisions were cold-hearted even. But only one thought keeps me strong in my stance and I always come back to this:

Someday you will be living in a reality where I no longer exist. My job is to teach you how to live in this world without me. That’s the goal. That’s the win. And if I fail I am not sure I could handle the disappointment that I would hold for myself in leaving you vulnerable in this world.

Look at me. Not even 40 yet and I no longer have parents. I am at an unusual age to be parentless, but it happens.

So if me forcing you to problem solve, learn how to ask others for help, pay bills, or make you choose hard over easy is not your idea of an ideal mom, I’m sorry but I’d still choose to be that woman over and over again.

If breaking generational cycles meant making a lot of mistakes as I carried you in a different direction, Id gladly make those mistakes again.

And if you know that you can do better than me,  My Love,  I 100% stand behind you on that. I want you to have a better life than I did. I want you to be better than me.

But you know what, I already think that you are. I am so proud of you and proud of the steps you have taken in challenging your own self today.  

I am finding as you have taken over the decision-making for yourself, that I too, don’t always agree with your choices. And Child, I swear I am working hard to keep my mouth shut unless you ask for my help. But I suppose that is to be saved for another day. Another conversation.

I love you, my Son!

As Ever,

Yo Mama

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