To my children’s significant others and friends,
Thank you for saying hi to me the other day. I sensed you were nervous and just maybe it took a major effort to walk or look my way.
I want you to know that because my child cares about you, I care about you too. I wish you happiness and health just like I do for my own kids whether you are part of our lives for a short time or many years.
I understand you were uncomfortable. I want you to know that we are not so different. You are figuring out who you are. I am too. It’s a lifelong journey and I am just further along the path.
What does further along the path look like? Knowing and feeling comfortable with who you are. Maybe having a big, loud laugh. Putting yourself out there and taking the kind of risks that grow you. Decision making is easier. You worry less about how others are going to respond and more about what feels right in your gut. You know that even if others freak, as long as you are respecting yourself, it will all work out.
That said, I still make mistakes. The other day I called my mom to chat while driving to Green Bay to see a guy I’ve started dating. She asks me where I’m going. I say “Appleton.” She waits me out. I say “to run errands.” She waits me out some more.* I realize I’m lying for absolutely no good reason. Last I checked, I’m an adult. I fess up and tell her that I’m going to Green Bay to spend time with him. You see she thinks we’re going too fast. I have no idea why she thinks this. We do the normal things like texting, phone calls and dates. I’ll sum up: I’m nearly 50 with a new boyfriend and my mom, in her 80’s, thinks we’re going too fast. I thought this dynamic would end like three decades ago. That would be a hard no.
When I make a mistake, I give myself grace and do better next time. You and my kids get lots of grace as well. It’s not an easy time to be a young adult. Social media has created whole new universes, some heartening and some scathing. We are also putting unrealistic expectations on you. You may be just figuring this out but we are going to ask you to clean up our mistakes. Greta Thunberg figured it out. She can see the future and she is not happy.
So for today, I give you the freedom to be yourself however you show up. I also give you the freedom to be different than the day before. I give you the freedom to say hi or not depending on how you feel that day. I will never take it personally. That’s the nice thing about being an adult. You learn other people’s behavior is about where they are at and not about you.
Say hi, stop by, follow me, ignore me, whatever; just don’t rat me out to my mom.
*Super effective lie detecting trick to use on your future children: just wait them out and let them hang themselves.
Blog Post Outtake
Martha: I called Mom. She launched into her story without even saying hello.
Me: I’m pretty sure that’s a “cold open” just like Saturday Night Live. (love you, Mom)