Dude. So you’re going to be 18 years old in just six months. My maxim for a while now has been that you’ll be getting luggage for your birthday. I say it only partly in jest, and you know where that comes from. … The past few years have been rough on both of us, and we’ve had our share of, ahem, challenges. To say that high school did not work out for you would be an understatement. Our family drama did not help that, I know. I’m sorry for not handling things a little better on my end. All told, I think we’re past the worst of it now, though. Thank God.
I’m really proud of the initiative you’ve started to take. Studying hard for the GED test and committing to a new job at Kroger are huge strides in your maturity. I don’t think you’re quite ready to run a Fortune 500 company, but you are a hell of lot more prepared for the real world than you were just a year ago.
I have come to realize that your journey is truly your own, and it’s OK that it doesn’t look like what I would have chosen for you. As a single mom for the majority of your 17 years, I did the best I could with the skills, experience and tools I had at the time. I want you to know that I own all the mistakes I made in raising you. I am nowhere close to perfect, and I made a ton of my own crap decisions. Those decisions helped shape who I am today, just as the sum of all your choices will shape who YOU are. I don’t know about you, but I like both of us today. And I believe we can only get better.
Sure, I’ve probably let some stuff go that other parents would admonish me for. Like the fact that you don’t have a curfew. Honestly, I got tired of punishing you for breaking it, and it was not that important to me. Unlike my own mother, a worrier who always sat up wide awake until my key hit the lock, I don’t have a problem falling asleep with you out raising hell. I accept that I ultimately have no control over what you do or don’t do. I draw the line at outright disrespect to me and my home, but If you decide to act like a jackass, you’re the one who will pay for it. Natural consequences are the only way I ever learn anything, and I found out a long time ago that you are no different.
We’ve shared a lot of good stuff over the years, though, haven’t we? We went to the beach a few times on two different coasts. I took you to Disneyworld and Chicago, all by myself. You probably won’t appreciate what an adventure those trips were until you have kids of your own.
Remember those few minutes when we lost each other at Blizzard Beach? I still get sick to my stomach when I think about it. And remember dragging our suitcases around for blocks and blocks, thinking we were headed in the right direction for the Sears Tower, only to figure out we went the wrong way … twice? Oh, and our quintessential Chicago moment -- riding in the horse drawn carriage past a classic brownstone building. I can still see the trumpet player, dreadlocks swinging, as he stood in his front window and blew a sweet jazz melody. Can you?
Remember “Go to Bed Fred?” The little blue puppet with crazy yellow hair that came with the book of the same name? You loved it when I made Fred talk and tell silly stories. That whole year when you were about 6, you wouldn’t go to sleep without one of my homespun Fred stories. You finally got tired of him right around the time I ran out of ideas.
It’s nearly time to start our holiday traditions, and I hate to think that this might be the last year you’ll be home with me to decorate our Christmas tree. I know that moving out on your own needs to happen soon for your own good (yeah, I said it), and I truly believe that having to pay rent and buy your own toilet paper will be essential milestones of your growth into adulthood.
But your move-out date doesn’t have to happen on your 18th birthday. If you’re behaving like a productive member of society and can contribute financially to the household, we can negotiate. Just know that I will NOT put up with a leech in my home. Are we clear, buddy?
When the day finally comes for you to fly away, I want you to know that I will miss the hell out of you, on so many levels. I will miss your appreciation for my cooking, your sweet hugs, our random conversations and even our arguments over the TV volume. I will probably even miss doing your laundry. (If you ever ask me that in public, I will deny it.)
I guess I just want you to know that I can’t help but be excited for your future and wistful about our past at the same time.
And I also wanted to tell you again, just in case you ever doubted it … I will always, always love you to the moon and back.
About Amy Higgs
A former newspaper columnist, Amy takes her random, slice-of-life stories to the web. After nine years, she's still just saying.