Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Still crazy after all these years

I am going to be 50 tomorrow ... 50!!!  Man, I thought that was so ancient, at best middle aged, nah ancient when I was younger.  I mean 50 - wasn't that the time you retired and started to eat at like 430 or something?  Broke out the white shoes with the thick soles?  How wrong our perceptions of age are when we are younger - or maybe we keep busting those perceptions as we refuse to let the number dictate to us and we chose to write our own stories of aging.

The insanity of youth is that anything slightly older than it seems outdated, to be put out to pasture.   Yet as my friends and I, mostly my  high school classmate friends, started this year with a foot in the last year of our 40s and a weary eye at a cake with many candle, somehow 50 didn't seem old anymore.

We tell each other it is the new 40.  In the scheme of how much longer people live that isn't quite wrong, and at some point 40 was something those who are young did and do still think of as over the hill.  It is middle age no matter how you cut it.  So what ??  It means you still have a half or more to keep doing what you want.

Yet 50 - wow.  I am not one to be defined by milestone birthdays but this one, well this one has been quite different for me.  I have found out that it is for many, especially women.

My reflection on this birthday started about 2 years ago - what do I want to do, to be, to want, to get when I am 50.  I do not want to be "normal" or go without being slightly insane.  I want to be the woman who makes others wonder "what's she up to now?".

I am more confident than when I was younger, I made peace with my imperfect body though we still have an adversarial relationship, I also started to really think about my goals.  So many of my goals, like many women, up to now were tied to outcomes expected by others.   Goals always included what was good for others too.  As I approach this milestone I started to really focus on what do I want, what do I want to accomplish, what do I deserve.  I learned from a therapist friend that to have real goals you have to visualize details in them, the colors, the smells, see yourself in them - so am starting with that as I build mine. I also came to realize that therapy is also necessary in the process for most of us, it just takes getting over the scared to be fabulous to start it.

How often do we really ask ourselves what do I deserve and not put any caveats on that?  Not be afraid to think it, want it, say it?  For me this is still a learning process.

So what have I learned in these 50 years - that love is meant to be celebrated, taken when you can, given freely even if it means you may get hurt.  I learned that passion and desire is not shameful but a driver and in itself a way to make life brighter, better, whether it is for a person or for idea.   I have traveled and appreciated different places and I am starting to wonder where I want to live beyond just where I am.  I have read a tremendous amount of wonderful books.  There has been art I have seen and art I have made that added to the memories that make me smile.

There is music, so much music, I cannot imagine not having it in my life throughout the years or going forward.

There are friends, some who stayed in my life, some who taught me that not all people are sincere and most who added a pebble to my soul to make it fuller.

I have not always had easy times, there were too many bad choices but luckily there were many more good ones and learnings from the ones that weren't.   I have lost people along the journey, they are all still part of who I am today in memories and things I learned with them.

Fifty is looking pretty damn fabulous from where I sit.  I see it in those who are turning 50 this year with me and in those that already celebrated it in years past.

It is not just a number because that would mean in some way it is not significant, for me it is significant.  I finished my book, which I swore I would do before 50.  I switched from exploring what's next in my career to what is my next career going to look like as I get closer to retirement.  Will it be full of creative endeavors or do I want to put my passions into other areas?  Not sure the world is full of possibilities.

As I turn 50 I also reflect on the wonder of human accomplishment, from kindness that pours over borders and in person when truly awful things happen, to scientific advancements, technology, architecture that has happened in my lifetime.  I was born in a world where nothing is impossible it just needs to be looked at from different angles and determined how it could be possible.

So happy birthday to me .... and thank you to you all who read this ... let the 2nd half of my century, cause yeah there is a chance I could live to a 100 (but only if I could be as cool as Betty White), begin.  I am ready to have people on this journey that appreciate who I am, who I appreciate and gently let go of "just what might have been".

Bring it 50 .... this girl is still not ready for you!!!!!

Monday, July 3, 2017

Love it or leave it

In my many years of living in the States, choosing to be a citizen of this country, defending the US even when I disagreed with the politicians I never was told to leave here as much as I have been since the current president's run for office and even more so since he got into office.

As if caring for a country, disagreeing with the government, not supporting the person in the office because of his policies and lack of acumen (or his crass and morally repulsive behavior) and blindly bowing down is more patriotic. It is not it is nationalistic, the stuff of fascism, bolshevism, and yes nazism.  Patriotism is loving a place enough to see it's problems and looking at how you as one person can make a difference for the better.  Nationalism is seeing the flaws, blaming everyone but yourself and then following blindly anyone who only agrees with you.

People have forgotten they too are not from here, at some point even if they were born here, because the people who have told me if I do not like it 1) do not have Native American names 2) have said it based on my last name or when I mentioned I am immigrant 3) ironically seem to have immigrants in their family tree too.

As if people who came here didn't come here from places that didn't allow dissent, asked for blind following and total submission to the thought that government and one particular head of state is always right.  As if others didn't come here for financial opportunities.  Interestingly the people who were brought here against their will,  because no Dr Carson they did not emigrate immigrate here the only "grate" they saw were the ones that were on the windows of the floating prison barges that brought them here, do not say this to me ever.

People also seem to have really short memories - apparently some think this president is under more "attack".  Makes one wonder if they had their tvs, radios off since the 70s .  You don't have to go back that far you can go back say 8 years to see our former president's likeness lynched, burned, called crazy names, for some reason some crackpot started a bizarre birther theory, his daughters assailed, his wife called vile names.  Here is the beauty, wait for it, it still is all available for many years prior on this fancy doodad called the internet.

I am grateful for all that I have accomplished in this country.  What is happening  disturbs me because I grew up and lived with what happens without a free press, without the ability to dissent, without hope to change anything because you were supposed to smile and say thank you even when they kicked you.  It is because I believe in the concept of America - not a perfect place but a place perfected by those who come here.

I fulfill my part as an immigrant, I add to the fabric of society as much as I can, I contribute to the tax system, I vote and I had children here who I am raising to continue to add to the quilt that makes up the US.

Every day the dignity we once associated with the office,  even through scandals, has been diminished by a man who was never fit to sit in the chair to begin with.

I see his rallies, who has rally after rally right after they are elected ?  oh yeah dictators with their fragile egos who need to keep whipping their supporters into a frenzy, and there he is even less coherent but yet more applauded.  His supporters cannot seem to accept any chinks in his teflon armor.  They fiercely defend him if someone points out his audacious lies and believe that he is in their corner.  They need to believe because he still sells them on the idea that he believes in them.

As we celebrate the birth of this nation all of us chose at some time to cross oceans to get to, or for those that did not choose to come here they still have given their lives to try and make it a better place, that I want to remember that the founding fathers of this land were not men who were flawless.  Nor where they ideals of mankind.  They were men, who made poor choices but whose character was not shaped by those poor judgements but rather they were shaped by their belief in the pursuit of life, liberty and happiness.  We can emulate that spirit and do better with those things they did not, like equal rights for men and women, like treating people the same regardless of their race, like making those pursuits available to all.

I believe that those who still support him believe that he will make it better for them,  isn't that what both left and right want though?  To make it better for all - what his message is most flawed in is that it seems as if the pie is finite when America is built on the idea that nothing is impossible.  The world will NEVER go back to what it was, who wants it to ?  We need to figure out how we can make it go forward with us at the helm, not standing there talking about the remember whens.

Happy Fourth of July - I leave you with words from Bono, a man who like me chooses to live in the States not because we see it as without need to make it better but because we love it enough to want to do so

"Anyway, it’s not a right/left issue. It’s a right/wrong issue, and America has constantly been on the side of what’s right. Because when it comes down to it, this is about keeping faith with the idea of America. Because America’s an idea, isn’t it? I mean, Ireland’s a great country, but it’s not an idea. Great Britain’s a great country, it’s not an idea. That’s how we see you around the world, as one of the greatest ideas in human history, right up there with the Renaissance, right up there with crop rotations and the Beatles’ White album. The idea, the American idea—it’s an idea—the idea is that you and me are created equal, and will ensure that an economic recession need not become an equality rescission. The idea that life is not meant to be endured but enjoyed. The idea that if we have dignity, if we have justice then leave it to us, and we’ll do the rest. This country was the first to claw its way out of darkness and put that on paper. And God love you for it, because these aren’t just American ideas anymore. There’s no copyright on them. You brought them into the world. It’s a wide world now. I know Americans say they have a bit of the world in them, and you do, the family tree has lots of branches. But the thing is, the world has a built of America in it, too. These truths, your truths, they’re self-evident in us.”





Tuesday, June 27, 2017

School's out for summer...

Image result for summer vacation kids Can't speak for anyone else but I hear Alice Cooper every year when my kids and their friends go to their final day of school, more energized then ever, antsy to have the day start so it could finish and then they are out for summer.

Man I miss that -- bit jealous always of my teacher friends who have it too - the idea that I could have a whole summer off.   I am a high energy person, not quite hyper, so that would include keeping busy but it would also include doing a bunch of nothing except pleasurable things, like reading, beach going, travel, painting, writing.  Doing those things without wondering what chore, work thing or commitment I needed to get to.

For those of us that are parents in this day and age we are also told about the planning we have to do for our kids.  I do not mean for wee ones that need actual caretakers, I mean for every age group living under our roof.  After all we cannot have kids do ... brace yourselves ... NOTHING.

Yet isn't nothing, no schedule, what we as adults look at them longingly for having during this time? I mean none of us see the last day of summer and think "man if I was kid I hope my parents made sure I was busy every nanosecond of every day until school starts."  No we look at them and wish we too could have that break to do what we want.  Now what we fill that time with might differ from what our kids want but to me the possibilities and pure lazy days of summer as a kid are part of the magic of being a kid.

These kids are kept busy throughout the year and this is not a good or bad thing, it is just the way parenting happens for those who have the ability to put kids into activities.  For those that do not, their kids still have some schedule.  If parents care for their children, focus on being there for their kids they should all grow up to be in pretty good shape.

Summer though - I remember it well.  My dad was fond of giving me some math problems to do every day, eye roll even now and sorry dad they did not make me like math more, I had assigned summer reading lists for good part of my school years and then I had a few chores each day.  Beyond that my parents worked and I was not tethered like my kids since I lived in New York.  In a borough that allowed me free roam within in and out of it to the City without parental supervision.

You know what we did for a good part of it, my friends and I, not much.  We went to the public pool, where you had to watch your towel and your money as this was New York in it's high crime, low quality of life era.  We walked around aimlessly. We played video games in candy stores, where people smoked.  We hung out in alleyways and parks.  When younger we played kickball, tag and some other things until dinner, where you gobbled and then ran back down, until streetlights came on and then you begged for "just a little while longer".  You were hot and sometimes someone opened a fire hydrant so you can cool down.  We also went to the movies, and paid for one movie, but often saw several in the movie theater (it was air conditioned and no one checked or cared I think).   We sat in homes and watched some tv.  Overall though we did not do those things that we seem to expect our kids to do these days.  Keep a schedule being top of the list.

I know some people went to camps, day or sleep away, I did not grow up in a neighborhood like that. Your parents may have shipped you off to relatives in Europe, but there you did a lot of the above stated only in a different land.  We went to the beach when we got older, on subways, sweating as we stuck to plastic seats on our way, until we had cars.  If you were in Europe you did whatever it was that kids there did, but again not much of a schedule.   We went on vacations with our parents, or weekends at Jones Beach, Robert Moses or Sunken Meadow.

So this summer I thought I would let my own kids figure out how to be bored, not have as many scheduled things, and get to do whatever they do these days to be entertained.  I figured I and most of the people I grew up with are doing ok.    They have some scheduled camps, some vacation with us and a bunch of let's play it by ear.

I gave them the summer I think as an adult I miss from when I was a kid.  They have a lifetime to be "productive" and only a short while to live without the responsibililties of adulthood.

Do what you think is right for your kids always but once in a while it is ok to let that be letting them enjoy the luxury of being a kid ... especially in the summer.

Happy summer off kids ..


Monday, June 19, 2017

Summer time and the parenting advice is not easy

I appreciate good advice, knowledge as much as anyone I know.  I am totally comfortable with my dorky nature of wanting to know things, to seek things out, to be grateful for those who offer advice and help when I need it.

Yet I am so over and so annoyed with the vast amount of parenting advice out there that is not really advice. It is all about waxing poetic on how wonderful that person's decision was to do whatever and how if you aren't doing it you fall short.  I am over being told how I fail as a mother, as a woman just to be told a few weeks later that whatever I tried to switch too will pretty much be the end of any hope for my children.

It is easy these days to be an expert - I mean I could blog about it and pretend that it is based on professional opinion when in fact a blog is pretty much the editorial section of the newspaper. Yes some facts will be there but opinion is not fact, though this seems to be very blurred on all levels these days.

So as I raise my kids to the best of of my ability, I triage through advice and rely on my trusted resources - women I actually know whose kids I happen to also know.

It is not easy being a parent, rewarding and amazing yes but not easy.  It shouldn't be, you are after all responsible for a whole other being, beings.  Their care is in your hands, literally, and who they become is a result of most of your influence.  I know we like to say that their peers, and they do too, are their greatest influence but they aren't they are just the voice they choose to hear.  However, I am a firm believer that our voice lives on like that annoying supermarket muzak in their head.

I do not think, beyond living in places of extremes, that doing one thing or not doing one thing is what is going to make the child. For me I find it works when I try and parent much like I am told to do with all else, think, be moderate, be fair, I am not always right and have to admit it.   That's it - I got not other must do's because this blog is my opinion and I have no real qualifications, as most authors of those "you must make sure to" articles don't either, to make a fact based declaration.

I try to teach my kids to be kind, to understand their world and how I can be of use in helping them navigate it and most of all to build a trust (hence the muzak in their heads) that translates to them knowing when to come to me for advice.

My kids are fortunate and they are told so but we chose to give them things, in good spirit, so we also choose to make sure they know that they have more than they need but not so much that they forget it.

I expose my kids as often as possible to people, places, foods, ideas that are diverse not because I think that makes them better but because it makes them curious and open to ideas.  That is my kids, may not be yours, neither one of us is wrong.

Maybe all these articles annoy me because they serve to remind us more often than not to focus on the "parenting as competition with other parents" instead of being truly a reference for all of us who should admit that we wing it a lot more than we actually know 100% of what we are doing.  Maybe you don't, maybe you are reading this and think none of this applies, that works for me.

I applaud anyone who chooses to be a parent, as much as I also support those that choose not to be for whatever reasons.  So what if our children are imperfect they are human after all, not some prize to be held up.  They are the reward not the means to get one for being written about.

So go be parents - whatever that means to you - be the parents you know your children need because most of us know that more than any article can ever tell us.  If you have a nugget of info to share pass it on but if you have only "I did it betters" well then good luck with your writing career, this girl is passing on that.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Hey hey daddy-o

Father's Day is coming up - there I told you, no excuses to forget to get something for your dad, father figure, male who acted as your father or just a guy in your life who fills that need.

Fathers have evolved through time, and we do not always take the time to acknowledge their contributions to the family as much as we do for Moms.  It makes sense, even in the most egalitarian of houses I still see the mother organizing what dad executes, managing and doing the workload and most of all let's be honest there is nothing like a mom.  Moms love with some super elevated emotional nerve that the best of fathers only get close to.

Yet I am so really overwhelmed with emotion when I see how fatherhood has evolved.  There were always good fathers, bad fathers and the average bit of both of those things fathers when I was growing up.  They were there but not present, they were often loud, often the discipline stick used and many a time they were the ones that were in need of taking care as much as the kids.  These men of a previous generation were teachers to their kids, they loved their kids but too many did not know what that meant in terms of showing it.  We also have as a society changed our understanding of what parenting is and with that both mom and dad have become different than our parents.

My own father was a complicated figure, kind at times, really mean at others.  An auto-didact without a way to teach what he learned most of the time without derision.  A selfish man who loved to entertain.  A man who loved music, art, education and travel and passed those things on to me.  We struggled my father and I.  I did not respond well to his constant measurement of me to others where I fell short almost every time, to his pushing me by telling me that it was expected that I achieve more and more and most of all the times he just was mean because he could be.  I was not that kid that would rise up to "show him" yet that was not the man I choose to call the whole of my father.  He was funny, really funny, we went record shopping together, we went to the movies, we did a lot of things and he was great to learn from.  He was my Daddy and I miss him even when I have consciously self-corrected behaviors that I saw myself mimick of his that had been things that I disliked in him.  The other things he was were about him I realize, after years of therapy, not about me.

Today's fathers that I know are so different.  I see them with kids, they take them to events and stay there cheering them, giving unwanted advice and then softening it up.  There they are helping coach various sports teams and being good with other people's kids not just their own.  They are doing carpools and changed diapers.  They are an active part of school performances and events. They spend time with their kids and enjoy it.  These men follow through on the things the mother's of their children ask of them.  They are not "helping" their wives or partners because these are their children so they are sharing in the raising of them.

Today's fathers want to be more than the threat needed when a child misbehaves.  They are working on being the person their children will want to be with when they are adults and do not need to be with either parent except because they enjoy it.

Yeah I know we make fun of the fact that you still cannot find things in the house that have always been in the same spot, that you still ask us questions about basic routines and things that we as moms do not ever seem to need input on (what should I feed the kids among my personal favorites?).  You are there as our bookend to prop up our children until they are their own novels, and we will be there when they need a rest on that same shelf.

I watch my male friends, and other dad's that I know, and I want to say you are an awesome bunch.  I applaud you and am glad to have you around my own kids who, if they choose, will have some great role models to build from as fathers.

You will never be moms but you do not need to be you need to be the best fathers you can be and from where I am standing you are all doing a pretty kick-ass job with that.   Anyone can father a child but it's the best of men who are truly Papas, Daddy's, Tati, Pops.

Happy Father's Day

Monday, June 5, 2017

Then there were 5

My parents surrounded themselves with several families when they moved to the States, families who were the same ethnicity.  Families who they could speak their native language with, share the same foods, the same cultural norms and had friends who were around my age.   We were 6 girls.   Three of were only children, one was an only child for a long time until her parents had another son much too late for us to be anything but annoyed by, and two were sisters. We had each other's families known over for dinner parties that lasted until the wee hours of the night, for weekends driven to the beach, all of us crowding in the back of one car, begging to put on Top 40 Casey Kason and dealing with listening to whatever they wanted to as well.  My father was notorious for having us also answer various school related topics, I am pretty sure all of us know capitals and geography more from those trips then from school.  

These are my memories, these girls, endless hours spent together talking, talking on phones that were tethered with long, stretched out cords.  I can see us walking away from our parents at the beach, burning plastic (don't judge we were poor) at the picnic area we went to just to see the patterns they would melt into (don't judge I said).   We were a unit, like steps each a year younger than the other. One of us lived in New Jersey, in a house to our apartments, so we spent many New Year's in her basement while our parents danced, laughed, played poker and basically left us alone to listen to our music, to drink our bootleg shampoo bottle of booze that I had brought (it was nasty for the record), to be silly.  

We were family and those of us who lived in NY went to the same schools or schools near by, followed each other around, walked endless hours by boys we liked and asked if they had looked at us.  We supported each other and debated the merits of Led Zeppelin, the Stones, the Doors and swooned over Rick Springfield at the first concert we all went to,  our mothers complained for days about the noise level (of the girls screaming not Rick).  It baffled our parents how we could talk so much, then get on the phone and talk some more.  We were sisters and fought like such, we loved each other.

Yet we were not the same.  I was the oldest and the easiest going, maybe I was bossy at times but for the most part I was pretty much game to go with the flow.  G was the next in line.  She was always a little bolder, ok a lot bolder.  She called her dad by his first name, we met when she was 9 and I was 10.  He wasn't her biological father, she knew and told us, we nodded but probably not quite understood.  She was like us but she wasn't.  She was allowed to roam freer than the rest of us, she was raped at 11 by a group of teen boys.  She told me, she made me swear not to say anything or she would deny it, we did not say anything.  I am not sure now if we knew what "rape" meant.  After all she still hung out with them after so was it that bad?  The adult in me shudders remembering this, we did not tell we should have but we thought the parents would be mad at us.  I know her behavior was typical of a survivor now, I did not know that then.   

We all started smoking pot in our teens, I started to pull away when I realized it was getting beyond just that.  I saw the people that we were with and I did not see them leaving the place we were, I was 16.  I did not explain this to the other two of the 6 of us who were with me, G and M, I left them and I left it behind because a part of me wanted more, wanted to be anything but stuck in the same place in life.  I left her slowly and I loved her a lot but she stayed.  She took more and harder drugs. Her depression, as an adult I see it, her self destructive behavior hidden behind an always present smile, a big personality.  She couldn't be an addict, she was too smart, too popular, too everything right?  

We drifted apart and we drifted back together when my father and two of the mothers died the same year, mere months apart.  G's mom was one of them.  We shared each other's grief, we laughed at every memory we had of them, we were in our 20s.   They died much too young.  We lived without a parent each much too young. 

Her addiction took her, she thought she was in charge, she could convince us she was in charge but she was out of control because that is addiction.  It starts by giving you a good feeling, it makes you fill a void, it takes you.  It takes everything from you, it becomes the best friend you need, you want, you defend against those who tell you to give it up.  It is a disease and it is rooted in pain and we did nothing to help, she never asked us to, we all had moved on.  One of us kept in touch with her.  

I saw her not long after I had my son at a party that our New Jersey friend threw.  She had tracked G down.   She had been in Riker's, she like many in there had been sexually abused and raped by the guards, she was not some character in Orange is the New Black she was my friend and she had called none of us.  Not to visit, not to see her, not for help.  She had her addiction still and it would wait for her to get out of jail.  She had her smile, we all hoped she would be ok. 

G died last week.  She had been clean for 10 years, she had been with her husband for 20.  They had spiraled down and up together, he was helped her stay clean along with him.  They gave up heroin.  Read that again, they gave up heroin.  He replaced her addiction with love, the way he spoke of her was a gift, I was happy she had that kind of love.  It was the thing that filled a void that topped addiction.  It was something she chose to do because she finally found a way back to being able to make that choice. 

We were once 6 girls and now we are 5 and every part of me hurt when I heard of her death at 48.  Her smile is what I remembered first, her laugh and the way she seemed like life was hers for the taking, addiction took her potential to be bigger than life. She could not control it, it controlled her.  

G made me laugh in her death like she had when alive, she made me remember how good my childhood was and how close to going in a different path we all were.  It made me wonder where I failed her and it made me realize that in all of the years I knew her she never asked me to help her except for once, and I did but I could not help the pain she carried since we were children.  G is part of every childhood memory I have, part of how I moved in a different direction and now part of the way I spoke with my kids about drugs and what they do to you.  

She had love and that means a lot to me.  It also reminded me that we need to not be silent about sexual abuse, pain, and offer real treatment for those things along with treatment for addiction.   Too many have become one less number to their friends and family and left us with memories instead of being part of the ones we will make.  If you know anyone who is an addict try and give them the option to ask you for help - they will not get better until they realize that there is more to life than pain, that the drugs or alcohol they use will not make it better and that they deserve our compassion and support not our jails and indifference. 

Then there were 5 and as it always was - we grieved together, we laughed at memories together and no matter where we live we live within each other always.   We have been friends for over 40 years, through many decades and from a previous century.  Goodbye my friend I will love you always. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

Dear soon to be 13 year old son

To my amazing son;

I am writing to you as you are a month away from becoming a teenager.  

That's exciting for you and for me and scary for me, and probably for you. 

I mean how tiring is it to hear people state the obvious all the time ?  You are not a child anymore, You are getting bigger, You need to be more responsible, You need, You are.... on and on.  As if this is news to you.  So why do we do it ?  Because actually you are still a child in most ways and one that is still learning.  Because as smart as you are you do not know it all and only adults later on realize how much they still need to learn all the time.  Part of it is our own fears - that we did not prepare you enough, that we did too much for you and you may not be able to be independent, that you are so different than we were at the same age.  We need to chill a little and you need to cut us a break as we will not stop this, I promise it is because we think so highly of you not because we think you cannot do something.

We all remember becoming 13 and for some of us we forget how everything in our lives that seems trivial now was all consuming and absolutely important at the time.  So remind us when we might say "is that really a big deal?" tell us that it is, we need help learning how to be parents of a 13 year old too.  

As you turn 13 you are that much closer to what you probably see as awesome, and should, the finish line to getting "older".  To getting less dependent on us, to making more and more of your own decisions.  Man was I totally with that line of thinking when I was younger, I so wanted to be older, to not have to ask for permission, to be free and then I got older and I realize you still need to be mindful of others, you want to take others into consideration and you know all of us "old" folks lament how much we miss our youth.  This is hard because your days seem to stretch on forever, school year flew by from my point of view, it was never ending from yours.   You will get there, don't always rush it, there are great things to come but there are moments that you should enjoy now, in the moment because they will be those memories that you will look back when you get to my age.

I was never the 13 the way you will be, I was 13 in my own era, with my parents and with different things to tempt me to do wrong as well with things that were so wondrous to me and may seem lame to you.  You do not have to be me at 13, there is nothing wrong with the fact that you and your friends communicate via devices, or watch YouTube for hours, don't need to wait for a tv show to come on because you can stream it, never sing lyrics wrong because you can look them up and never have to drag out a heavy book called an encyclopedia which may have outdated information in it to learn.  You are all learning to be ready for the world you will inhabit, that is frankly awe inspiring for me.  Yet certain things remain, kindness to others, not doing something to someone just so you can appear more dominant, caring about the world around you and knowing that I am here for you when the world doesn't do those things for you.  I may yell, I may not like it but I got your back.

There will be changes to your body - oh she is not going there - mom stop, no really please stop.  I know all about them, they will make you feel awkward, they may be annoying as they may come with skin issues, you will smell more, you might start growing hair and that baby smooth skin that I adore will be left behind.  Whatever it is I, or your Papa, can talk about it, you might blush more than we do, we might wish you didn't ask and we may not have an answer but choose one or both of us and we will try, we will be honest and let's face it I am pretty funny so it will be kind of humorous. Unless it is not funny and then I will break out the Astoria girl in me and kick ass if you need, or just provide a shoulder to lean on.

Last but not least 13 is a one of many numbers that will have significance for you in life.   You want to make choices as you become a teenager that do not negatively derail you from celebrating future milestone numbers.  You may be tempted to try drugs, alcohol - let's talk about those choices honestly and how to make sure you do not do anything that will harm you, I promise not to tell you unrealistic things.  You may start to think about sex, the beginning of whatever that means at 13 these days.  You are only 13 - you need to slow it down a little -- know how to be respectful of your partners, be good to your own body and most of all slow it down a little.  Yes I repeated myself I am allowed I am your mom, we repeat incredibly well.

On the subject of repeating  - I will tell you these things again and again and again because if you learn nothing from this except that I am here for you and that I am learning how to parent a teenager to continue to grow the smart, funny, good looking, kind, talented boy to a man.  That I love you even when I get mad, that you love me even when I seem so totally not to understand what you are saying, that you will do great things and no one should tell you otherwise.

I love you my soon to be teenager for all the things you were, are and will be.  Now go be an annoying, brooding, eye rolling teen but also stay true to who you are inquisitive, clever and confident that you have unconditional love from me,

Love
Mom