Hi mom. How are you?
Me, I’m not so good. I want to talk with you about how I’ve felt for a long time now, but I keep putting off saying what’s really on my mind. Mostly because I don’t want to hurt your feelings, and I know I’d probably shut down again if I tried and keep how I’m really feeling bottled up – once again – so this is why you’re reading it instead of having me tell you myself.
When I was younger, you used to tell me I could do anything; I could be anybody I wanted to be. I don’t know exactly when you switched or why, but now you tell me just to do anything, just be anybody, and while the words are the same, the meaning has changed. Pretty soon I wonder if you’ll tell me I’ll never amount to anything; I’ll never be anybody. And what you really mean with those words is I’ll never be anyone of value in your eyes.
Living up to your expectations is hard. I know you only had the best in mind for me, and I really hope you still do. The pressure I’m feeling though and the stress that comes with it to make my next few moves and not mess up is actually having the opposite effect. See I’m starting to feel paralyzed; unable to move forward and actually do anything because I’m afraid of making what in your opinion is just another bad choice or mistake.
Don’t be mad. Oh please don’t be mad, just hear me out. This isn’t easy mom. You know one of the greatest things a parent can do is teach their kids to make decisions on their own. It must be hard when you think you know better; when you wouldn’t make the choices I’ve made. Saying, “I warned you”, or, “I told you this would happen didn’t I?” might seem the helpful thing to do or say, but all it’s really doing is adding pressure and shutting me down. That’s not what you want and it’s not healthy for me either.
Sure I regret some of the choices I’ve made. Those choices were mine though mom, and the regret is mine too. But here’s the thing; I made the choices, I have the regrets and I am the one who hopefully learns the lessons from the choices. What I’ve learned is to put more thought into the big choices. The small choices with small consequences don’t matter near as much as the big ones, and with the bigger decisions I know I need to think them through more, do some research about what job to get, what schooling I need to train for it etc.
You want the best for me, but comparing me to other people isn’t helping – and honestly, it’s not fair. I’m my own person just as they are. We’re different mom. It’s not about, “just getting a job”, but more about getting THE job that’s right for me, one that’s going to bring me some happiness, one that I’ll do well in and feel good about doing. I’ve got responsibilities I know and believe me I want to stand up on my own, pay my own bills, be my own woman and not just survive but rather thrive. I don’t need you to remind me of my responsibilities; sorry mom but you remind me of that way too often; sometimes with words, sometimes with that look.
Okay so that’s how I’m feeling. But now I have to move on and tell you more than that. Now I want to tell you what you can do that I’d appreciate; what I’d really find helpful. Are you willing to listen to this and think about it. Please say you’ll think about what I’m saying here; maybe even for a few days before we talk?
First of all mom, please stop asking me what I’m going to do with my life. I don’t know what the next 30 years is going to look like; I don’t even know what the next 5 years is going to look like. Does anybody? Really? I’m looking ahead believe me, but I’m concentrating on the next year or two at best. My self-esteem is shaky; sometimes it’s okay but there’s more times it’s not. I doubt myself more than I’d like to admit, but I do. Still, I have to figure things out. If I can make a few good decisions; decisions that turn out well, I can build on that and make more of them, and it would be nice to have your support and recognition when I do.
Give me a little space mom. If I’m ever going to ‘make it’ on my own, I need permission to fail without those, “I told you so” looks. You were the one who said, “If at first you don’t succeed try, try again.” See I was listening and I do remember. If I don’t succeed the first or second time, it doesn’t mean I never will, I just haven’t yet.
I’m smart mom; smart in some things and not so smart in others. This makes me normal. And mom, I value you and what you’ve done for me – what you keep doing for me – really I do. That’s why you’re reading this mom. You matter to me and I want you to be proud of me.