Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dear Sweetie...

I love you. First and foremost and above all else, I want you to know and understand this. I love you. Daddy loves you. No matter what, every day in every way. We can't NOT love you. It's just the way it is and will be forever more.

Secondly, I want you to know and understand that I understand. Growing up sucks. Really and truly, it can be just plain awful. And confusing. You are feeling so many different feelings, wanting to make sure that we know you are an individual and capable of making decisions and doing as you want. And here we are, telling you to do and be and even feel certain ways.

We pride you on your individuality, on your comfort with being "you." For not caring what others think and finding enjoyment in time spent in your own company - you are who you are and that is great! But, on the other hand, we're encouraging you on practically a daily basis to think outside yourself and seek out friends who may not only want to play and hang out with you, but may also need you to be a better friend to them (as opposed to playing on your own, or with the typical younger crowd you're used to messing around with. Not that you think the other friends aren't fun...)

We're proud of you for being such a typically good student who does such creative and careful work… but we and your teachers tell you that you need to work faster (but still carefully!) in order to get work done on time and, thus, maintain your excellent grades. Furthermore, don't just stop at "good enough." Strive for being as creative and excellent as you possibly can… all within the pre-determined time frame set before you.

We encourage your determination and love your spunk, but are constantly speaking to you about your "tone" and disapprove of what we hear as back-talk. We want to hear your voice and know your opinions and understand your side of the story whenever possible, but too often end up disciplining you when you speak up at inappropriate times to inappropriate people in inappropriate ways.

And, in terms of what you want to tell us, I'll tell you a secret. We already know. Either because you've already told us 5 times and are still trying to tell us again for a 6th time in a slightly different way, or because we've been there/done that. And we know you. You don't have to so adamantly tell us again and again what happened or why you think the way you think in any given situation. Because we are your parents and we hear you and we already know.

All of this can be a real frustration for us. And I know it certainly must be a frustration to you.

As I angrily explained to you this morning when you were fighting with me over keeping your incredibly ratty and tattered folder (as opposed to accepting the fact that I put your school papers in a brand new folder) - I keep saying, "Fine - just do what you want!" to you in order to stop us from having an even bigger fight. But I'm tired of saying that. I can't keep saying that! And I know that I have to pick my battles with you and that things like tattered vs. new folders is, ultimately, not something for either of us to get that worked up about. So, fine, do whatever you want. But - I CANNOT and WILL NOT keep saying "just do what you want." I am your parent. Daddy is your parent. As your parents you must listen to us and do as we ask. We don't want to demand, but if that's what has to be - so be it.

And Lord knows I do not want today's tattered folder to become tomorrow's tattoo. Or whatever. The issues will get bigger. You will get bigger. But we are always your parents. As long as you live under our roof you must respect us and do as we say. Sometimes - hopefully most of the time - we will give you your space to give us your reasons and opinions on various situations that come up for you. We will listen to you and, when appropriate and reasonable, take your feelings and given facts into consideration when we make the decisions. But we will make the decisions. And what we say goes. As your parents, that is just the way it is.

One more thing. You are one very lucky girl. So am I. Because we have a truly amazing man in our life - your Daddy - who only wants what's best for us and to keep us safe and happy. Not just content, but really happy. And he wants to be involved in your life. He wants to work alongside me in the raising of you. That's awesome! But as you approach and go through your teenaged years, your relationship with your Daddy is going to struggle. I'm sorry, but it's just the way it is between daughters and dads. But Daddy won't ever give up. He always wants to be involved and help you as much as he can as you make it through. He wants to do everything he can to make your life easier and better, even when you're 110% sure there's nothing anyone can do. Even when you are confused and moody for no reason and, well, struggling with this thing called growing up. He will be there trying to help you up again. As will I. Please let us help you. Or, at the very least, know that when you're done running off in a huff, or slamming your door, or sobbing out of the blue,  or certain that "no one understands!" - we are here.

Our arms are always wide to give you that comforting hug - when you're ready. Our too-little sofa is always available to be cuddled upon with a parent or two - when you're ready. Our ears are always perked to hear what you have to say about anything, big or small - when you're ready. Our minds are always open to your plans, ideas, questions and dreams you'll share - when you're ready.

We are here for you, always. Maybe too ready too soon, in fact. Too eager to make things alright again before you're ready! But that's just the way it is between parents and their kids. We want too much to make it all "right" again. We want too much to make sure you learn the lessons early so you don't repeat mistakes (and that's where some big fights can come from, when we see you as not learning the lessons we've been trying so hard to make you understand.)

I'm sorry to say - for you and us both! - that this is only going to get worse. This struggle we so often find ourselves in. You against me. You against Daddy. Daddy and I struggling against each other as we try to co-manage the path that is raising a teenaged girl. I come from a standpoint of having once been a teenaged girl myself, when I struggled with my mom as my dad stayed off to the side. And Daddy comes at this as having grown up with a little sister who struggled during her teens with their mom. But here we are, we 3, together, trying to manage it as a team. There will be more fights. There will be more tears. There will be times when each of us feels like "no one understands!" When each of us thinks that one of the other people in the house is against them while the other is on their side. Or that no one's on their side! It will feel terrible. It will feel lonely. But we all must remember…

We are all on each other's side. Everyday. Always. We all only want what's best for each other. Always. And we all love each other so very, very much. Always.

Please keep this letter with you and read it as needed. Now and moving forward… when you're ready. I know I will. But right now? In terms of you growing up just yet? You know what?

I'm not ready. But I promise I'll do my very best. Always.

Love you to pieces,