Recently I’ve been talking with family members dealing with teenagers being, well, teens.
Some days they want to find the right answers to help guide their kids and other days they want to throw their hands up and run away.
I still have little kids who think I know everything so I struggle to relate, but it does get me thinking about what I’m really doing with them now.
If you were to ask my kids what I tell them all the time it would be, “I love you” and “Pick up all these dirty socks for the love of all that is holy!” They might be too young to really get the big picture of what I’m trying to teach them, outside of housekeeping. This list is in case I’m not around when they are old enough to truly listen, but mostly it is a reminder to myself to keep trying to show them what really matters. (Although, if they learn to pick up dirty socks I can rest in peace.)
To my children:
1. I did my best.
I know I’m not a perfect parent. I yell, get impatient (almost instantly), and I make bad choices from time to time. Each day I would recognize the mistakes I made and the moments I could have made a different choice. I didn’t let that convince me that I’m bad; I let it be information on how to be better. I showed up each day as your parent to try to do better. Turns out I am growing and learning too, just a bit further along on the timeline.
Do your best. Wherever life takes you in your career, interests, or roles just keep doing your best. You have to decide to show up as your best and to put that energy into it each day. Your level of best will change and you will have to remind yourself to keep stepping into that new best over and over. When you falter, don’t give up—take the next moment as an opportunity to do your best.
2. I don’t know everything.
Sure, I like to sound like I know how things work, how things should be, and how to do everything better. In actuality, I don’t know everything and half the things I think I know I don’t. There is too much to know out there in the big world, too much that I’ve forgotten, and too much that just isn’t knowable…yet.
Explore more; know less. I’ve made it a mission of my own to keep learning and exploring, and what I’ve found through all that curiosity is that I don’t know diddly. There is so much to discover about the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual world that being finished isn’t an option. The more I’ve let go of knowing something the more I’ve opened up in myself and in my world. I want that for you as well.
3. I’m sorry.
I say this to you kids when I know I’ve made a mistake because I think it’s important to model humility regardless of age or status. There is probably more that I’ve done or said that hurt you. Comments I’ve made that caused you to think negative things of yourself. For all of those unknown moments I am truly sorry.
Say you’re sorry. It takes humility and grace to own your actions and say you’re sorry. I know you to be great and brilliant people, but I want you to also look for ways that you can improve in your humanity and relationships. Saying you’re sorry shouldn’t be used as a cop-out to avoid confrontation, to apologize for taking up space, or back away from your truth. Use it as a way to connect deeper with others; try to understand how they view the world. If you learned something new about yourself or them, say you’re sorry for any pain you caused or misunderstandings and move forward.
4. I’ve made mistakes.
I’m not just talking about my parenting, because we both know that to be true. I made mistakes in all areas of my life and in all relationships. I’ve explored new ideas and had big giant flops. I’ve said and done things without thinking and destroyed relationships in a flash. It is embarrassing to relive, but I want you to see my failures. I want you to look closely at how each mistake was really a lesson.
Make more mistakes. Fail more often. This is how you grow and learn. Trying to be perfect doesn’t mean you’re doing your best, it often means you are hiding from failure. You won’t know what your best truly is unless you allow yourself to slip. Your best will be how you talk to yourself and others in the midst of failing, and how you show up the next time. You are allowed to make mistakes and I encourage you to embrace them even when it hurts. After you’ve picked yourself up, use those mistakes; they hold great information.
5. I’m always with you.
My love doesn’t come with stipulations or requirements; my love for you is unending and I carry it always. Our connection is timeless and free of physical constraints. So, wherever you go, I will always be with you. You can reach out through the ethers to find me and an endless well of support. As E.E. Cummings said, “I carry your heart (I carry it in my heart),” and that doesn’t stop with a physical body.
When you need me just feel me in your heart. Connect to unseen support. The source that made us is the source that supports us and we can call on it for guidance and help. It can take any form and many paths, but the only way to find it is from within yourself. You are made up of energy and soul, vibration and body, and all of this connects you to something bigger. Learn to connect back to yourself and you will always have guidance from a universal mother.
6. I trust you.
I trust you to find the right way forward and way of being that fits best for you. There isn’t one way I want you to be or how you have to behave. This is a basic outline based on my experience.
Just keep going, growing, and exploring.