Becoming a parent is a funny thing. You suddenly find yourself wondering how on earth you didn’t die with all the dumb antics you pulled when you were younger. Who knew it wasn’t common practice to drive a brand new SUV into a river with 13 of your closest friends? You are also constantly awestruck with the realization of how right your parents were. About everything. Even the times they answered your “why” with “just because.”
I loved my childhood, I was incredibly blessed with amazing parents who afforded me all the opportunities a kid could dream of; even boogie-boarding with my Mom in Hawaii. I loved college; so many memories, those truly were some of the best days of my life.
Becoming a parent has caused me to think of all the lessons I want to teach my son, all the things I want to caution him of, and unfortunately for him, all the tricks of the trade. It has also made me reflect a lot on my past, to think back on the things I had to learn the hard way and how much more sense life makes now than it did back then.
Thus, today’s blog entry, a letter to the younger me.
So here goes…
Dear Amanda, because you won’t be going by Mandy until the 6th grade:
You are going to grow up and marry an incredible man and have the most amazing little boy, so stop fretting over dating relationships; you won’t meet your “one” until you are 30. Yes, 30. Remain calm, he is worth the wait.
I have so much to tell you, or me, as this case may be.
Let’s start at the beginning…
Phonics will not defeat you. You will actually become a fairly decent writer and you will excel in English class. Math will always be an issue. Just remember, you aren’t stupid, and you will never use trigonometry in your adult life. Those fake braces you made yourself and the fake glasses you liked to wear. Just stop. You’ll endure real braces in junior high and wear Invisalign in your 30s, it’s not as fun as it seems. And you will be blind as a bat without your contacts or glasses by the time you are 30, so just be patient.
You will survive moving to Northwest Arkansas. Yes, you will be in the middle of fifth grade and developing a new daily crush on the regular, but it will all be ok. You will fit in your new school. In fact, you’ll go to school there until you graduate high school. And, you’ll still be close to your friends from elementary school. You will not marry the boy you had a crush on in fifth grade. Do NOT ask any boys out in sixth grade, you will not marry them either. You will not even marry the boy your junior high dreams are made of. And no, it’s not Prince William either. Brace yourself for this, but Prince Harry ends up being the cuter Prince. I know it’s incredibly hard to believe.
You will not become a professional women’s basketball player, so just have fun, and don’t worry about the fact you suck at jumping jacks, you won’t have to do those as an adult either.
Stop with the bangs. Just stop. They don’t look good. They should be moveable; not cemented to your head with hairspray.
You will not marry the guy you just knew you loved in high school, or the other zillion boys you crushed on.
You will miss the carefree days of high school, so don’t graduate early. You’ll regret it.
Be confident in yourself. People genuinely like you for you, not for who your friends are.
Don’t go to Kansas State. You’ll hate it. You’ll move home in the middle of the night. It just isn’t right for you. Speaking of college, you will survive freshman year. Better days are coming.
September 11th will shake you. It will shake your nation. But you will not be defeated. The terrorists will not win. Osama Bin Laden will be killed. As will, Saddam Hussein. The nation will rebuild.
You will love Ouachita. Don’t dread going. You will join a social club. Don’t stress over rush. You’ll get into the club you want. And you will love every minute of it and make the best friends ever. And you’ll still be best friends with them, 15 years and counting. Don’t spend so much money, it’s OK to eat in the cafeteria and not the Burger Barn. Go to class. For heaven’s sake, go to class. Study once in a blue moon. But, if nothing else, go to class!
Don’t stress about what you’ll do after college and don’t shed tears over leaving your friends. You’ll have the time of your life in DC with your college friends. You’ll take girls trip every year together. You’ll stay an everyday part of each other’s lives.
Prepare your heart. You’ll lose your Dad far sooner than you ever dreamed. You won’t get to say goodbye, or see him again, this side of Heaven. Don’t leave home early that Thanksgiving in 2006 for the Arkansas vs. LSU game. You’ll have fun at the game, don’t get me wrong; but you’ll regret it every day for the rest of your life. It’s the last time you’ll see your Dad alive. Stay. Stay as long as you can. Hug him 50,000 times, tell him you love him 1,000,000,000 times. Stare at him, soak in his face. Touch his hands. You’ll remember his hands forever.
Realize as soon as you can in life, no matter how young that is, that your Mom will become your best friend. Your confidante. Your biggest cheerleader. And you won’t know what to do without her. She works so hard to provide for you, don’t forget why she does it.
You’ll change jobs a few times. Don’t stress about the entries on your resume. You’ll gain a lot of knowledge and you’ll find what you love.
You won’t become a professional golfer. You will have fun trying, but it’s just not in the cards. Have fun trying anyway.
You’ll move home to El Dorado, yes, as hard as it is to imagine, you will. And you’ll fall in love, you’ll get married and you’ll have a little boy.
Yes, you finally meet the “one.”
He’s nothing like you thought you wanted and so much better than you could ever imagine. He will love you, and serve your family well. He will be the most amazing man you’ve ever met. Yes, even more amazing than your Dad. It’s true. Just wait and see.
And Judd. Oh sweet, sweet Judd. You’ll be one of the last of your friends to have a baby. And you will be so ready, even though you will think you are not. It will be harder than you imagine. It won’t be a picture perfect delivery. You will recover from the botched epidural. And you will hold that little boy so tightly. He will look exactly like you, no matter what his Daddy thinks! He will be stubborn like you. Hard-headed as your husband will say. He will be all boy and will make your heart swoon each and every day. You will post a zillion pictures of him on social media. Keep posting them. You’ll look back on them every day and smile.
You will end up living at the beach, and it’s just as amazing as that sounds.
Life will not be perfect. There are times when it will be hard. There will be times when you have to fight like hell for your peace. Fight harder. Never give up. You will lose friends, and you will make friends, and you will remain friends. You will bury pets, and you will make fun memories with more. You will walk through the raging fires of grief losing your Dad, and you will survive. You will get married and start a family, it won’t be on your time table, and you’ll be convinced it’s not going to happen. But it will, and it will be beautiful. You will find your confidence. You will find your peace. You will find Jesus as a child, and fall more and more in love with Him as you get older. He will never leave you or forsake you, the Scriptures are true. You will break some bones, have some surgeries and live with some aches and pains; but you will survive.
You’ll make a lot of bad decisions, followed by a lot of really good decisions. God will protect you, and He always provides.
Stress less. Don’t let the anxiety win, you’ll beat it a few years later.
Don’t let them take advantage of you. They’ll never know your worth, so don’t let them try to take anything from you.
Start writing that book you always dreamed of writing as soon as you think of it. It’s a lot harder to write it with a toddler in the house, so write it sooner!
Embrace your life, it’s a good one.
I’m not sure how all of your life will play out, but I know the One who knows. He has you in the palm of His hand, so leave it all up to him.
Just be patient Mandy, you’ll get that name in 6th grade by the way. It will all come together, and it will be more beautiful, even with the ashes and tears, than you can daydream of now.
Go write yourself a letter. Forgive yourself for the past. Let go of the pain and hurt. Embrace the sorrows and learn from them. And just keep swimming, no matter where the waters take you.