Thursday, 1 December 2011

A Letter to 19 Year Old Me

As a slight departure from the normal tomfoolery, I thought I'd share with you something a little bit special to me. I wrote this earlier in the year as a submission for ELLE. I'm not sure which was more cathartic, the actual writing or the sharing with my parents and my gorgeous boys. Either way, I do hope you enjoy. 

Dear 19 year old me.

Swit swoo look at you! No, really, look at you - you're the most beautiful that you will ever be, loathe as you are to see it. Typical teenager, eh? Not quite. You’re a mother to two beautiful boys already when you still need mothering yourself. I’m writing to let you know that what you’re doing now, as insignificant as it feels, is the most important work you will ever do. The events that you are experiencing will shape your life and change your path forever. You will realise in time that these things that have happened to you, and because of you, are for a reason. You have the potential to shape your world and that of your boys beyond your wildest dreams; and you'll do it.

You know that guy? That love of your life? The answer to all your prayers? He's not. He's just as confused as you are and in no way good for you or your babies. Despite what your head is telling you, you don't deserve to be treated that way. Nobody does. Don't panic though, you'll see this and you'll see it in time. When it happens it’ll be as if a cloud has been lifted, you can breathe easier and shoulder your responsibility with a pride that won’t be equalled. Sounds crazy, right?

Yes, you think now that raising two babies alone means the end of your life but that's your teenage brain thinking. You think no one knows the thoughts that are smothering your mind but I know & it's OK. You're perfectly normal and doing the best that you know how to do - no one in life could ever expect any more from you.

I know you feel completely & desolately alone but I'm here for you. Those babies are going to grow, they're going to develop personalities that shock and awe you every single day. They'll turn into the funniest people you know, including yourself, and you're pretty feckin' funny. They'll swell your heart with pride so that you never feel lonely again. (Psst! Contrary to your overwhelming guilt now, they're your greatest achievement in life).

Listen; go easy on Mam & Dad won’t you? They’re just as shocked and disappointed as you are, perhaps even more so. You don’t have the market cornered on those feelings, unfortunately. As time passes you’ll realise that they only ever wanted the best for you, as flippant as that sounds to you now. You’ll come to realise too that although they’re your parents, they’re just people. Trying their best to navigate parenthood as best they can, as you soon will be.

Despite your fears, life won't always be sleepless nights and endless nappies! I know you’re feeling forgotten about and left behind as your friends move on to college and have sleepless nights of their own but that’s not your path, not yet anyway. You'll get back to work. They, in turn, will encourage you to go back to college, to nurture the brain that you've tried so hard to conceal just to spite yourself. It'll be tough but you'll juggle and you'll get your degree. That piece of paper and sense of accomplishment that you secretly wished for is here and waiting for you to catch up. 

You’re going to have the closest circuit of family and friends that your mind now is still unable to appreciate or even comprehend. You'll wake every morning (well, most mornings) eager for the day, for the next challenge, the next adventure. You can’t even visualize what that life will feel like but it is your life. It’s our life.

Times won't always be rosy but your outlook will change so that won't matter. It will slowly dawn on you that everybody has their life to lead, their crosses to bear and their decisions to make. This will give you the courage to weigh your options, to set yourself goals and push yourself and your boys toward them with enthusiasm that you never thought possible.

What I’m telling you is that the days you merely exist through right now are times that you will draw on long into your future. They will give you strength and resolve to better yourself and your life each and every day. To reach for opportunities and experiences that you never would have had the self-belief to do previously. You will stand taller having been that low, love easier having been that alone. These are all good things. Great things.

If I could give you one piece of advice it would be to slow down, stop wishing your years away because they go of their own accord. Try to enjoy your time with the boys, they grow up so fast. That's advice I could probably take too, pretty much everyone could.

Wonder what 50 year old us will have to say about that? If cats haven't eaten her face I bet she's pretty cool - but don't tell 70 year old us that, she's raising her face to the sun and shaking her head at the sheer naivety of us. We have no idea. xxx

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